Counterpoint and quotation in Ussachevsky's Wireless Fantasy

Beaudoin, Richard


Organised Sound 12(2): 143-151.

Language: English

Wireless Fantasy, Vladimir Ussachevsky's 4½-minute tribute to the birth of wireless radio, utilises a rich collection of sound materials, from antique spark generators and shortwave radio sounds to a recorded segment of Wagner's Parsifal. Wireless Fantasy is here examined not as much for the cultural meaning of its sources but for insight into Ussachevsky's dramatic counterpointing of those sources in real time. The analytical methodology focuses on pitch, rhythm, and timbre equally, using both standard music notation and spectral analysis to examine the contrapuntal elements in this classic electroacoustic composition. Special attention is paid to the coincidence of accent between the source materials that generates the work's climax and to the involvement of all the sources in articulating its final cadence. The larger issue of quotation within electroacoustic composition is discussed with regard to an abstract reference in the work's coda.