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Voice, Music, Modernism: The Case of Luigi Nono and Karlheinz Stockhausen

Voice, Music, Modernism: The Case of Luigi Nono and Karlheinz Stockhausen

Chapter:
(p.77) 3 Voice, Music, Modernism: The Case of Luigi Nono and Karlheinz Stockhausen
Source:
The Voice as Something More
Author(s):
Marcelle Pierson
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226656427.003.0004

Song, with the voice as its medium, is often associated with the heart—with authenticity, with passion, with emotion and its unmediated expression. Song and voice thus make uneasy bedfellows with modernism, which is so often associated with the head. This essay focuses on a serendipitous moment in the 1950s in which Karheinz Stockhausen and Luigi Nono each wrote highly stylized “songs,” and then, in the aftermath of their premieres, engaged in an increasingly hostile exchange about their different uses of the voice. This polemic, like the pieces themselves, articulates two very different positions regarding the status of song and singing in the late 1950s. In addition to a disagreement about musical aesthetics, theirs was a disagreement about the status and means of the voice in music, which in turn was a disagreement about the status and means of expression, of subjectivity, of music’s very humanity. This moment constitutes a special case of how two very different discourses and ideologies surrounding voice and modernism have clashed, sometimes spectacularly, in music written after 1950.

Keywords:   voice, song, modernism, Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Darmstadt, text setting, expression

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