Morton Feldman (1926-1987) was born in New York city. He was heavily influenced by John Cage, and in particular and tried to depart away from the confines of harmony and serialism. He experimented with musical notation, particularly using grids. Feldman's music changed greatly in the 1970's, beginning with his composition composed 'Madame Press Died Last Week at Ninety'. He wanted to become more rhytmically precise. He is known for his exceptionally long compositions, most of which last more than ninety minutes.
Feldman's composition 'Three Voices', composed in 1982, is a work that features one voice. Through the use of electronics, the performer records two tracks which are played back via amplifiation. The two tracks are played simaltaneously, while the same performer sings a third vocal part live, creating a trio.
The composition has a lot of sequencing, and there is a clear rhythmic pattern, which supports his post 1970 compositional style. In his letter to Joan La Barbara, who the piece is dedicated too, he mentions that the pace of the piece should be guided by the tone and breath of the performer.
ComparisonEditFeldman's composition 'Structures' (1951) is an example of his earlier style, but is unusual as it is not scored using grids, unlike most of his other earlier compositions. It is scored using conventional notation. We could therefore say that had the music been scored using grids, that this is perhaps his own realization of the music. The work is heavily dependant on ostinato figurations, and could be mistaken for looped music at times. The technic of notating the music conventionally was only used twice, both in 1951, when he composed 'Variations'
There is a very clear difference in the two styles, although it is clear that throughout both these styles, he has much influence from minimilism and the music of John Cage. It is exceptionally difficult to perform. I think it is interesting that with the addition of technology, one might expect the demands on the performer to be reduced, but this is far from the case. Infact if anything, the addition of technology increases the virtuosity needed by the performer to deliver the piece.