Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Spring 5-5-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)


School of Music


Beth E. Chandler


When Olivier Messiaen submitted his work Le Merle Noir as the 1952 Paris Conservatoire examination piece for flute, he utilized a number of significant compositional techniques. At the time of its writing, Messiaen was in a phase of his oeuvre which included not only traditional methods of composition, but experimentation with more modern methods, such as dodecaphony, total serialism, and the use of birdsong as important thematic material. In Le Merle Noir, the amalgam of these methods results in a work that seems to have all of the wild and chaotic aspects of nature, but in reality has been painstakingly crafted using sophisticated compositional techniques. This illusion of nature’s anarchy is complete when the work reaches its most carefully composed section, which utilizes the most intricate type of composition: total serialism. This research paper attempts to reveal these methods of composition through both new and established analysis and research, in order to bring to light the structure behind this seemingly chaotic work.

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