On the usage of pre‐existent elements in composition by
Rafael Fraga A Thesis Submitted to the Conservatorium van Amsterdam in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts Major Subject: Classical Composition Conservatorium van Amsterdam Amsterdam, March 2010
On the usage of pre‐existent elements in composition
Rafael Fraga Conservatorium van Amsterdam
Abstract: Using preexisting music as a starting point for new compositions is a common practice in the Western written music tradition since the beginning of polyphony. But besides music, also texts and other elements – pictorial, philosophical, etc. – have also been used by composers as source of materials and procedures, and they all contribute to enlarge the technical and symbolical resources of new compositions. All these possibilities create an immense array of aesthetical approaches, thus making the task of analyzing and understanding the music extremely complex. The lack of a specific musical glossary regarding procedures and materials inspired or taken from previous sources also results in a diverse and unclear usage of terms, mostly adapted from other contexts: from quotation in literature to collage in graphical arts. In this work we propose a philosophical frameset that tries to cover the main possibilities in the usage of preexistent elements in the context of written music of the Western tradition, proposing a specific glossary and basic analytical settings. We hope this allows a starting point for the comprehension of the possibilities and implications of the usage of such elements, to be used by analysts, composers and performers.
Amsterdam ‐ 2010
NON‐PLAGIARISM STATEMENT I declare 1. that I understand that plagiarism refers to representing somebody else’s words or ideas as one’s own; 2. that apart from properly referenced quotations, the enclosed text and transcriptions are fully my own work and contain no plagiarism; 3. that I have used no other sources or resources than those clearly referenced in my text; 4. that I have not submitted my text previously for any other degree or course. Name: Place: Dte: Signature:
1 – Introduction …………………………………………………………………………………….
2 ‐ The custom classical music making model ………………………………………. 4 3 ‐ Preexistent elements as source for new music ………………………………..
4 – The Contextualization model ……………………………………….…………………. 10 5 – From preexistent elements to Materials ………………………………………….
6 ‐ On the usage of Compositional Materials …………………………………………
7 ‐ Extra‐musical implications of the usage of preexistent elements …….
8 – Discussion ……………………………………….……………………………………………… 24 Acknowledgments Literature cited and additional references
1 – Introduction The usage of preexistent elements (namely music) has always been a crucial part of compositional procedures in Western written tradition – from now on referred to as classical music. As any musical manifestation belongs to a tradition (de Leeuw, 2005: 196; Cooke, 2001: 171) classical music is mainly dependent on the way musical elements are maintained, recycled and renewed in the context of that tradition. The development of polyphony, of composition as a personal statement and, later, issues regarding the relation between art, authorship and originality resulted in different historical attitudes. Consequently, the borderlines between the reuses of the past and innovation became thinner and, quite often, indefinable: from standard procedure in the Middle‐ ages/Renaissance to arguable procedure in the personal artistic identity seeking attitude of the Romantic Period, the usage of preexistent music has assumed different roles and aesthetic consequences: “The exclusive right of the artist to the benefits that accrue from his or her intellectual property is a characteristic of modern culture (Carrol, 1978 in Burkholder [updated 2007])”. In the 20th century, the so called Neo‐classical approaches (Harrison, 1946 in Burkholder [updated 2007]), Berg’s usage of excerpts of well known pieces for his own music, the folk incursions of Bartók are examples that strongly contrast with the serial thinking inspired by Boulez, claiming for a total break with the former historical moments (Griffiths, 1981: 188). Paradoxically, as a result of the radical pretensions of the serial movement and its acceptance as the core of the avant garde, reuses of the past became a statement of aesthetic contrast and increased importance in the sixties and seventies (Schwartz and Godfrey, 1993: 243‐5). In fact, historical importance given to these reuses is most of the times related to the post serial time period, fading from the eighties onwards – Morgan (1991: 415) states that quotational procedures lost their importance after 1970. Reusing existing music in a new work can assume an immense array of formats, from the arrangement of a melody to the inclusion of a more or less well know excerpt from another composer; besides direct reference, reusing compositional conventions typical from other historic moments, models or traditions are also a common practice (Brindle, 1987: 137‐40; Morgan, 1991: 418‐20). All these procedures have in common the fact that they use preexistent musical entities
that gain a new life, as they become part of a new work, generating implicit or explicit associations between the past and the present. But besides preexistent classical music composers have included in their works many other elements – from music brought from other traditions and cultures, to texts and graphic signals, etc. – that contribute in the same way for the music making process, as they are responsible for determining specific musical qualities. If some elements serve only as inspirational basis, others have quite defined compositional applications – for instance, numerical series, such as Fibonacci, to determine form in terms of proportion in time length. Among others, they all share with preexistent music the facts that: a) They are anterior (external) to the new work; b) They become part of it; c) Their musical usage is done according to specific criteria; d) They expand reference and associative potential, allowing connection otherwise inexistent, contributing to enrich a work’s intellectual and cultural frame. In this way, elements originally external to music can be brought into a new composition and must be equally taken into account. From another point of view, a technique, style, model or compositional convention are abstract systems that serve as intellectual basis for limiting a field of possibilities – and almost anything can be used to generate such systems, as long as creativeness and coherence are present. Also, general elements foreign to the classical music tradition ‐ instruments, techniques, etc.‐, can become part of a specific compositional language. So, with such an immense universe of possibilities, how can we understand and systematically organize these procedures in a way that can be of practical use for composition, analysis or performance? Of all authors, Burkholder (1994) addressed the issue more deeply, using Ives’s scores as main work tool1. Tarnawska‐Kaczorowska (1998) provides an interesting genealogy of relevant works and proposes groupings for quotational procedures but does not define “quotation” on itself. But so far, the study of the usage of preexistent elements (and music) used for new works has proved scientifically insufficient due to several reasons:
His works serve as basis for The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians articles on the subject of musical borrowing, quotation, etc.
