Pitch and Texture Analysis of Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna. Jan Jarvlepp. Lux Aeterna ( ) by Gyorgy Ligeti is a single movement composition of about nine minutes. Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin: II. Wenn Aus Der Ferne. Cappella Amsterdam & Daniel Reuss. 6. Drei Phantasien Nach Friedrich Hölderlin: III . ‘Rules as Strict as Palestrina’s’: The Regulation of Pitch and Rhythm in Ligeti’s Requiem and Lux aeterna – Volume 10 Issue 2 – BENJAMIN R. LEVY.

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It is con structed using strict pitch imitation as well as word imitation.

The words of the text are also treated canonically. A release of tension has been accomplished since the B is now in a more relaxed middle range and since the “hole in the middle” effect is now absent.

The temporal organization of the piece is as methodical as the strict pitch and word canons but much more flexible. Hyperion offers both CDs, and downloads in a number of formats. This effect is further enhanced by the fact that the aetenra predominate over the tenors who are not individually perceived.

Here blocks 3B and 3C enter simultaneously over the previously esta blished block 3A. This ending represents a return to ligeri original central pitch, F. Unlike block 2, there is harmonic motion in block 4 see Example 8.

The second instance of homophony, block 4 barssets the word “Domine” as did the previous homophonic section, block 2. They are marked in the examples with horizontal brackets. Basses 3 and 4, who have the low D, fade out simultaneously.

This block begins with a simultaneous attack on A by the four alto sections, which then continue the melodic line in canonic fashion. They fade with out simultaneously.


Example 15 Since the strict pitch and word canons are rhythmically set using flexible talea structures, it is hard to hear any canonic structure. It is the highest pitch heard yet and very clearly the most impor tant one at this point.

Lux aeterna aeeterna eis [m. This type of staggered ending cannot be considered homophonic in spite of the preceding sustained material.

The different divisions of the beat are frequently used for pitch changes making it impossible for the listener to pick a steady beat from the music.

Unlike the beginning of the piece, this canonic block begins luux a simultaneous attack in all four voices. This creates a smooth pitch transfer from an unclear adjacent pitch area to a clearly defined pitch center.

Lux Aeterna (Ligeti) – Wikipedia

The flexible talea structure of block 3B sopranos, bars is shown in Example 15 using the same vertical column format as the preceding example.

In bars the area of maximum ,ux density of the whole piece is found. They can also enter simultaneously on the same pitch and then continue with the rest of the melodic line in staggered fashion, thus creating a canonic internal texture following a simultaneous attack. It is most famous for aeteran use in Stanley Kubrick ‘s film Another contrast with other polyphonic sections of this piece is that this block begins simultaneously with aeterba same syllable sung with three pitches instead of one.

While the homophonic sections start and stop simultaneously, the polyphonic sections have two ways of starting and stopping.

The C pitch creates a quasi-dominant fifth above the lower F pitch in block 5A. The com poser has instructed the singers to “enter imperceptibly” at the ‘app’ dynamic level.

The cell appears awterna the lowest register of the aeteerna in Nock 4 see Example 13C note chords. If the prevailing mood of the Requiem is one of death, the Lux aeterna carries the hope of resurrection, consistent with the eternal light referred to in its text.


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Sopranos 1 and 2, and Tenors 1 and 2 sing only the syllable “Iu”. The altos sing in their lowest register throughout block 5. The basses enter, singing in very high falsettoshowing Ligeti’s focus on aetetna and texture. The sopranos and altos sing very similar parts in Ligeti’s characteristic style of micropolyphony.

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Since not all four voices of block 1 get to sing the last four syllables on the high A due to the simultaneous cut-off, they are enclosed in square brackets in Example 3. Two kinds of texture are used in this piece: In barsthe composer presents an interesting preparation for the next section, block 4.

A new line of words is being set: Lud three note pitch material can be found in the same order in Bass 4, barsand later in all the other voices of block 3A as they arrive to these 3 pitches. The attack of block 5 coincides with the begin ning of the third chord of block 4.

The com poser has prepared the entry of the octave Es by presenting its inner adjacent pitches as a minor 7th harmonic interval.

The density of pitch classes range from a minimum of one in bars andto a maximum eight in bars They can start additively, that is to say that voices enter one at a time until all have entered creating a canonic texture.

After the basses have joined the texture, the harmony becomes very neutralized i.