Labyrinth Research Bibliography

Bibliography of Studies Related to Labyrinth Research (.pdf 517K)

This downloadable Bibliography has all entries sorted by author. The entries in the bibliography have been categorized below by topic and also by type (doctoral dissertation, journal article etc.).

Multicursal labyrinths in the work of Brian Ferneyhough

Feller, R. A.

Abstract:  The labyrinth is a symbol which has at one time or another occupied most of the world's cultures. As a sign of complexity and difficult process, the excessive and meandering path of the labyrinth emphasizes the need for perseverance in spite of an ever-changing terrain. Of the two primary structural types--unicursal and multicursal--only the latter embraces error and failure through its employment of retracing, multiple  paths and dead-ends.

In this dissertation the importance of the labyrinthine in Brian Ferneyhough's notational and compositional practice is explored through a detailed analysis of Terrain, a recent chamber piece for nine instruments. Ferneyhough's music is characterized by a high level of difficulty, due in large part to his utilization of notational and compositional complexity. His works are also distinguished in regards to their ability to comment on themselves. Ferneyhough often uses non-musical sources which function as metaphorical and structural models for his compositions. In Terrain he utilized the writings of Robert Smithson and a poem by A. R. Ammons. The multicursal complexity inherent in Ferneyhough's notational practice suggests various ways for the performer to interpret the music in non-habitual ways which are particular to the given work. The interpretation required is one which partakes in meaningful, context-specific, and necessarily partial solutions to the various problems raised by each piece. The performer's interpretive gesture is both 'heroic' in the sense of having to struggle, and 'anti-heroic' because of the inevitability of failure.

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