a) Most studies are either too specific, focusing on a given context (a composer, period, etc.), or too broad, proposing a rather superficial approach on the subject as a whole. Others gather general impressions, resuming the bibliography and proposing what we would call proto‐systems of classification for the usage of preexistent elements – as Burkholder (1994) or Tarnawska‐ Kaczorowska (1998). They usually trace quite vague and subjective borders between categories, thus making impossible their general application. As a consequence, they all fail in proposing objective methods of study and work, raising far more questions than the ones they leave answered. b) The chosen approaches are mainly from the analyst point of view – trying to understand the role of a set of procedures in a given musical set of examples. From this results a multitude of amorphous information, almost impossible to gather and organize coherently; c) The existence of a developed Metalanguage for music is a problem yet unsolved; in this case it is particularly relevant because part of the processes involved require an understanding of the connections between music itself and elements a priori external to it. d) The lack of a specific glossary regarding musical procedures related to the usage of preexistent elements resulting in the importation of terms from other fields ‐ from literature to visual arts ‐, such as “quotation”, “borrowing”, “collage” or “parody”. Some of these terms have already a long historical background, which implies tracing their meanings over time in order to use them. e) A clear definition of which standard musical context is being studied. Contemporary classical music tradition refers to different concepts of music making, namely acoustic, electro‐acoustic or electronic music. These concepts overlap into some extent (such as the intellectual attitude, possibility of score usage, etc.) but differ greatly in their practical implementation. Many authors, as Metzer (2003) discuss “quotation” or “borrowing” mixing different musical traditions. f) A general attitude of referring to preexistent elements usage as a merely compositional phenomenon, instead or preventing their potential role in separate moments of the music making process. If a score is written in a graphical notation that resembles a cubist painting or asks the performers to cover their faces with Venetian masks, there are obvious implications that go beyond the musical final result; these elements acquire an essential musical function, as they deeply change the way communication occurs.
Besides these reasons, we must take into account that music, as any art form, is a subjective experience. And so are analytical considerations. Usually, we can clearly identify different structural moments in a score; but an accurate description of the transition between these moments can become quite difficult – and so does the borderline tracing between them. This kind of statements draws to conclusions such as “any compositional work creates something new” – this means that the simplest arrangement of a folksong is as new as the most radical composition: they were both the result of some degree and extent of compositional action. But this doesn’t mean any of them is either novel or original. Therefore, aiming for an objective approach requires a somewhat radical attitude towards the definition of boundaries between procedures. In this work we explored the potential emerging from the usage of preexistent elements in composition, identifying the key processes involved in standard classical music making. We developed our considerations from a purely philosophical point of view, recurring to practical examples as support whenever necessary. This allowed us to propose a theoretical frameset of possibilities based on objectiveness and coherence, along with a basic glossary of procedures and terms.
