John Adams's Nixon in China: Musical Analysis, Historical and Political Perspectives
"John Adams's opera, Nixon in China, is one of the most frequently performed operas in the contemporary literature. Timothy A. Johnson illuminates the opera and enhances listeners' and scholars' appreciation for this landmark work. This music-analytical guide presents a detailed, in-depth analysis of the music tied to historical and political contexts. The opera captures an important moment in history and in international relations, and a close study of it from an interdisciplinary perspective provides fresh, compelling insights about the opera. The music analysis takes a neo-Riemannian approach to harmony and to large-scale harmonic connections. Musical metaphors drawn between harmonies and their dramatic contexts enrich this approach. Motivic analysis reveals interweaving associations between the characters, based on melodic content. Analysis of rhythm and meter focuses on Adams's frequent use of grouping and displacement dissonances to propel the music forward or to illustrate the libretto. The book shows how the historical depiction in the opera is accurate, yet enriched by this operatic adaptation. The language of the opera is true to its source, but more evocative than the words spoken in 1972-due to Alice Goodman's marvelous, poetic libretto. And the music transcends its repetitive shell to become a hierarchically-rich and musically-compelling achievement"--Provided by publisher.
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accompaniment According Adams and Goodman Adams employs Adams’s music alternation American aria arpeggios ballet bass begins bichord cadence cadential Chairman Mao character Chinese citizens Ching-hua chorus Chou En-lai Chou’s common tones continues countries declares displacement dissonances dominant seventh chord economic eighth note enharmonically Finally G# minor half step harmonic transformations Henry Kissinger hexatonic system historical interlude Kissinger Kissinger’s Lao Szu leaders leaps libretto LISTENING EXAMPLE LP transformation major Mao Tse-tung Mao’s meeting melodic line meter metrical dissonances metrical grouping dissonance minor seventh minor triad motion neighbor-note neo-Riemannian Nixon in China Nixon’s visit nonchord tones octave opening opera orchestral passage Pat Nixon Pat’s pattern pedal Peking pitch political Premier Chou President President’s quarter notes reflects relationship repeated revolution rhythmic Richard Nixon role scene secretaries seems shift shown in Example SLIDE transformation stage directions suggests symbol Taiwan television tempo thoughts toast triadic trip tritone United voice-leading voices Witke women words Zhou