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Athanasios Zervas: Ralph Shapey - Movements of Varied Moments Εκτύπωση E-mail



Although the theoretical system of post-serial musical language has developed a common
analytical method to examine compositions of the late twentieth century, it is practically
impossible to de-code every musical creation in that style.  In a documented analytical view,
matters such as dimension, symmetry, hierarchy, and flux are of primary importance. The
personalized-radical approach of such matters by the contemporary craftsman raises the need, on
the part of the theorist, to devise an analytical technique that justifies and explains compositional
Ralph Shapey (1921-2002) is one of the most significant American composers of the late
twentieth century as well as an influential composition teacher.  He is characterized as a ‘radical
traditionalist’ and a ‘prolific composer’ by scholars, critics, and musicians.  In Shapey’s words:
“I radicalize the tradition… Composer is the architect in sound, time, space and flux” (Shapey
2001: 4).  Ten years after his death Ralph Shapey is still considered one of the most challenging
composers as to the interpretative requirements of his compositions, the understanding of his
choices in the treatment of rhythm and pitch material, the developmental procedures, and the
resulting aesthetics.

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