Analysis Of “Dream Images (Love Death Music)” From Makrokosmos By George Crumb

926 words - 4 pages

George Crumb, an American avant-garde style composer born in 1929, once declared, “It is easy to write unthinking music” (, American Composers Orchestra). In his piece, “Dream Images”, Crumb intentionally uses both tonal and post-tonal techniques, such as set theory, melodic borrowing, and specific usage of dynamics, to create an unconscious feeling, as if in a dream. Although the theme of “Dream Images” is one of “unthinking” and fantasizing, because of its intricacies, it was definitely a piece that was pre-meditated and well-thought out. In his article Total Immersion: George Crumb, Barbican, David Nice expounds upon the description of Crumb’s technique in this piece, stating ...view middle of the document...

Crumb uses an excerpt from Frédéric Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu. In an impromptu form, the middle is intended to be dream-like and changing in tempo, in this case to moderato cantabile (Frederic Chopin Institute). In addition, the moderato cantabile section in Chopin’s piece is a nocturne, meaning it was inspired by the night, which correlates to the idea and title of Crumb’s piece (Frederic Chopin Institute). The use of this nocturne within Crumb’s music is interesting, because it comes after a repeated motive in the melody along with a repeated chord progression of I-V-I-V-I in the piano’s left hand that sets the scene for an ethereal or imaginary affect. Not only is it preceded by this melody and chord combination, but it also diminishes and there is a ritardando as it moves back into the combination. The affect of this instance of melodic borrowing seems to be that the original repeated melody and chords represent the fading into unconsciousness, while the repeated use of Chopin’s Fantaisie-Impromptu throughout the piece is the “dream image” that appears and goes, just as humans often fade in and out of dreams or have repeated thoughts.
Another instance of post-tonal technique employed in Crumb’s piece can be found in the dynamics. The content of the piece dictates the shaping of the music, which is evident in the dynamics of Crumb. As the piece begins, with the use of pianissimo dynamics, the affect is one of fading gently into unconsciousness. As the beginning melody continues, Crumb uses pianississimo markings with mezzo di voce markings as he eases the listener into the moderato cantabile of Chopin’s “Fantaisie”, paralleling the way that one enters a dream. By ending the “Fantaisie” with another pianissimo marking, Crumb...

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