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Abstract

Abstract This dissertation develops a listener-sensitive analytic approach to Elliott Carter’s recent music. Carter’s increased output of chamber music since 1990 coincides with a reduced harmonic vocabulary. Rather than beginning with theoretical considerations of musical parameters, I take a cue from the composer himself and develop an analytical method based on perspicuous aural events. In this dissertation, I identify common aural phenomena in Carter’s late chamber works and create an approach to mediate between an experiential perspective of his music and score-extracted analyses. Chapter 1, “Listening to Carter,” presents a hypothetical listener’s experience of Carter’s music. Chapter 2, “Aural Cues and Textures,” looks specifically at salient events in Carter’s music. Chapter 3, “Form and Melody: Aural Boundaries, Ambiguities, Shifts, and Constancy,” examines formal relationships that emerge from the phenomena defined in Chapter 2. A synthesis of the concepts in Chapters 2 and 3 with current analytical tools is the goal of Chapter 4. A final Chapter 5 is an analytic essay on one specific piece, Carter’s Clarinet Quintet (2007), which demonstrates application of the method established in Chapters 2–4.

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