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In Search of 'Musique Chatoyante': Technique, Theology, and the Play of Harmonic Resonance in Olivier Messiaen’s 'Vitrail Sonore'

Dunbavand, Simon (2013) In Search of 'Musique Chatoyante': Technique, Theology, and the Play of Harmonic Resonance in Olivier Messiaen’s 'Vitrail Sonore'. MMus thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This investigation charts Messiaen’s development of resonance-based harmony portraying light and colour, with theological associations equivalent to stained glass. Definitions of Messiaen’s colour-chords (using examples from 'Technique de mon langage musical', 'Traité de rythme, de couleur et d’ornithologie', and selected works) enable the exploration of Messiaen’s consolidation of style and light symbolism in earlier works, together with the beginnings of detailed colour associations in 'Catalogue d’oiseaux'. Theological implications of Messiaen’s juxtaposition and superposition of harmony precede analysis of the light portrayed in 'La Transfiguration': the light which, in 'Méditations sur le mystère de la Sainte Trinité', expresses Moses’ vision of ‘I AM’ and Burning Bush, as well as harmonizing God as 'inengendré'. The central movement of 'Méditations' develops the ‘Theme of God’, recalling ‘Le Verbe’ and anticipating Mary Magdalene’s vision in 'Livre du Saint Sacrement'. In Livre, this harmony depicts Mary’s recognition of Christ, giving coloured support to the spelling of ‘Dieu’ and ‘Père’. The filiation of 'La Transfiguration' is likewise shown to be described musically with colour-chords, which in 'Chants de terre et de ciel', 'Et exspecto', and 'Livre' develop a sonic portrayal of Grünewald’s 'Resurrection'. Messiaen’s colouring of specific visual aspects of God is analysed in relation to the theology of Columba Marmion and Hans Urs von Balthasar, whilst Messiaen’s fascination with the Heavenly Jerusalem is shown to display consistent use of resonance-based harmony. In the final example of vitrail sonore, Messiaen’s references in 'Traité' to images of Christ in Glory in the Ambulatory of Bourges Cathedral are examined. These portray verses from Habakkuk and Revelation used as superscriptions for two movements in 'Éclairs sur l'Au- Delà...', the music being interpreted as a representation of these windows. This interdisciplinary study therefore establishes intertextual and theological connections across boundaries of work, genre and period, linking Messiaen’s music to Catholic thought.

Item Type: Thesis (MMus)
Additional Information: This thesis forms part of the submission for the degree of MMus. The remaining portion of the submission is a folio which creates interpretations of selected works by Messiaen based on the findings expressed in this thesis.
Keywords: Messiaen; Theology; Harmony
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Music (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Mr Simon Dunbavand
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2014 07:51
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2014 07:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6266

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