• 2/2003: Music Aesthetics and Creative Poetics

    2/2003: Music Aesthetics and Creative Poetics

    Preface

    URBANCOVÁ, Hana: Preface
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 151 – 152

    Studies

    BELIČOVÁ, Renáta: The Theory of Receptive Musical Aesthetics
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 153 – 214

    This work presents the theory of receptive musical aesthetics as a complex and, in thinking, autonomous alternative of musical aesthetics. In individual chapters it introduces two theoretical models: the model of receptive thinking about music and the model of receptive interpretation of music. Both models are supplemented by a passage, which shows us into the world of thinking within the receptive musical aesthetics and introduces its sources of inspiration.

    The receptive musical aesthetics deals with the basic theoretical problem: what and why does the music listener suppose to be music from the whole sum of auditory culture? An auditory environment is a category, which covers all acoustic, auditory phenomena belonging to the world of man, i.e. sound hearable and registerable by a human ear. The listener comes into contact with music in his/her own, always currently acting auditory environment, which creates an influentially expressive and meaningful background for music. Man creates auditory culture by his/her own relationship with auditory enviromnent, his/her sensitivity to it, his/her selection and the way of using the available sound means. Music culture, as a specific cultural phenomenon depends on the characteristics of auditory culture.

    The field of traditional aesthetics is in the receptive musical aesthetics broadened by the “listener understanding” of music. A listener is everyone who actively  comes into contact with music. His “understanding” is in fact a subjective – listener’s – decision, how he/she shall treat music, how he/she shall listen to it; it is in fact his/her listener ATTITUDE.

    We talk about a passive understanding when a stimulus to listening results from a sound phenomenon. We talk about an active understanding when a stimulus to listening comes out of the listener. A sound phenomenon changes into a sound object by its mental process of independence from other sound phenomena, from an auditory environment. A sound object is something more than a sound phenomenon; it is something “independent”, something that has come across our consciousness and to which our consciousness has awarded independence.

    Musical characteristics are part of a so-called dispositional universe of music, which contains all sound possibilities of music, from basal material (physical) qualities of a musical sound to all levels of its structuring. It is obvious that each concrete musical object is characterised by its own specific selection from the sum of possible musical characteristics based on its relevance to the particular type of auditory culture manifestation.

    Musical communication happens most immediately in the internal world of the listener, within his/her own psychotop and its overlaps with similar psychotops, not inevitably with the psychotop of the author of musical objects. From this it is obvious that musical objects can fulfil various functions; they are functionally heteronymous.

    No listener can consciously affect his/her respective and subjective perception of e.g. a pleasant or unpleasant expression of a sound object. The way of perception of sound characteristics is one of the essential manifestations of his/her own psychotop. Just like the listener’s personality and his/her psychotop are characterised by not only conscious but to a significant extent also unconsious contents of his/her psyche, also his/her musical experience is a reflection of conscious and unconscious psychological contents in the image of going music.

    If interpretation is concentrated on the so-called musical meanings, it means that it focuses on a specific musical “understanding” of music during which the musical shapes being listened to transform into hierarchically ordered musical structures in the mental world of the listener based on his/her own listener experience. If the listener focuses on musical meanings, it is inevitable to listen to music in an adequate way, i.e. to have adequate perceptive patterns of the particular music acquired.

    Receptive musical aesthetics distinguishes between the traditional term “a musical meaning” and the term “the meaning of music”. The term “a musical meaning” denotes such qualities of musical sounds, via which the logic of musical structure is constructed. It is obvious that receptive musical aesthetics cannot focus on this area of interpretation exclusively. Besides the fact that this field is quite demanding for “inputs”, it is not even the field of main motivation for listening to music.

    Unlike “a musical meaning”, “the meaning of music” is created and constructed in the listener’s mental image of music always based on its expression. The expression of music is understood as an immediate – sensual – quality of music; the meaning of music is then a mediated quality, which is built by the listener himself/herself, in the way of his/her own mental procession of expression.

    Experience with music becomes meaningful only when it touches both levels of reality: the expression of music, its emotional charge, as well as the interpretation of meaning of music. Perceiving music only on the level of compositionally solved structure in the sense of musical meanings is as incomplete as perceiving music only on the level of emotionally stimulating sound. The former happens in the professional approach to music, the latter is a common phenomenon in background music, which fulfils the task of more or less emotionally end expressionally suitable wings to one’s own imagination, fantasy, or also various physical activities.

