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Exploring complementation in Bartók’s Third Quartet.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • Deborah Mawer
Journal publication date12/2007
JournalMusic Theory Online
Number of pages0
Original languageEnglish


Despite, on the one hand, a healthy if circumscribed tradition of Bartók music studies and, on the other, a continuing analytical concern with notions of complementation and contrast, I argue that these two domains have not been brought together to full effect, and that doing so can significantly enhance a reading of Bartók’s Third Quartet of 1927. In this setting, complementation applies not only to sets and pitches, but also to modes and, more broadly interpreted, to parameters such as texture, rhythm and form. Complementation across several parameters, or at different levels of significance, may operate as a multi-faceted complex which serves to heighten, or on occasion diffuse, tensions in the music.

Bibliographic note

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