A-Ronne and analysis

Does analysis spoil an artwork? Does dissecting a piece of theatre destroy its ability to captivate, and often more importantly, to suspend disbelief for a sufficient length of time? Do harmonic and formal analysis of a Beethoven piano sonata deprive it of its powers to evoke emotion in the listener? In the latter case, sitting down with an academic mindset is surely the most dispassionate act, at the time - but the fruits of the labour are invariably an increased appreciation of the skill of the composer, not least in terms of pure musicality, but terms of defining a musical fingerprint - an artistic identity unique to the composing artist. While it might destroy the naivety that most people seem to agree (without a terrible amount of justification) is essential for a first listening of a work, working at analysis is rewarding because it develops a skill of technical appreciation that can be applied to subsequent works, either by the same composer or in the same style or indeed a style that is diametrically opposed to that, remarking in analysis the stark contrast of structures between a style already studied and its antithesis.

In 1975, Luciano Berio composed A-Ronne for 8 voices (SSAATTBB). It is, in the words of the composer:

‘‘the elementary vocalization of a text and its transformation into something perhaps equally elementary but difficult to describe”

Taking a short poem by Eduardo Sanguineti, itself constructed as a series of references to pre-extant works of literature, Berio deconstructs the text to the absolute limits of vocal music, and the sounds of the voice including shouts, whispers and even the noise made by the jiggling of cheeks. It is itself an analysis of the poem and yet remains an independent and unique work of art. Most of all to the musicologist it poses a special kind of challenge - the analysis of an analysis.

The Youtube video previously found here has been removed.