1

Stephen A. Taylor, Chopin, Pygmies, and Tempo Fugue: Ligeti's "Automne a Varsovie", Vol 3.3., Online Journal of the Society for Music Theory.

I looked up 'shimmering' on ODO. David Bruce explains this at 2:22, but I still don't understand.

[1.2] He produces these polyrhythms by combining two vastly different sources of inspiration: the Romantic-era piano music of Chopin and Schumann, and the indigenous music of sub-Saharan Africa. The composer writes:

One often arrives at something qualitatively new by unifying two already known but separate domains. In this case, I have combined two distinct musical ideas: the hemiola of Schumann and Chopin, which depends on meter, and the additive pulsation principle of African music. . . [T]he hemiola arises from the metric ambiguity posed by a measure of six beats, which can either be divided in three groups of two or in two groups of three. . . The shimmering effect of dividing the bar simultaneously into two and three produces the metric tension which is one of the most seductive attractions of the music of Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, and Liszt.

A completely different metric ambiguity occurs in African music. Here there are no measures in the European sense, but instead two rhythmic levels: a ground layer of fast, even pulsations which are not counted as such but rather felt, and a superimposed, upper layer of occasionally symmetrical, but more often asymmetrical, patterns of varying length.{1}

  1. Gyorgy Ligeti, "On My Etudes for Piano," trans. Sid McLauchlan, Sonus 9/1 (1988): 4-5. An abbreviated version appears in the liner notes to Erato Compact Disc ECD 75555.
  • You need to start by deciding what "shimmering" means to you for visual effects, then see what sound effects emulate (or synesthesiate, to coin a word) the effect. – Carl Witthoft Mar 14 at 12:52
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    Image-Google "Moiré pattern"; that is basically the graphic equivalent of a polyrhythm, and I guess the word 'shimmer' adequately describes the visual effect. – Your Uncle Bob Mar 17 at 20:56
  • Uncle Bob's comment should be an accepted answer. Especially for 3 against 4, or roulades, that's exactly the optical analogue. – Camille Goudeseune Jul 13 at 2:32
1

(After some months, nobody else has copied that comment into an answer.)

Image-Google Moiré pattern; that is basically the graphic equivalent of a polyrhythm, and 'shimmer' adequately describes the visual effect.

Especially for 3 against 4, or roulades, that's exactly the optical analogue.

  • You're right, maybe it should have been an answer instead of a comment; but I was unsure whether the question was even on-topic. – Your Uncle Bob Aug 6 at 22:02

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