Polish sonorism in general, and its specific form as developed by Szalonek, pose some unusual challenges for musical analysis and interpretative musicology, owing to the fact that they give prominence to aspects of music such as timbre and texture whose sensuously immediate character is sufficiently complex to mean that they are, or at least would seem to be, highly resistant to straightforward functional categorisation. Yet both musical analysis and the interpretation of music as a cultural sign-system presuppose a grasp of the internal functional organisation of the music they are concerned with. One possible solution to this problem is proposed by those who adopt a structuralist approach to timbre and texture as compositional variables. This article considers whether such an approach - as exemplified by Danuta Mirka's analysis of Penderecki's sonoristic works - can also be applied to sonoristic music in general, and to Szalonek's music in particular. It argues that such an approach possesses serious limitations, even though these do not show up in an analysis of the kind of sonoristic music that focuses largely on sound-mass effects, as Penderecki's compositions do. A consideration of Szalonek's more soloistic exploitation of sonoristic compositional techniques highlights both phenomenological deficiencies within the structuralist model and the extent to which it retains a formalistic conception of the ingredients of music - one that seems to run counter to the anti-formalist aesthetic that is a feature of sonorism. The author then considers what might be involved in seeking to develop an alternative strategy for analysing such works.
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