Category Archives: Performance practice

Cross-cultural chironomia

In Tune thy musicke to thy hart: The art of eloquent singing in England, 15971622 (Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1993; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 1993-4111) Robert Toft cites John Bulwer’s Chirologia, or, The naturall language of the hand (above, 1644) as a source for rhetorical gesturing that may apply to the performance of English art songs from this period.

“Gesture in the English lute-song” by Rosemary Carlton-Willis (Lute news 94 [August 2010] pp. 8–12; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2010-17302) gives concrete examples of the use of gestures in performing this repertory, and includes a comparison with South Asian ghazal singing, which also has a gestural tradition.

Below, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan demonstrates South Asian chironomia.

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Filed under Curiosities, Performance practice, Renaissance

Sounding a history of Ukrainian sovereignty: An annotated bibliography

Seven strings/Сім струн (dedicated to Uncle Michael)*

 For thee, O Ukraine, O our mother unfortunate, bound,
 The first string I touch is for thee.
 The string will vibrate with a quiet yet deep solemn sound,
 The song from my heart will gush free.

 My song o’er the earth’s distant reaches will fly in its task
 With my dearest hopes as its guide;
 Wherever it speeds o’er the world among mankind, ’twill ask
 “Know ye where good fortune doth bide?”
  
 And there somewhere yonder my song solitary will meet
 With other such wandering lays,
 And then, joining in with that loud-singing swarm, will fly
 Away over thorn-studded ways.
  
 ’Twill speed over ocean’s blue bosom, o’er mountains will fly,
 And circle about in free air;
 ’Twill soar ever higher far up in the vault of the sky
 And maybe find good fortune there.
  
 And finding it somewhere, that longed-for good fortune may greet
 And visit our dear native strand,
 May visit and greet thee, Ukraine, O thou mother most sweet,
 Ill-starred and unfortunate land. 

By Lesâ Ukraїnka, translated into English by Percival Cundy in Spirit of flames: A collection of the works of Lesya Ukrainka (New York: Bookman Associates, 1950)

*Uncle Michael was Ukraїnka's Uncle Mihajlo (Mihajlo Dragomanov, 1841-95), a significant Ukrainian cultural and political figure.

_______________________________________

  • Noll, William. “Cultural contact through music institutions in Ukrainian lands, 1920–1948”, Music-cultures in contact: Convergences and collisions, ed. by Margaret J. Kartomi and Stephen Blum. Australian studies in the history, philosophy and social studies of music 2; Musicology: A book series 16 (Sydney: Currency Press; New York: Gordon and Breach, 1994) 204–219. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 1994-4762]

Abstract: In the first half of the 20th century, the networks of music institutions in the two zones of the Ukraine were largely conceived and implemented by urban-born and urban-trained activists who were consciously creating institutionalized links with rural populations. The music and dance practices developed and distributed through these institutions were derived from rural populations, although they were stylized, notated, and arranged by urban dwellers in ways that were thought to appeal to both urban and rural groups. Most of the musical performances took place in local centers that were part of a widespread national network. Activists in western Ukraine used music to help establish and maintain a Ukrainian national identity among a large rural population with ethnic minority status in the Polish state. In eastern Ukraine the music network was intended to be the primary shaping force of village musical culture.

  • Poljak, Dubravka. “Aspekt samoupravnosti u baladnih junaka ukrajinske narodne balade”, Zbornik od XXV kongres na Sojuzot na Združenijata na Folkloristite na Jugoslavija/Rad XXV kongresa Saveza Udruženja Folklorista Jugoslavije, ed. by Lazo Karovski and Goce Stefanoski (Skopje: Sojuz na Združenijata na Folkloristite na Jugoslavija, 1980) 109–112. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 1999-31936]

Abstract: Examines the theme of self-determination in the Ukrainian heroic ballads.