2 ‐ The custom classical music making model We can think of music as information. In general terms, it is created by a composer and perceived by an audience, through intermediate steps that allow the transformation of the composer’s idea to an acoustic phenomenon. These steps may occur in different ways, according to the way the composition is brought alive and how it reaches the listener. In classical music this process requires also the usage of scores, a documented set of conventional instructions that serve as vehicle for the composers intentions. Godlovitch (1998: 2) addresses the functional compartments in music as a performative art, its traditions and refers to its almost ritual essence. Nowadays, technology offers an enormous multitude of composing, rendering and reproduction possibilities. Historical styles are mathematically analyzed allowing computer‐made composition, digital sampling techniques offer the studio musician a huge palette of individual orchestral colors and recording multimedia productions permit infinite personal programming according to individual taste and timing. Nevertheless, the composer – performer ‐ listener scheme, with real 4
time live performance, is still the standard setting for the specialized public. A recording allows an eternal audition of any music; nevertheless, only the score (and its adequate decoding) allows it to be rigorously performed again. Therefore, in the classical music tradition, the composer’s work is the score – that is what survives, what allows the possibility of making his music to travel in time. From the score, just basic information – title, movements, dedication notes, etc. – reaches the listener directly; the score’s acoustic information requires decoding and interpretation. This means that between the composer and the audience there is a rendering medium that determines how the composition is turned into music. This double sided point of view gives classical music a dual nature, latent and immanent, which’s importance is often underestimated. This dual nature is a central statement in the classical music historical and technical understanding, as it almost differentiates between two quite apart traditions: the scores and the music made from them. Fig. 1 describes the custom scheme of classical music making process: Latent nature
Rendering medium Reading
Fig. 1: Custom music making model.
Score and Realization serve as vehicles for musical information transmission. Each one of them represents a communication process on itself, an expression of the latent/immanent natures of classical music. Score must be written and read; Realization implies an interpretation of the score and its reception by the listener. The common rendering medium is a human performer, which will read and interpret the score in a performance. Human performance can be individual or collective, with or without conductor, etc.; each combination adds possibilities and presents new problems.
3 ‐ Preexistent Elements as source for new music Perhaps the most common procedure among classical music composers, regarding the use of preexistent elements, is to select a fragment of another musical work and include it in a new composition. But besides classical music, composers use many other sources for creative work: excerpts from other musical traditions, texts, paintings, philosophical concepts, specific instrumental practices, etc. Even thought quite different in their nature and possible music applications, they all have the potential to add content to the music, expanding its possible technical resources, interpretations and associative potential. The inner nature of their properties manifests somehow in the new musical creation; therefore they should be considered as part of the music making process. Nevertheless, it is quite different to use a source as inspiration or as a starting point for composition; as the former is to vague to allow an objective analysis, we shall focus on the latter. From the standing point of classical music, we considered three main types of preexistent elements able to be used in a new piece: a) Direct elements – music that belongs to classical music tradition: these elements share latent and immanent natures. Therefore, they use the same model for music making. Besides belonging to the same tradition, they must be used according to it. This means that, for instance, a score used as a group of graphical signs becomes an Abstract element, not a Direct one. Direct elements are Imported; as they are taken from their original context and brought to a new one, they acquire identity. b) Indirect elements – any sound making codes or acoustic manifestation not belonging to the tradition of Western written. They can require either Inscription (if they share the latent nature: signals or instructions that allow sound making) or Transcription (if sharing the immanent nature: acoustic phenomenons able to be codified by notation). Spoken languages can be Indirect elements Inscribed, when a text is included in a score, or Transcribed, when a phonetic sequence is resumed in terms of musical notation. c) Abstract elements ‐ other elements (either graphic, philosophical, etc.) or procedures that allow the production of music. They imply a Conversion, according to their nature. Abstract elements are
not sound related events, in their inner essence – they rely on intellectual processes that act as interface allowing them to become part of the music making procedures (Fig. 2).
Inscription Indirect Transcription Abstract
Fig. 2: Classification of preexistent elements according to their application and required processing for musical usage.
Some examples follow (Figs. 3‐6): a) Direct elements:
Fig. 3: Bernd Allois Zimmermann: Musique pour les soupers du roi Ubu (Extrac. from Schwartz and Godfrey, 1993: 248). An example of Direct application of music from other composers – Hindemith, Wagner, etc.
b) Indirect elements:
Fig. 4: Maçadela do Linho, Portuguese folk song. Arranged by Portuguese composer Carlos Marecos after Transcription by Lopes‐Graça and Michel Giacometti (Marecos, 2010, pers. com.); Lyrics and singing indications (sing using a funnel, etc.) correspond to Inscriptions.
C) Abstract elements, implying Conversion:
Fig.5: In Caminho ao Céu, Marecos includes thirteen instrumental solos, symbolizing the thirteen stages of Christ’s Via Sacra, (Marecos, 2010, pers. com). The preexistent element (Via Sacra stages) is used for formal purposes.
Fig. 6: Sicut Umbra, by Luigi Dallapicola (Extract. from Watkins, 1986); here, Dallapicola uses “the delicate tracery of the stars through a direct projection of maps of the night sky into musical figures (Watkins, 1986: 491)”. A preexistent abstraction adapted to melodic and harmonic content.
