Shigeru Fujita

Sur le même accord: Dutilleux’s Systematic Thinking in the Harmonic Dimension

This presentation reveals Henri Dutilleux’s systematic thinking in the harmonic dimension, incorporating the neo-Riemannian device of the ‘Tonnetz’ into an analysis of Sur le même accord, composed by him in 2002 for violin and orchestra.

It is true that Dutilleux was independent of any modern music movements, notably of the serialism in the 1950s and 1960s. However, this independence was not synonymous with a detachment from contemporary interests. In hindsight, it is evident that Dutilleux was among the composers who have sought in the post-tonal era a new system of writing music both rigorously and freely. In its harmonic dimension, Sur le même accord can be considered as one of the tidemarks of the systematic thinking peculiar to Dutilleux.
As suggested by its title, the harmonic design of Sur le même accord depends entirely on the transformation of the pivot chord of the six notes. First, the presenter will examine the pivot chord on the ‘Tonnetz’ to identify it as a hexatonic collection composed of three fifths: E-flat/B-flat, G/D, and B/F-sharp. Second, the presenter will model, again on the ‘Tonnetz’, the three types of its transformational possibilities: ‘transposition’, by which the pivot chord can take only four positions; ‘inversion’, by which the pivot chord can change its collection from hexatonic to octatonic; and ‘multiplication’, by which the pivot-chord can enlarge its collection from hexatonic to enneatonic as well as from octatonic to dodecatonic. Finally, the presenter will demonstrate that the harmonic dimension of Sur le même accord can be understood as various realizations of different transformational possibilities of the pivot chord.
It is worth noting that, in this respect, the solo violin may be a symbol of this freedom. It flies freely on the harmonic background constructed in this systematic way.