    Receptive musical aesthetics itself does not certainly offer a solution; it only tries to provide the most sincere view on the reality of music culture, which in the most concentrated shape substitutes for the auditory culture as such, i.e. not only auditory manifestations of man, but also the way he/she understands and uses all available auditory sources from his/her environment.

    ŠTEFKOVÁ, Markéta: The Petrified by Juraj Beneš. A Contribution to the Composer’s Poetics
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 215 – 250

    The author attempts to specify some poetic characteristics of the opera work of Juraj Beneš, a significant Slovak opera composer of the latest decades, through the insight to his opera The Petrified.

    A libretto of the opera is based on poetic texts by Janko Kráľ, a representative of Slovak literary romanticism, drawing on a tradition of a folk ballad. Beneš has a specific attitude towards the original text: by the way of a collage he inserts poetic fragments to his opera libretto and by means of his music composition he arrives to a creation of new relations and associations among them. This principle of “disassembly” and “preparation” of ideas from the works of classics of Slovak as well as world literature is exerted in libretti of all the composer’s operas.

    The style basis of Beneš’s musical language is influenced by a tradition of late Renaissance and Baroque music, reflected from a distance, ironically like Stravinsky or in a postmodern style like Ligeti. Similarly to Monteverdi’s operas the polyphonic-homophonic passages alternate with monodic sections in the opera The Petrified, too. Permanent confrontation of these two contrasting treats becomes a carrier of the fundamental conflict of the “individual” and the “social” in the opera, while the “individual” aspect is presented by solo passages of the protagonists of the story (reflecting the personal and intimate dimensions of the tragical story) and the “social” aspect by a male or female trio.

    Althogh the composer did not endeavour to create intentionally a “national opera”, he was stimulated by a Kráľ’s poetic language bound by a spirit of folk literature, to take advantage of some elements typical for Slovak music folklore in “monodic” solo passages of the opera. It is a principally new method of utilization of a potential of folkloristic material by the composer inspired by musicological work of Jozef Kresánek.

    As a dramaturgical model for male choir scenes a trio of Ping, Pang and Pong from Puccini’s Turandot served, outlined in a clownery-grotesque spirit of an Italian commedia dell’arte, a traditional theatre of masks. Choral passages in The Petrified are stiffly puppetary, too, and form a counterpart to monodic Slovakian solo scenes. From the musical point of view they are typical by refined or distorted allusions on manners of archaic vocal polyphony.

    A priority in Beneš’s music is given to the linear principle, what is characteristically revealed in dealing with instrumental component. Techniques of augmentation and diminution, elaborated in subtlety are the most used ones. However, traditionally these techniques are applied only on rhythmic parameter, although Beneš applies them also on pitch parameter. Richly differentiated metrico-rhythmical structure of Beneš’s music documents his endeavour to evoke a continuous music motion, its successive “dissolving” and “concentration”. Composed ritardandi and accellerandi occasionally lead to vanishing of music shapes to stratopheric noises. A typical character of this continuity is reached by means of continuous “emergence” and “extinction” of some thematic shapes as well as through continuous increase or decrease of instrumental lines expressing thus expansion and diminution of the music current.

    In her analysis the author considers how these diverse basic elements are harmonized to one homogeneous organism. The pivotal moment in the musical development of the opera is a collision of basic music physiognomies (soloistic/choral entrances) in the act No. 4 (e.g. in the middle of the work, made up by 7 acts) which culminates in a “repudiation” of a solo principle. From this moment on the composition heads uncontrollably towards its tragically-balladic end.

    The message of the opera was fully deciphered only when produced in London, where it was staged as an anti-totalitarian drama filled by irrationality and existential anxiety, in contrast to Slovak productions, which presented it as a folkish opus.

    KREKOVIČ, Slavomír: Postmodern Geography of Sound: Place, Non-place and “Genius loci” in Contemporary Music
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 251 – 258

    The paper illustrates the importance and explores specific aspects of conceptual strategies in postmodern music. In the latest period an interesting phenomenon emerged that might be described as an approach to “genius loci” in music. Contemporary projects are marked with fascination by urban sounds and “memory of a place” as a socio-historical and psycho-aesthetic phenomenon. Using sampling and new technologies combined with pre-recorded sound material or traditional instruments, composers are creating virtual acoustic spaces referring to specific geographical context. Original sounds of urban environments, places and non-places are manipulated or invented in order to simulate new spaces – transcend the “real” urban reality by entering a world of imagination. Recent works of musicians like Heiner Goebbels, Max Nagl, Marek Piaček, Liesl Ujvary, Battery Operated and others offer different answers to the problems of globalisation and explore the use of the concept of cultural memory as introduced by Halbwachs and Assmann, in contemporary music.

