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Issue 12

(Spring 2008)

contents

abstracts

contributors

abstracts

 

Ioannis Fulias: Sonata forms and their theoretical evolution: 19th-century theorists (II)

 

In the fifth part of this extensive survey of the theoretical evolution of sonata forms from 18th to 20th centuries an attempt is initially made towards a clarification of Carl Czerny’s peculiar contribution to this issue. Based to a large extent on Reicha’s theory, Czerny introduces interesting aesthetic views on sonata form and highly original explanations of several technical options for its construction during the transitional period from the classic to romantic era. However, the larger part of this paper is rightfully devoted to a critical review of Adolf Bernhard Marx’s most influential theory of sonata (and “sonatina”) form, with special emphasis on its “dynamic” elements and on matters concerning subsequent misapprehensions. Among the minor mid-19th-century theorists is mainly Johann Christian Lobe who gives rise to further essential observations, while other contemporary texts (by Hippolyte-Raymond Colet, Gabriel Gauthier, Peter Singer, Ernst Friedrich Richter, Benedict Widmann, and Arrey von Dommer) touch almost exclusively on matters of terminology. Finally, Ebenezer Prout’s description of any (simple) sonata type serves as a representative exemplification of the late-19th-century “school sonata form”.

 

 

Charikleia Tsokani: Tsakisma: a fundamental feature in the form of the Greek folk song

 

This article examines the tsakismata (repetitions and interjected added words or phrases) found in the first half-verse of folk songs used in folk dances, and concludes that this fact happens where the main part of the musical phrase ends. The ending can be marked explicitly with a cadence or indirectly by a pause on a key syllable or a note. In the latter case, the tsakisma is mainly followed by an extra interjection of exclamatory character or of a different type. Otherwise, the tsakisma can be accompanied by a repetition or an interjection (a name, an appeal, an adjectival complement). Generally speaking, tsakismata shape a more flexible melodic structure, allowing the development of the melody in such a way to mirror the spiralling steps of the circle dances they accompany. The tsakismata attribute a sinuous rising or falling shape on the musical-poetic form of the folk song. The use of tsakismata leads to its gradual articulation on multiple levels, and to the formation of linguistic and musical sections, defining an architectural structure that corresponds to the figures and movements of the dance. Examining the way the tsakismata technique effects the development of verse and music, it becomes clear that the repetitions and interjections in the verse are more than ways of adapting new melodies to older structures; they constitute a singular construction technique, organically linked to the evolution of the oral form of the Greek folk song.

 

 

Biljana Milanović: Serbian Composers of the First Half of the 20th Century and the Inventing of the Balkans

 

The study is devoted to the interpretation of various cultural models and stylistic pluralism existing in Serbian music in the first decades of 20th century. The physiognomy of modernism in Serbian music shows analogies with other small national musical cultures of the continent and confirms that the parallelism of numerous similar processes became one of the main features of European music since that time. However, the constructing of modern musical identity in Serbia has been characterized by specific negative attitudes toward the Balkans. Such views have increasingly predominated since the regional wars (1912-1913). It had to do with the structure of the Otherness that made the West regard the region as naturally inferior and influenced the way in which the region observed itself becoming the participant of the construction of its own inferiority. The critical consciousness of the main Serbian modernists and their crea­tive choices showed the various musical reactions to this issue. There was the rich variety of their artistic answers to the cultural stigmatization, ranging from the adoption of dominant ne­gative stereotypes and hierarchies to the reversing of the stigma into its opposite. In spite of many examples demonstrating different musical ways in surpassing such antagonisms, the image of the Balkans as a negative sign still remains unresolved and a burning problem of con­temporary Serbian culture, due to the complexity of the historical context as well as recent po­litical, social and cultural policies.

 

 

Melita Milin: From Communism to Capitalism, via the Wars. The Changing Landscape of Serbian Music (1985-2005)

 

Two related processes were taking place in ex-Yugoslavia during the chosen period: 1. the transition from communism to capitalism, and 2. the unsuccessful dealing with the political / economical crisis that led to the wars in the 1990s, followed by the necessity to face the outcome and find a new identity. Although those eventful and tragic two decades have deeply shaken the Serbian so­ciety, the art music production has not mirrored them in ways that might have been expected. Whereas pacifistic and oppositional political ideas were openly voiced in the public life, the ma­jority of composers wished to distance themselves from overt engagement. That was probably due to the bad reputation of the political functionalisation of music in the period of socialist rea­lism, but also to the mistrust that art music, whose influence has always been very limited in the country, could make a strong impact on the political events. The anguish and disillusions of the war times were thus most often expressed in subtle and indirect ways. A marked feature of the whole period, especially during the first decade, was the rise of church music composing.

 

 

Katy Romanou: Style and ideology: The Cold War “blend” in Greece

 

This paper recounts cultural policy in Greece from the end of World War II up to the fall of the junta of colonels in 1974. The writer’s objective was to show how the Cold War favored defeated Western countries, which participated effectively at the globalisation of American culture, as denazification was transformed in the Western world into a purge from communism. Using as example the careers of three composers active in communist resistance organizations (Iannis Xenakis, Mikis Theodorakis and Alecos Xenos), the writer describes the repercussion of those phenomena in Greek musical life and creation.

