Despite Messiaen's position as one of the greatest technical innovators of the twentieth century, his musical language has not been comprehensively defined and investigated. The composer's 1944 theoretical study, The Technique of My Musical Language, expounds only its initial stages, and while his posthumously published Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d'ornithologie contains detailed explanations of selected techniques, in most cases the reader is left to define these more precisely by observing them in the context of Messiaen's analyses of his own works. Technical processes are nevertheless in many cases the primary components of a work or movement. For instance, personnages dominate 'Joie du sang des étoiles' from the Turangalîla-symphonie, and in certain cases, such as 'L'échange' from the Vingt regards sur l'Enfant-Jésus, the process (asymmetric augmentation) is the only structuring element present. Given this reliance on idiosyncratic techniques, clear comprehension of the music is impossible without a detailed knowledge of Messiaen's methods. Gareth Healey charts their development and interconnections, considers their relationship with formal structures, and applies them in refined and extended form to works for which Messiaen himself left no published analysis.

chapter 1|4 pages


chapter 3|14 pages

Theoretical and Written Sources

chapter 4|18 pages

Extra-Musical Influences

chapter 5|21 pages

The Influence of Debussy and Stravinsky

chapter 6|17 pages

Rhythmic Evolution

chapter 7|14 pages

Harmonic Evolution

chapter 8|14 pages

Harmony: An Alternative Perspective

chapter 9|22 pages


chapter 10|30 pages

Implementation of Analytical Methodology

chapter 11|4 pages