  • Berthiaume-Zavada, Claudette. “Résonances de la bandoura ou la mémoire vive d’un peuple”, Construire le savoir musical: Enjeux épistémologiques, esthétiques et sociaux, ed. by Monique Desroches and Ghyslaine Guertin. Logiques sociales: Musiques et champ social (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2003) 129–142. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2003-16721]
Reproduction of an old-world style bandura made in Toronto by William Vetzal

Abstract: Considers the Ukrainian duma as a cultural artifact that reveals how knowledge can be built on the basis of and by means of music. The duma is a musical genre, a half-sung, half-recited epic with different accompaniments depending on the period (the lira, the kobza, and, more recently, the bandura). The bandura, a Ukrainian national symbol, is the guardian of the collective memory of the Cossack epics and of historical events. The Ukrainian duma is an example of a multifunctional form of expression in which the musical aspect is inseparable from the social, and where a musical instrument and a musical form can convey the values of a people and provide trails for the researcher to follow in understanding the behavior of a population.

  • Ostashewski, Marcia. “Identity politics and Western Canadian Ukrainian musics: Globalizing the local or localizing the global?”, TOPIA: Canadian journal of cultural studies 6 (fall–winter 2001) 63–82. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2001-22653]

Abstract: Explores how Ukrainian musicians in Western Canada use music to construct local senses of identity and Ukrainianness, while participating in a more global sense of Ukrainian history and nationhood.

  • Bajgarová, Jitka. “Ukrainische Musik: Idee und Geschichte einer musikalischen Nationalbewegung in ihrem europäischen Kontext—Lipsko, 7.–9. května 2006”, Hudební věda 2/43 (2006) 215–216. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text, 2006-30845]

Abstract: A report on the conference on Ukrainian music and nationalism, which took place in Leipzig from 7 to 9 May 2006.

  • Helbig, Adriana. “The cyberpolitics of music in Ukraine’s 2004 Orange Revolution”, Current musicology 82 (fall 2006) 81–101. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2006-8421]

Abstract: Analyzes the relationship between political activism and what the author terms cybermusicality—an engagement with Internet music and its surrounding discourses that enables musical creativity both online and off. By looking into cybermusical phenomena in a non-Western context, this study moves beyond geographically and culturally limited analytical approaches that privilege Web-based music in the West and promote an uncritical celebration of the Internet as a technology of only the developed world. Music and the Internet played crucial roles in Ukraine’s 2004 Pomarančeva Revolûcia (Orange Revolution) when nearly one million people protested against election fraud, mass government corruption, and oligarchic market reforms. Prior to 2004, media outlets in Ukraine such as television, radio, and newspapers were government-controlled and censored. In contrast, the Internet grew in popularity as a technology that people could trust and helped activate the masses in anti-government protest. The article analyzes the revolution’s music and recordings disseminated on the Internet and examines the representative power of political song. This repertoire functioned as a particularly salient expression of citizen empowerment through the interpretation and evaluation of truth (pravda), a concept understood in the rhetoric of the revolution as the public’s “right to know” what is at the core of post-Soviet Ukrainian government propaganda.

  • Kiânovs’ka, Lûbov Oleksandrìvna. “Soziokulturelle Funktionen der ukrainischen nationalen Chorbewegung in Galizien nach 1867”, Chorgesang als Medium von Interkulturalität: Formen, Kanäle, Diskurse, ed. by Erik Fischer, Annelie Kürsten, Sarah Brasack, and Verena Ludorff. Berichte des interkulturellen Forschungsprojekts Deutsche Musikkultur im östlichen Europa 3 (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 2007) 403–411. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2007-34444]
Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus 1999

