[Smt-talk] accelerandi-pieces

JONATHAN W BERNARD jbernard at u.washington.edu
Mon Oct 12 11:55:26 PDT 2009

Yes indeed, Carter has done quite a lot with written-out accelerations and decelerations, from the late 1940s on.  As Bob Kosovsky notes, the technique that came to be known as metric modulation lends itself readily to such things.  Apart from the examples he cites, I could point the author of the original query to the Variations for Orchestra, with its fourth variation (perpetual deceleration) and sixth (perpetual acceleration), and the Concerto for Orchestra with its contrasting schemes of speeding up/slowing down that characterize the four movements actually all going on at the same time.

Other examples: Andriessen's *Snellheid*; the third movement of Ligeti's Violin Concerto (there are a number of examples of this sort of thing in Ligeti, where there is a gradual acceleration to the end of a piece or movement, at which point the notation appears "ploetzlich aufhoeren, wie abgerissen" or words to that effect).  Also of possible interest: Risset's "Fall" (from *Computer Suite from Little Boy*), which along with its illusory perpetually falling pitch carries, perhaps, the illusion of perpetual slowing down.

And, just for fun: The Playmates' "Beep Beep," cited a couple of years ago on the smt-pop list by Walt Everett as an example of upward shift (or "truck-driver's modulation" as it is sometimes called).  In this case, the semitone rise at each new verse is accompanied by a faster tempo (also an amusing example of word-painting, since the song describes an impromptu auto race).

Jonathan Bernard
University of Washington

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 2009 07:45:37 -0400 (EDT)
From: kos at panix.com
To: Discussion list for the SMT <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] accellerandi-pieces

Elliot Carter's Double Concerto contains large scale accellerandi, as does his 
"Canaries" (with use of metrical modulation) from Eight Pieces for timpani (I 
presume there must be more of his work that does this).

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