Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


Implication and Realization in Kaija Saariaho's "Quatre Instants"


Music & Dance


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Arts and Humanities


Kaija Saariaho's music presents the music theorist with so many possible approaches (electronic techniques, synaesthesia, extended performance techniques), there has been relatively theoretic work in the fundamental area of pitch relations. Borrowing from Eugene Narmour's models of implication and realization, this paper explores Saariaho's use of two pitch collections - the octatonic (0134679t), and pentatonic (02479) - and the ways in which these collections are implied and then gradually brought to the musical surface in the song cycle "Quatre Instants." Saariaho uses two octatonic tetrachordal subsets one-half step apart, as a way of maximizing interval-class 1. The pentatonic collection, here defined as any segment of five adjacent pitches from the circle of fifths, is consistently presented in fragments that disguise the presence of interval-class 5, until the final two bars of the first song, when the collection is presented complete, and in such a way that interval-class 5 is maximized. Finally, note is made of the ways in which Saariaho privileges pitch, as opposed to pitch-class, with prominent pitch-classes invariably being presented in a specific register.

Conference Name

Voices, Spaces, Senses: An International Research Symposium on Kaija Saariaho's Music

Conference Location

Helsinki, Finland

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