About Referential Networks

As an introduction to my research, I invite you to listen to the first of my three pieces for piano solo,

Sí calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor lá… (2014).


Sí calpestando is an example of what I call a Referential Network in music: a composition in which references to other works play an important role during the compositional process and in the ultimate result. These can be references to other musical works, but also to works from other art disciplines. The references can be in the notes, but also in the title or in the images used. The origin of the reference is what is meant by the “Outside World”.


One aspect of composing is making countless connections to other works (consciously and unconsciously).

One can choose to destroy these connections, like Pierre Boulez tried to achieve in his 2nd Piano Sonata (1948), which takes Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonate as point of departure:


I tried to destroy the first movement sonata form, to disintegrate slow movement form by the use of trope, and repetitive scherzo form by the use of variation form, and finally, in the fourth movement, to demolish fugal and canonic form. Perhaps I am using too many negative terms, but the 2nd Sonata does have this explosive, disintegrating and dispersive character, and in spite of its own very restricting form the destruction of all these classical moulds was quite deliberate (Boulez in Griffith 1995: 11).


Or one can choose to hide the connections, as Gyorgy Ligeti described in regard to parts of his opera Le Grand Macabre (1978):


There are a number of quotations of Schubert and Rameau among others, but they are not detectable […].  You take a piece of foie gras, you drop it on the carpet and you trample it in until it disappears (Samuel 1981: 119).


Or one can use or emphasise connections by sampling them, like Heiner Goebbels does, for example in his Surrogate Cities (2000):


Man erfindet nicht, man findet, man ‘sammelt’… (Goebbels 1996: 181).


Here I would like to propose a fourth way: in Sí calpestando …  I transform the quote, trample it a bit, but not enough to destroy it or to make it vanish. You look at the carpet and at a given moment you lean towards it to get a closer look because you detect something. You zoom in, you zoom out and sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s gone. Important is that I reveal what is in the carpet, for example through the title.

Of these countless connections, those, which are created consciously, form what I call a Referential Network. The works to which these connections are made are the “Outside World”.


In this research I describe three different compositions as Referential Networks. Each of these compositions has a different approach to the idea of a Referential Network. The descriptions of the networks contain different components: the composition itself, an analysis of the composition, references to work(s) of other artists, and a theoretical and/or historical contextualization.

The three different networks are:

1) a network that refers to other compositions – first movement of What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved”(2014).

2) a network of (mainly) self-reference – second movement of What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved” (2014).

3) a network that refers to other disciplines -Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'” (2015).


Within the frame of this research, I contextualize the above mentioned compositions. These compositions represent my personal aesthetics and compositional strategies, but were also influenced by elements from this research. By looking, listening, and/or analyzing other artworks and studying the domain of intertextuality, I deepened my knowledge about possible uses of Referential Networks and increased my (deliberate) use of them. It sharpened my own ideas about what I want to compose and why. In different texts I will expand on this.


At the beginning of this research, before I formulated the idea of a Referential Network, I saw two possible directions I could take regarding incorporating my work as a composer into the research: a technical approach, or a broader perspective on the cultural field in which I am operating.

I started with the former. The first idea was to investigate a certain harmonic procedure I use and to see the relationship between this procedure and the idea of “tonality”. I encountered different problems with this topic. One was that I had to deal with a body of literature on “tonality” in the 20th and 21st century that I didn’t find interesting, mainly because this literature has been written from a rather indigestible, conservative perspective.


For example Dimitri Tymockzo – A Geometry of Music, Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice (Oxford, 2011).


Another problem was that trying to frame and “explain” the way I use harmony had a rather paralysing effect on my composing, as if every note I wrote suddenly had to fit in a system that as such doesn’t exist. But what really caused the shift away from my first research plan was that I saw that my perspective on harmony in relation to tonality was just one element of a larger idea in which the relationship between a musical element and a possible reference was much more essential. At some point I started to use the term Referential Network to characterize the way I see and analyse my compositions. Changing the focus of my research from a harmonic procedure to Referential Networks meant a shift to the second, the broader perspective.

This shift was supported by various texts I read about intertextuality in which I saw a relation to the idea of a Referential Network. If, as French Philosopher Roland Barthes says, a text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture, I asked myself: can I use this idea in a deliberate and/or (from my perspective, for my works) richer way to create new music. A text that generates endless possibilities to connect with other texts as a procedure for composing was something I recognised from my own practise, but how could I do it more consciously and with other variations than I had done until now? How could I develop new ideas for future compositions based on the ideas I would encounter? I needed to study intertextuality more systematically as a basis for further compositional investigation. At this moment I still feel like a novice in this field of intertextuality and don’t pretend to add new knowledge to this subject. I read about it, asked questions, and used it as a context in which to experiment with my compositional strategies. I realise that by using intertextuality in this manner, I move it to the domain of influence. As music theorist Michael L. Klein says: “[…] any crossing of texts is an instance of intertextuality, while within the potentially unlimited range of a particular “intertext”, any form of agency in which an author borrows from or alludes to another text is a more narrow instance of intertextuality called influence” (Klein 2005: 11-12). I would not call my compositions “intertextual compositions”, or “deconstructive music” because all compositions are in a way intertextual and deconstructive.


The term intertextuality is linked with the insights of Jacques Derrida’s “Deconstruction”.


Intertextuality doesn’t wait to be put into a composition by a composer; it’s always there.


See Marcel Cobussen. 2002:  “[…] deconstruction always already is and has been a part of the musical praxis”.


While reading about intertextuality I saw a parallel between the rise of intertextuality in literature studies in the late sixties and the changing aesthetics in composition from the late sixties until the early eighties (the moment I started to study at the Conservatoire). It’s no coincidence that the term “intertextuality” was coined in 1966 by Julia Kristeva, while around that time Bernd Alois Zimmermann wrote some of his major works like Antiphonen (1961) or Monologues (1964). And just two years after Kristeva, Luciano Berio wrote his famous Sinfonia with its third movement based on a tissue of citations. I’m not suggesting Berio was directly influenced by intertextual theories, or that Kristeva was influenced by Zimmermann; I don’t think this is the case, but obviously at this juncture there was a change in interest regarding tradition. Since the 1970’s composers like Ligeti, Schnittke, Rihm, Wagemans, Andriessen and Ades freely explored relations with the past.  Since some of the composers of this era played an important role both in this changing of aesthetics and in my own musical development in the 1980’s, I wanted to include this history of changing aesthetics in my research as the second component of contextualization. To look at, listen to, and/or analyse works of other artists creates a kind of Referential Network within this research. The point I want to make with this is the relationship an artist can have with tradition and what it means for certain aesthetical choices.


This led me to the following Research Question: How does a new composition relate to the existing body of (art)works: the “outside world”?



In order to get a better understanding of Referential Networks and of the relationship between the “existing” and the “new”, I explored various areas. As mentioned above I use my own compositions as a case study. Although I think the works also speak for themselves, for this research I analyse their Referential Networks. I asked for feedback from various performers to see to what extent my Referential Networks are noticeable and if they play a role in their interpretation. I show or analyse other artworks that have a relation to my working practice. Furthermore I studied some texts about intertextuality to contextualize and freely use ideas for my own practice.



The main body of the research is formed by the three compositions discussed in Chapter 1, 2 and 3, and are written from an author’s perspective. They deal mostly (but not exclusively) with compositional strategies. Each composition has its own network of texts, sounds, and/or images. Chapter 4 takes the perspective of the observer and Chapter 5 gives a historic contextualization. In Chapter 6, I describe my conclusions along three lines: 1) the artistic result; 2) the performer’s perspective; 3) the philosophical implications. At some moments you are offered a “side road”, which is not essential for understanding the research, but broadens its context.


One of the underlying thoughts behind presenting the idea of a Referential Network is to offer perspective and give meaning to the on-going discussion among “makers” about the relationship between the “existing” and the “new” and the related issue of “originality”.

The moment I entered the Conservatoire as a student, back in the “1980’s”, this was something that among composers was always brought to discussion. Last February (2015) I was invited to give a presentation on my piano pieces in the composition practicum at the Rotterdam Conservatoire where parts of this research were discussed, and it was clear that every composer present had a specific and individual relationship to this topic of originality. Influence and originality are concepts that every artist needs to deal with and therefore are interesting to explore. Furthermore, this research might give another perspective on artworks in general, because one could rightly ask oneself: do artworks without a Referential Network exist? I don’t believe this to be possible, but the ways in which an artist shapes these networks and hides or exposes the references is brought to the foreground in this research.





Next part:

1. Composition 1 - Sí calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là... (2014)


1.1. Analysis

Click to Listen

(preferably with headphones)

this is the recording of the first (live) performance, 

there are differences between the performance and the score

1st movement - Si calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là...

from 'What is Beautiful is loved, what is not is unloved'

Three pieces for piano solo (2014)


premiere live-recording 14 November 2014

De Doelen Rotterdam

Piano: Maarten van Veen

(since this is the recording of the first (live) performance, 

there are differences between the performance and the score)

Click to Listen

(preferably with headphones)

this is the recording of the first (live) performance, 

there are differences between the performance and the score

1.2. Context 1: The author, the reader and the text


Good intentions

Within this research the meaning of the word “text” is not limited to something written, but can be used for all expressions through literature, paintings, music, etc. that can be observed and interpreted. The author, painter or composer creates the text and the spectator observes and interprets the text by reading, looking, listening or playing. 

The author creates something with all kinds of intentions; and subsequently the spectator might hijack or simply ignore these intentions.

My own position as composer is that of author and first reader of my work. I have a lot of “good” intentions in the sense that I consciously use allusions to works of others in order to evoke references, which the reader is challenged to interpret.


I use the word “interpret” not as to “explain” (also not in a musical interpretation). “To interpret”, means to give a possible rendering, based on certain choices. “Interpret” as a consequence of  ”understanding”. The result is “to give meaning”.


The consciously used allusions to other works together form a Referential Network. These allusions or codes open up a space for possible interpretations of the music. Important here is that I don’t say, “I open up a space to give a meaning to the music”, as if I have used some kind of ultimate secret that the interpreter has to discover; this is not the case. The relationship between (absolute) music and a specific meaning is complex and falls beyond the scope of this research. My research is about a compositional strategy that is important for a composer and to see if it creates a common ground for the composition and an interpreter. What I want to achieve with this is the joy of hearing something new and provoking recognition at the same time.

I realise that recognising allusions or codes presupposes a shared cultural background of author and spectator. Writer and semiotician Umberto Eco even argues that a text should be approached with respect for it’s “cultural and linguistic background” (Eco 1993: 85). Although I do recognise the value of a shared culture regarding a text, I also accept the idea that in the translation of a text by a spectator, interpretations will be changed and added to, and that different cultural backgrounds create their own dynamic which can be surprising and valuable.


In the next part I will discuss a poem by Kees Schippers and two compositions, one by Pierre Boulez and one by Gyorgy Ligeti, in order to show how a text, by means of reference, steers the interpretation of the reader on the one hand, and the compositional strategies of the author on the other.

This idea of referencing as a compositional strategy and to steer interpretation can be related to my compositions.


How can we understand a text?

How can we understand a text while reading? To investigate this I present a small poem by the Dutch poet Kees Schippers (1936):



Ik heb je lief zoals je soms                          

gelijk een gouden zomerdag bent                        

nee nee nee                                                  

ik heb je lief zoals je bent                           

nee nee                                                         

ik heb je lief zoals                                        


ik heb je lief                                                  


Someone who doesn’t read Dutch will surely not understand it. Here is my English translation (with help of Pete Saunders and Magdalena Jones):



I love thee as thou sometimes art

alike to a golden summers day

no no no

I love thee as thou art

no no

I love thee as


I love you


If you can read both languages, you will notice that I’ve chosen the word “thee” or “thou” for “je”, and “art” instead of “are”, that is maybe not an obvious choice for a poem written around 1980, but I hope this choice will become clear within the context of this text.

To understand Yes one has to interpret the poem. To interpret not only means: “do I understand every word and do I understand every sentence”, but also “how do I understand the words and sentences”. A possible interpretation could be: Yes is a love-poem in which somebody declares his love but gets annoyed at not being able to find the right words. Every word seems one too many. Because of this only a minimal statement “I love you” remains. It is a small and clear poem in which no sentence seems vague.

But how do you understand Yes if you also know Shakespeare’s Sonnet XVIII Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? The first sentence of Yes is a direct reference to this famous sonnet, which makes the poem, apart from being small and clear, also a comment on the sonnet.


I don’t know if this reference is intentional, I didn’t ask the author. The interpretation is from me as a reader.


Schippers’ poem does away the comparison of “thee” to a “summer’s day” and answers the question raised by Shakespeare, Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? with “no, no, no” and “no, no” and again “no” (while the title of the poem Yes could be the answer to the six “no’s”).

To broaden our scope, Schippers is not only reacting to Shakespeare, but to a certain tradition in which descriptions or evocations of a beloved one are expressed by a metaphor. This has a long tradition in literature:


  • Bible: Song of songs 2:3

Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest is my beloved among the young men.

I delight to sit in his shade, and his fruit is sweet to my taste.


  • Portuguese troubadour (13th century) :

 Le[o]noreta, fin rosetta


  • Beaudelaire (19th century):

Ta tête, ton geste, ton air      

Sont beaux comme un beau paysage;                                 

 Le rire joue en ton visage.   

 Comme un vent frais dans un ciel clair


Within this context Yes is not only a specific reaction to Shakespeare’s sonnet, but the sonnet is a model for a certain type of love poem in which metaphors are used, to which Schippers reacts. If this certain metaphor-type of a love poem didn’t exist, Schippers’ poem couldn’t be read and understood within this context. Maybe even it wouldn’t exist at all.

Although written and sounding words are something different from written and sounding notes, we can transpose the idea of “degrees of interpreting by reference” to other disciplines, like music. Thinking of what Boulez said about his 2nd Sonata in relation to Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata (see Introduction), one could say that Boulez’s 2nd Sonata couldn’t be read and understood outside the context of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata; or wouldn’t exist without it.


