After three decades of our personal, publicly conducted discussion with Ernő Lendvai, in 1999 at a conference organized in memory of Bence Szabolcsi, I raised again my objections related his theories. Since my lecture was given in Hungarian, and its printed version was published in Hungarian language (Muzsika 2000, Bartók-analitika 2003), I feel necessary to present some of my objetions on an international forum as well, with particular aspect to the fact that in the Bartók literature - in spite of serious criticism (Petersen, Gillies) - several analysts employ up to now Lendvai's theories in a servile way. My objections are focussed upon four points. 1. The extension of Riemann's three-function theory to the twelvetone system is a theoretical arbitrariness and an impasse. 2. The axis interpretation of the tonalities - by identification of polar keys - is in flat contradiction with Bartók's tonal thinking. 3. The pentatony interpreted as a golden section system is very much doubtful according basic experiences of the ethnomusicology. 4. The typical Bartókian chord structures - named by Lendvai α, β etc. - are phenomenologically correct, but their interpretation by Fibonacci figures is arbitrary, because the actual intervals represent another ratios.
Tonal residua and other remnants of older musical styles and idioms seem to be inevitably bound to Ligeti’s musical language. The numerous ways of integrating the stylistic heterogeneity in his works are extremely individual and may be seen as part of each work’s specific narrative. In his early essay about musical form, Ligeti interprets Adorno’s idea of material as a parameter of form either as congealed time or as traces of musical memory. This article aims to show the different levels and qualities of musical thought Ligeti deals with by analyzing the different layers of traditional strata in his music.
In tonal music, pitch orthography reflects different structural and functional meanings of notes in various contextual and textural settings such as harmony, melody, and voice leading. At the turn of the twentieth century, many composers attempt to progress beyond the confines of traditional tonality, whose works, as generally perceived by most analysts nowadays, treat the twelve chromatic notes as the twelve enharmonically equivalent pitch-classes and thus present “the dissolution of … [the] notational conventions of earlier times” (Gillies 1993, 43). Contrary to this general sentiment regarding orthography, the present paper brings the significance of pitch notation into sharper focus by investigating its crucial role in the course of the text setting and form in Webern's op. 12, no. 2. I will demonstrate how Webern utilizes orthography to reinforce the structure of the text and the narrative of form, assisting the analyst in considering notation as a core element while examining the pitch structure of the early twentieth-century music.
Among the Yoruba people of southwest Nigeria, dancers have the ability to relate not only to music and rhythm, but also to the Yoruba tonal language. This is due to the fact that instruments being played during a dance event, once they are manipulated by the drummer, can follow the Yoruba language’s tonality. Therefore, the so-called talking drums have the ability to articulate proverbs, poems, stories. The dancers’ representations or interpretations of what the drums are saying create different artistic and cognitive dimensions during the dancing. When does a dancer follow only the rhythms of the drums and when does he or she have meaning in his/her gestures? What happens when the meanings derive from proverbial language? And moreover, what happens with the newest Yoruba dance generation which is said to have neglected their indigenous language for English? Going beyond choreomusical relationships, improvising, mimicking, interpreting and verbalising the content of the tonal percussions are some dimensions of Yoruba dance, which derive from exploring the personal dance experiences of a community of thought in Yorubaland.
Owing to its strong emotional effect, music plays a great role in experiencing and expressing self-identity. In Hungary, 19
century compilers of folksong collections consciously professed the national value of their work, while they were embarrassed by the tonality of genuine folksongs, having an aversion to pentatonic tunes. In the early 20
century, it was exactly this tonal world that attracted Bartók and Kodály and helped them to develop their own compositional style and create sovereign Hungarian music in opposition to German romanticism. Pentatony recognized in folk music aroused their interest in researching eastern, prehistoric connections and also inspired them to carry on the stylistic interpretation of the Hungarian folk music stock. Kodály based his music pedagogical conception on the acquisition of the musical mother tongue, first of all pentatonic folksongs, which he meant as a remedy against the identity crisis of the society. The role of pentatony as a vehicle of identity has been verified by new achievements of ethnomusicology which has explored the importance of the five-tone scale in the history of Hungarian folk music more thoroughly.
Dohnányi's Second Piano Quintet in E-flat minor was written in 1914 and is less well-known than his first one dating from 1895. The composer has been called a traditionalist, so it is worth examining how tradition appears in this work. The outer movements of the three-movement-form are both elegiac and weighty. The beginning bears the key signature of E-flat major instead of minor, but the keys are changing rapidly as the piece progresses. This is reminiscent of Franz Schubert or of Antonín Dvořák, for instance in his Piano Quartet (op. 87) inspired by Brahms. The third movement's opening is a homage to Beethoven's late String Quartet in A Minor (op. 132). While the latter works on a sub-thematic level, Dohnányi presents an elaborated theme in fugal technique, which in 1914 was a more conservative approach than Beethoven's in 1825. For Dohnányi, the symmetric structures are not a way out of traditional tonality (unlike for Bartók, who also frequently used symmetries), but rather are a way of extending it. The formal concept is no less interesting. The recapitulation of the first movement's material within the third is evocative of the double-function form used by Franz Liszt. While Liszt conflated the traditional multi-movement form into a new one-movement form, Dohnányi – so to speak – concealed the characteristics of the new one-movement form inside a traditional three-movement form. Thus, one could ask if the accusations against Dohnányi for being a traditionalist are justified. Perhaps instead we should reconsider how traditionalism and modernity are situated in our own set of aesthetic values.
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reinforces the tonality of C-sharp major and the actual Phrygian tonic gives the impression of a dominant half-cadence, according to tradition. The second part approaches F-sharp minor, through harmonic steps of an authentic nature. Subsequently, a succession