SONORISM: FOOTPRINTS AND FINGERPRINTS
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Polish avant-garde music after 1956 has often been described by the term 'sonoristic', introduced into Polish musicology by the musicologist Józef Chominski. This trend, characterized by an emphasis on texture and timbre and often coupled with non-traditional instrumental and vocal techniques, became known as 'sonorism' [sonorystyka] and associated with the term 'Polish School'. While this paper touches on problematic issues such as the time-frame, definition and periodisation of the movement, its main focus is on the sonoristic repertoire and two complementary aspects which the authoress refers to, metaphorically, as footprints and fingerprints. The footprints are shared sonoristic features and characteristics such as texture and timbre used as primary structural elements, sharp textural contrasts, fast rate of change, and particular aspects of articulation and notation, all of which join to constitute criteria that enable one to distinguish virtually all sonoristic works from contemporary 'textural' pieces by composers such as Xenakis and Ligeti. The present discussion of fingerprints, which highlights highly diverse personalities within the general sonoristic trend, concentrates on three works: Schaeffer's 'Scultura' (1960), Serocki's 'Symphonic frescos' (1963-1964), Szalonek's 'Les sons' (1965). These works provide a useful supplement to more familiar instances of sonoristic fingerprints in the early works of, for instance, Penderecki and Górecki. Both aspects of such works are equally important for the understanding of the nature of sonorism. The paper concludes that, despite its problematic aspects, the notion of sonorism is not only justly imprinted as a term and concept in Polish musicology but is finally crossing the language barrier. The term 'sonorism' has come to usefully represent both the footprints and the fingerprints of the movement.
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