Ex. 1: Beginning 2nd Sonata Boulez &

Beginning Hammerklavier Beethoven


Schippers uses a concrete reference to his precursor (the first line of Shakespeare’s sonnet) whereas Boulez tries to avoid clear references at all cost. The strongest connection between the Boulez sonata and its classical precursor is the four-movement structure with its distinct tempos (the second and third movement are reversed):





I. Allegro

II. Scherzo Assai vivace

III. Adagio sostenuto

IV. Largo, Allegro


2nd Sonata


I. Extrêmementrapide


II. Lent


III. Modéré, presque vif


IV. Vif.



Because of this difference, the referential connection between Schippers and Shakespeare is as strong as the referential connection between Boulez and Beethoven is weak.


Ligeti’s Horn-trio (1982), on the contrary, is a musical example in which a clear reference is made, although at first sight it might be a puzzling one: the opening statement in the violin, which is later repeated by the piano, is a transformed quote from Beethoven’s Les Adieux. But on top of the first page it reads: Hommage à Brahms.


Ex 2: Hommage picture

Ex 3: Ligeti's Beethoven reference & Beethoven’s Les Adieux


The Hommage à Brahms is easy to understand because the horn trio is written by Brahms. But why start then with a Beethoven reference? The story goes that the Hommage was not Ligeti’s choice, but a requirement of the commission. It was written for the 150th anniversary of Brahms, and the chairman of the ZEIT foundation, who commissioned the work, requested the Hommage and also suggested to incorporate music of Brahms into the new trio. Ligeti refused the latter and as a compromise included the first (Steinitz. 2003: 251-260). To start then with a Beethoven reference might be Ligeti’s sense of humour, like the fact that the quote is a kind of horn-call, but the only instrument that doesn’t play this motive in the trio is the horn.

One could say that this is just spielerei, but the last remark about “the horn-call that is not played by the horn” already suggests a compositional consequence. Another aspect of compositional consequences due to the referencing in Ligeti’s trio is that it also has an effect on pitch organisation, texture, and gestures in the composition. In Ex. 4 you see the Les Adieux reference from the first movement, played by the piano, and the beginnings of the other movements. As you can see, the intervals used in the reference, major 3rd - augmented 4th - minor 6th, form a point of departure for the material in the other movements.


Ex. 4: Ligeti –  Les Adieux reference in the piano, first movement,

and beginnings of the other movements


If you compare the trio with the Boulez sonata, it becomes quite clear that Ligeti preserves more of the Beethoven reference than Boulez did.


In my opinion, the strong referential connection between the poem by Schippers and the Shakespeare sonnet, or Ligeti’s trio and the transformed Beethoven quote, adds richness to the text because it gives access to an interpretation that exceeds the text itself. One should also notice that both examples, by means of transformation, create a distance to the reference. In the case of Schippers, the transformation is literally inside the poem because he erases the first sentence in two steps to come to an original work. The originality in Schippers’ poem is the way in which he creates a distance between his own poem and the poem he is referring too. The fact that the reference is obvious is an important part of its originality and by including a reference that could be known by the reader, Schippers encodes his poem in a specific way. The reference generates a specific interpretation.


The other poems mentioned above are connected to Yes in a more complex way because of the lack of a direct reference. The connection is on the level of tradition or culture in which it is normal to compare a beloved one with a summers’ day or an apple tree. A reader will understand that the beloved one is not an apple-tree, nor resembles it literally (are there strange branches growing out of his body?), nor is he like an apple tree. The tree, like the beloved one, bears something you want to put your teeth into. Imagine you wouldn’t know the idea of a metaphor. A comparison like this will probably be strange and confusing. (Just think about the way children can take language literally.) Imagine you would never have seen a “young man”, what image would you have of a young man who is like an apple tree?

A reader who doesn’t know the sonnet of Shakespeare will interpret “Yes” differently than the reader who does know it. The latter will probably understand why I translated the poem using the words “thee”, “thou” and “art”. A third reader could object to this translation, arguing that Schippers belongs to a group of writers called the “Zestigers” (“From the Sixties”) and therefore would never use the posh words “thee”, “thou” and “art” so it’s stylistically not appropriate to use it, etcetera, etcetera…


The “Zestigers” is a group of artists that wanted to level the gap between “art” and “real life”: “The artist, who is not an artist anymore: a passionless, pragmatic eye” (Armando, my translation).


“De kunstenaar, die geen kunstenaar meer is: een koel, zakelijk oog.”


What I want to show here is that the interpretation of an observer can be steered by references that are attached to a text - in this case the references are Shakespeare and the “Zestigers”- and that these references can lead to different choices. For example, accepting the word “thee” in a translation as a wink to Shakespeare, or rejecting it because of the aesthetics of the group Schippers belongs too. 

The same could be said about Ligeti’s use of the transformed Beethoven quote. A trio that recognizes the quote will have a different interpretation of the piece than a trio that doesn’t. Having said this, I do realize that the relation between a text and a reader is a complicated one. In the next section I will look at the relation between the author, the work and the reader, and see how different authors thought about this.


About the relation author – work – text – reader

Roland Barthes, in The Death of the Author, raises a fundamental question: who gives meaning to a text? As an example he takes Greek Tragedies in which the text is filled with words that have a double meaning. Each character in the play only understands one meaning that, of course, is different to what the other characters understand. “The perpetual misunderstanding is precisely what is meant by the tragic” (Barthes 1968: 6). Yet, according to Barthes, there is one person who understands the double meaning of the words and sees how and where it goes wrong between the different characters: this person is the reader. Barthes: In this way is revealed the whole being of writing: a text consists of multiple writings, issues from several cultures and entering into dialogue with each other, into parody, into contestation; but there is one place where this multiplicity is collected, united, and this place is not the author […] but the reader” And therefore  “the true locus of writing is reading” (Barthes 1968: 5-6).

Barthes’ point, reasoning from a reader’s perspective, is that he wants to free the reader from the author. The reader should stop searching for, or deciphering as Barthes calls it, the one “true” meaning of a text: the “message” of the Author-God” (Barthes 1968: 4) or the “genius creator” in the words of Foucault (Foucault 1998: 221). The reader has his own responsibility. A text is not a closed object with one authoritative interpretation, but is open, and the reader interprets this text using his own cultural background. Barthes doesn’t deny that an author has a relationship with his text, but the author is more like a “guest” and not the “owner”. Eco even says that the author’s intentions are inaccessible while the reader’s intention is questionable (Eco 1993: 122).

From the author’s perspective I would like to add that the multiplicity is first collected and united by the author who is also the first reader. An author encodes his text so that there can be any understanding in the first place, and he encodes it in such a way as to stimulate interpretations within a certain (aesthetic) frame. For example, when an author uses allusions to existing works, he creates an aesthetic frame for the text and the reader. At the same time an author can’t but accept that in the act of interpreting the work this encoding gets (partly) lost or changed. In music there is even a double interpretation: from the composition to the performer to the listener.

Brian Ferneyhough, who was once asked: “with what kind of ears should one listen to your music?” showed that one can think differently about this. His answer was: “With my ears”.


Here I paraphrase from a debate at the festival Complexity? held in Rotterdam in 1991, which I attended.


What does Ferneyhough suggest with his answer? That his music can only be understood from one specific perspective: his perspective? And that Ferneyhough’s perspective never changes? If so, then his answer refers to the “ideal listener”: only the listener who meticulously studies the artistic lifecycle of the author, who tries to become the author, is the one that can truly understand the work. But then there is still the problem of the static Ferneyhough.  Ferneyhough's answer seems an honest answer, but I don’t believe it. Apart from the fact that he is asking for the impossible (which he knows of course) which also has the scent of exclusion, it is the understanding that his music forms in me, which is all I have to go on, even if my understanding is not the composer’s (which is inevitable). It does say something about the positive, static, exclusive, modernist position of the author to a possible reader. What a modernist author expects from the reader of his work is, for that matter, not very flexible.


It would be a pity if this statement would lead to the conclusion that I am an advocate of some kind of “audience-friendly” art, which I am not. “The audience” as such, as a mass with similar characteristics, likes, and experiences, does not exist. Apart from this: it is not known how a new experience relates to a certain audience, therefore an artist can’t create boundaries for this.  See also the article by Ian Power. It would also be wrong to conclude that I denounce modernist art because of this attitude, or that I denounce modernist art at all.


It is fair to say that the author encodes his work primarily for himself, to create logic and coherence, and for the sheer fun of playing with ideas and material. “The listener” doesn’t exist, or it is the author himself, and even he is not a static and constant factor. But an author can’t help but make choices, and by doing so he leaves traces, within and outside the text, for example by means of allusions and titles or liner notes that influence possible interpretations.


In his Theory of the Text Barthes makes a difference between “text” and “work” (Barthes 1981: 39). “The work is a completed object, the substantive, while a text is a methodological field that can be thought endlessly. A text as a methodological field means any methodological perspective that is used to describe or analyse a text and by doing so steer and colour the interpretation” (Barthes in Makaryk 1993: 640).


In this respect the author is responsible for the work and one or more possible interpretations of the text, while the reader is responsible for adding interpretations to the text, based on the work.

Next part: 


2. Composition 2 - A Toccata: “What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved.” (2014)


2.1. Introduction: Self-reference in Music



1. Composition 1 - Sí calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là... (2014)


1.1. Analysis:


What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved is a cycle of three piano pieces written in 2014:

1st movement: Sí calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là...

2nd Movement: A Toccata: “What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved.”

3rd Movement: Lying is a delightful thing, for it leads to truth…


I will discuss the first two movements in Chapter 1 and 2: Composition 1 and 2 respectively.


Monteverdi and the Blues

Sí calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là... is a Referential Network that refers to other compositions. Of the three types of networks described in this research, this is the most common. It stays (mainly) within the discipline of music as the material is selected from musical sources.


 Ex. 1: Referential Network


The creation of this piece and the decisions made have much to do with the Dutch pianist Marcel Worms for whom it was written. Since 1997 Worms has worked on a blues project, “New Blues for Piano”, in which he invites composers from the Netherlands and abroad to write a new blues.




Composers, me being one of them, are asked to interpret the idea of “the blues” in the broadest sense possible.

I didn’t think it would be interesting to stay close to the blues as an African-American music form with all its very specific stylistic elements. Blues as such isn’t a part of my musical biography.


During the process of composing some (minor) decisions were influenced by the specific stylistic elements of the blues, like the simultaneous use of major/minor thirds.


I looked for a “classical” counterpart. This brought me to the lamento, a compositional form often used in 17th and 18th-century opera. Monteverdi’s Madrigal Lamento della Nimfa (1638), an early example, can be seen as an archetype of the lamento, or within the context of this text as an archetype of the “classical blues”.


Lamento della Ninfa is from the Eighth Book of Madrigals, which contains the so-called Madrigali Guerrieri e Amorosi (first published in 1638). The Lamento is the ninth part of the Love Madrigals: Non Havea Febo ancora: Lamento della Ninfa (Phoebus had not yet: The Lament of the Nymph).


I already had a connection with this particular lament because I used it as a point of departure for the 4th movement of my string quartet lamento della… (2005-2009).


Side road: 4th movement of my string quartet lamento della...


Monteverdi’s Lamento della Nimfa has an introduction, Non Havea Febo ancora. Listening to the madrigal and reading the poem by Rinuccini gave me the title of my first movement and an idea of how to use the piano. I will elaborate on this below. The idea behind Sí calpestando... and lamento della… (string quartet) is connected to Francis Bacon’s painting Study after Portrait of Pope Innocent X in the sense that it takes a historic example as a starting point for a new work.


Ex. 2 Francis Bacon -  Study after Velazquez's  Portrait of Pope Innocent X


Ex. 3: Monteverdi - Havea Febo ancora


All the compositions mentioned in the Referential Network (see ex. 1 above) play a concrete role in the first movement, but without the use of exact quotations. I prepared an Annotated Score (see ex. 4) where you can see by the different colours which part refers to which source. You can scroll through the score with the arrows below the score.


Ex. 4: Annotated Score


It’s important to see that all the different references are “swallowed” by the new composition, partly because there is no exact quotation, but also because the references are surrounded by “new” material and developments. Of the 89 bars, approximately half have no concrete or direct reference to other compositions.


The Title (Rinuccini)

The mysterious line Sí calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là..., (Thus, treading upon flowers, she wandered, now here, now there…), from Rinuccini's poem is the title of this first movement and provided two elements for this composition: a) the way the texture is formed and b) the inspiration of the harmonic backbone of the piece.


a) The texture

Rinuccini’s line has a double image. The last part “She wandered, now here, now there…”, sounds seemingly aimless, kind of “nothing to worry about”, but is heavily coloured by the first part “Thus, treading upon flowers”. In the music a similar kind of ambivalence is created:

- Upper-layer: twinkle-toed, enchanting music, in which the lament - in the form of descending lines and “sospiro” figures - is never far away. This layer connects to “She wandered, now here, now there…”  (See ex. 4: red notes are the extra descending lines, and ex. 5: sospiro-figures)

Ex. 5: sospiro-figures  

- Lower-layer: dark, low passages to portray the danger of violence: “Thus, treading upon flowers”.


The third layer in the middle is the harmonic backbone on which the other parts are built.

To summarize, there is:

a) A high nimble, meandering layer (“She wandered, now here, now there…”)

b) A middle harmonic layer (the harmonic backbone)

c) A low, gloomy bassline (“Thus, treading upon flowers...”)


b) The harmonic backbone (Monteverdi)

The origin of the harmonic backbone (i.e. the middle layer) of this movement is taken from Non Havea Febo ancora by Monteverdi. I took the harmony of Monteverdi's Madrigal but omitted the rhythm. See ex. 4 -Annotated Score: If you go through the score, the harmonic layer is coloured green. (Lyrics are added, to facilitate comparison with the original.)


During a lecture I gave on Sí calpestando…, Dutch composer Robin de Raaff put forward a comparative method used in jazz: to take the harmonic progression of one song and make a new song with it. For example, the chord-progression of John Coltrains Giant Steps (1960) was re-used in Dear John (1991) by Freddie Hubbard. In this example the title also reveals the source.


