Kendall, Gary S.


Juxtaposition and Non-motion: Varèse bridges early modernism to electroacoustic music

Organised Sound: Vol. 11, No. 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 159-171.


Language(s): English


Spectral Analysis Spectromorphology Structural Analysis


Edgard Varèse’s Poème électronique can be viewed as a bridge between early twentieth-century modernism and electroacoustic music. This connection to early modernism is most clearly seen in its use of musical juxtaposition, a favoured technique of early modernist composers, especially those active in Paris. Juxtaposition and non-motion are considered here, particularly in relationship to Smalley’s exposition of spectromorphology (Smalley 1986), which in its preoccupation with motion omits any significant consideration of non-motion. Juxtaposition and non-motion have an important history within twentieth-century music, and as an early classic of electroacoustic music, Poème électronique is a particularly striking example of a composition that is rich in juxtapositions similar to those found in passages of early modernist music. Examining Poème électronique through the lens of juxtaposition and non-motion reveals how the organisation of its juxtaposed sounds encourages the experience of sound structure suspended time.