Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Klangfarbenmelodie (German for sound-color-melody) is a musical technique that involves breaking up a musical line or melody out from one instrument to between several instruments. It adds greater color and texture to a melodic line, instead of just one timbre in playing the line.
The term was coined by Arnold Schoenberg in his text on harmony, Harmonielehre (1911), where he actually discusses the creation of "timbre-structures", which, in Jim Samson's (1977) words, "successions of changing tone-colors might create independent formal shapes which might be organized in a manner analogous to pitch structure." He and Anton Webern are particularly noted for their use of the technique, Schoenberg most notably in the third and the last of his Op. 16 pieces, and Webern in his Op. 10, a response to Schoenberg's Op. 16, and his Concerto for Nine Instruments, Op. 24. Even his Op. 11 pieces for solo cello use harmonics, am Steg, pizzicato, and am Griffbrett in the opening bars, and his orchestration of the six-part ricecare from Bach's Musical Offering, "betrays the same preoccupation".
However, "To a marked degree the music of Debussy elevates timbre to an unprecedented structural status; already in L'Apres-midi d'un Faune the color of flute and harp functions referentially," according to Samson (see also Debussy).
There is also a French term, mélodie de timbres, which means much the same and was used by Olivier Messiaen to describe his Couleurs de la cité céleste.
- Samson, Jim (1977). Music in Transition: A Study of Tonal Expansion and Atonality, 1900-1920. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0393021939.
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