The other layers add colour to this modal middle part by adding perfect fifths. For example, the first two notes of the original Monteverdi score in bar 1 are ‘c-b’. ‘g-f#’ are the added fifth’s (See ex. 6: Harmonic Reduction: the added notes are in grey). In bar 2 the ‘a’ is shadowed by ‘e’. In the upper layer these added notes can be chromatically embellished to create the sospiro motifs. The extensive use of these sospiro motifs is also to underline the relation to the early Baroque origin of the title and Monteverdi's madrigal. The ‘d#’ in bar 2 and the ‘c#’in bar 3 are examples of this (see ex. 6: Harmonic Reduction: the chromatic embellishments are purple). When a note is introduced, it can be re-used freely. In this way eleven of the twelve chromatic notes are used in the first six bars. After this the missing ‘ab’ enters freely in bar 8 (there are a few more spots where pitches come in “freely”, this is indicated in red in the Harmonic Reduction). 


This free entering of the ‘ab’ is what I call a corruption of the compositional system, which I consider important. I won’t expand this thought in this research, but it relates to the title of my third piano piece: …lying is a delightful thing, for it leads to truth…

Ex. 6: Harmonic Reduction


When all the 12 notes have been heard, the upper layer stops for a short moment in bar 9 and together with bar 10 it articulates the first phrase. In bar 11 we are back at the beginning (upper layer) and the next cycle starts.


At this point there is an articulation in Sí calpestando to avoid the sentence structure of the Monteverdi madrigal that is supported by simple tonal cadential progressions.

The first sentence of the Monteverdi madrigal ends in bar 4, prepared by a 4-3 suspension on a dominant in bar 3 leading to the tonic C (see ex. 7, the madrigal -bar 3 and 4). 

Ex. 7: the madrigal - bar 3 and 4

These “three-chord cadential moments” in Monteverdi’s madrigal are exactly the moments where a rupture is created in the piano-piece. The first cadential chord of the madrigal, the chord that announces the end of the first sentence - the dominant sus 4 -, is used in bar 11 of the piano piece as a beginning. The relation to its resolution – sus4 resolves to 3 - is broken because there are two “free” bars in between.


With “free” bars are meant bars with no concrete, intended reference to an existing composition.


The resolution of the dominant chord in bar 24 of the piano piece is even more clouded because it comes after seven intervening“free” bars. The chord itself (bar 24) creates a kind of deceptive cadence and sounds out of place because of its register leap.

A similar procedure can be seen in bar 28: cadential preparation followed by intervening “free” bars (bar 29- 33) followed by the deceptive resolution in bar 34. This is equivalent to the second cadence in the madrigal (ex. 3: bar 7-8)


An important feature of the Monteverdi madrigal is the descending bassline of the first two phrases: c-b-a-g-f-e-(d)-c. This descending line, symbolising tragedy, is extrapolated into the piano piece. Descending lines, often chromatic, are added to the upper layer (ex. 4 -Annotated Score: coloured red), and the bassline from bars 1-8 is also a descending line. The release of this gesture takes place at the end of the piano piece from bar 75 onwards, at the moment the Rinuccini line Sí calpestando... would have been sung in the Monteverdi madrigal (ex. 3: bar 18-22); the beginning reappears one last time to end in a violent cascade of descending lines. 


Self-reference and a quote in a quote in a quote (Me, Wagemans and Mingus)

Bars 54-62 are taken from another source, the 3rd movement of my Cantiga’s D’amor (2001) for tenor and piano, and are thus a form of self-reference. (see ex. 4 -Annotated Score: coloured blue and ex. 8: Self Reference)

Ex. 8: Self Reference

The use of this quote is motivated by several reasons. The first reason is a musical connection between the two works. If you compare the group of notes in bar 45 and 46 of Sí calpestando… with the notes in bar 194 of Cantiga’s… or bar 47 of Sí calpestando…with bar 195 of Cantiga’s…, you see almost identical groups of notes. The role of the alternating minor second is especially important in both pieces. The connection is also made on another level because both fragments consist of a restless forward driven movement (sixteenth notes) that seeks a moment of release. In the Cantiga’s… I used for this release six chords and an ascending scale (bar 198-203). A horizontal energy changed into a vertical energy. I decided to use the same procedure in Sí calpestando... and I used the same six chords (with some added notes, bar 54-62). (ex. 8: Self Reference) 

The second reason to use this quote is that there is a topical connection. The 3rd movement of the Cantiga’s D’amor is based on a poem by Florbela Espanca, “Eu queria mais altas as estrelas”. The topical relationship is “Tragedy”. What was particularly nice about this quote is that it contains a small reference to the piece Strollin’ by Peter-Jan Wagemans, the 1st movement of Het Landschap (1988-89), and this piece, in turn, is based on the song Strollin’ by Charles Mingus, which is a kind of blues.


For the same reason, a musical and topical connection, the reference to Rihm’s Fremde Szene entered bar 31 of Sí calpestando.... (See ex. 3: Annotated score: coloured sea-green).


Ex. 9: Strollin' by Wagemans


In this way a quote in a quote in a quote is realised within which there are all kinds of referential relationships.


As mentioned above, the references are not exact quotations. To this I would like to add that the references are not used as a stylistic clash or in a conflicting way, the way references or quotations were often used in pieces from the 1960’s onwards. See for example the Bach, Messiaen, Mozart, and Debussy quotes in Zimmermann’s Monologue for two piano’s (1964), the “choral” in Rihm’s 3rd string quartet (1976), the Lassus, Beethoven, and Shostakovich quotes in Schnittke’s 3rd string quartet (1983), or the style quotations in the opening of Wagemans’ 6th Symphony (1994-95).

The references in Sí calpestando... were inspired by the concept of the work, which started with the request to write a “modern blues”. From this starting point the various references blended into one grammar.


Future music

Let’s return to the 4th movement of my string quartet Seven (2008): lamento della… which is based on Monteverdi’s Lamento della Nimfa, the song that follows Non Havea Febo ancora. I have composed the ending of Sí calpestando… in such a way that on its last note the lamento della… can start. A future plan would be to write a Piano Quintet in which the two pieces form the points of departure. This idea connects with concepts I encountered while composing the second movement:  A Toccata: “What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved” – a network of (mainly) self-references.






Ex. 9: From Wagemans Strolln'. Compare with bar 203 of my Cantiga's

Ex. 1

Ex. 4

Ex. 2

Ex. 8 Self-Reference: Cantiga's... & Si calpestando...

Cantiga's D'amour

3rd Movement

from bar 198-203


Ex. 7: madrigal, bar 3 - 4. First cadential moment

Ex. 5: Sospiro-figures (purple)

Side road: Lamento della...

Performed by The DoelenKwartet



Sí calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là... 

(Thus, treading upon flowers, She wandered, now here, now there…)

Ex. 3

Live - recording (2001)

Piano: Jelmer Blanken

Harmonic backbone


Madrigal Non Havea Febo ancora

Ex. 1: Referential Network of


Si calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là...

Ex. 6: Harmonic Reduction of Si Calpestando...

Black notes: Non Havea (Monteverdi)

Grey notes: added fifths

Purple notes: chromatic embellishment


1st movement - Si calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là...

Ex. 4: Annotated Score

Use the arrows below the score to scroll through the score

Si Calpestando

Bar 54-62 



Self-reference and a quote in a quote in a quote (Me, Wagemans and Mingus)

3rd movement from the Cantiga’s D’amor (2001)

 Wagemans: Strollin’  1st movement from Het Landschap (1988-89)  

Mingus: Strollin’

Rihm: Fremde Szene

Explanation of the colours

Monteverdi: Non Havea

Self Reference: Cantiga's

Wagemans: Strollin’ 

Rihm: Fremde Szene

Ex. 3: Non Avea Febo Ancora

Click on Monteverdi's portrait to Listen

Ex. 1: Übermahlungen - Arnulf Rainer

2.2. Analysis


Self-reference: Palestrina and Zappa

The second movement, when compared to the first, is another type of Referential Network; the main part (until bar 201) was constructed by re-using another complete composition of my own: Love Song (2009) for male quintet and string quartet.


From bar 201 onwards there is a kind of Coda that falls outside this description, and refers to a piece that at that time still had to be written, Figures from the Garden of Earthly Delight (bar 213-226, see Chapter 3), but of which I had no knowledge at that moment, and the ending of Skrijabin's 4th Sonate (bar 227-232).


I encountered this more radical form of using existing material (owner-using complete compositions) while studying the music of Wolfgang Rihm, and this is until now the only example of recent composers, i.e. composers of the last fifty or sixty years, referring to this form.


Just recently I thought of the relation between Berio’s Sequenza’s and his Chemins, this will be material for future research.


To use a complete composition in a new work was common in the Renaissance period, e.g. a motet that is re-used in a parody mass.

Side road: 

See Palestrina Assumta est Maria:

and Palestrina Missa Assumta est Maria:

The motet is based on the Alleluia: Assumta est Maria from the Liber Usalis, see:


I am not talking about different versions of the same song in different styles or different arrangements. You can find examples of this kind in the oeuvre of Frank Zappa, who is known for playing very different versions of the same song in live concerts.


Side road: Compare for example the song The Torture Never Stops

1975 You can’t do that on Stage anymore, vol. 4 Live-version:

1976 Zoot Allures Album version:


Übermalung: Rainer and Rihm

My starting point for the idea of re-using a composition of my own was inspired by the works of Wolfgang Rihm which he describes as Übermalung – “Over-painting”.


Übermalung is a concept of the Austrian painter Arnulf Rainer in which he paints over photos of himself and over photos of painters he admires such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Doré, and Schiele.



Ex 1: paintings of Rainer




Rihm translates the idea of Übermalung to re-use complete pieces in other pieces, adding new layers while keeping the material of the older piece intact. An example of this method is found in his above mentioned Fetzen assemblage: Fetzen I (1999) incorporated in String Quartet no. 12 (2000-01), incorporated in a new duet for string quartet and piano: Interscriptum (2000-02).



Ex 2: Fetzen I, String Quartet 12 and Interscriptum

Unfortunately the recording of Interscriptum has been removed from Youtube. You can listen to it via Spotify: Fetzen – Arditti Quartet



Rihm’s decision to use or not to use the idea of over-painting comes from what he calls an “intuitive aesthetic consciousness” (see interview with Lucas Fels). As an example, Rihm mentions the cello-concerto Styx und Lethe (1997-98) that is not suited for this technique. According to Rihm, there are many reasons to continue a certain idea: one is satisfied with the result, so by re-using it you a have a certainty in a next work. One can also be dissatisfied because you feel you can take the idea a step further, or make to fine-tune an idea. He adds: “not to achieve a ‘utopian' perfection’- that would be Boulez's goal […] but the idea of interrogation [fragestellung]”.


My study of these works by Rihm didn’t convince me to use this same procedure for my own work. A fundamental question that I couldn’t answer positively is “what is the status of the three different works; i.e. Fetzen I, String Quartet no. 12 and Interscriptum? Which of these three is the complete version? Rihm would probably answer that all three are complete in themselves, or they are the “searching for the complete work."


Rihm: “Es gibt Kunstwerke, in denen der Zustand des Werkes als Suche nach dem Werk formuliert ist (…)” (Rihm. 1985, 64).


In my opinion, Interscriptum unintentionally reduces the previous two compositions to pre-studies, to two incomplete works. Listening to String Quartet no. 12, while knowing Interscriptum, is like looking at the painting The Garden of Earthly Delights without the motley collection of figures in each panel. Listening to Fetzen Iwhile knowing String Quartet no. 12, is like looking at the painting with two of the three panels missing (which is a better option than the missing figures). To incorporate a complete existing piece into another work must have larger consequences in order to create connected but independent compositions. So ultimately, A Toccata forms a comment or critique on Rihm’s working method.


One could compare my critique with the way the poem Ja (Yes) of Kees Schippers forms a critique on Shakespeare's Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? But like most comparisons, this one is also flawed, because I don’t use anything by Rihm in this composition except for one perfect fourth (bar 118) which refers to the beginning of Fremde Szenen. Although the perfect fourth in this high register is striking, one can hardly call this a reference.


For A Toccata I use a complete composition, Love Song for male-quintet and string quartet (2008), but took far-reaching measures in how I used this piece in a new composition, as I will explain below.


From “lazy, laid back” to “over the top fast”

As mentioned above, for A Toccata I choose Love Song for male-quintet and string quartet. This choice was based on the fact that for the second piano-movement I wanted to write a virtuosic, “over the top fast” bebop-like music, and the harmonic language of Love Song, which is “jazz-inspired”, seemed suitable. With this I also took the first step away from the original, because the character of Love Song is rather the opposite of “over the top fast”: it’s more like “lazy, laid back”. The second decisive step away from the original source was to use the original harmony (vertical) as melody (horizontal). In this process some pitches needed to be adjusted.

At that point I realized that these two actions destroyed any audible relation to the original Love Song and I could start rebuilding connections.

In Example 3a, the bottom two staves give the harmonic reduction of Love Song, numbered from top to bottom. The stave above is the horizontally rolled out final version of A Toccata… (July 2014). The very first idea was to play the notes from top to bottom (notes 1-7, or vice versa, 7-1) in an arpeggio kind of style, but this I rejected (not interesting).

Then I started to use the notes as a kind of scale and improvised with it for several days. This led to the top stave (see: ex. 3, version April 5, 2014), which is already close to the final version (ex. 3, version July, 2014).

Ex. 3a: Referential Network of self reference: Love Song compared to A Toccata

 Ex. 3b: first page of Love Song, first and definitive version of  A Toccata


Rebuilding connections was done by changing the music back to the original Love Song. Bars 146-164 of A Toccata…, are almost a piano-version of bars 64 - 79 of Love Song(see ex. 4) and thus create a clear connection between the two works. Especially the octaves in bar 156-158 (piano)/73-75 (string quartet) form clear references between the two works (see ex. 4).


