Musical Semiotics in Romania

Antigona Rădulescu, Introducere în semiotica muzicală,
Bucharest, Editura Muzicală, 2013


       There are only a few theoreticians in Romanian musicology that are committed to the field of musical semiotics to such a degree of actually being the initiators of this research direction in our country, translating Western concerns for semiotics into current subjects here. Books written in the last ten years, such as O teorie semiotică a interpretării muzicale (A Semiotic Theory of Musical Interpretation - 2005, 2013) by Dinu Ciocan in two recently finished volumes or Perspective semiotice în muzică. Aspecte ale narativităţii în Sonatele pentru pian de Beethoven (Semiotic Perspectives in Music. Aspects of Narrativity in Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, 2003) by Antigona Rădulescu were the first substantial materializations of this research direction, started by the two authors at the end of the ‘80s.
        In the same line, a new book Introducere în semiotica muzicală (Introduction to Musical Semiotics, 2013) by Antigona Rădulescu, completes the available local bibliography, focusing on explaining issues to those who are not specialized in this musicological field. Introducerea în semiotica muzicală is actually a reviewed and updated version of the course dedicated to students who are studying musical semiotics with Antigona Rădulescu at the National University of Music in Bucharest. The book must be seen as a survey of important semiotic theories in linguistics and music, systematized in the first part of the book, a part that “eases access to the original theories that currently operate in the world, including the theories of professor Dinu Ciocan”, says the author. This unique bibliographic synthesis includes in its resources one of the very few international books translated in Romanian in the last decade, Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s History of Musicology and the Semiotics of Musical Historiography.
        The historical compilation in the beginning moves towards a pragmatic field in the second part of the book, through musical examples from the Romantic and Classic repertoire, especially in Beethoven’s works. The analytical method proposed by Antigona Rădulescu is a neo-riemannian model, “neo” through the reevaluation and reordering from a modern perspective of the old theory. The personal perspective of the author consists in adapting it with a grammatically focused analyses and aligning the principles of Hugo Riemann to the theory of deviation in stylistics. Although the sphere of application is limited to the Western tonal-homophonic music, the Riemannian method serves as basis for a “grammatical ordering of music and offers the favorable premises of a musical narratology in relation with the principles of musical semiotics”. In addition, the book offers the coordinates for realizing a semantic analysis that seeks the connection between structure and the dimensions of emotion in music, after the analysis method developed by Dinu Ciocan.
        Summarizing in the words of the author, “Introduction to Musical Semiotics is, I hope, a compass that will help those interested in mastering a specialized scientific jargon and will open new perspectives in understanding the music they interpret, create or analyze”.

Alice Tacu
English Version by Simina Neagu