Rhythmic Cycles and Ostinati as Formal Process in the Music of Tigran Hamasyan

Scott Schumann, Central Michigan University

Gretchen Horlacher's work on cycles in Stravinsky's music analyzes the rhythmic and contrapuntal interactions between ostinati, suggesting that these cycles create "a sense of progression among events," and "produce a formal framework through the joint completion among strata of a contrapuntal pattern" (Horlacher, 1992: 173). While there are a number of styles used in the music of pianist and composer Tigran Hamasyan (Armenian folk music, jazz, prog rock, etc.), the analyses in this paper focus on the use of rhythmic ostinati as a way of creating progression and development at various formal levels in his music. Similar to Horlacher's discussions of cycles in Stravinsky's music, this paper will analyze the unique rhythmic and contrapuntal interactions between these ostinati to better understand how these rhythmic structures can serve to create formal structures and development in Hamasyan's music.