Dr. Justin Henry Rubin: Thematic Metamorphosis and Perception in the Symphony [No. 1] for Organ of Kaikhosru Sorabji (7/7)

Ex.29. – mov. III, page 76, system 1

Ex.29. – mov. III, page 76, system 1

Ex.29. The PT incipit is embedded within an inner ornamented contrapuntal extrapolation in the manuals. It is further obscured from any obvious perception as its rhythmic disposition is uniformly coordinated with the previous figuration.

Ex.30. – mov. III, page 76, system 3 to page 77, system 1

Ex.30. – mov. III, page 76, system 3 to page 77, system 1

Ex.30. This pedal excerpt joins the incipit of the FS1/R in augmentation with a transformation/contraction of the PT (incipit and scalar sections) and another transformation of the FS1/R incipit. The aural perception of the themes as being distinct from one another is continuously broken down by Sorabji as elongated melodies of motivic strands accumulate.

Ex.31. – mov. III, page 78, system 1

Ex.31. – mov. III, page 78, system 1

Ex.32. – mov. III, page 78, system 2

Ex.32. – mov. III, page 78, system 2

Ex.33. – mov. III, page 84, system 1; Ex.34. – mov. III, page 81, system 1;

Ex.33. – mov. III, page 84, system 1; Ex.34. – mov. III, page 81, system 1

Ex.31–33. These three excerpts are free transformations/compressions of the whole PT. Intervallic content is irregularly distorted, although the directionality of the melodic contours remain always intact. Sorabji is illustrating that melodic shapes are the connective tissue within his work rather than precise reiterations. As the composition continues, the character of these proto-melodies become increasingly abstracted and concentrated into distillations of the forms from which they were originally stated.

Ex.34. The PT incipit is employed in this sequence as an accompanimental figuration, disguised amongst diatonic and chromatic scalar ornaments.

Essentially, the process which guides Sorabji’s mature compositional syntax, and finds its first expression in the Organ Symphony, allows primary themes and their constituent motives to evolve within, and adapt to, a multitude of compositional contexts in order to stimulate and transform the perception of the listener. The elaborate and layered textures which constitute a significant portion of Sorabji’s works, in turn, present the composer with immeasurable fertile ground for his equally expansive imagination to invent unique cognitive correlations.

[This article was originally published on Dr. Justin Henry Rubin’s website and is reproduced here in its entirety, with kind permission by the author.]