IT MAY SOUND SCARY: GOTHIC UNDERPINNINGS IN GEORGE CRUMB’S MADRIGALS


Musicologists often reveal a certain degree of helplessness when considering the music of contemporary American composer George Crumb due to its seemingly obvious structural and expressive means in which he creates musical coherence using symmetrical, parallel, circular and mirror constructions, easily detectable through pitch-class analysis. Crumb employs music and visual symbolism, theatricality, and ritualistic references, often derived from his reading of literary sources such as the works of the writer Federico García Lorca. Informed by a framework of Neo-Gothic literary theory, which examines the representation of lurking repressed desires as latent indicators for prominent cultural and societal tendencies, this paper contextualizes structural and expressive parameters in Crumb’s Madrigals, Vol. 2, written to the selected lines from Lorca’s oeuvre. We argue that Crumb’s Neo-Gothic reading of the text intensifies large-scale semantic elements of Lorca’s poetry, creating its uber-layer, while offering insights into the poet's complex and ambiguous imagery, especially centered on themes of inversion and perversion.