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Between Emotion and Intellect. On the Musical Language of Andrzej Panufnik (1914–1991)

Abstract

Andrzej Panufnik’s (1914-1991) key objective as a composer was to achieve a balance between emotion and intellect. The composer very often emphasised the role of the relation between these two elements in his works. This topic is the leitmotiv of texts about his own music left behind by the composer. From those texts, it is clearly evident that symmetry (and in later years also geometry) played a central role in the composer’s formal concepts. The impulse for the study of the possibility of using geometric shapes for the construction of musical forms came from his 1972 composition for the BBC television entitled Triangles - for three flutes and three cellos.

The geometricisation of the formal structures of Panufnik’s works (frequently represented by means of sophisticated diagrams included in the scores) was correlated with a systematic reduction of musical language, based from 1968 on the three-note intervallic cell of E-F-B. In the course of the composition, this unit was submitted to a succession of symmetrical processes, such as transpositions and mirror reflections, superimposed on one another both on the melodic and harmonic levels, which was responsible for the specific sound climate of Panufnik’s music. The fullest realisation of the composer’s systematic thinking based on the principles of geometry can be found in his Symphony No. 5 - Sinfonia di Sfere (1974), in which every element was submitted to the principles of geometric symmetry represented in a diagram based on the perfect geometric figure of a circle.

What is particularly important, this prominent constructivist current in Panufnik’s works always coexisted, as the composer himself claimed, with powerful emotional expression in his music. Did he manage to achieve the intended ideal balance between emotion and intellect in his music? Everyone can judge by themselves. This paper discusses the principal qualities of Andrzej Panufnik’s musical language.

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The Myth of Polishness in Polish Dances. How Ideologies Interpret Phenomena Related to Music and Movement

Abstract

The article discusses the myth of Polishness in the context of dances which gained the social status of ‘national’ ones, i.e. those incorporated into the canon of national culture. I shall start by establishing the terminology and chronology related to the phenomenon of ‘national dance’, and sum up Mieczysław Tomaszewski’s comments on the ways of expressing nationality in music, including dance, and the various aspects of this phenomenon. Methodologically speaking, the present paper is based on the concept of myth as presented by Joseph Campbell, Leszek Kołakowski and Maria Janion, as well as on the findings of Jan Berting, Christiane Villain-Gandossi, Maria Janion and Jan Stęszewski concerning the phenomenon of stereotypes, which are crucial to defining a myth. The main body of my text has been dedicated to the conditions in which the myth of Polish dance was born, its form and relation to the ideology of Sarmatism then current among the Polish nobility, and to its subsequent transformations. Further transformations took place mainly under the influence of a specifically conceived Romanticism, in which the nation’s struggle for liberation took pride of place, accompanied by the cult of the family as a bastion of national culture, in which women played a prominent role as model wives and mothers, as well as by an interest in folk culture, which attracted the upper social strata to folk dances and led to the emergence of the claim (unsupported by existing sources) that the nobility’s dances had folk origins (this myth was particularly popular among the adherents of chłopomania, i.e. the intelligentsia’s fascination with, and interest in, the peasantry). In the final section I point to the durability of the myths concerning Polish national dances, which – thanks to educational efforts and to broadly conceived artistic work – are universally present in the social consciousness also today.

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Decoding the Musical Message via the Structural Analogy between Verbal and Musical Language

Abstract

The topic approached in this paper aims to identify the structural similarities between the verbal and the musical language and to highlight the process of decoding the musical message through the structural analogy between them. The process of musical perception and musical decoding involves physiological, psychological and aesthetic phenomena. Besides receiving the sound waves, it implies complex cognitive processes being activated, whose aim is to decode the musical material at cerebral level. Starting from the research methods in cognitive psychology, music researchers redefine the process of musical perception in a series of papers in musical cognitive psychology. In the case of the analogy between language and music, deciphering the musical structure and its perception are due, according to researchers, to several common structural configurations. A significant model for the description of the musical structure is Noam Chomsky’s generative-transformational model. This claimed that, at a deep level, all languages have the same syntactic structure, on account of innate anatomical and physiological structures which became specialized as a consequence of the universal nature of certain mechanisms of the human intellect. Chomsky’s studies supported by sophisticated experimental devices, computerised analyses and algorithmic models have identified the syntax of the musical message, as well as the rules and principles that underlie the processing of sound-related information by the listener; this syntax, principles and rules show surprising similarities with the verbal language. The musicologist Heinrich Schenker, 20 years ahead of Chomsky, considers that there is a parallel between the analysis of natural language and that of the musical structure, and has developed his own theory on the structure of music. Schenker’s structural analysis is based on the idea that tonal music is organized hierarchically, in a layering of structural levels. Thus, spoken language and music are governed by common rules: phonology, syntax and semantics. Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff develop a musical grammar where a set of generating rules are defined to explain the hierarchical structure of tonal music. The authors of the generative theory propose the hypothesis of a musical grammar based on two types of rules, which take into account the conscious and unconscious principles that govern the organization of the musical perception. The structural analogy between verbal and musical language consists of several common elements. Among those is the hierarchical organization of both fields, a governance by the same rules – phonology, syntax, semantics – and as a consequence of the universal nature of certain mechanisms of the human intellect, decoding the transmitted message is accomplished thanks to some universal innate structures, biologically inherited. Also, according to Chomsky's linguistics model a musical grammar is configured, one governed by wellformed rules and preference rules. Thus, a musical piece is not perceived as a stream of disordered sounds, but it is deconstructed, developed and assimilated at cerebral level by means of cognitive pre-existing schemes.

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The Piano, A Perfect Musical Instrument – Beginnings and Evolution (18th – 19th Centuries)

Abstract

The 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century mark the emergence, development and affirmation of the piano as a complex instrument that shall take, in turns, the role of soloist instrument, claiming and being able to reach the sound variety of the orchestra, that of partner in chamber music assemblies or that of orchestra member. The emergence, improvement and qualitative performance acquisition adventure of the piano represents a fascinating history about human creativity and ingenuity serving art, beauty, sound expressivity refinement and improvement.

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Number 13 / Part I. Music. 5. Transdisciplinary Dimensions of Music Education: Terminological and Conceptual Approaches

Abstract

Complex and integrated nature of issues such as globalization, migration, interculturalism, environmental protection, information explosion, claims a transdisciplinary approach to education and music education. To cope with changes characteristic of the contemporary world, students need as generic skills: the ability to learn how to learn, ability and problem-solving assessment. Transdisciplinarity - involves such issues often highly complex, using tools and rules specific to certain science investigations using concepts of these sciences, but in other contexts. Students are interested in concrete problems faced in everyday life and looking for more of these explanations and practical solutions. To identify issues related to cross-disciplinary dimension of music education concepts will investigate disciplinary, multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary are four arrows of a single bow: knowledge.

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