Ex. 4: Love Song, bars 64 - 79, compared to A Toccata, bars 146-164.



 Like the idea to use the relation between the first movement Sí calpestando… and Lamento della… (string quartet)in a new piano quintet (see chapter 1, Future Music), it would be nice to bring these two compositions together in one new work and especially to use the almost similar bars (146-164 of A Toccata…, and bars 64 – 79 of Love Song) as a pivotal moment.


I mentioned at the beginning of this Chapter the way David Mitchell uses self-reference throughout his oeuvre. I see some relationship with his way of working and my critique on Rihm. In the stories of Mitchell we see different characters pop-up in different, independent contexts, i.e. novels. Each novel has it’s own narrative and is set in different times. Because of the change of context, the character changes with it. With Rihm‘s working method the characters/musical elements stay – from the viewpoint of material – unchanged within a changing context.



From a philosophical point of view the same is never the same, like Borges shows in the story "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote". This is an exciting and interesting thought, which would lead to a very different discussion.

Next part:


3. Composition 3 - Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'(2014-15)


3.1. Introduction: A Referential Network in music that refers to other disciplines

Next part:


2.2. Analysis

Ex. 4: Love Song, bars 64 - 79,               

(Use the scroll bar to go to the next page)

2. Composition 2 - A Toccata: “What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved.” (2014)


2.1. Self-reference in music


The way I will use the concept of self-reference in this Chapter is to regard it as the re-using of earlier material, musical or other, from one’s own compositions in a latter composition. Through self-reference, relationships between works of one author are created. These works become part of a bigger network or a larger sound world that is inhabited by sonic characters that pop up in different sound contexts. With this, these sonic characters get extra opportunities to express or show something that wasn’t expressed in their first appearance. A nice example of this in literature is provided by the English writer David Mitchell who creates an oeuvre in which we meet the same characters at different moments of their lives, or their multiple lives (reincarnation is an important theme in his oeuvre), in different narratives in different works. Besides re-using characters, Mitchell also creates self-reference by referring to specific cities or his own invented magazines.


Until now Mitchell has written short stories, six novels and two opera libretti. Apart from self-reference, reference in general plays an important role in his works. These can be references to real historical events or to other writers.


Many 20th-century composers have used self-reference, of whom Charles Ives and Bernd Alois Zimmermann used it extensively. 


For (self-) references in the music of Ives see the wonderful book by Peter Burkholders All made out of tunes (Yale University Press, 2004).

Heribert Henrichs wrote about self-reference in „Eigenbearbeitung und Selbstlehnung in Bernd Alois Zimmermanns Frühwerk.“ From Musik-Konzepte Sonderband Bernd Alois Zimmermann XII/2005, pp. 83-102.

Self-reference is of course not limited to the 20th century. See for example Bernhart, Walter and Werner Wolf (eds.), Self-Reference in Literature and Music, (Brill/Rodopi, 2010),in which examples of Mozart, Leoncavallo and Mahler, among others, are discussed.


In these and most other cases, self-reference means re-using small parts of a composition for a new work. Until now I have understood and used it in such away, e.g. a small part (bar 54 -62) of the 1st movement of Sí calpestando fiori errava hor qua, hor là... is taken from the 3rd movement of Cantiga’s D’amor (2001) for tenor and piano (see Chapter 1). As I explained in the analysis of Sí calpestando this was done because there is a musical and topical relationship between these two compositions. In several other compositions I use self-reference in the same manner and for the same reason. To mention just one other: the viola solo from the 4th movement, lamento della…, of my string quartet Seven, returns in If I were God (2007) for choir, viola, and cello.




Ex. 1: lamento della… & If I were God




I encountered a different idea of self-reference while watching Lucas Fels, cellist of the Arditti Quartet, interviewing Wolfgang Rihm.


Side road: for the complete interview see

The section about Fetzen starts at: 21:48


In this interview Rihm explains how he uses complete works in other works. As an example he talks about the relationship between Fetzen 1 (1999), which is incorporated in String Quartet 12 (2000-01), which is incorporated in Interscriptum (2000-02). This extreme idea of self-reference became the starting-point of the second of my three pieces for piano, A Toccata: “What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved.”, which was written for Maarten van Veen, who premiered the entire cycle (three movements) in November 2014 in Rotterdam. 

The main part of this movement re-uses one older composition, Love Song (2009) for male-choir and string quartet. I will go deeper into the use of self-reference in the analysis of A Toccata…

Before this I invite you to listen to A Toccata: “What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved.” 

Next part:


3. Composition 3 - Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'(2014-15)


3.1. Introduction: A Referential Network in music that refers to other disciplines

2nd movement - A Toccata: “What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved.”

from 'What is Beautiful is loved, what is not is unloved'

Three pieces for piano solo (2014)


premiere live-recording 14 November 2014

De Doelen Rotterdam

Piano: Maarten van Veen

(since this is the recording of the first (live) performance, 

there are differences between the performance and the score)

Click to Listen

(preferably with headphones)

this is the recording of the first (live) performance, 

there are differences between the performance and the score

Next part:


2.2. Analysis

Ex. 4: Love Song, bars 64 - 79, compared to A Toccata, bars 146-164.

Ex. 3a: Love Song compared to A Toccata

The first page of the score of Love Song can be seen on the right.

A Toccatta...

Ex. 3a: Referential Network of

2nd movement  

A Toccata: "What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved

Ex. 1: lamento della... bar 20-24                                                       =                    If I were God bar 81 - 84

Love Song (2008)

Ex. 2: Fetzen 1

Toccata, bars 146-164. 

(Use the scroll bar to go to the next page)

Fetzen 1: 13.6.2012 Lucerne, KKL

Ensemble of Musikhochschule Luzern
Violins: Corinna Canzian, Liese Meszar
Viola: Sara Marigomez
Cello: Erica Nesa

click to listen (full recording)

Lyrics or instrumentation are added, to facilitate comparison with Love Song

Next part:


3. Composition 3 - Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'(2014-15)


3.1. Introduction: A Referential Network in music that refers to other disciplines

Ex. 3b: first page of Love Song.



Ex. 2: String Quartet 12  - "Fetzen 1" starts in bar 38. Changes have been underlined (purple).

Ex. 2: Interscriptum 

Unfortunately the recording of Interscriptum has been removed from Youtube. You can listen to it via Spotify: Fetzen – Arditti Quartet  

Ex. 3b: first version of A Toccata...

Ex. 3b: final version of A Toccata...

I. Creature reading a book

(right corner of the left panel)

Ex. 1: the three figures

II. Clothed person 

(right corner of the middle panel)

Next part:


3. Composition 3 - Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'(2014-15)


3.1. Introduction: A Referential Network in music that refers to other disciplines

III. Man with pen, paper and seal 

(right corner of the right panel)

3.2. Analysis:


Eco, Bosch, Shakespeare and me…

Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights’ is written for New Morse Code, a New York based cello (Hannah Collins) and percussion (Mike Compitello) duo, and contains three movements:

I. Creature reading a book (right corner of the left panel)

II. Clothed person (right corner of the middle panel)

III. Man with pen, paper and seal (right corner of the right panel)

They wil premiere it/premiered it on July 5th 2015 at the Firehouse Space in New York City and repeated it on July 6th and 7th at Spectrum NYC in the same city.




In 2012 I wrote a solo cello work for Hanna, Monologue, in which she is both an actor who delivers a (spoken) monologue (my own text) and a cellist who delivers a solo work for cello. Wordless singing is also incorporated.


Side Road: You Tube video Monologue, performed by Hannah Collins in 2012



With Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' I wanted to push the limits of a music-theatrical composition a step further. I wanted to integrate other disciplines, other than music and text, into the musical work, and by doing so create a Multidisciplinary Referential Network. The novels of Umberto Eco, especially Foucault’s Pendulum (1988) and The Prague Cemetery (2010), handed me a possible approach. As is known, these novels lean heavily on existing histories, characters, and texts. Eco’s way of working, in my interpretation, is that the sources used in these novels are connected to a topic or word. For example in Foucault’s Pendulum it is “The Holy Grail” (as an all explanatory truth) and in The Prague Cemetery it is “forgery”.This is deftly worked out on a microlevel (details) as well as on a macrolevel (the plot). In The Prague Cemetery, “forgery” determines on a microlevel the main character Simonini, who is a script forger and turns out to be schizophrenic (which can be seen as a kind of self-forgery). But forgery is also a main element in the plot, which is built around the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an existing forgery that inspired Hitler's extermination of the Jews. And on an even higher level one could say that the whole novel is structured like a forgery, since it uses existing historical data in a fictional way.The choice for the different sources, historical events and characters is made on the basis of a central topic, like the references to other 19th-century books that were plagiarized in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. In this way, “forgery” is the uniting factor that explains the choices made by the author in the fictional and quoted material.


A topic for my duo came along when I was reading about the background and possible interpretations of Bosch’s painting The Garden of Earthly Delights. Recent art historians have brought forward ironic and satiric elements in Bosch's painting, for example mocking the longing for paradise in the middle panel by characters who are obviously bored, or jesting the “Prince of Hell” in the right panel because he is equipped with a lot of ridiculous attributes.

One idea intrigued me especially. It concerns the three figures that can be found in the lower right corner of each panel. From the left to the right panel: Creature reading a book, Clothed person, and Man with pen, paper and seal. The idea about these figures is that they represent an anachronistic element in the painting, and by doing so “corrupt” the scenery on the different panels (Pokorny 2010: 22-34, Boulboullè 2008: 55-78).


Ex. 1: the three figures


The anachronism in the painting is created because the left panel, which portrays the creation of Adam and Eve, already shows a book in the hands of a duck/fish-like creature at the lower right corner. In the lower right corner of the middle panel – the actual garden of earthly delights – we see among masses of nude people, a clothed person.In the lower right corner of the right panel – the portrait of hell – we see objects from the real world of business like a pen, paper and a seal.

One could question this hypothesis of anachronism. Since the clothed man is difficult to see, it could also be the shadow of the cave; in the hell there are a lot of attributes that refer to the real world (not only business-oriented) and not only in the right corner, like the dice or the musical instruments which are situated more in the centre. But for my purpose this is not important; maybe it is even nicer that it’s just an assumption.


This idea of anachronism, as something misplaced in time, intrigued me because it connects to the idea of creating Referential Networks in which the present invades the past and vice versa.


Michael L. Klein is referring to this concept several times in his Introduction to Intertextuality of Western Art music: “The reader who comes to Vladimir Nabokov’s Invitation to a Beheading before Kafka’s The Trial, or who knows something about the horrors of the Nazi death camps before reading Kafka’s The Penal Colony brings to those older works new contexts difficult to repress”  (Klein 2011: 4).


Another motivation to use this concept of anachronism was the opportunity to use an allusion to the music of Bosch's time in the duo. The allusion as “misplaced in time” within a 21th century composition (and the Bosch painting itself gave an irresistible reason for this). 

An element that I have touched upon in the 1st movement of the piano work, also mentioned above, is the element of corruption. If Bosch deliberately used these figures as anachronisms, he corrupts the whole idea of the painting, which is a fascinating thought.


The next step was to find within another discipline an element that is related to the idea of “anachronism”. A famous and for several reasons intriguing example occurs in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. In the play there are a few dialogues in which people ask the time:

“Brutus: Peace! Count the clock.

Cassius: The clock has stricken three.”

Since the play is situated around the first century BC and mechanical clocks didn’t exist yet, it is an anachronism.

What makes this example so compelling is that it is misplaced in time and about time. And time is connected to music as an art that unfolds in time, and relates to pulse and rhythm. Freely translated to music, I regarded the concept of retrogrades as a musical anachronism, as it somehow refers to time running backwards.


To connect anachronistic images that corrupt the Bosch painting with anachronistic dialogues about time from Shakespeare’s play formed the ground plan for the duo. I searched for more anachronistic elements in other disciplines, e.g. in film (Tarantino), to see if I could add these, but they didn’t turn out to be fruitful. I wanted the composition to be firstly a work in which music is the dominant element, and film would destroy that balance. The elements used are literally in touch with the players; i.e. they hold the images and speak the lines, while film would have to be projected on a screen. The images and text are used as musical material and fully integrated into the score, adding extra layers. The images make sound by means of the book: the turning of pages, the sound of the book hitting the floor. The spoken text, precisely written down in the score, also produces sound. The images and text provoke a different, more theatrical view of what the performers are doing on stage and change the relationship between players and audience because the former speak in a language the latter understands.


The ideas of anachronism related to corruption and time had influence on the use of the instruments and the time-rhythm organization. The compositional ideas which evolved out of this can’t perhaps be called anachronistic, but are related, or developed from the idea of anachronism, in relation to corruption and time. I will discuss these two elements and give some examples from the score.


The use of instruments

This is the Wikipedia-entry on anachronism: “Anachronism is a chronological inconsistency in some arrangement, especially a juxtaposition of person(s), events, objects, or customs from different periods of time. The most common type of anachronism is an object misplaced in time, but it may be a verbal expression, a technology, a philosophical idea, a musical style, a material/textile, a plant or animal, a custom or anything else associated with a particular period in time so that it is incorrect to place it outside its proper temporal domain.”

I interpreted the last part of the last sentence freely, which is a good example of a compositional “translation” that is not anachronistic anymore, but developed out of the concept of anachronism. I changed it to “the instruments are placed outside their proper domain”. In the first two movements, the cello and percussion are (mostly) taken out of their “proper domain” in the sense that the cellist plays more of the percussive sounds and rarely uses the bow (when the bow is used, mostly artificial harmonics are played), while the percussionist often plays with the bow, mostly taking the melodic parts. In the third movement this is turned around, i.e. the percussionist plays percussive sounds and the cellist uses the bow, but the former uses “daily-life objects” for four of the five sounds instead of traditional percussion instruments, and the cellist plays in a ponticello, marcato percussive way.


Ex. 2: The use of instruments


The time-rhythm organisation

The composition is mainly built around rhythmic concepts; different passages are organised in or out of time and make use of palindromes. In-time elements are textures where the organisation of the two instruments is synchronised in a homo-rhythmic way: the music produces an unambiguous pulse.


