While fragility is typically defined as ‘the quality of being easily broken or damaged’, within a musical framework the term can be understood through a myriad of causal lenses. One must consider what can be ‘broken’ or damaged’ in a musical context, and secondly how this sense of impairment might present itself. This article offers an extensive categorisation of musical fragility, and a characterisation of it in its numerous forms across the works of a broad range of composers. Through classification, a distinction between local and large-scale fragility emerges. A typology of fragilities makes it possible both to identify them in works that might not necessarily be considered fragile and to identify works that use combinations of fragility types. This classification involves ten types, with compositions from new and experimental acoustic music offered as examples.
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