Jean-Jacques Nattiez

Brăiloiu: Innovations, Acquisition, and Extensions

 

         Jean-Jacques Nattiez’s study advances a modern musicological perspective on Brăiloiu’s ethnomusicological thought. The present critical approach of this theoretical corpus, more than five decades after Brăiloiu’s death, highlights, on the one hand, his predictive outlook („without him the essential perspectives of research in the ethnomusicology of the 21st century could not have been broached”). Thus, the author identifies the contribution of the Romanian ethnomusicologist „to establishing the study of peasants or non-Western music as a legitimate scientific subject-matter and to weakening of aesthetic racism”. Among the very creative points of the Brăiloiu’s theory are his advocacy for a “general musicology”, his demonstration with regard to “the possibilities and the necessities to bring to light the universals of music”, his technique of the synoptic table which represents an avant la lettre use of the “paradigmatic model”in musicology and so on.
         On the other hand, „a scientific paradigm as strong as that of Brăiloiu’s” has its own vulnerabilities, since it is “the porter of potentiality for developments that could not be imagined in the moment of its elaboration”. Also, Nattiez brings into discussion some concepts that have been refined or even challenged by the musicology of the last decades. For instance, the dichotomy learned art / traditional art seems “today too exact”. In connection with Brăiloiu’s “collective musical creation” concept, up-to-date ethnomusicology cannot accept, as he used to assert, that ”the more it progresses the less does research lead to a real history, to data or names, to an author”.
         Nattiez refers also to the dissemination of Brăiloiu’s works, almost ignored in the United States, but very appreciated by French and Italian ethnomusicologists, concerned with the systematic research: typologies of improvisation (Lortat-Jacob), vocal techniques (Léothaud), musical ensembles (Giuriati), organisation of musical time (Arom), scales and modes (Fernando), relationships between music and text (Giannattasio) and polyphonic techniques (Arom a.o.).




          Lavinia Coman

Chopin’s World of Sounds. Reverberations in Time

 

          Chopin asked his students to come close to the musical work, to ascend to its level and not distort it. Chopin sustained constantly that music should be given absolute autonomy. He thought that the meaning of a musical work should not consist of a story, by transforming it into a programmatic work. He stimulated his young disciples to play as they felt, never mechanically and indifferently. At the same time he never accepted emotional overreactions in piano playing and demanded a perfect self-control and very good taste. In his opinion, music bears resemblance to natural speech. His ideal involved large, generous phrases, which could ensure the integrity of musical thought. Referring to the rhythmical pulse, on the much disputed issue of Chopin’s rubato, we evoke testimonies of many contemporary friends and pupils. The liberties assumed by the composer are strictly related to the limits of a very well organized rhythm.
         This study will focus on the piano apparatus in Chopin’s manner: how to obtain an expressive playing, how to reach suppleness and freedom of fingers, how to deal with legato, touch, creative fingering and use of the pedals, how to “sing” at the piano.
         Chopin’s contribution in the harmonic field of music is also researched, trying to define a specific musical ethos: we stand before a triumph of the yin element against the yang one.
         Chopin brought the change especially in the field of musicality, of delicacy and refinement, lyricism and poetry, expressing musical contents naturally, with simplicity. For him, technique was the perfect equipment to express the most profound content of music. Due to the accomplished harmony and balance between musical contents and means, due to the spontaneity and directness of his musical discourse, due to the total lack of pomposity and at the same time the splendour and elegance of speech, Frédéric Chopin remains a modern musician.




          Reinhart Meyer-Kalkus

Eloquent and Weird: Understanding Jörg Widmann’s Dialogue with Musical Traditions

 

          Jörg Widmann (b. 1973) is one of the most productive German composers of his generation, the chief characteristic of his work being a dialogue with the classical legacy. Going beyond postmodernism, Widmann poses the question as to how the energies of the classic musical tradition can be translated into contemporary achievements and how they might resonate with our present-day experience. In order to understand the dialectics of this discourse with the past, we can requisition Walter Benjamin's interpretation of the relation of Franz Kafka to religious traditions, this serving as our prime investigatory model.