Abstract: After 1867 cultural areas with a strong national patriotic component began to develop within the Ukrainian choral movement. Numerous Polish choirs (Echo, Lutnia (Lute), Lwowski chór męski (Lemberg men’s choir), etc.), and Ukrainian choirs (Teorban, Bojan, Bandurist, etc.) emerged which pursued national goals in addition to societal and social objectives. The socio-cultural functions of Ukrainian choirs, which were representatives of an ethnic group without a state of their own, are examined. Their functions can be summed up as follows: establishing a national mind-set, aided by the choral culture, which was the focus of the political elite; promoting the formation of a national identity and a national memory by reviving the (ethnic) song culture; furthering general musical education by providing knowledge of the great international and national works, previously inaccessible to many; musical education—the professional musical academies of the Ukraine subsequently developed from the music schools and choirs, stimulating musical creation—a whole host of “national” compositions were composed especially for choirs; representative tasks; the “transfer” of the political and socio-cultural structures of choirs to other organizations with a similar orientation such as publishing houses, museums, and libraries.

  • Wickström, David-Emil. “Drive-ethno-dance and Hutzul punk: Ukrainian-associated popular music and (geo)politics in a post-Soviet context”, Yearbook for traditional music 40 (2008) 60–88. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text, 2008-8821]
Ruslana in London, October 2016

Abstract: Focuses on how Ruslana, Gajdamaki, and Svoboda—contemporary groups playing Ukrainian popular music—fashion themselves based on their country of (perceived) origin and what role politics, history, and traditional music play in that process. Using a postcolonial perspective, the author argues that the identity constructed by Ruslana and Gajdamaki functions to assert Ukrainian sovereignty and thus distinguishes the Ukraine from its former colonizer Russia, while Russian-based Svoboda exoticizes the Ukraine by drawing on colonial representations of the country.

  • Kušnìruk, Ol’ga. “Refleksìâ nacìonal’nogo v muzičnomu diskursì”, Studìï mistectvoznavčì 4:28 (2009) 43–47. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2009-21736]

Examines the category of nationalism in music from the perspective of non-Russian musicology and proposes to introduce this category into the terminological apparatus of the modern Ukrainian musicology.

  • Wickström, David-Emil. Okna otkroj!—Open the windows! Scenes, transcultural flows, and identity politics in popular music from post-Soviet St. Petersburg (Ph.D. diss., University of Copenhagen, 2009). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2009-22095]

Abstract: Focuses on music production in post-Soviet St. Petersburg from the perspective of local groups, the processes that enable these groups to tour Central Europe, as well as how the groups respond to social and cultural changes in their creative work. The aim is to provide a better understanding of popular music’s role in society, especially related to music, migration, and transcultural flows, specifically focusing on the ties to the post-Soviet emigrant community in Germany. These findings also provide a deeper understanding of cultural processes in the second decade after the fall of the Soviet Union. The first part examines popular music production from a scene perspective as theorized by Will Straw (1991, 2004) and others. This is done based on experiences with the St. Petersburg group Svoboda. By tracing the social networks and hubs, as well as underlying discourses, an overview of music production in the St. Petersburg rock scene is given. The same approach is applied to the scene approach to the Russendisko, a fortnightly discotheque in Berlin run by two emigrants from the former Soviet Union playing post-Soviet popular music, with a high percentage of St. Petersburg groups. The Russendisko is special since it targets a German and not an emigrant audience. The focus is both on the Russendisko itself as well as related events in Germany. Drawing on Ulf Hannerz’s theorization of transcultural flows (1992, 1996) some of the (cultural) flows to and from St. Petersburg are traced. Here the focus is on the flow of music aided by media and people within the frames “form of life” and “market” to both St. Petersburg and Berlin. Since influences from the music style ska were quite prominent in the music heard at the Russendisko, the discussion centers around the presence of reggae and ska in St. Petersburg. Here again Svoboda, whose self-proclaimed style is Ukra-ska-Pung (Ukrainian ska punk) is used as the link between the two cities, especially since some of the group’s songs are also played at the Russendisko. An important connection between St. Petersburg and Berlin that has provided the basis for the Russendisko is the massive emigration from the former Soviet Union to Germany after 1990, which is also briefly discussed. The final part turns to identity constructions, especially how bands from St. Petersburg create a band image and market themselves. Here the focus is on how these constructions relate to concepts of collective identities, especially how groups assert their origin (from St. Petersburg/Russia) and ideas of Russian national identities. One notion of Russian national identity is that Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus historically belong together. Inspired by post-colonial theory, the relationship to Ukraine is given special attention by comparing representations of Ukraine by the Russian group Svoboda and the Ukrainian performer Ruslana. The last section returns to Germany and examines first how the band identities shift when promoted to a primarily non-Russian speaking audience within the Russendisko scene. At the same time the Russendisko seems to be part of a broader German and Austrian musical focus on the East–especially linked with music from the Balkans–and the discussion is broadened to include this perspective. Returning to the post-Soviet musicians living in Berlin, the discussion is rounded off by examining why the term diaspora is not applicable within the post-Soviet emigrant community. A related monograph is cited as RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2014-78783.

