Ligeti Melody Doodly Doo
September 20, 2007 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Help me identify a melody from two Ligeti pieces and explain its significance.

Ligeti used the same melody in two different pieces from very different times in his career. The first time (that I know of) was in part 7 of Musica Ricercata. The second was in the 2nd movement of his Violin Concerto. What is this melody, or what is it from? Is he quoting a folk song, ala Bartok, or quoting himself? What was its significance to Ligeti, or its significance in general? Thank you.
posted by sleevener to Media & Arts (1 answer total)
Here's what the Grove dictionary has to say about the Concerto:

Ligeti began to look further into new temperaments in his Violin Concerto (1989–93), which is again in five movements. As in the Piano Concerto, the brass sometimes play natural harmonics and there are instruments of uncertain intonation (ocarinas, slide whistles, recorder); in addition, one violin and one viola from the orchestra are tuned to harmonics on the double bass, and so make available the most delicate abrasions between equal temperament and natural resonance.

However, the concerto also reveals how music may be neither atonal nor tonal without the need of retunings. For example, its second movement, ‘Aria, Hoquetus, Choral’, is based on a melody which is diatonic but unable to settle into any stable key or metre, a melody of folkish style which recalls central Europe without finding a home. As the tripartite title suggests, the tune goes on to gain contrapuntal interruptions and harmonic reinterpretations (notably from a faltering ocarina quartet and a brass section also mouldering with mistuned harmonics); the movement is partly determined by repetitive process, but this relatively abstract kind of construction produces, in a characteristic way, concrete effects of resemblance to older music and of expressive force.

I can't find any references about the same melody in the Musica Ricercata, and I don't have the scores nearby. I wonder if, since the Concerto was such a synthesis of ideas, he (consciously or not) incorporated melodies from his own previous works.
posted by bassjump at 7:39 AM on September 21, 2007

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