Dissertation Index

Author: Campbell, Edward

Title: Boulez and Expression: A Deleuzoguattarian Approach

Institution: University of Edinburgh

Begun: October 1994

Completed: June 2000


This study considers Boulez’s music in terms of both structure and expression. In order to do so, it reorients and retheorises the problematic concept of “expression”, freeing it from unhelpful previous usage. The post-structuralist theory of expression of the philosophers Deleuze and Guattari is explored in order to provide a means whereby musical structure and expression can be reconciled within one account. For Deleuze and Guattari, expression is a rhizomatic, connective affair in which a musical composition may be viewed as an “assemblage”, as the product of flows from a number of media, which provide levels of expression and content for one another through their inter-connectivity. While Boulez rejects a particular Romantic notion of expression, he clearly accepts the existence of a level of expression within music albeit as something which he has not fully theorised for himself.

Having articulated a theory of expression, the greater part of the thesis is taken up with the consideration of three main concepts which may be said to be “expressive” within Boulez’s music, in terms of the theory. These are difference as variation, musical spatiality and musical temporality. Difference is considered at the levels of athematicism (the virtual theme), open form (virtual form), accumulative development and heterophony (the virtual line). Spatiality is considered in terms of Boulez’s “diagonal” pitch dimension, smooth and striated pitch-space, the use of register, the articulation of a composition around significant polar pitches, timbral space and the use of the external auditorium space. Time and temporality are considered in the contrast of smooth and striated time.

Keywords: Boulez, Deleuze and Guattari, Expression, Difference, Virtual Theme, Virtual Form, Accumulative Development, Heterophony, Spatiality, Temporality


Introduction 1

1. Boulez as Composer: A Critical Survey 5
Descriptive Analyses 10
Reconstructive Analyses 11
Ecriture and Perception 16
More Specific Studies 20
Musical Modernism: Creative Connections 23
Orientations 27

2. Boulez and Expression 33
Topic Theory and Mythic Semes 35
Musical Modernism and Expression 39
Boulez and Expression 43
Musical Content and Expression 52
Content and Expression: A Deleuzoguattarian Perspective 57
A New Image of Thought 63
Boulez: A Rhizomatic Approach 71

3. Boulez and Musical Difference
Introduction 77
Deleuzian Difference 79
Twentieth Century Music, Difference and Repetition 88
Athematicism: The Virtual Theme 98
The Open Work: Virtual Form 122
Difference as “Accumulative Development” 136
Heterophony: The Virtual Line 141
Boulezian Heterophony and the Deleuzian Fold 147
Difference and Repetition: Loose Ends 149
Summary and Conclusion 152

4. Boulez and Musical Spatiality
Introduction 158
What is Musical Pitch-Space? 160
Interior Pitch-Space and the Diagonal 166
Smooth and Striated Space 179
Registral Space 188
Polar Notes 216
Exterior Spatiality 226
Timbre Space 239
Summary and Conclusion 252

5. Boulez, Time and Temporality
Introduction 255
Music, Time and Temporality 257
Modernism, Time and Temporality - Bergson and Proust 262
Time and Temporality within Twentieth Century Music 268
Boulez, Tempo and Duration 276 Two Temporalities: Smooth and Striated Time - In Theory 280
Smooth and Striated Time - In Practice 286
Static Temporality within Post-War Music 306
A Deleuzoguattarian View 309
Summary and Conclusion 316

Conclusion 321
Bibliography 328


Dr Edward Campbell
15 Hailes Crescent

Tel: 0131 441 6883

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