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Topic: ORCH: Cluster chords

  1. #1

    ORCH: Cluster chords

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    Well, I\'ll test the ORCH waters with a question about cluster chords.

    Do cluster chords have formal names or structure, a la major and minors, or I, III, V construction etc? Or is it pretty much anything goes?

    Are there known effective clusters for, say, trumpets?

    The theory book I have is rather mute on this subject. know of any good references or scores, for example?


  2. #2

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    I was watching a scoring session for a major upcoming Hollywood blockbuster film. The composer was conducting and making some changes on the stand, and basically said \"Horns - I need a cluster on beats 3 an 4 of bar 5 - pick a note, any note will do.......\"
    It was funny to hear him say that and then 2 minutes later hear this awesome huge sound that you would expect when you think cluster. I guess what I\'m trying to say is that there\'s no real science to it - players just know the effect you are trying to achieve.

  3. #3

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    I guess what I\'m trying to say is that there\'s no real science to it
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">UAH! One year of research work to read such a thing! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]
    No, seriously - there IS a sience to it. There are historical compositions created exlusivly with clusters - nothing\'s random in there. Look at Ligeti\'s \"Atmosheres\". There are a lot of techniques to transform and build clusters.

  4. #4

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    No disrespect meant - I was being sarcastic. It was just funny to hear a conductor with an 80 piece orchestra say to \"pick a note, any note\". That\'s all!

  5. #5

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    *lol* I have written 200 pages about clusters - it was my \"magister\"-subject. [img]images/icons/tongue.gif[/img] Don\'t worry - I won\'t write 200 pages.
    There are no Maj / min clusters, but rather half-tone clusters / whole tone clusters / quartertone-clusters. There are no degrees (I / V) but rather a position of the cluster in musical space. The cluster width and position are impotant to define it. Clusters were written for all instruments / Ligeti in \"Atmospheres\" wrote for a great symphonic orchestra. Generally you won\'t be able to recognise individual instruments in a cluster.
    The pricipe of the cluster is the fusion of individual pitches and timbres to a greater new sound. It is more like composing a color than melodies or harmonies.
    Scores using near to exclusivly clusters are: Penderecki \"Threnos\", \"Anaklasis\", \"Polymorphia\",
    Ligeti \"Atmospheres\", \"Apparitions\", \"Volumina\"
    Xenakis \"Metastaesis\".
    Please ask if you want to know anything else. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  6. #6

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    Where did you write 200 pages about clusters? Can I buy the book so I can read about it? Thanks! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  7. #7

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    I wrote it at the university (Rennes II) in France, and it\'s not published (hm, maybe one day...). And... it\'s in french. Sorry, but if you have questiond I may answer of course.

  8. #8

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    Hi, Markus:

    Someday, when you publish your dissertation, I will buy and read it. I think this subject is mostly ignored in many texts or given casual treatment.

    Thanks for your clearly worded insights. This statement helped me get a better perspective:

    The cluster width and position are impotant
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Can you add anything about, for the lack of a better word, density? Or does width have some implication on density? I guess I really mean the number of notes in the chord.

    And thanks especially for listing some composers and compositions. I am interested in movement between clusters as most of my experience with them so far has been as a singular punctuation effect. Could you single out one of the compositions you mentioned as a good example demonstrating movement?


  9. #9

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    Hello John!
    I\'m glad to read your post. It is hard for me to find people being interested in the same thing as me. Even musicien laugh when I\'m telling about my passion for clusters. Yes, clusters are mainly unsterstood as an effect and there aren\'t very much books about it. Yet, non, that\'s why I wrote about it.
    Now to your questions. Cluster mouvment:
    \"Metastaesis\" of Xenakis is using great spatial cluster movments. These cluster (called \"cloud of sounds\") are made of glissandi. Each violin has it\'s own glissando.
    \"Atmosphere\" (Ligeti) is a rather static composition but there is spatial movement too. In this case the lignes go upward or downward chromatically, but in a way that is not parallel, but rather on over the other. It is rare that SERVERAL clusters move in space - I guess because the ear recreates one and only sound - but it exists (I saw it rather as one moving THROUH the other).
    Your density question is very interesting. In fact density is a very good word (a lot of terms related to cluster are taken from spatial experiences) Indeed a cluster can be defined as \"width\" (number of notes) / \"Position\" (high sounds / low sounds) AND \"density\".
    The density is the most complex. First you have the space between the sounds. A qutertone cluster is more dense than a halftone cluster.
    But there is as well \"animation intern\". This is what Ligeti calls \"micro-polyphonie\". It\'s a VERY dense counterpoint in which you can\'t hear lignes individually. This counterpoint is more or less animated, what defines the density. \"Atmosphere\" is a great composition - here you can learn very much. I analysed each cluster in it.
    Another form of \"animation intern\" is vibrato (for cords) - fast vibrato, slow and wide vibrato. And tremolo as well of course.
    You can define static clusters and evolutif clusters. Evolutiv clusters can move in space or they can change \"from the inside\" (density).
    I hope this helps - please ask if you have other questions, [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  10. #10

    Re: ORCH: Cluster chords

    Oh yes - don\'t forget if your are composing clusters for strings with your samples, use solo strings. If not you will end up with a 200 first violin orchestra (well if you want realism of course). I\'m just saying this because I\'ve already heard it. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

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