Analysis of Dream Images from Makrokosmos by George Crumb

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George Crumb, an American avant-garde style composer born in 1929, once declared, “It is easy to write unthinking music” (, American Composers Orchestra). In his piece, “Dream Images”, Crumb intentionally uses both tonal and post-tonal techniques, such as set theory, melodic borrowing, and specific usage of dynamics, to create an unconscious feeling, as if in a dream. Although the theme of “Dream Images” is one of “unthinking” and fantasizing, because of its intricacies, it was definitely a piece that was pre-meditated and well-thought out. In his article Total Immersion: George Crumb, Barbican, David Nice expounds upon the description of Crumb’s technique in this piece, stating that Crumb has a tendency of, “opening out towards a sense of sublime just before resolution or dissolution” ( All of this, to say that George Crumb’s piece was intended, through use of the previously listed techniques, to evoke an emotion that makes the listener feel like they are in a dream-like trance. Since George Crumb is an avant-garde style composer, it seems right to begin by discussing with the post-tonal elements of his piece because they are the most prominent. In my analysis, I found that due to the motivic repetition, there are many repeated set theory sets, such as (024), (025), and (016), which are found in the eerie, but enchanting melody line and create a familiarity in the minds of the listener. In addition to motivic repetition, there is an instruction
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