Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Music Criticism


Hugh Hartwell




Pierre Roulez is an innovator in music not only because of his experiments in composition, but also because of his aesthetics of music. presented in a series of writings dating from the mid 1950s to the 1970s. His aesthetic system, inspired in part by the structuralist school of literary criticism, is logically derived and wide in scope. However. its general outlines have never been presented in an independent scholarly work. That is the purpose of this thesis.

The presentation of Roulez's aesthetics, which makes up the body of this thesis, is preceded by three introductory chapters which situate him within the evolutionary process of music history. and examine his artistic connection with the symbolist poet Stéphane Mallarmé. The next three chapters progress from the organization of basic materials in Chapter four (Morphology), through higher levels of structure in Chapter Five (Syntax). and Chapter Six (Form), Special attention is given to the concept of Alea in Chapter Seven. The problem of translating Boulez from French to English is also dealt with, with a view to establishing a consistent vocabulary of terms with which to describe his theories of music. In an attempt to flesh out Boulez's abstract theories, analyses of musical examples, either taken from Boulez's writings or from his music, are given. in order to demonstrate his aesthetics.

McMaster University Library

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."

Included in

Music Commons