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How would one create music based on the principles of Cubism? (e.g., 20th century painters: Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger)

The basic definition of Cubism calls for the use of multiple geometric planes juxtaposed, or multiple perspectives of the same subject woven together.

While this may appear to seek opinions only, I assure you I am looking for the facts. I believe that there is a solid connection between sound and image, and those familiar with the geometry of space as well as the geometry of time will be of the most assistance.

For instance, could one consider fugue form historically a pointer to Cubism (as in modulating a fragment into several keys)?

Could one consider Polymodal Chromaticism as per Béla Bartók the musical equivalent of early Cubism? Incidentally Picasso and Bartok were both born in 1881. Is there a personal connection of these two? So far I can not find one.

Also consider Cubism having several variants as there are practitioners: Analytical, Synthetic, Constructivism, Futurism, and Tubism (Léger)

How would you as a composer interpret Cubism as a musical form? What would it sound like?

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this sounds like a fascinating premise for a thesis or dissertation, but I don't know if you'll be able to find the information you're looking for here. Unlike the vote to close because "topic is too broad" I actually think the sources you're looking for need to come from someone who is most likely "too specialized" to be on this site. I'll say though that Stravinsky is often paired with Cubism through his use of tableaux in his compositions. Bartok is more associated with secret programs and numerology - I have never heard him associated with Cubism. –  jjmusicnotes Sep 12 '13 at 3:57
Thank you @jjmusicnotes, your pointer to Stravinsky is a real gem, certainly appreciated. I will follow up with this lead. –  filzilla Sep 12 '13 at 19:59
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think the Semester IV of this online course could be relevant : http://academic.udayton.edu/PhillipMagnuson/soundpatterns/

You could ask yourself if the Cubism maintains/modifies/completely changes the different aspects of music :

  • Tonality
  • Vocabulary
  • Texture
  • Sonority
  • Time

Edit: As a complement, you can also read about the friendship between Georges Braque and Erik Satie, for instance : http://blog.phillipscollection.org/2013/07/22/table-story-friendship-georges-braque-erik-satie/ Braque loved and played music, and bought his friend's piano when he died. A lot of his early paintings feature music instruments, score sheets...

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+1 for sure for your excellent research, Prof. Phillip Magnuson makes some very useful connections between music and art movements of the 20th century. Thank you for that link. –  filzilla Sep 12 '13 at 20:06
FYI I have sent an email to Prof. Magnuson with this question too. –  filzilla Sep 12 '13 at 20:39
@filzilla: If you get a reply with an answer, please encourage P Magnuson to post his answer here, or post it here yourself with his consent. –  Ulf Åkerstedt Sep 17 '13 at 22:16
No reply so far, but I will keep you posted should one come my way. –  filzilla Sep 20 '13 at 18:36
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