  • Yekelchyk, Serhy. “What is Ukrainian about Ukraine’s pop culture? The strange case of Verka Serduchka”, Canadian-American Slavic studies/Revue canadienne-américaine d’études slaves 44/1–2 (spring–summer 2009) 217–232. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2010-342]
Vêrka Serdûčka

Abstract: The Ukrainian cross-dressing and language-mixing pop star Vêrka Serdûčka (played by male actor Andrij Danilko) is the most controversial product of Ukrainian post-Soviet mass culture. Ukrainian nationalists reject Serdûčka as a parody of their nation, while Russians took umbrage at her 2007 Eurovision entry, which allegedly contained the words “Russia goodbye”. This article interprets the character of Serdûčka as a jester, who makes audiences laugh at their own cultural stereotypes and prejudices, and at the same time as a representative of Ukraine’s living traditional culture, reflecting an ambiguous national identity of this essentially bilingual country.

  • Lastovec’ka-Solans’ka, Zorâna Mykolaїvna. “Rol’ tradyciї ta nacional’nyh cinnostej u duhovnij kul’turi ukraїnciv”, Naukovij vìsnik Nacìonal’noï Muzičnoï Akademìï Ukraïni ìmenì P.I. Čajkovs’kogo 85 (2010) 36–50. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2010-16673]

Abstract: Discusses the Ukrainian sociocultural values through the prism of their traditions. Sociocultural dynamics of cultural development, individual ethnic-aesthetic culture, nation’s genetic memory, national self-identification, and their expression in musical art are analyzed.

  • Radzievskij, Vitalij Aleksandrovič. “Muzykal’naâ kul’tura na ukrainskom Majdane”, Muzykal’naâ kul’tura v teoretičeskom i prikladnom izmerenii. I, ed. by Irina Gennadievna Umnova (Kemerovo: Gosudarstvennyj Universitet Kul’tury i Iskusstva, 2014) 88–96. [RILM abstracts of Music Literature, 2014-80333]

Abstract: Describes the musical components of the majdan culture as the main sociocultural dimensions of the Ukrainian culture. The music of the Èvromajdan is discussed.

  • Schwanitz, Mirko. “Rüben sammeln und Sex Pistols hören: Die ukrainische Revolution und der Mut ihrer Künstler”, Österreichische Musikzeitschrift 69/2 (2014) 62–64. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2014-11161]

Abstract: Discusses the poet and writer Serhìj Žadan, who is considered one of the most powerfully eloquent poets in Europe, with reference as well to selected Ukrainian artists and their situation. Ukraine is presented as the country where most poets, authors, and singers are fighting fiercely for their vision of a new and freer homeland. The translator and author Ûrìj Prohas’ko figures as one of the most important cultural mediators between Ukraine and the German-speaking countries. Andrej Kurkov, internationally the best-known and most-translated Ukrainian author, offered prescient warnings about the scenario that has now come to pass.

