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All seem possible and Berio uses many readings, some quite intelligible, some not at all so, at least according to normal syntactic and semantic usages of meaning. The poem is powerful and sophisticated in its theme, in its mood, and in its choice of words and elisions. Most of the words denote basic and symbolically charged concepts, such as house, truth, night, woman, to build, worrying. The text abounds in linguistic universals, of both the sortal variety (those that group individuals into classes) and the characterizing variety (that refer to qualities, states, actions, etc [Lyons 1969: 377-8]).

Increasingly strong centrifugal tendencies come to dominate and gradually outmatch the dwindling residue of the energy that earlier provided cohesion. Ligeti tells this intricate tale in about twelve and a half minutes, a remarkably short duration, given its content and impact. Language and speech, together with a kinesic layer, form the major dimensions of the work, and certain ideas in Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception can help us gain insight into the piece. Merleau-Ponty comments on the relationship between the visible gesture and the invisible, or partly visible, oral gesture (Lewis 1970).

Why use such extremities of expression? What is the place of marginal sounds in a musical work? Why did the composer destroy his text? Does the piece mean anything? If yes, what? Is there a message? Where did the idea come from? Are there any precedents for this? 21 Theme and recent background I suggest that we should now study three seminal works in this repertoire: Berio's Sequema ///, Ligeti's Nouvelles Aventures, and Lutoslawski's Trois Poèmes d'Henri Michaux. These studies constitute part I of this book, in the course of which I shall ask questions similar to those just listed and seek answers to them and to others as well.

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An analytical exercise by Euler L.


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