Ex. 3: In-time elements: regular, homo-rhythmic passage: bar 40 – 45


Out of time elements occur when the pulse gets distorted (or corrupted) through the use of valeur ajoutee and poly-rhythmic organisation.


Ex. 4: Out of time elements: valeur ajoutee: bar 39 and 46



Ex. 5: poly-rhythm in bar 62 - 65


The end, from bar 222 onwards, is a special case. Here we have a homo-rhythmic organisation – continuous 16th notes – which would place it in the “in-time” category. But because of the displacement of the accents, there are unexpected shifts of the pulse at specific moments, which result in poly grouping from bar 250 onwards. Although this passage stays homo-rhythmic throughout, it slowly heads towards the most chaotic, “out-of” time passage in the piece.


Another concept that relates to time is the palindrome as a way of organising musical time that runs forward and backwards. The first movement, the percussion, is strictly structured as a palindrome (bar 1- 42 / 43 – 83; see ex. 4). In other instances, short internal parts are organized as palindromes.


A Bosch Bicinium and self-reference

Bar 126-155 of the 2nd movement is a style-allusion to a 16th century Bicinium (a two-part composition, see ex. 6). 


 Ex. 6: style-allusion, from bar 126 onwards


After this, a self-reference to the 2nd movement of the piano-pieces, A Toccata… (2014) is placed (bar 157-175). Both pieces contain a passage in which a cycle of 21 chords is repeated, transposed an augmented 4th up, in double time. The 21 chords are the same, but with different melodies and voice leading, and in A Toccata... a major second lower. In A Toccata the cycle is repeated a third time with triplets, again transposed an augmented 4th up. So both pieces speed up and at the end slow down (written out ritenuto).

Ex. 7: self-reference




In this chapter I have described a composition as a Referential Network in music that refers to other disciplines; besides music it also contains pictures and text. I showed how a single word, “anachronism” leads to certain referential and compositional choices: referential choices because both the pictures and the text are related to anachronism; compositional choices because of the treatment of the instruments “placed outside their proper domain”, the rhythmical organization, the use of palindromes, and the use of an allusion as “misplaced in time”.

Next part:


4. Performers Perspective


4.1. Context 2: About intertextuality and the perspective of the observer


3. Composition 3 - Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'” (2014-15)



3.1. A Referential Network in music that refers to other disciplines


A Referential Network in music that refers to other disciplines, or a Multidisciplinary Referential Network, is a network where references to other art-disciplines are incorporated into a musical composition.


An example of a painting as a Multidisciplinary Referential Network is We don’t Need Names Here (1973) by Marlene Dumas. The title is taken “from a line spoken by Marlon Brando in the film Last Tango in Paris (1972) […] and combined a still from the film with an ‘ethnographic’ photograph, a genre in which subjects’ names are rarely recorded”. (Exhibition Marlene Dumas, The Image as Burden, text plate in Tate Modern, London 2015.) The painting is the result of references to four different disciplines: we see an aquarelle (discipline 1) as a kind of décor in which two photo’s are placed: one is a still from a film (discipline 2), the other an “ethnographic” photograph (discipline 3). On the right side there is the handwritten title of the painting and the title of the film, in between the name “Paul”, the male character of the film, played by Marlon Brando (discipline 4).


Ex 1: Marlene Dumas: We Don’t Need Names Here



I used a Multidisciplinary Referential Network in Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' (2014-15). This duo for percussion and cello uses - besides music (discipline 1) - three pictures (the three figures from the painting; discipline 2) and text from a play (discipline 3). Perhaps one could say that any vocal music that uses an existing text is already a Multidisciplinary Referential Network. This is true but in this research I don’t talk about traditional vocal music-genres like song or opera. Also, speech that is incorporated into a composition isn’t meant here, or Sprechgesang as in Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Movement IV of Zimmermann’s Antiphone (1961) comes closer to how I used the idea of a Multidisciplinary Referential Network. In Antiphone the texts are spoken by the players and by doing so they cross the boundary of playing their instrument. Also, the use of references to seven different sources like Joyce’s Ulysses, the Bible, Dante’s Divina Comedia, Dostojevski’s The Brothers Karamazov and Camus’ Caligula is important to a Multidisciplinary Referential Network in music. Through the absence of one textual source, there is no unity of style, and (in this case) no linear narrative. As a result, the text comes on the same sonic level as the music and the music is not used to underline, or as accompaniment of, the narrative through the text, as, for example, in traditional opera or song.

Next part:


3.2. Analysis

Ex. 7: self-reference. Bar 157 - 175 of Figueres from... (left) equals bar 213 - 235 of A Toccata... (right)

transposed augm. 4th up

Ex. 6: style-allusion, from bar 126 onwards

Ex. 2: The use of instruments: the percussionist bows, the cellist plays percussive sounds.

Video: Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights’  performed by New Morse Code (2015):

Ex. 3: In-time elements: regular, homo-rhythmic passage: bar 40 – 45

Ex. 4: Out of time elements: valeur ajoutee: bar 39 and 46 

Ex. 5: poly-rhythm in bar 62 - 65

transposed augm. 4th up

Ex. 1 Marlene Dumas We don't need names here

picture taken in Tate Modern, London, February 2015.


4.1. Context 2: About intertextuality and the perspective of the observer


The observer

This chapter is about intertextuality seen from an observer perspective. In the case of music, the observer can also be the performer. I have talked to several performers about what my scores evoke in them and how they relate themselves to the references that I use in my work. I wanted to learn what references a performer recognizes, how they influence the interpretation and how much effort the performer will take to research the references.


One aspect that was brought forward in these conversations is that the performers use references as a direction, to get ideas to think about. One of the conclusions I have drawn is that references by composers in scores function for the performer as a springboard for inspiration and possible further investigation (see Chapter 4.2. Correspondence and talks: performers perspective). Another aspect that has become clear is that performers will apply the references according to their own framework. As Hannah Collins (cellist of New Morse Code, (see Chapter 4.2.) said to me:  “What I do with the score is totally out of your control, but you can have a guess how I would react.  We had this experience in Monologue [a cello-solo piece I wrote for her in 2012]. With the stage-directions, I sometimes had a very different reaction to what you were expecting.” Maggie Urquhart (violone player, (see Chapter 4.2.), relating to a different composer and time-period, stated: “we never know for sure what is exactly meant or how it should be performed. What was exactly Bach’s relation to text? We can read a lot, do a kind of archaeological work, but we never know.”

The question at hand is, when is an interpretation valid and when is it not? In order to contextualize this question I will now look at intertextuality, and I will discuss how different authors like Michael Klein, Jacques Derrida and Umberto Eco have thought about the relationship of an observer to a text.


About the limits of intertextuality

Intertextuality is a term introduced in 1966 by the Bulgarian-French philosopher Julia Kristeva to indicate a text as “a permutation of texts, … the site of many utterances taken from other texts” (Klein 2005: 2-3).


In previous texts I have written about the way we can understand a text, and the relation between the author, the text and the reader. I mentioned Barthes’ idea of a text as a tissue of citations resulting from the thousand sources of culture. These ideas are all related to intertextuality.


Klein states in the first chapter of Intertextuality in Art Music: Eco, Chopin, and the Limits of Intertextuality: “Theories of intertextuality … claim that a reader always brings other texts to an understanding of the single text, so that all writing is filled with allusions, quotations, and references to other writing” (Klein 2005: 1). While Kristeva mentions that a text is a permutation of other texts, Klein, following Roland Barthes, shifts the perspective to the reader who always connects the text s/he is reading with an in principle infinite amount of other texts. A question raised in Klein’s chapter, and also here, is whether there is a limit to the texts that are brought along to understand or interpret another text.


As mentioned before (Context-Network 1), I use the word “interpret” not as “to explain” (also not in a musical interpretation). “To interpret” means to give a possible rendering, based on certain choices. “Interpreting” is a consequence of  ”understanding”. The result is “to give meaning”.


Klein does not want to limit his options and is close to Barthes’ view of the text as a methodological field that cannot be closed (Barthes 1981: 39). Klein: “… the writer who comes closest to describing the kind of intertextuality I have in mind … is [English music theorist Raymond] Monelle who includes … nodes that reference texts of all kinds … in an open-ended invitation to consider the full effect of intertextuality and its implication that there is nothing outside of the text” (Klein 2005: 21).  This last remark is connected to Jacques Derrida’s “il n’y a pas de hors-texte” (there is no outside-text), which means that everything (including any context) is texted, a sign in some kind of system. Derrida furthermore advocates the idea that it is not possible to have a stable meaning in a text, or as Cobussen says:  “No author can avoid or circumvent the multiplicity of meanings of a text, a word, music” (Cobussen 2002). In my opinion, this multiplicity of meanings is steered by the known reality.


Known reality: reality that is created by what we know. Adding or removing information constantly changes this reality. To give an example: When I looked for the first time to the painting We don’t need names here of Marlene Dumas, I saw two photos of which I recognized one as a still from Last Tango in Paris. I understood why Dumas had chosen this title. I understood what she had written on the right side of the painting. If I, for instance, wouldn’t have seen the film or remembered other aspects of it, I would have seen a different version of the same painting. The second photo was unknown to me and enigmatic in relation to the title. I was left searching for a relation and trying different interpretations (or I could just accept that the photo is there). More knowledge about this second photo could have brought me closer to the intentions of the author of combining the two photos.


In La vérité en peinture, Derrida gives a nice example of this problem of the inside-outside of an artwork and how the known reality can be a part of the text. Derrida takes Immanuel Kant’s example of the frame that should not be included in an aesthetical judgement: it is outside of the work. For Kant the frame is a parergon, Greek for outside or next to the work itself, and (therefore) an “accessory” or “subordinate matter”, while the painting is the ergon, the real work. To Derrida this is only one way of determining what is in- or outside the work. Other possibilities might be to include the frame, the wall, the museum, and/or the social- and historical context of the painting, with the result that different perspectives and interpretations emerge. Derrida claims that we have no absolute ground to decide what does and what does not belong to an artwork, and shows that there are various options (Derrida 1987; Cobussen and Welten 1996).


Umberto Eco has a different standpoint. For him the text should be approached with the “cultural and social thesaurus of the text” in mind. In Eco’s reasoning, one could argue, for example, that it was not Rembrandt’s intention to include the frame or the wall to the painting, and therefore it should not be considered in our aesthetical judgement. As Eco proposes, there is a fundamental difference between the reader and the author. The reader tries to get close to the intention of a text and therefore needs to take the cultural and social thesaurus of the text into account, while an author can use texts and therefore play with, or ignore, the cultural and social thesaurus of the text.

As an example Eco quotes one phrase from the poem I wander lonely as a cloud (1815) by the English poet William Wordsworth: “A poet could not but be gay”. Eco says that interpreting this sentence with homosexual connotations falls outside of the cultural and linguistic context of the poem. “In that time ‘gay’ did not have a sexual connotation and acknowledging this fact means an interaction with a cultural and social thesaurus” (Eco 1992: 84). Eco adds that he can use the Wordsworth poem for a parody, to show that he can read the text within different cultural boundaries. However, according to Eco, that would be “using” rather than interpreting the poem. One could debate where “interpretation” stops and “using” starts, but interesting here is that Eco, the literary scholar, limits interpretation by the “cultural and social thesaurus” of the poem, while Eco, the writer, would allow himself the freedom of “using”. Thus, according to Eco, the author has more freedom because he “uses” texts, while the reader is asked to stay within the limits of the “cultural and social thesaurus”.


With this example, Eco shows how problematic his position is: the fact that Eco has raised the question of sexual connotation means that he already read the poem differently than any early 19th-century reader could. As Cobussen has argued: “Textuality, this dissemination or dispersal of meanings, this play of differences in writing, in and between texts, is an irresistible force. It cannot be repressed” (Cobussen 2002). However, in my opinion, Eco still has a point here. The “cultural and social thesaurus” is important because it brings the reader closer to the intentio operis, the intention of the text (Eco 1993: 113). Even knowing that the dispersal of meanings cannot be repressed, and that in the reading and interpretation encoding gets lost or changed, in certain cases – such as the use of “gay” in the Wordsworth poem - one can still distinguish between the intention of the text and reader’s addition. Eco writes about the inaccessible author and the questionable reader and to this he adds that between these two one can find “ the transparent intention of the text, which refutes an unsustainable interpretation” (Eco 1993: 122).


This leads me to wonder what the boundaries are of this “unsustainable interpretation”. Or to come back to a previous question: when is an interpretation valid and when is it not? I do not believe it is possible to define these boundaries; and Eco himself also gives a more open answer to this question than one would expect from his rather definitive statements about the cultural and social thesaurus: “we would better ask ourselves if the associations lead somewhere” (Eco 1993: 122). Rather than criticizing the associations themselves, their validity should be questioned. Eco admits that if somebody comes up with an interpretation of his work, which he had not intended for, he cannot reply: “I did not want to say this and therefore your reading is illicit”. Instead he should admit “I did not want to say this, but I have to admit that the text says it and I thank the reader who made me aware of this.” Or he could reason that “irrespective of the fact that I did not want to say this, I think that a thoughtful reader should not accept such an interpretation, since it is inefficacious and I do not have the impression that it is supported by the text” (Eco 1993: 118).



Can I transfer the “validity of associations” to my compositions and give an example from my scores in relation to this? The answer has much to do with the reason to use references, because these references - of course in combination with many other instructions - should ideally lead to rather specific performances. For example in Sì calpestando…  (see Chapter 1) in bar 2 it reads sospiro. This word, together with the used motive and title (referring via Rinnuncini to Monteverdi), reveals a way of playing that can serve as inspiration for the performer. Similarly, A Toccata… (see Chapter 2) refers to a genre with a performance history. Therefore, if a performer would suggest playing Sì calpestando… in the manner of a toccata, I would say: “I do not have the impression that this is supported by the text”. But still, in most cases it is difficult to say when an interpretation is right or wrong.