  • Morozova, Lûbov’ Sergeevna and Katarzyna Kramnik. “Sounds of Maidan”, Glissando: Magazyn o muzyce współczesnej 26 (2015) http://glissando.pl/en/tekst/sounds-of-maidan/. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2015-3900]

Abstract: Discusses the soundscape of the Majdan Nezaležnostì (Independence Square) in Kiïv during Èvromajdan.

  • Sonevytsky, Maria. “The freak cabaret on the revolution stage: On the ambivalent politics of femininity, rurality, and nationalism in Ukrainian popular music”, Journal of popular music studies 28/3 (September 2016) 291–314. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2016-5972]
The Dakh Daughters at Rudolstadt-Festival 2016.

Abstract: In the winter of 2013, as dramatic political demonstrations overtook central Kiïv, Ukraine, screens around the world projected live video feeds of the protests first referred to as Èvromajdan, and later simply as Majdan. Social media was pivotal in inciting the groundswell of opposition that eventually led to the abdication of power by President Vìktor Ânukovič. As part of the broad social contest over meaning that has characterized the Ukrainian Majdan and the ongoing war in Ukraine’s eastern borderlands, online communities have interpreted Majdan-themed music videos in dialectically opposing ways, engaging in bitter feuds over the meanings of politically charged tropes on the comment boards of websites and social media feeds, each side accusing the other of propagandizing on behalf of either Putin’s Russia or the US and European Union. This polarized battle over interpretation often mirrored the entrenched discourse over Ukraine’s liminal geopolitical position: forever the quintessential borderland, buffering an expanding Europe from the Russian sphere of influence. This article considers one such contested performance that circulated in the form of an edited music video, the Èvromajdan performance of the piece Gannusâ by the Ukrainian freak cabaret act known as the Dakh Daughters, a Kiïv-based collective of female actors and musicians known for their dramatic, collage-based musical performance pieces.

  • Kiânovs’ka, Lûbov Oleksandrìvna. “Verluste des ukrainischen Musiklebens in der Periode der ‘Hingerichteten Renaissance’: 1930er Jahre und nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg”, Musicology today: Journal of the National University of Music Bucharest 7/3:27 (July–September 2016) 241–258. [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature with Full Text, 2016-34688]

Abstract: Describes the tragic events of the Ukrainian musical culture in the period of Stalin’s terror. The author explains—from a social and political perspective—the reasons why Ukrainian art and the Ukrainian intelligentsia had been subjected to repression. Most of the prominent artists were murdered; other examples of reprisal are considered, against the director, actor, public figure Les’ Kurbas, and against choreographer, composer, manager Vasil’ Mikolajovič Verhovinec’. The cruel extinction of blind kobza-players under Harkìv is also described. Even after World War II, repressions against Ukrainian artists hadn’t been stopped, as we find out from the case of the composer Vasil’ Oleksandrovič Barvìns’kij.

  • Sonevytsky, Maria. Wild music: Sound and sovereignty in Ukraine. Music/culture (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2019). [RILM abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-11778]

Abstract: What are the uses of musical exoticism? This book tracks vernacular Ukrainian discourses of wildness as they manifested in popular music during a volatile decade of Ukrainian political history bracketed by two revolutions. From the Eurovision Song Contest to reality TV, from Indigenous radio to the revolution stage, the author assesses how these practices exhibit and re-imagine Ukrainian tradition and culture. As the rise of global populism forces us to confront the category of state sovereignty anew, the author proposes innovative paradigms for thinking through the creative practices that constitute sovereignty, citizenship, and nationalism.

– Compiled by Katya Slutskaya Levine, Editor, RILM

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Filed under Ethnomusicology, Europe, Instruments, Musicology, Performance practice, Performers, Politics, Popular music

Returning to “La source”

Four historic performances of Arthur Saint-Léon’s ballet La source, spanning 150 years, illustrate how—through the sacrifice of a feminized nature—the work represented the biopolitics of sex and race, and the cosmopolitics of human and natural resources.

