Slowing Down and the Vertical/Horizontal Spectrum in Kaija Saariaho's Duft
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Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho moved to Paris in 1982 to work at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique) and GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales). Her research involved slowing down tape samples to study the nuances of sounds imperceivable at their normal speed. She called this her “microscope for music” and developed a compositional approach called Slowing Down, which replicates the effects of zooming in on a sound. After writing electronic compositions that highlight the effects of Slowing Down, Saariaho discovered techniques to imitate these effects on acoustic instruments. Although the composer claims an end to a compositional period in 1990, the outcomes of her research are still present in her works today. In this analysis, I will show how Duft for solo clarinet (2011) contains effects from Saariaho’s research through a multi-movement Slowing Down. Since Saariaho does not provide a concrete analytical method for Slowing Down, I have created the Vertical/Horizontal Spectrum. This spectrum provides three categories (V/H1, V/H2, V/H3) and labels musical material based on its location in the Slowing Down process. When one zooms in on two nearly simultaneous events, the objects move farther apart until they are seemingly horizontal. Through pattern dominance, the first movement of Duft contains extended techniques that create vertical harmonies (V/H1). The following movements move along the spectrum with V/H2 and end with V/H3 (horizontal). By concretely defining the presence of Slowing Down in Duft, my analysis demonstrates that Saariaho’s compositions still contain effects from her research findings in the 1980s.
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