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Title: The “Itinerant Sonorities” of Pirâmides de Cristal by João Pedro Oliveira
Author: Santana, Helena
Keywords: João Pedro Oliveira
Pirâmides de Cristal
Análise musical
Música portuguesa
Issue Date: 2001
Abstract: As a piece for piano solo Pirâmides de Cristal allows us to broach problems in the variation of timbre in works for a single instrument, an issue which, in this case, is not a straightforward one where the use of different pedals and forms of attack, associated with different dynamics and phrasings, quickly gives rise to a wide spectrum of instrumental colors and colorations. The composer moreover derives an enormous richness of timbre through his harmonies: close or widely spaced, with placements in different registers of the instrument, they all acquire densities, shades, configurations, and ways manifesting and developing their particular space and time. These transformations of color and spatial/temporal form result from what will be called different "illuminations" or "hues" which become more or less intense depending upon their context. Realized inventively and even radically, these processes affect the work not only at the micro-structural level, but also at the level of its macro-structure as the composer varies not only the color or coloration of his harmonies, but also the tonality of the passages or sections of the work in which they are inserted. Oliveira also utilizes in Pirâmides de Cristal a system of construction inspired by the geometry of fractals. As he notes, "a fractal is a type of structure which maintains certain properties, independent of the level (microscopic or macroscopic) at which we observe. For this reason, certain characteristics which are important in its global form are also found in the smallest details." The goal of this study will be to determine the form by which the composer transposes these notions into the musical domain, and into the particular elaboration of Pirâmides de Cristal in its timbral treatment of the instrument and its conception, transformation, superposition and variation of "itinerant" sonorities.
Peer review: yes
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