Listening to Lontano: The Auditory Perception of Ligeti’s Sound Textures

Sweers, Britta (2022). Listening to Lontano: The Auditory Perception of Ligeti’s Sound Textures. In: Marx, Wolfgang (ed.) “I Don’t Belong Anywhere”: Györgi Ligeti at 100. Contemporary Composers: Vol. 4 (pp. 27-47). Turnhout: Brepols

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When György Ligeti composed micropolyphonic works such as Atmosphères (1961) and Lontano (1967), he revolutionized established compositional thinking due to the shift from melodic-harmonic thinking towards a thinking in which timbre and sound color dominate. Especially Lontano has been framed by a large range of associative suggestions related to poetry and art, while also having been described in spatial terms associated with the idea of frozen time. This, however, deviates from associations mentioned by listeners unfamiliar with these theoretical Ligeti discourses. Falling back on two auditory experiments, this article explores the dichotomy of these discourses and auditory perceptions, as well as psychoacoustic issues in the case of Lontano. As I argue here, an adequate analysis of Ligeti’s works needs to combine discursive, score-based, aural, and acoustic perspectives more strongly for a more comprehensive understanding. This, however, renders the listener and his/her imaginary musical perception a stronger authority over pre-determined descriptions and terminology that could, rather than support, restrict a listener’s perception of the works.

Item Type:

Book Section (Book Chapter)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Other Institutions > Walter Benjamin Kolleg (WBKolleg) > Center for Global Studies (CGS)
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Art and Cultural Studies > Institute of Musicology

UniBE Contributor:

Sweers, Britta


700 Arts > 780 Music




Contemporary Composers






Britta Sweers

Date Deposited:

08 Aug 2023 14:18

Last Modified:

08 Aug 2023 14:18


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