In 1866, when La source debuted, the public at the Paris Opéra may have been content to dream about its setting in the verdant Caucasus, its exotic Circassians, veiled Georgians, and powerful Khan. Yet the ballet’s botany also played to a public thinking about ethnic and exotic others at the same time—and in the same ways—as they were thinking about plants.

Along with these stereotypes, with a flower promising hybridity in a green ecology, and the death of the embodied Source recuperated as a force for regeneration, the ballet can be read as a fable of science and the performance as its demonstration.

Programmed for the opening gala of the new Opéra, the Palais Garnier, in 1875 the ballet reflected not so much a timeless Orient as timely colonial policy and engineering in North Africa, the management of water and women.

Its 2011 reinvention at the Paris Opéra, following the adoption of new legislation banning the veil in public spaces, might have staged gender and climate justice in sync with the Arab Spring, but opted instead for luxury and dream.

Its 2014 reprise might have focused on decolonizing the stage or raising eco-consciousness, but it exemplified the greater urgency attached to Islamist threat rather than imminent climate catastrophe, missing the ballet’s historic potential to make its audience think.

This according to One dead at the Paris Opera Ballet: La source 1866–2014 by Felicia M. McCarren (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature 2020-54905).

Above, Eugénie Fiocre in La Source, depicted by Edgar Degas circa 1868; below, an excerpt from the 2011 production.

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Filed under Curiosities, Dance, Performance practice

Improv Everywhere!

The improvisation collective Improv Everywhere specializes in staging public-space interventions, which they refer to as pranks or missions.

By enlisting pedestrians in discrete one-time events that challenge protocols of public contact and that expand our understanding of public flexibility and empathy, Improv Everywhere offers an antidote to mainstream, hegemonic formulations of spectacle, virtuosity, and generalized expectations concerning the purpose of performance.

The group’s integration of trained and untrained performers (whom they refer to as agents), the kinds of space and sociality that they create, and the connections between their live and web presences reveal noteworthy contemporary understandings of intimacy and the social fabric.

This according to “Why not Improv Everywhere?” by Susan Leigh Foster, an essay included in The Oxford handbook of dance and theater (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015, 196–212; RILM Abstracts of Music Literature 2015-23390).

Above and below, Conduct us, a collaboration with the designer Ilya Smelansky and New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

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Filed under Curiosities, Humor, Performance practice

International journal of the study of music and musical performance

 

In 2019 Open Music Library launched International journal of the study of music and musical performance.

The journal advances both a general and professional interest in music and its performance with essays that cover a range of approaches: from discussions of little-known composers and musicians drawing upon primary and secondary sources to more specialized studies of composers, works, instruments, performers, audiences, and institutions. A review section covers new books, scores, and recordings. Whenever possible, international contributions are presented in the original language as well as in English.

Below, Hans Werner Henze’s Du schönes Bächlein; the work’s performance practice is discussed in the inaugural issue.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, New periodicals, Performance practice

McCoy Tyner and “apart playing”

 

McCoy Tyner’s improvisation on Bessie’s blues, recorded with the John Coltrane Quartet in 1964, exemplifies the traditional Afrodiasporic performance practice of apart playing.

A formulation of the art historian Robert Farris Thompson, apart playing occurs whenever individual performers enact different, complementary roles in an ensemble setting. For interpretative purposes, the concept helps to provide a cultural context for certain pitch-based formal devices, such as substitute harmonies and playing outside an underlying chord or scale, which Tyner uses in the course of his solo.

This according to “Apart playing: McCoy Tyner and Bessie’s blues” by Benjamin Givan (Journal of the Society for American Music I/2 [May 2007] pp. 257–80).

Today is Tyner’s 80th birthday! Above, performing in 1973; below, the recording in question.