    Reflection

    VYSLOUŽIL, Jiří: Philosophy and Musicology
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 259 – 262

    Humans not only produce music, but also meditate on its essence and meaning. As soon as a system of writing was invented, they started to take down their experience with music. Thus they formed a discipline, known today as a musicology. Equally philosophers dealt with the existence and sense of music from time immemorial. Some of them reflected it only marginally, the others with deeper insight. In the present contribution the significance of philosophical reflection of music is considered not only for a listener but a composer. Particular examples from the history of philosophy as well as history of music document the interrelations and positive mutual influences between the two sciences.

    Translation

    WOŻNA-STANKIEWICZ, Małgorzata: Creative Thoughts of Olivier Messiaen (transl. by Vladimír Godár)
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 263 – 276

    Juxtapositions

    GROLL, Peter: Connection between Music and Dance
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 277 – 299

    The present article focuses on possibilities resulting from the music-dance connection from the point of view of a contemporary art creator. As a composer, a choreographer and a former dancer I was given an opportunity to regard this matter from several positions. On the basis of my own considerations and knowledge from aesthetic sciences I try to produce my own model of a connection between these two arts. This model is a cornerstone of my reflections about music composition for dancing at present.

    The introduction deals with the question of auditorial and visual perception of the rhythm and an evaluation of the differences between them. These psychological factors became the basis for demarcation of several kinds and categories of the music-dance connection.

    An elementary connection on the basis of their common pulse origins in kinestesis. This level does not involve neither intelect nor higher senses. Other kinds of music-dance connection utilize intelectual organization. They range from step/measure schemes and small forms to sophisticated connections, endeavouring to unite the whole process into an integrated action. During the 20th century the view on a fixed connection between music and dance is gradually changing. New works emerge, which either restore the elementary connection or take this connection as a matter of coincidence.

    My own reflections led me to a delimination of a basic typology of music-dance connection:

    1. Free connection: on the basis of the common pulse, atmosphere, or other distinct elements (e.g. accents).
    2. Fixed connection: conscious, concentrated search for common treats between both media.
    3. Contrapuntal connection, hereafter subdivided to: visually-acoustic counterpoint (visual and acoustic elements create a new structure); counterpoint of meaning (both media carry different meaning); associative counterpoint (working with associations and references beyond the work).
    4. Music and dance as independent elements: only common time and space in which they happen join them.
    5. No music – silence: as a substantial element of the whole dramaturgy.

    In other part of the work I devote to practical problems, which the creators of music-dance work meet most often.

    A short reflection on superiority either of music or dance endeavours to clarify an importance of shifting the communicative meaning between music and dance and of conscious search for a balanced shape.

    A contemporary dancing art may be divided into two basic categories: absolute dance and dance theatre, with its techniques merging with theatre or film.

    Dance creation on ready-made reproduced music, which was not ordered directly by a choreographer, uses the reachability of superb editing and montage software enabling a creation of collages. I mention the problems with polystylistic music component and the way of cooperation between a choreographer and a composer.

    Considering this cooperation I delineate some eventualities of a creative strategy.

    In the latest part of the article I analyse the common effect of dance and music from the point of view of various styles, preferred today (electroacoustic, minimal, world, techno, experimental music). In my opinion these preferred styles are joined with dance usually through elementary free connection – in pulse or atmosphere. I present some unconscious and fashionable solutions, determined by music education and taste of dance creators as initiators of a music-dance work as well as by an isolation, to which particular sorts of art were led during the 20th century.

    Reviews

    MOJŽIŠOVÁ, Michaela: Miloslav Blahynka: Exotizmus v opere
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 300 – 303

    FÖLDEŠOVÁ, Marta: Terézia Ursínyová – Mária Kišonová-Hubová: Volali ma Mimi
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 303 – 304

    URBANCOVÁ, Hana: Oskár Elschek – Lýdia Mikušová (ed.): Podpoľanie
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 305 – 308

    PUŠKÁŠOVÁ, Melánia: Bratislavské hudobné slávnosti, 26. septembra – 10. októbra 2003
    In: Slovenská hudba, Vol. 29, 2003, No. 2, pp. 308 – 311