In music composition, fragmentation is the use of fragments or the "division of a musical idea (gesture, motive, theme, etc.) into segments." It is used in tonal and atonal music, and is a common method of localized development and closure.
Fragmentation is related to Arnold Schoenberg's concept of liquidation, a common compositional technique that describes the reduction of a large-scale musical idea to its essential form (such as a contour line, a specific harmonic motion, or the like). Liquidation shapes much thematically-driven music, such as that by Béla Bartók, Stravinsky, and Schoenberg himself. It is important to understand that, although they are related, fragmentation and liquidation are separate processes and concepts.
- Caplin, William. Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions, p. 10-11.
- Schoenberg, Arnold. Fundamentals of Musical Composition. London, 1967. p. 58.
- After Michael Friedmann, course lectures and materials for MUSI 305: Analysis and Composition of Twentieth Century Music, Yale College, Yale University, fall 2008.
- Stein, Deborah. Engaging Music: Essays in Music Analysis, "Introduction to Musical Ambiguity". New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-517010-5. p. 87.
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