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Filed under Jazz and blues, Performance practice, Performers

Granados’s performance practices

Enrique Granados’s Duo-Art piano-roll performance of his Danza española no. 5 (Andaluza), made some 20 years after the piece was published, illuminates much about late-Romantic piano performance practices.

Transcription and analysis of this piano roll illustrate the disparity between score and performance. Granados added and changed notes, ornaments, articulations, and chords. He also altered many rhythmic values, desynchronized melody and accompaniment, rolled chords at will, and introduced drastic tempo changes not indicated in the score. His performing style thus reflects a personal approach to the piano that lies well within the broader context of the Romantic performance tradition.

This according to “Piano-roll recordings of Enrique Granados: A study of a transcription of the composer’s performance” by Anatole Leikin (Journal of musicological research XXI/1–2 [January–June 2002] pp. 3–19).

Today is Granados’s 150th birthday! Below, the recording in question.

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Filed under Performance practice, Romantic era

Rhythm and experimental psychology

In the laboratories of 19th-century experimental psychologists, new concepts of precision-oriented, mechanically regulated musical time emerged as a positive ideal—one that led to the ubiquity of the metronome in the training and practice regimes of classical musicians and pervasive understandings of “good” and “bad” musical rhythm in the 20th century.

Most notably, Wilhelm Wundt included a metronome in the assembly of clockwork instruments employed in his research into the variables of human perception and action. His experiments helped to shape and define modern concepts of rhythm, radically shifting the concept of musical rhythm from a subjective, internal pulse reference to an objective, unerringly precise phenomenon independent of human agency.

At the turn of the 20th century, other psychologists, such as Carl Seashore, disseminated these scientific ideals to a wider public through important music publications, and by the 1920s such ideals were becoming pervasive among both amateur and professional music practitioners.

This according to “Refashioning rhythm: Hearing, acting and reacting to metronomic sound in experimental psychology and beyond, c. 1875–1920” by Alexander Bonus, an essay included in Cultural histories of noise, sound and listening in Europe, 1300–1918 (Abington: Routledge, 2017, pp. 76–105).

Above, Dr. Wundt (seated) and colleagues in his psychological laboratory, the first of its kind, ca. 1880; below, an abridged version of György Ligeti’s Poème symphonique for 100 metronomes.

BONUS: For the purists, a complete performance of Ligeti’s work.

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Filed under Curiosities, Performance practice

Toscanini’s annotations

 

Critics, scholars, and performers have long noted that Arturo Toscanini’s reputation for absolute fidelity to the printed score was little more than a public relations myth.

Now that the legendary conductor’s annotated scores are available for study, three types of alterations can be observed: (1) modifications of dynamics, articulation, bowing, phrasing, and tempo; (2) orchestrational adjustments; and (3) the introduction of new material.

The combination of Toscanini’s Italian musical heritage and Wagnerian aesthetic convinced him that the highest service that a conductor could render was to impose certain types of musical changes whenever he sensed that a composer’s artistic conception was threatened. In his mind, there was neither egotism nor hypocrisy in this approach.

This according to “Toscanini and the myth of textual fidelity” by Linda B. Fairtile (Journal of the Conductors Guild XXVI/1–2 [2003] 49–60).

Today is Toscanini’s 150th birthday! Below, his recording of the first movement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony, one of the works discussed in the article.

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Filed under Performance practice, Performers

Performing premodernity online

performing-premodernity

Performing premodernity online, an open-access journal launched in January 2015, publishes papers given at Performing Premodernity conferences as well as reports from workshops and other events.

Performing Premodernity is a research project based at the Department of Culture and Aesthetics at Stockholm University. It is one of eight premodernity projects funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences). Concentrating on both academic and artistic research, the project aims to contribute to the revitalizing of historically informed performance today.

The journal’s first volume includes papers from a conference that was held in København in February 2014 on Francesco Cavalli’s opera Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne. Below, Soledad Cardoso performs an aria from the work.

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Filed under Baroque era, New periodicals, Opera, Performance practice