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Messiaen - strange note spellings #2421586
05/17/15 01:30 PM
05/17/15 01:30 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 143
E
Eric NYC Offline OP
Full Member
Eric NYC  Offline OP
Full Member
E

Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 143
I'm working on several of the Messiaen preludes. I notice that he regularly uses unusual and confusing note spellings.

For example, in prelude 4 ("Plainte calme"), in measure 11, he spells a chord E-flat/G-sharp (from the bottom). In the next measure there's a G-sharp/B-flat. In ms 23, E-flat/A/C-sharp/E-flat. Just a few of many. Similarly in the other preludes.

I think I generally the general principles of note spelling (for example, sharp when a melody is leading up, flat when leading down), and rewriting chords enharmonically on a local change of key. But many of these Messiaen spellings just seem ... strange.

Is there some rationale to this? Is he following some underlying theory or general principles? Can I read about this somewhere?

Thanks for your thoughts and suggestions.


Yamaha Avantgrand N2, Bush & Lane upright grand (1920s), Steinway upright grand (1893)
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Re: Messiaen - strange note spellings [Re: Eric NYC] #2421607
05/17/15 02:27 PM
05/17/15 02:27 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 1,338
Switzerland
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mrenaud Offline
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mrenaud  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2002
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Switzerland
Look up Modes of limited transposition, and things will be a lot clearer why he spelled his harmonies the way he did. Once you get the modes inside your head and fingers (it takes a while though), his harmonic language will suddenly become very logical to the extent that his chords fall into place very much like traditionally tonal chords do.


I have an ice cream. I cannot mail it, for it will melt.
Re: Messiaen - strange note spellings [Re: mrenaud] #2421758
05/17/15 09:58 PM
05/17/15 09:58 PM
Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 143
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Eric NYC Offline OP
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Eric NYC  Offline OP
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Joined: Oct 2013
Posts: 143
Thank you.

I took a look, but it's giving me a headache. I think I'll finish my bourbon and try again in the morning!


Yamaha Avantgrand N2, Bush & Lane upright grand (1920s), Steinway upright grand (1893)

Moderated by  Brendan, Kreisler 

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