Next part:


4.2. Performers perspective


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From these talks it becomes clear that each of the musicians I spoke searches for clues that can help him/her in performing the music. Recognizing references, getting background information via texts or from the composer is considered useful, although it is also clear that achieving a precise relationship between recognized references, background information, and interpretation is difficult if not impossible. More specific research would be necessary to draw more precise conclusions. Below I have grouped the answers of the performers according to relevant topics of this research. 


On the influence of references:

- “I can’t say that it doesn’t influence me and I can’t say that it is the only influence. It’s one part of a complete story.“ (Van Veen).

- “I translate your score, and this happens immediately, because I am going to compare it with my own background, to create a relationship, an interpretation or a form that I understand.” (Van Veen).

- Collins says something similar: “I would take the privilege of creating my own understanding, even if the composer is available, because at the end of the day I have to be able to navigate through the piece. It doesn’t necessarily have to make sense to anybody else the way I am thinking of it.”

- “I don’t necessarily think too much about a title, but your piece is really asking for it. And I must admit, I found it nice that the title is related to a painting and that there are Shakespeare indications.” (Saunders).

- “To get me in a certain mood. Because of the reference to the painting, I get an idea of a dream world. And the sentences [Shakespeare] seem to be something, but actually it is something else. It’s a kind of confusion.” (Urquhart).

- “The title certainly gets an interpretation started. In this case, identifying the painting already opens up a palette of things for the player to be thinking about (colours, sounds, human moods) that can be seen or imagined from the painting.” (Collins). 

- “You added a lot to the music: the title and showing the images during the performance, and throwing and kicking the book. It becomes very theatrical. It creates an atmosphere.” (Saunders).

- But Saunders also states that: “First I want to have an impression of the notes, that’s more important for me. Music should speak for itself, without references.” (Saunders). This connects to his earlier statement about the title.

- Worms says something similar: “it [the title] does affect me to a certain extent and it also clarifies things.” and “I like a title.” But: “This explanation was very useful, but also restrictive because it was hard to see the music as absolute music. The interpretation in principle comes from the notes.” (Worms).

- Verschuren doesn’t mind the title, but would still do research on it: “… I would use Google and read about the history of the painting, the painter and the context.”


The answers on the influence of reference are not very specific. They range from a certain influence:  “To get me in a certain mood”, to apparently no influence: “I don’t mind the title”. On the other hand, every performer would make an effort, one way or the other, on the information they see in the score.


From references to interpretations:

- “I played the top-notes of the right hand differently, less legato. I started to play the bass a bit softer to create a longer tension curve. You look for a musical translation of the images you get from the title.” (Van Veen).

- “If I look at the first page and see I have to make all these noises, hit the wood, rub the strings and I look at the painting, I look for those sounds in the painting. If the piece would have had a relationship too, something completely different like electronic music, you would approach the sounds differently. The title puts me in the context of the painting, so I could be looking at the items that are in the painting and what kind of sound they produce, instead of looking for a sound that could be produced by a computer.” (Collins).

-“ What is firstly important to me is how I have to say the lines in relation to how I should play the notes. Body movement in relation to expression is to my opinion important to this. For example the first line ‘like a servant’ – I shouldn’t be too wide with my gestures. The way I would understand the character will steer the way to play it.” (Compitello)

- “The elaborate and mysterious title immediately gave me the feeling that I was confronted with a ‘momentous’ piece.” (Worms). From this I could conclude that the title steered his interpretation.

Two other (for me) surprising elements are the effect of notation on study focus (micro- or macro-structure); and the size of the score on interpretation:

-“… I noticed the detailed notation. Therefore I focused on the square millimetre and had less an eye for the bigger line of the piece.” (Worms).

-“Later you’ve sent me the revised version in the DoNeMus-edition, which had a bigger size. Because of the larger size, I started to play it ‘grander’.” (Worms).

I never thought about score-seizes in relation to a performance, and I’m not sure yet if, and what consequence these remarks of Worms will have in my future composing.

-Another interesting viewpoint on performing and interpretation is that “… you have to […]pretend like an actor, and in order to pretend you need to know what’s happening.”(Urquhart).

-For Verschuren the references, for example through a title are interesting, but not important: “I don’t mind a title. I wouldn’t have the feeling you are steering me. To me it feels more as if the composer wants to show the seed where the piece came from. Interesting for a performer, but not leading to a very specific interpretation I’d say. (Verschuren).


In these answers more specific remarks are made: about articulation, dynamics, sound, expression. What I found interesting is the folowing answer of Collins: “If I look at the first page and see I have to make all these noises, hit the wood, rub the strings and I look at the painting, I look for those sounds in the painting. If the piece would have had a relationship too, something completely different like electronic music, I would approach the sounds differently”. Interesting because it says something about the way a reference gives a direction. Although, as one of the other performers (Verschuren) remarked about references: “not leading to a very specific interpretation I’d say”, which is true of course.


On further research (Google, visit a library, something else):

-“Your explanation was extensive and gave no reason for further investigation.” (Worms).

Also Van Veen did not do further research on titles or composers’ names that were put in the score, or concretely try to build a hypothesis around this. But he does not exclude that it might cross his path in the future.

-An interesting point of view was provided by Saunders: “No, not really. I would let it happen, because the combination [Bosch-Shakespeare] doesn’t seem obvious. And there doesn’t need to be a reason, maybe I discover it along the way, but it doesn’t have to be there. To explain it can take something away. That’s a conscious choice, to leave it and just see what happens.”

-“I would (and have) googled the painting and painter, read some biographical information, looked closely at a digital version of the painting, looked at some other paintings by Bosch.” (Collins).

-“I would Google the text, possibly read the play, try to find a video of the scenes involved, and/or discuss it with a more literary colleague.” (Collins).

-“I have read the Shakespeare.” and  “As a kid we went to the Prado every year. […] the Bosch painting I remember very well”. (Compitello)


The answers to this question give a difference between the performers I worked with (Van Veen and Worms) and the ones I haven’t worked with yet (Collins and Compitello).

Van Veen and Worms didn’t feel the need to do research because I already provided them information (for example the poem of Rinuccini) and we discussed different aspects during rehearsals. I haven’t worked with Collins and Compitello yet, and didn’t sent them extra information on the “Figures from…”. Both indicated that they did some kind of research on the references.


Different performers brought up elements that are closely related to this research. Especially the fact that the “known reality” of the performer (observer) steers the interpretation (see Chapter 1.2: The author, the reader and the text, and 4.1: About intertextuality and the perspective of the observer).

- “My views are constantly enriched and changed by the surroundings.” (Van Veen).

- “I translate your score, and this happens immediately, because I am going to compare it with my own background, to create a relationship, an interpretation or a form that I understand.” (Van Veen).

- “Yes, but that is not so interesting for me [the causality between the Bosch figures and the Shakespeare lines]. The causality I create is more important for me.” (Saunders).

- “What I do with the score is totally out of your control, but you can have a guess how I would react.  We had this experience in Monologue. With the stage-directions, I sometimes had a very different reaction to what you were expecting.” (Collins).

- “But we never know for sure what exactly is meant or how it should be performed. What exactly was Bach’s relationship with text? We can read a lot, do a kind of archaeological work, but we never know.” (Urquhart).




Concrete Outcomes


A direct, one-to-one relationship between a reference and an interpretation is impossible, and this was never my goal either. I am not even sure if I could point out what this exact relationship would be like. What interests me, is that references set directions and excite the performer to engage with my scores, and to share with them “worlds” that fascinate me. It is rather the process it triggers which interests me, than where the process, other than a good performance, leads to.


In the future I would consider giving more precise background information on the references to feed the “known reality” of the performer, and create a richer context for inspiration, understanding, and interpretation. I would send the performer material connected to the references as preparation for the new composition before s/he gets the score.

4.2. Performers perspective



Interviewing performers

As a part of this research I spoke with several performers. The talks were in a restaurant or at a kitchen table, via email or Skype. I recorded them on my iPhone or, stored email correspondences on my laptop. There is a big difference between virtual correspondences and talking in real time. The interactive nature of a live talk leads to a different conversation than a more static email correspondence.


I had these conversations because I was curious to find out if the references in my compositions are recognized and what their effect is on the performer. What does it mean for the performer’s interpretation, and in what way could the references function as a starting point for research, either during the practice process or after?


The performers are divided into two groups:

1) Performers that have played my music: pianists Maarten van Veen and Marcel Worms; cellist Hannah Collins and percussionist Mike Compitello of New Morse Code.

2) Performers that have never performed my music: double bass/violone player Maggie Urquhart, trombonist Pete Saunders, and bassoonist Wouter Verschuren.


The second group is interesting for me because they come from a very different musical practice and background. The performers in group 2 are specialists in authentic performance practice and/or orchestra players. It is interesting to see how they react to a contemporary score, which perhaps holds few references to their normal practice.



The first group received the score together with some explanation, we interacted during rehearsals, and I sent them a questionnaire. The second group just received the score and a questionnaire. In face-to-face talks, the questionnaire was not necessarily followed strictly. The text below is a summary of the correspondences and talks carried out. I have permitted myself to edit these for the sake of readability. When I made the transcript, I sent it to the performers and asked them for remarks, additions or corrections. After the summaries, I reflect on what has been said and draw some conclusions.


5. Certain aspects of European composed art music after the Second World War


Historical Referencing

When considering my research topic of referencing, one could ask: why is it so special to use quotes or references of other works or of a certain past? Looking at 1000 years of music history, referring to other music is certainly not new.


See for ex. :

Meconi Honey (editor). 2004. Early Musical Borrowing. New York: Routledge.

Carrell Norman. 1967. Bach the Borrower. London: Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Parmer Dillon. 1995. “Brahms – Song Quotation and secret program” in 19th-Century Music, Vol. 19, No. 2. 161-190.

Peter Burkholder. 2004. Ives – All made of Tunes. Yale: Yale University Press.


Referring, alluding, quoting etc. is related though not the same as intertextuality, the topic of other elements of this research.


To explore this relation to the past, I will discuss some of Pierre Boulez’ views on past and tradition. I use his ideas as an example of the standpoint of European Avant-Garde composers after the Second World War, the so-called Stunde Null generation. To me, an important aspect of this perspective is the notion of history as a linear, evolutionary process. Bernd Alois Zimmermann (1918-1970) offers an alternative to this view: history not as a linear process but as a spherical shape (Kugelgestalt). I will sketch how this latter idea from the 1960’s developed towards musical postmodernism in the 1980’s.


Postmodernism is a term that is under debate. With postmodernism I mean what comes after, and in reaction to, modernism. A common feature of composers that could be considered postmodern is the dialogue they seek with tradition in a different way than Boulez. I see Zimmermann’s view on history as an important contribution to the development of musical postmodernism in the 1980’s.


To parody or “use” existing music is at the basis of our Western music history. Think of a Vox Principalis to which a Vox Originalis was added around the year 1000. The reasons for parodying differ from period to period. For example, in the case of the Vox Principalis this was one way of exploring the newly found technique of polyphony, since models for “free” polyphonic composition did not yet exist. On the other hand, neo-classicists in the twentieth century parodied models and styles from the past to restore the connection with that past after the first wave of experiments at the beginning of the century.


In the analysis of the Toccata, I mention the parody practice in the Renaissance.


What makes these allusions at the end of the twentieth century stand out is especially due to the position some composers took after the Second World War regarding “tradition”: to develop a compositional practice which ultimate goal it was to place the past or the tradition outside of that practice. Tradition was suppressed as much as possible or used as a negative device: something that had to be avoided, or even better, to be destroyed. After the Second World War there was a positive belief that music could be reinvented. I do not think that there was ever a period in music history that held such a radical and complex relationship to the past.


One specific reaction to this radical modernism, especially from the 1980’s onwards, was the notion that a work of art can be a remix of different media, styles and disciplines. For instance, certain books rely heavily on history or films, film genres or paintings (Hutcheon 1989: 27).Within instrumental concert music there is a possibility to refer to other disciplines through titles, texts and images. This range of possibilities led to an increased desire for the author to find or invent arguments to choose, limit and exclude. The limitations are now no longer generated by the musical grammar, since the grammar itself has become diffuse and can include different grammars that once excluded each other.In the third description of Referential Network on “Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights' I have experimented with putting together elements that have a similarity on some level but hold no explicit, direct or obvious connection in the “outside world”. These elements are three figures from a painting by Hieronymus Bosch, visible (and audible) during the performance, and some sentences, spoken by the performers, from a play by Shakespeare. As an author, I have brought these two elements together through my own artistic practice. There is no other reason for this chosen connection(see Chapter 3) than an aesthetic one, that is, to connect these references within the composition. These references generate or influence the choices made in the music. From my perspective it is not just about putting these texts together to create a new narrative. The references intervene in the compositional process. They influence the chosen form, the treatment of the instruments, and the choice of texture. I discuss this in more depth in the analysis of the piece in Chapter 3, but the idea of having the title, the images and the players “acting” parts form Shakespeare’s Julio Caesar, creates a space for understanding, interpretation, confusion perhaps, but hopefully also curiosity, in which the references are a steering element.


Hutcheon writes: “… Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gunter Grass’ The Tin Drum, or Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children (which uses both of the former as intertexts), employ parody […] to restore history and memory in the face of the distortions of the ‘history of forgetting’ ”(Hutcheon 1989: 11). This was a reaction to the intent of radical rupture with the past of the Avant-Garde and Modernists in literature of the twentieth century. These movements “generally neglected historical materials […] Their interest was directed mainly toward the personal, rather than the collective past, apart from a few significant exceptions” (Wesseling 1991: 1). Because of the attempt to neglect history in the modernist discourse, history needs to be forgotten over and over again. Contrary to this discourse, I would like to emphasize that, for me, including references also places the beauty of the reference in the present. Each reference evokes in this way another form of beauty(which is a dynamic concept, as shown by Eco in his History of Beauty). By showing a part of a painting by Bosch during a musical performance, we can enjoy at that moment the beauty of that picture besides listening to the music.


Now let us return to the days that Europe and European music had to be rebuilt again and discuss some viewpoints of Boulez and Zimmermann.


