International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Proportion Canon and the Golden Mean in Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten
Dr. Allan J. Ballinger

Arvo Pärt’s Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten was written to convey the composer’s intense emotions upon learning of the death of musical icon Benjamin Britten. Pärt utilizes several key compositional techniques in Cantus. Written in 1980, it incorporates his newly discovered tintinnabuli style of composition alongside the use of proportion canon, which occurs when more than one voice enters simultaneously, each presenting the same melodic material, however with note values that are augmented or diminished according to a fixed ratio. Additionally, the composer marks a significant point in the composition at the Golden Mean, the point at which the ratio of a smaller section (x) to its larger counterpart (y) is equal to the ratio of the larger section to the whole (x:y = y:x+y).

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