Mosaic

Focusing on themes related to the theory of music – tuning systems, modal structures, Indian Carnatic rhythms – while also touching on the area of musical semantics, this issue brings to the fore a variety of musicological approaches and pursuits covering a wide range of styles and eras. To these is added, owing to an excellent interview with Richard Taruskin, that necessary overview of contemporary musicology.

Basing his inquiry on historical information, the technical particularities of keyboard period instruments and not least on his own experience as a harpsichordist and organist, Dan Racoveanu initiates a complex analysis and a reconstruction of baroque tuning systems. Such mathematical calculations as required by the “objective” description of Pythagorean, meantone or well-tempered tuning systems aside, the study at times reveals the expressive virtuality of some of these temperaments from the perspective of aesthetic and sonic ideals of the time, targeting mainly the doctrine of affections.

In his turn, Mihai Măniceanu, driven by the distinct sonic print of supra-octave modes, suggests a journey into the universe of these structures in which European music only began to be interested in the 20th century. Considering the geometric profile defining supra-octave modes and taking into consideration various ordering and systematization criteria, the author puts forward a detailed classification into no less than eleven categories. The applicative potential of his theoretical model is tested in the rigorous modal analysis of some of Ștefan Niculescu’s late works.

Opting for a performer’s standpoint, Costin Filipoiu centres on the semantic aspects of Robert Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes. Comments on the musical text of each study are followed by a systematic analysis of the musical meaning based on Dinu Ciocan’s principles of the graded approximation, grounded in the 5-valued logic, of the musical semantic character in the natural language. The final comparison between two key performances of Schumann’s Etudes, by Sviatoslav Richter and by Wilhelm Kempff, brings important clarifications and additions to the paper.

One of the most esteemed voices in contemporary American musicology, Richard Taruskin, is the guest of Musicology Today as he was interviewed by Ana Diaconu when the National University of Music Bucharest conferred upon him an honorary doctorate on October 19, 2018. The simple, captivating dialogue walks the reader into the “laboratory” where the 5-volume Oxford History of Western Music was conceived, as well as the many studies and books indicative of Taruskin’s fascination for Russian music. The interview is also an invitation to reflection on inciting and topical issues: music in its various contexts (social, political, ideological), the necessity of an accessible and attractive musicological writing, the problem of young concertgoers’ loss of interest in classical music.

Mihai Murariu’s review brings us back to the complex field of the theory of music with his recommendation, in the closing pages of this issue, of David P. Nelson’s 2019 Konnakkol ManualAn Advanced Course in Solkattu.Destined to those wishing to go increase their knowledge of rhythm in Indian Carnatic music, with explanations and exemplifications of specific concepts and a generous supply of exercises, the book in question seems to have all the qualities of an efficient didactic text.

This heterogenous, mosaic-like issue of Musicology Today invites to a diversity of readings and, why not, of keys to reading.

 

Florinela Popa
English version by Maria Monica Bojin