Pierre Boulez: The Master with the Hammer

“While envisioning a powerful new musical language that would possess the scope and universality of the Viennese Classical style, they were alike in rejecting their heritage, in attempting to escape tradition” (Gable 1990: 426). The so-called Stunde Nul generation envisioned reinventing what art music could be. Especially Pierre Boulez was harsh in his judgements on composers who looked to the past. Here is one of his often-quoted one-liners: “Any musician who has not experienced - I do not say understood, but truly experienced – the necessity of dodecaphonic music is USELESS. For his whole work is irrelevant to the needs of his epoch” (Boulez 1952: 113).

In Pierre Boulez’s writing we get a good idea of his relation to tradition: The past takes on a new face after a work. I make tradition; I do not have tradition behind me ...” (Cohen. 1963). On another occasion he declared almost the same: “Tradition has no role in my work. I mean by this that I never consciously give tradition a role in my work.”(Knockaert 1997: 52). In other words, Boulez influences the past but wants to keep himself free of influences of that past.

These statements on the past and tradition fit with the Avant-Garde idea of reinventing music. But reality is more complex: Boulez sees the influence of tradition as a danger for his own voice and consequently he avoids idiomatic or stylistic possibilities handed down from the past, attempting to destroy them instead.


As already mentioned in the Introduction: in his 2nd Piano Sonata that takes Beethoven’s Hammerklavier sonata as a starting point: “I tried to destroy the first movement sonata form, to disintegrate slow movement form by the use of trope, and repetitive scherzo form by the use of variation form, and finally, in the fourth movement, to demolish fugal and canonic form. Perhaps I am using too many negative terms, but the Second Sonata does have this explosive, disintegrating and dispersive character, and in spite of its own very restricting form the destruction of all these classical moulds was quite deliberate” (Griffith 1995: 11).


The present is separated from the past, which is a typical modernist linear conception of time. The idea of moving forward in an endless renewing force stays important for Boulez. At the opening of the IRCAM in 1977 he says: “…we can no longer elude the essential trial: that of becoming an absolute part of the present, of forsaking all memory to forge a perception without precedent, of renouncing the legacies of the past, to discover yet undreamed-of territories”(Griffith 1978: 201-202).


That Boulez cannot really free himself from tradition and past is something he of course also understands. The fact that he wants to compete with a masterpiece from the past, e.g. Beethoven’s Hammerklavier, indicates this. Boulez sees the past as a library that has to be burned to let a new work of art arise like a phoenix (Boulez in Brandt 1995: 45-46). On top of this, the post-war generation was searching for a new compositional starting point after the hiatus caused by the war; a composer, whose work would function as orientation for creating “new music”. And this composer should (of course) be someone who could be considered as most modern. For Rene Leibowitz, a student of Ravel and Webern, it was unquestionably the latter: “Webern alone understood that the proper task of a composer was to ‘attack the most fundamental and radical problems of the evolution of music.’ To understand Webern is to understand  ‘the necessity of such purity’, and the ‘necessity of carrying an experience so far’” (Taruskin 2010). Boulez shares this conclusion in his controversial essay “Schoenberg is Dead” from 1952. To Boulez, Schönberg had the courage to leave tonality behind, but did not see the consequences of his act and remained entangled in the memories of a dead world. Webern on the other hand attempted “to derive the structure from the material” (Boulez 1952: 275).

To designate Webern as the compass on which new music should sail is putting this music in a tradition that goes from Webern back to Mahler and beyond. (It has been said before, the Stunde Null generation chose Webern for the wrong reasons.) In an interview in 1995 there seems to be a slightly different approach in Boulez’ thinking: “I am the last who would deny the importance of reference points. Without that there is no life, no history […] No consciousness” (Boulez in Brandt 1995: 22). But it is still originality, the new, that is most important for Boulez. He prefers Schönberg’s op. 16 to op. 31 (Boulez in Brandt. 1995, 22). He does not want to imitate anybody, not referencing to styles or idioms. He may create abutments, like the Hammerklavier in relation to his second piano sonata, or Pierrot Lunaire in the case of Le Marteau sans Maitre, but he does not derive an idiom from these examples, just an idea.


The uncompromising attitude of the post war Avant-Garde towards the past also includes an aversion to seeing art as a form of communication (for example with an audience). This was at that time a clear statement against the Entartete Kunst politics of the Nazi’s and to Stalin’s Social Realism. “… some refused, in the name of humanism and the need to communicate with others, to advance further into territory where they risked not being understood –an ideology that filled me with horror…”, Boulez remembered in 1990 (Caroll 2003: 7). Also, the ignoring of Bernd Alois Zimmermann by those composers who considered themselves the “true” Avant-garde, such as Boulez and Stockhausen, is the result of opposing positions:“Completely on the outside, clearly alone, was Bernd Alois Zimmermann, the cornerstone, who was rejected by the construction workers of that time”.


“Ganz draussen, sichtbar alleine, stand Bernd Alois Zimmermann, der Eckstein, den die damalige Bauleuten verwarfen” (Boehmer 1993: 12).


Bernd Alois Zimmermann: past, present and future do not exist

I see two fundamental differences between Boulez and Zimmermann: the first is their notion of historical time. For Boulez, history is a linear process in which you can measure distance to the past. The more recent past is closer than what precedes it. This puts Boulez in a typical modernistic tradition that is strongly connected to an evolutionary view of a certain historical progress.


This is a traditional position connected to Western thought, as Derrida says, based on the idea of a centre “– an Origin, a truth, an Ideal Form, an Essence, a God, a Presence that guarantees meaning. The problem with centres is that they attempt to exclude, ignore, repress, marginalize ‘the other’” (Derrida in Cobussen 2002).


Zimmermann takes the Augustinian notion of time in which past, present and future do not exist outside the human soul; the past as the memories you have and the future as your expectations. Zimmermann talked about the so-called Kugelgestalt der Zeit. To see the past formed by memories implies that every individual has a somewhat unique view on the past. The past, or history, is created by memories that fold themselves like a spherical shape around man, who is the centre. Each point on the line of the sphere to the centre is equal. That makes the distance between each period in history equal (Deurzen 1996: 100). When we combine the notion of a unique history and the idea of an equal distance to different historical periods, we enter the postmodern idea of rejecting linearity. This leads to the second difference between Boulez and Zimmermann, namely that Boulez chooses for an exclusive aesthetics based on one basic principle that is justified by an evolutionary process in which the most innovative is leading, while Zimmermann’s polystylistic style is the result of an inclusive aesthetic in which different historical styles relate to him in a non-linear way (Cobussen 2002).


It is interesting to see how “evolution-thinkers” like Schönberg write about composers who are not considered as frontrunners, but are important in their own development. In Brahms the Progressive, Schönberg bends the idea of Brahms the conservative to an equally progressive composer such as Wagner (Schönberg 1975: 398-441).


An important compositional technique that Zimmermann uses, and that literally removes the distance to previous composers, is his use of quotations within his own sound world, one after the other, but also simultaneously. We can find examples of this in his Monologues for two pianos (1960-64), the orchestral work Photoptosis (1968), Requiem für einem jungen Dichter (1969) and, the most extreme example, Roi Ubu in which everything is a quote. It is important to point out that, to Zimmermann, the quote expresses an idea. Knockaert calls it a “symbolic loaded meaning” (Knockaert 1997: 76). To Zimmermann every sound, or every aspect of a composition, is the expression of an idea and symbolizes something outside the composition. He writes to the viola player Albert Dietrich that his solo-sonata for viola “expressed musical ideas which contemplate the fundamentals of human life, birth and death, growth and decline, as well as love and everything that moves a human heart”.


“…musikalische Gedanken zum Ausdruck [hat] gebracht, die über die Grundtatsachen des menschlichen Lebens nachsinnen, Geburt und Tod, Werden und Vergehen, und über die Liebe, und all das, was ein Menschenherz bewegt” (Floros 2006: 175).


From Quote to Reference

 The quote became important among the European Avant-Garde during the sixties out of a privation of, and a desire to restore, the connection with tradition as a way out of the exclusive aesthetics of the post war Avant-Garde. Alfred Schnittke: “… sometimes I’m thinking about earlier music as a beautiful way of writing that has disappeared and will never come back; and in that sense, it has a tragic feeling for me” (Kostka 2006: 164). Knockaert writes: “In the early developments of musical postmodernism in the seventies, a quote had a signal function, with which the postmodernists almost argumentatively showed that they wanted to restore the bond with tradition”(Knockaert 1997: 74). This connects in an interesting way to the statement mentioned earlier by Hutcheon: “… to restore history and memory in the face of the distortions of the ‘history of forgetting’” (Hutcheon 1989: 11). In my opinion, bonding with tradition was not an excuse to return to a kind of 19th-century idiom as if the twentieth century did not happen, although some composers did. No, 20th-century modernism is inevitably? also a part of the tradition and therefore a potential reference.


The moment European modernism started to incorporate quotations, it was justified out of “material-thinking”. What I mean by this is that the quote was used as material rather than for a “symbolic loaded meaning”, as we have seen with Zimmermann, although one could think otherwise if one reads Berio’s description of his famous quote-collage, the third movement of the Sinfonia (1968-69): “If I were to describe the presence of Mahler’s Scherzo in Sinfonia, the image which comes most spontaneously to my mind is that of a river flowing through a constantly changing landscape, sometimes going underground and emerging in another altogether different place, sometimes very evident in its journey, sometimes disappearing completely, present either as a fully recognizable form or as small details lost in the surrounding host of musical events.” (Berio, n.d., n.p.). But Berio’s primary motivation for a collage was certainly not a symphonic poem, but comes from his interest in psycholinguistics. His aim was to create a new reality consisting of new structures by “combining and uniting very different music-forms that are very far apart and strange to each other” (Knockaert 1997: 97).  The quote turned out to be a kind of Trojan horse, because with this, the timorously rejected tradition was assigned a place within the modernistic artwork. The step from quote to reference was not so large anymore. The moment the door to tradition was opened and became accessible, the quote was no longer necessary.



Here, I have shown two opposite views of history that existed after the Second World War. First I discussed Boulez as an exponent of the Stunde Null generation, who considers history a linear, evolutionary process. The past is behind him and can be closed off in order to “forsake all memory” or to renounce “the legacies of the past”. Zimmermann, on the other hand, sees history as a spherical shape (Kugelgestalt) in which there is no real distance between the past and the present. The compositional consequence of this view is a polystylisticism in which different historical styles can be combined within a single composition. For this polystylistic style, quotation was an important tool. I also showed how this use of quotes became important within the European Avant-Garde, looking at Berio, and how it opened the door to tradition that seemed to be so carefully shut by Boulez. This was done to restore the bond with tradition, and to restore history and memory in the face of the distortions of the “history of forgetting”. However, for me as a composer there is a difference between “tradition” and “restoration”. German musicologist Carl Dahlhaus calls the renewed interest in music from the past at the end of the 19th century “musical historicism”. He sees in this interest two basic attitudes: “tradition” and “restoration”. In the first, “past and present form an indissoluble alloy”. The past is not alienated or viewed as something foreign; rather, “past things form an essential part of the present” (Dahlhaus 1983: 67-70). “Restoration, however, implies the acknowledgement of a gulf that must be bridged in an act of understanding” (Dahlhaus 1983: 67-70). These two attitudes can also be seen at the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st century: “Tradition” in certain works of for example Ligeti, Rihm, Wagemans, Adès and myself. “Restauration” in the later works of for example Penderecki, Pärt and Schat.


Next part:


6. Conclusions

  7. Bibliography



Articles, Books, Dissertations


Barthes, Roland. 1968. “The Death of the Author”. In Image-Music-Text. Translated by Stephen Heath, pp. 142-48. London: Fontana.


Barthes, Roland. 1981. “Theory of the Text.” In Untying the Text: A post-structuralist Reader. Edited by Robert Young and translated by Ian McLeod, pp. 31-47. London: Routledge.


Bernhart, Walter and Wolf, Werner (Editors). 2010. Self-Reference in Literature and Music. New York: Brill/Rodopi.


Boehmer, Konrad. 1993. Das Böse Ohr. Köln: DuMont.


Boulboullé, Guido. 2008. "Groteske Angst. Die Höllenphantasien des Hieronymus Bosch". In Glaubensstreit und Gelächter: Reformation und Lachkultur im Mittelalter und in der Frühen Neuzeit. Herausgegeben von Auffarth und Kerth, pp. 55–78. Berlin: LIT Verlag.


Boulez, Piere. 1952a. “Schönberg is Dead” in Notes of an Apprenticeship. Translated by Herbert Weinstock, 1968. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.


Boulez, Piere. 1952b. Stocktakings froman Apprenticeship. Translated by Stephen Walsh, 1991. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Brandt, Maarten. 1995. Wegen naar Boulez. Gesprekken met Pierre Boulez. Kampen: Kok Lyra.


Carroll, Mark. 2003. Music and Ideology in Cold War Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Cobussen, Marcel & Welten, Ruud. 1996. Dionysos danst weer. Essays over hedendaagse muziekbeleving. Kampen: Kok Agora.


Dahlhaus, Carl. 1983. Foundations of Music History. Translated by J.B. Robinson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Derrida, Jacques. 1967.  “There is no outside-text” in Of Grammatology.  Translation Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.


Derrida, Jacques. 1987. The Truth in Painting. Translated by Bennington, Geoff and McLeod, Ian. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.


Deurzen, Patrick. 1996. “Tijdsaspecten in het werk van B.A. Zimmermann”. In Tijdschrift voor Muziektheorie, jrg. 1, nr. 2: pp.98-106.


Deurzen, Patrick. 2001. “Aspects of Style in Strollin' by Peter-Jan Wagemans”. In The proceedings of the conference 'Globalisation of Music and Culture'. Russe Bulgaria, pp. 98-107.


Eco, Umberto. 1992. Over interpretatie. Kampen: Kok Agora.


Eco, Umberto. 1993. De grenzen van de interpretatie. Amsterdam: Bert Bakker.


