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Aspects of Musical Semantics from the Perspective of Structuralism, Semiotics and Narratology

Abstract

Music is a universal force, a widely spread mean of communication on the entire planet, because it has a strong ability to influence human emotions, even without words (when referring to instrumental or symphonic music). Thus, music is one of the most challenging arts in ‘deciphering’ the hidden message of its creator. The present paper is focused on three analytical techniques which imposed themselves in the musicology field of the 20th century – structuralism, semiotics, narratology. Our purpose is to offer a general outlook on these perspectives and some specific principles of applicability when approaching a musical score, in terms of formal construction, sonorous structures, equivalence classes applied to musical elements, energetic potential of musical isotopes using modal verbs, essential aspects in determining the narrative frame (spatiality, temporality, actoriality). Structuralism, semiotics and narratology emerged as independent sciences successively, during half a century, influencing each other in a stimulating coexistence which enabled a wide scientific opening until present.

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Art and Meaning. Messiaen Influences on Romanian Composition Universes

Abstract

In this paper, we will tackle several dominant Messiaen influences, as concerns ideas and/or technical approaches, on important Romanian composition systems, with reference to concepts such as musical character, number, Time/time, repetition. We will refer to characters as structures, characters as tuning systems and characters as musical/cultural paradigms as they occur in Aurel Stroe’s creation, and then we will turn our attention to Ștefan Niculescu’s melody-musical character with memory. Surprising but/and natural, objective but/and inspired, Niculescu opens up different perspectives on the personality of musical character as well. Numbers (what is fascinating is that they are mainly just figures) prove to be an example of simplicity as they comprise in a condensed manner technical information, emotions and musical inspiration. We will prove/illustrate this relying on three technical/semantic perspectives: poetry of numbers-duration in Liviu Glodeanu’s creation, numbers defining dodecaphonic series cells in Roman Vlad’s work, or numbers-foundation for the whole modal edifice in Vieru’s perspective. As for time/Time, which is the main character of Messiaen’s (and actually everyone’s, even humanity’s) musical, poetic, philosophical and theological thinking, we will only dwell on two hypostases, namely Stroe’s and Niculescu’s perspectives. Stroe conceives time as an element integrated in the sphere of memory and identity, as the recurrence in the present time of slices of memories involves the superposing of slices of time. For Niculescu, time is foundation, a condensation of the fact that syntax relies on two temporal categories, succesivity and simultaneity. We will dwell on the repetition “character” in the context of Aurel Stroe’s mobiles, or in parts of monodies of periodicities, screens and loops in Anatol Vieru’s creation. The conclusions will naturally follow the line of art and meaning.

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