 

 

Kostas Paparrigopoulos: Xenakis and the Passage towards Universalism

 

The research of the cultural identity, particularly in countries threatened – or feeling threatened – by a dominant culture, may often lead to nationalism and isolation. Rarely, it may also lead to unexpected ways that open new horizons not only at a local but also at a universal level. The case of Xenakis falls into the second category.

From 1949 until Metastaseis (1953-1954), his first “official” work, he produces works in which the Greek folklore is almost omnipresent. In 1955, he publishes an article entitled “Problems of Greek Musical Composition”, in which he outlines the framework of a possible “marriage” between the Greek folk music and the music of the European avant-garde. It is the first and, at the same time, the last published text that he devotes to this subject. From this point forward, his music moves from the local level and extends towards the universal one, with the ambition to include all the music of the world

In this paper, we will try to follow this passage and to clarify certain aspects of this trajectory.

 

 

Sofia Kontossi: The transition of Greek art song from the National School to Modernism

 

In the first decades of the 20th century, under the influence of Manolis Kalomiris, founder of the Greek National School, the Greek art song with piano accompaniment, encompassing a broad tonal environment, remained deeply rooted in the traditional song. Typical examples of the gradual withdrawal from the aesthetic framework of the National School are Leonidas Zoras’ songs. When he went to Berlin in order to perfect his studies, Zoras abandoned the tonal-tropic style of his first creative period, as it was exemplified in his Sketches. He experimented with the vocal miniature – so incredibly short as to suppress even the essence of the work of art – the Sprechgesang and an abstractive accompaniment, as well as advanced chromaticism, reaching the atonality in his 14 Songs on Kavafis’ Poetry.

On the contrary, Jani Christou, who spent his childhood in a well to do Greek family of Egypt’s Alexandria, was untouched by Greek traditional music or the Greek National School, and pursued all his studies (in music and philosophy) in some among the top Western institutions. Free from the need to defend any other Greek element but his belief in the elation of the listener through the transcendental power of art, Christou in his Six T. S. Eliot Songs – vocal experimentalism unfolding on a predominantly minimalistic accompaniment – subjects the audience to extreme psychological strain, offering some of the best expressionistic examples in the vocal music of the 20th century.

 

 

Yannis Belonis: Dimitri Mitropoulos Lonesome Passage to Modern Music

 

It is not widely known that Dimitri Mitropoulos’ (1896-1960) first public appearances in Greece were as a composer. His early works (ca. 1912-1924), distinguished by the blend of elements of the late-romantic style with intensely impressionistic references, reflect the young composer’s continuous search for a personal – “advanced” harmonic – musical language, expressive of his inner self. However, in his works written after 1924, Mitropoulos abandons tonality and adopts more modern idioms of composition (atonality and 12-tone method). Mitropoulos is the first Greek composer who followed the modern musical tendencies of Eu­rope, in a period in which Greece was dominated by Manolis Kalomiris and the other compo­sers of the Greek National School of Music.

 

 

George Vlastos: The conception as transmission: Greek Antiquity according to Albert Roussel

 

Ancient Greek themes were frequently used in early 20th century French music. The manifestation of this complex phenomenon – already present by the mid 19th century – has been related with the historical, social and cultural context of that era. Until the end of the First World War, the basic characteristic of the conception of Greek antiquity was its idealisation. Only during the 1920s, French neoclassicism approached the ancient world in a totally different way and Ancient Greek themes were treated according to the principles of the avant-garde aesthetics

In this context, the case of Albert Roussel is interesting, taking in consideration the fact that he is regarded as a transitional figure in the history of French music, a characteristic that is also reflected in his compositions on Ancient Greek themes. This paper makes a general survey of the basic traits of the conception of Greek Antiquity by Roussel, as they are manifested through his humanistic culture and his artistic beliefs and as they are detected in his compositions such as: La Naissance de la Lyre, Odes anacréontiques and Bacchus et Ariane.

 

 

Nestor Taylor: Basic reduplication models in orchestration

 

The present article addresses the problem of octave doubling in orchestration. More specifically, it attempts to methodologically establish a set of highly probable mutational forms that a four-part harmony can acquire through various kinds of octave reduplication. This technique is an essential tool for the arranger, in that it allows him to reconstruct a fully-fledged symphonic tutti from a condensed piano reduction, where several part-doublings and / or other melodic, accompanimental figures might have been omitted, before the final, crucial stage of orchestrating into full-score.

 

 

Anastasia Kakaroglou – Katy Romanou: Extracts from Guillaume André Villoteau’s De l’état actuel de l’art musical en Égypte (I)

 

The French musician Guillaume André Villoteau, member of the scientific committee accompanying Napoléon Bonaparte to the French expedition in Egypt in 1798-1801, studied the music of all the people – African, Asiatic and European – inhabiting Egypt. His description of modern Greek music was published in De l’état actuel de l’art musical en Égypte, ou relation historique et descriptive des recherches et observations faites sur la musique en ce pays, in 1812 and 1826. The chapter on modern Greek music, entitled “De la musique grecque moderne”, is considered the first Western study demonstrating comprehension of the pre-Chrysanthine notation.

Polyphonia begins hereby to publish a translation of Villoteau’s important study. In the present issue the three first “articles” (subdivisions of a chapter) are published. They contain an amusing description of Villoteau’s lessons of modern Greek notation as well as his impressions on the Greeks he met in Egypt.

 

 

 
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