Eco, Umberto. 2005. De Geschiedenis van de Schoonheid. Amsterdam: Prometheus Bert Bakker.


Everett, Yayoi Uno. 2009. “Signification of Parody and the Grotesque in György Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre.” In Music Theory Spectrum, vol. 31, no. 1: pp. 26-56.


Foucault, Michel. 1998. “What is an Author?” In Essential Works of Foucault 1954-1984, Volume Two: Aesthetics, Method and Epistemology. New York: New Press.


Floros, Constatin. 2006. Neue Ohren für neue Musik. Mainz: Schott.


Gable, David. 1990. “Boulez’s Two Cultures: The Post-War European Synthesis and Tradition”. In Journal of the American Musicological Society, vol. 43, no. 3: pp. 426-450.


Goebbels, Heiner. 1996. “Musik entziffern: Das Sample als Zeichen.” In Komposition als Inszenierung, herausgegeben von Wolfgang Sandner, pp. 181-185. Berlin: Henschel. 2002.


Griffiths, Paul. 1995. Modern Music and After, directions since 1945. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Griffith, Paul. 1978. A Concise History of Modern Music. Norwich: Thames and Hudson.


Häusler, Josef. 2004. “Wolfgang Rihm – Grundzüge und Schaffensphasen.” In Musik – Konzepte XII/2004, herausgegeben von Ulrich Tadday, pp. 7-20. Munchen: Boorberg Verlag.


Henrichs, Heribert. 2005. “Eigenbearbeitung und Selbstlehnung in Bernd Alois Zimmermanns Frühwerk.” In Musik-Konzepte XII/2005, herausgegeben von Ulrich Tadday, pp. 83-102.  XII/2005, Munchen: Boorberg Verlag.


Hutcheon, Linda. 1989. “Historiographic Metafiction, Parody and the Intertextuality of History”. In Intertextuality and Contemporary American Fiction, pp. 3-32. Edited by O'Donnell and Robert Con Davis. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.


Klein, Michael L. 2005. Intertextuality in Western Art Music. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Knockaert, Yves. 1997. Wendingen. Peer: Alamire.


Kostka, Stephan. 2006. Material and Techniques of the 20th century. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.


Lyotard, Jean-François. 1984. “The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge”, in Theory and History of Literature, vol. 10. Translated by Bennington Geoff and Massumi, Brian. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


Makaryk, Irene Rima (Editor). 1993. Encyclopedia of Contemporary Literary Theory: Approaches, Scholars, Terms. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.


Pokorny, Erwin. 2010. “Hieronymus Bosch und das Paradies der Wollust". In: "Frühneuzeit-Info", Jg. 21, Heft 1+2, pp. 22–34.


Rihm, Wolfgang. 1985. “Musikalische Freiheit.” In Der Komponist Wolfgang Rihm, herausgegeben von Diether Rexroth, pp. 67-82. Mainz: Schott.


Samuel, Claude. 1981. “Ligeti talking to Claude Samuel.” In Ligeti in conversation, pp. 111-123. London: Eulenburg books. 1983.


Schippers, Kees. 1980. Een leeuwerik boven het weiland. Amsterdam: Querido


Schönberg, Arnold. 1975. Style and Idea. Selected writings of Arnold Schönberg. Edited by Leonard Stein. Translations by Leo Black. Berkley: University of California Press.


Steinitz, Richard. 2003. Gyorgy Ligeti: Music of the Imagination. London:Faber and Faber.


Wapnewski, Peter. 2014. “1945: Wie der Anfang anfing”. In “Stunde Null”, Zur Musik um 1945. Kassel: Bärenreiter.


Zimmermann, Bernd Alois. 1974. Intervall und Zeit. Herausgegeben von Christof Bitter. Mainz: Schott.



Text plate


Text plate in Tate Modern, Londen. 2015. Exhibition  Marlene Dumas, The Image as Burden.








Beaudelaire, Charles


Berio, Luciano.


Bork, Delabastita, Gorp, Verkruijsse & Vis. 2014. Readymade


Cobussen, Marcel. 2002. “Post Structuralism and Music, Music as a Text”, in Deconstruction in Music.  PhD thesis.  Rotterdam: Erasmus University.


Cohen, Joel. 1963. Pierre Boulez. Friday evening In Sanders Theatre.


Garden of Earthly Delights


New Morse Code


Power, Ian. 2014. Experimental music and the impossible audience.


Rihm talks about  ‘Übermalung’ in an interview  with Lucas Fels at


Taruskin, Richard. 2010.  “Music in the late Twentieth Century” in Oxford History of Western Music online.


Wesseling, Lies. 1991. “Postmodernism and History”. In History as a Prophet. Postmodernist Innovations of the Historical Novel. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Compagny.


Worms, Marcel





Music scores


Deurzen, Patrick. 2014.  What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved. Rijswijk: DoNeMuS.


Deurzen, Patrick. 2015. Figures from 'The Garden of Earthly Delights'”. Rijswijk: DoNeMuS.


Ligeti, Gyorgy. 1982. Trio. Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne.


Monteverdi, Claudio. 1638. Lamento della Ninfa”. In Madrigali Guerrieri e Amorosi Vol. II. Bologna: Ut Orpheus Edizioni.


Rihm, Wolfgang. Fetzen I. 1999. Vienna: Universal Edition.


Rihm, Wolfgang. Streichquartet 12. 2001. Vienna: Universal Edition.


Rihm, Wolfgang. 2002. Interscriptum. Vienna: Universal Edition.


Wagemans, Peter-Jan. 1989.  Strolln’”. In Het Landschap. Rijswijk: DoNeMuS.

End of this exposition. Thank you for your time and interest.


Back to:


Table of Content






Next part:


7. Bibliography


6. Conclusions


Over the past two years, I have composed several works, of which I use three in this research. In these three, I experiment – through composing - with the idea of a composition as a Referential Network, i.e. composition strategies in which references to other works play a fundamental role in the creation and the ultimate result.


To come back to my Research Question: How does a new composition relate to an existing body of (art)works: the “outside world”?, I would like to look at my conclusions. I have split them up in three categories:

1) the artistic result, i.e. the compositions

2) the performer's perspective

3) the philosophical implications


1) The artistic result, i.e. the compositions

In describing the compositions it became clear that the term Referential Network is useful to describe the different compositions. However, it needs to be clear that each of them has a rather specific Referential Network, and therefore a special relationship to the “outside world” that needs to be named and described. Interesting for me was that the three compositions progressively deviate from my working-practice before I started the research, although I was not consciously trying to do this (I actually felt that during the composing process I had to put the idea of research as far away from me as possible, see my description of the research process in the Introduction).


The first composition Si calpestando… has a Referential Network that refers to other compositions. It stays (mainly) within the discipline of music as the material is selected from musical sources.  It is also close to a working method I used before, for example in the fourth movement of my string quartet Lamento della … (2009). The difference however is that in Si calpestando … I used, for the first time, all the pitches of another work (Monteverdi’s) as a backbone for my composition whereas in Lamento della … I incorporated only one chord-progression and the textural organization.


The second composition, A Toccata: “What is beautiful is loved, and what is not is unloved.”, inspired by Rihm’s idea of Übermahlung in music, is an example of a Network made of self-reference. The main part (until bar 201) is built from “re-using” a previous composition of my own, Love Song (2009) for male quintet and string quartet. I used self-quotation before, but this more radical form of using existing material is new for me and apart from Rihm, I have not encountered other examples of recent composers referring to this form. During the process of this composition I noticed that A Toccata … became actually a critique on Rihm’s working method. I find incorporating a complete work unaltered in another work problematic for several reasons as described in Composition 2. The consequence was that I drastically changed my own material, i.e. the tempo of Love Song is slow, and in A Toccata is fast; the pitch-organisation of Love Song is vertical, in A Toccata horizontal.


The third and last composition, Figures from …” is a Network that also refers to other art disciplines, in this case a painting and a play. In previous compositions I experimented with text that had to be spoken by the instrumentalists, but I never inserted images into a composition. This changes the whole set-up of an instrumental work into a performance in which the role of the pictures adds several theatrical elements: showing the pictures to the audience; finding the pictures by turning the pages in a (prepared) book thus also adding new sonic elements; and the movements on stage that are the result of handling the book and the pictures.


To summarize the compositional techniques developed in these works:

- re-using all the pitches from another composition

- re-using all the pitches from a composition of my own

- re-using material from other art disciplines, more in particular text from a play and pictures from a painting.


As I have shown in the analysis sections of the three compositions, the (re-)used material is submitted to severe transformations and steers the compositional choices on different levels:

- choice of gestures, e.g. the sospiro-motives in Si calpestando …;

- the use of a certain genre, e.g. the bicinium in Figures from …”;

- the use of instruments; e.g. the percussive use of the cello and extensive use of the bow for the percussion in Figures from …”;

- the use of material in an opposite way than exposed in the original, e.g. the use of tempo, and harmony used as melody in A Toccata...


Furthermore these experiments opened up new paths:

a) The end of Si calpestando … (piano) is made in such a way that it fits the beginning of the lamento della …(string quartet). These two pieces could be the starting point for a future piano quintet.

b) A more concrete example is that in October 2015 my string quartet Seven (2009) will be performed again and at the moment I am working on a revision. Especially the first movement will almost be rewritten. I have been rethinking this movement since 2009, but never found an opening to another option. The idea of A Toccata ..., based on re-using a complete composition of my own but using the material in a radically way (see above) seems to conjure up ideas that could be fruitful.

Ex. 1 Seven 1st movement, 2009 version,

and two sketches of the new version (febr. & may 2015)


In Chapter 5. Certain aspects of European composed art music after the Second World War, I argued that music referring to other, older music is nothing new in music’s history; however, in the 1970’s it became more and more a reaction to the dismissive attitude towards the tradition of the Stunde Null generation. The views on Referential Networks presented by the three compositions offer another way of looking at composing; they offer new compositional ways and techniques of dealing with “influence”, “originality”, “past” and “tradition”, and could excite and inspire composers in their own practice, as well as performers and listeners in their quests to find richer interpretations of my works.


I remember reading Umberto Eco’s book A Prague Cemetery and at one point I became curious about the background of his characters and their historical counterparts, as well as the narrative in the book compared to the historical facts. This gave me not only another perspective on the book, but also enriched the book itself, as if the book was a door to a wider world. To learn if my scores could function in a similar way I wanted to know what performers do with the references I put in my scores: Are they of influence in the way they approach the score, and therefore influencing the performance?


2) The performer’s perspective

In Chapter 4 I talked with several performers about the way they read my scores.

In this chapter I mentioned that more specific research would be necessary to draw more precise conclusions. But one aspect that was brought to the fore in these talks is that the composition relates to an “outside world” as a text filled with references that give the performers a direction and ideas to think about. One of the conclusions I could draw is that these references thus functions [for the performer] as a springboard for inspiration and possible further investigation.

Another aspect that became clear is that a performer will always make a translation of the references. In relation to my research question I could say that my “outside world” will never (fully) coincide with the “outside world” of a performer.

We saw in chapter 4.1. Context 2: About Intertextuality and the perspective of the observer, that authors such as Derrida and Eco describe similar processes regarding the relationship of the observer to a text: it is not possible to suppress the context of a text or the possible readings of it. I have added to this that the context is steered by the “known reality” relying on Eco who advocates that the reader/observer should take the “cultural and social thesaurus” into account. I think this last remark is important in relation to an interpretation that seeks, among other things, for the intentions of the author. I am fully aware that this is a bold enterprise because it is bound to fail. As mentioned in Chapter 4.1., a text will never heave a stable meaning (Derrida) and there will always be a translation from the work to the observer. In music this means a translation from the composer to the score, from the score to the performer, and from the performer to the listener (well and we all know what happens with a sentence that is repeatedly passed on by several persons). But performers do seek for an intention, and perhaps we even need this to be able to argue about the “validity of associations” (Eco). In this respect, the references in my scores, such as sospiro, Toccata or The Garden of Earthly Delights, provide direction and can enrich the performers’ imagination. At this point, it is clearer to me that the actual process of finding is more important than to find the one true interpretation, which does not exist anyway.


3) The philosophical implications

The moment I chose to incorporate theories of intertextuality in this research, I only had a vague idea of how they would relate to my strategy of composing with consciously used references. I jumped in deep water, without knowing if I could swim or if there were sharks in the water. (This is actually a good description of how I compose.) During the research I came up with this idea of a Referential Network to describe my compositions and the role of “the outside world”, which I have always considered as one of the most important aspects of my composing. The more I became entangled in this intertextual web, the more I realized that from a philosophical point of view “the outside world” is already a part of the “inside composition” and the “inside composition” will never be a stable life buoy because of the ever changing “outside world”. From this perspective I would conclude that my research question contains a false assumption, because the boundaries between outside and inside are impossible to demarcate. Yet, from my working perspective - when I am sitting at my desk, a piece of blank paper in front of me - there are two worlds: “the outside”, in which everything is possible, and “the inside”, what ultimately is chosen, the composition itself. As Foucault states in his text “Who is the Author” “… the author … limits, excludes, and chooses; in short, by which one impedes the free circulation, the free manipulation, the free composition, decomposition and re-composition of fiction.” (Foucault 1998: 221) This is what I do: I limit, exclude and choose with the aim to create something unheard.



In principle everything is referential. It is the very nature by which we understand, or try to bring understanding to the world around us. As several authors on intertextuality have stated, if something is truly “original”, we would not even be able to recognize it. In this sense we always need references to be able to interpret. Intertextuality is about this: the fact that a text will always connect other texts, sometimes beyond the author’s, or observer’s intention. What I do, and what I wanted to investigate, are the implications of consciously building in Referential Networks, of which I can never be certain how an observer will translate these. With my references I give a direction, a possible path. It is like saying, “let’s go to America!” and ending up in Mexico City, while I actually had New York City in mind. Well, at least we did not wake up in the Park Hyatt hotel in Tokyo (and get lost in translation).

Ex. 1 Seven 1st movement, 2009 version,                                                                 and two sketches of the new version (febr. & may 2015)

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