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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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The Balkan tradition in contemporary jazz. Anatoly Vapirov

Abstract

The folkloric character of the beginnings of jazz has been established by all researchers of American classical music. The African-Americans brought as slaves onto the territory of North America, the European émigrés tied to their own folkloric repertoire, the songs in the musical revues on Broadway turned national successes – can be considered the first three waves to have fundamentally influenced the history of jazz music. Preserving the classical and modern manner of improvisation and arrangement has not been a solution for authentic jazz musicians, permanently preoccupied with renewing their mode of expression. As it happened in the academic genres, the effect of experiments was mostly to draw the public away, as its capacity of understanding and empathizing with the new musical “products” (especially those in the “free” stylistic area) were discouraging. The areas which also had something original to say in the field of jazz remained the traditional, archaic cultures in Eastern Europe, Asia, the Orient. Compared to folkloric works from very distant areas, the musical culture of the Balkans bears the advantage of diversity, the ease of reception of melodies, rhythms and instrumental sonority. One of the most important architects of ethno-jazz is Anatoly Vapirov. A classically-trained musician, an author of concerts, stage music and soundtracks, a consummate connoisseur of the classical mode of improvisation as a saxophone and clarinet player, Anatoly Vapirov has dedicated decades of his life to researching the archaic musical culture of the Balkans, which he translated into the dual academic-jazz language, in the hypostases of predetermined scored works and of improvised works – either as a soloist, in combos or big bands. This study focuses on highlighting the language techniques, emphasizing the aesthetic-artistic qualities of the music signed Anatoly Vapirov.

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Ancient Greek Myths in Romanian Opera. Pascal Bentoiu’s Jertfirea Ifigeniei [The Sacrifice of Iphigenia]

Abstract

Romanian composers’ interest in Greek mythology begins with Enescu’s peerless masterpiece – lyrical tragedy Oedipe (1921-1931). The realist-postromantic artistic concept is materialised in the insoluble link between text and music, in the original synthesis of the most expressive compositional means recorded in the tradition of the genre and the openness towards acutely modern elements of musical language. The Romanian opera composed in the knowledge of George Enescu’s score, which premiered in Bucharest in 1958, reflect an additional interest in mythological subject-matter in the poetic form of the ancient tragedies signed by Euripides, Aeschylus and Sophocles. Significant Romanian musical works written in the avant-garde period of 1960 to 1980 – Doru Popovici’s opera Prometeu, Aurel Stroe’s Oedipus at Colonus, Oresteia I – Agamemnon, Oresteia IIThe Choephori, Oresteia III – The Eumenides, Pascal Bentoiu’s The Sacrifice of Iphigenia – to which titles of the contemporary art of the stage are added – Cornel Ţăranu’s Oreste & Oedip – propose new philosophical and artistic interpretations of the original myths. At the same time, the mentioned works represent reference points of the multiple and radical transformation of the opera genre in Romanian culture. Emphasising the epic character, a heightened chamber dimension and the alternative extrapolation of the elements in the syncretic complex, developing new modes of performance, of sonic and video transmission – are features of the new style of opera associated to the powerful and simple subject-matter of ancient tragedy. In this sense, radio opera The Sacrifice of Iphigenia (1968) is a significant step in the metamorphosis of the genre, its novel artistic value being confirmed by an important international distinction offered to composer Pascal Bentoiu – Prix Italia of the Italian Radio and Television Broadcasting Company in Rome. The poetic quality of the text quoted from the masterpiece of ancient theatre, Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, the hymnic-oratory character of the music, the economy and expressive capacity of the compositional means configured in the relationship between voice, organ, percussion, electro-acoustic means – can be associated in interpreting the universal major theme: the necessity of virgin sacrifice in the process of durable construction.

Open access