John Adams's Nixon in China: Musical Analysis, Historical by Timothy A. Johnson

By Timothy A. Johnson

John Adams' opera, "Nixon in China", is likely one of the most often played operas within the modern literature. Timothy A. Johnson illuminates the opera and complements listeners' and students' appreciation for this landmark paintings. This music-analytical consultant provides a close, in-depth research of the track tied to ancient and political contexts. The opera captures a big second in heritage and in diplomacy, and a detailed learn of it from an interdisciplinary standpoint presents clean, compelling insights in regards to the opera. The song research takes a neo-Riemannian method of concord and to large-scale harmonic connections. Musical metaphors drawn among harmonies and their dramatic contexts improve this method. Motivic research unearths interweaving institutions among the characters, in response to melodic content material. research of rhythm and meter specializes in Adams's widespread use of grouping and displacement dissonances to propel the track ahead or to demonstrate the libretto. The e-book exhibits how the old depiction within the opera is actual, but enriched by means of this operatic edition. The language of the opera is right to its resource, yet extra evocative than the phrases spoken in 1972-due to Alice Goodman's very good, poetic libretto. And the song transcends its repetitive shell to develop into a hierarchically-rich and musically-compelling fulfillment.

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Extra info for John Adams's Nixon in China: Musical Analysis, Historical and Political Perspectives

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LISTENING EXAMPLE: CD-1, t-3 (0:00–2:17) Just prior to this passage, in the refrain of the chorus, L transforms G# minor and E major triads into one another in a repetitive passage and in a parsimonious (or maximally smooth) way (I/i/162–5). As the citizens, in parallel motion in both the bass and soprano lines, begin to look up at the white fields, however, the addition of a nonchord tone, F#, begins to disrupt the harmonic repetition. 3. In this way Adams preserves the parsimonious voice-leading of the L transformation, illustrated below the score, even as he begins to move away from his repetitive use of this transformation.

When the tempo quickens at the beginning of the passage, the rhythmic tension increases through metrical dissonances. Like the tempo, the frequency, intensity, and complexity of the metrical dissonances also wax gradually until the climax, and then wane into the ensuing section. 1. Meanwhile, the highest and lowest pitches occur simultaneously but also project a metrical grouping dissonance of G4/3, as shown by the dashed brackets. However, these three-quarter-note metrical patterns occur offset from each other, because the meter implied by the pitch accents begins in the middle of the first measure, creating a metrical displacement dissonance of D3 + 2 (1 = quarter note; I/i/222).

As the metrical tension continues to build, Adams begins to alternate between meters with duple and triple divisions, although Adams notates the triple-division measures with triplets (I/i/259–70). However, even the measures with triple divisions, which themselves are dissonant against the prevailing duple meter, contain metrical dissonances of their own. The insertion of asymmetrical meters – seven–eight, five–four and five–eight – continues to heighten the metrical tension. 2 Brasses syncopated against three–four meter of the orchestra (I/i/247–61) State Ceremonial Functions 33 Polyrhythms, with sixteenth notes against quarter-note triplets (I/i/279–86) and against eighth-note triplets (I/i/296), help bring out the maximum rhythmic tension at the climax of the orchestral interlude, as Nixon’s airplane completes its landing.

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