Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


School of Music



First Advisor

Jesse Jones


This document is a study of how Gestalt principles of organization are at work in “Désordre” (1985), the first etude in the first book of piano etudes by György Ligeti (1923–2006). After explaining how Gestalt principles can be applied to the analysis of music, the study presents an analysis of the etude in four main parts. The first part identifies elements of the composition that help the listener define boundaries between phrases, phrase groups, and sections. The second part discusses how foreground and background layers are articulated. The third part discusses the polytempo illusion. The fourth and final part identifies elements that contribute to large-scale unity in the composition. Finally, some pedagogical applications for teaching composition are briefly addressed.

Included in

Composition Commons