Klett-Cotta-Verlag Psychology

Die semantische Ebene in Elliott Carters Drittem Streichquartett (1971)

Juli 2015, 19. Jahrgang, Heft 75, pp 21-32

The Semantic Level in Elliott Carter’s Third String Quartet (1971) – The string quartet genre has been enormously extended in recent times, and is considered an »experimentation field« for the generation of composers in the 20th century. Elliott Carter (1908-2012) also contributed to this genre with a total of five string quartets. Here he drew especially on note-rows, as has been comprehensively discussed in previous research. In his Third String Quartet too, this technique can easily be followed thanks to his sketches. What has been neglected by researchers, however, is the fact that Carter attempted to add a second, semantic level to this work through characterisations of intervals and sections. With the aid of a semiotic interpretation of the piece, this article examines selected passages to show how the semantic level manifests itself in Carter’s Third String Quartet through intervals, rhythms and tempi. This opens up new ways to perceive the work, both for performers and listeners.

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