Most procedures implied in adapting sound or other elements to a musical language raise problems of different nature. Transcription, a highly common method of work, deals with the confrontation between an acoustic reality and a personal intellectual approach in order to obtain a final, filtered result –its encoding to a musical language is an abstract process and implies the loss of much information (Sloboda & Parker, 1985: 143‐4). A common usage of elements of Inscriptional nature through means of abstract adaptation is the Conversion of alphabet letters into pitch information (the B‐A‐C‐H theme, for instance); for instance, in is Chamber Concerto, Berg includes material deriving from the names of Schoenberg, Webern or his self, originating melodic themes (Pople, 1991: 18).
4 – The Contextualization model A composer’s work using preexistent elements requires the choosing of a Corpus, a specific approach on these elements. Corpi can have different natures: they can refer to sound or music, to a specific process or musical procedure or to any kind of abstraction, imported or adapted to a musical purpose. Understanding the core of any preexistent element thus requires its contextualization. Therefore, we propose a model that tries to cover and describe the circumstances of its origin (Gestatio), essence (Corpus) and its intellectual or cultural role (Credentia); the model also refers to the transition between these steps (Genesis and Acceptio). Fig. 7 summarizes it: Gestatio
Fig. 7: Contextualization model for preexistent elements. The components of the model are: a) Gestatio: the description and understanding of the circumstances where the element to be used originated, for instance, where it was created and by whom. b) Corpus: the description of the element itself; c) Credentia: element’s credentials, its intellectual role and meanings according to specific cultural contexts. It should refer to the historical context of its creation as well as to the modern view of it. d) Genesis: the procedures or processes that determine the creation of the element; this stage refers mainly to the technical processes involved. e) Acceptio: all the features involved in the contact between the element and a specific intellectual or cultural context. It refers, for instance, to historical circumstances, cultural filters, etc. It focuses on how a certain Corpus reached an audience thus creating a Credentia in it. 10
Each practical situation requires a clear definition of the Corpus, the object to be used in the new work, as well as a careful analysis of the other components, namely the ones that imply historical and cultural background knowledge. Some elements may imply diverse Corpi according to their role in the final piece. One may use a Bach fugue theme as a basis for a new fugue; in this case, for instance, there is the Corpus “Bach fugue theme” as well as the Corpus “late 18th century fugue writing”; these two objects should be taken into account separately. When applied to Direct elements, this model should consider their dual nature, analyzing their latent and immanent natures in separate. Only this approach allows objective insight over the elements to be used and their role in the new work.
5 – From preexistent elements to Materials As preexistent elements are subject of processing in order to be included in a (new) musical context, they acquire a different nature, being thus designated Matter. This transition state implies already a specific musical essence. From Matter, the composer chooses a particular portion, a Quota; this Quota will manifest itself in one of the music making vehicles (Score and/or Realization). The complexity of the study, comprehension and generalization of the usage of preexistent elements in new compositions results from the infinite array of their possible applications into these vehicles. From Quota, derives Materia (materials), a specific entity for musical application (Fig. 8): 1. In the writing stage: a) Compositional Material ‐ as musical building block, following Schoenberg (1967); b) Formal Material – contributing to a specific succession, number or relation of events;, or to the dimensional organization of the music (juxtaposition, superimposition, etc.) (Schoenberg, 1967). c) Normative Material, contributing to the definition of the musical writing rules, conventions or procedures; 11
2. In the reading stage, notated as text or other non‐conventional musical signals, becoming d) Ethical Material, influencing the way the score is read; its endogenous nature acts mainly in reader’s attitude towards the score. It can also be applied in the Realization, 3. As part of the interpretation: it becomes e) Interpretational Material; its exogenous nature acts mainly in the rendering medium’s attitude during the interpretation; 4. As part of the reception: it becomes f) Reception Material, influencing the way the musical phenomenon is received by the listener – its perception. Compositional
Fig. 8: From Quota to Materia (materials).
Some examples of these Materials follow (Figs. 9‐13): a) Compositional
Fig. 9: Antechrist, Peter Maxwell Davies (Extract. from Brindle, 1987). The preexistent Compositional Material is the archaic melody Deo Confitemine played by the Piccolo, later “integrated into a complex rhythmic structure (Brindle, 1987: 140)”.
Fig. 10: Carlos Marecos’s usage of the thirteen stages of the Via Sacra for the formal organization of solos in Caminho ao Céu.
Fig. 11: Symphony of Psalms, 2nd Movement, by Stravinsky (Extract. from Watkins, 1986: 469). Baroque fugue writing is used by Stravinsky as a preexistent element, here applied as Normative Material.
Fig. 12: Sydney Hodkinson’s Dissolution of the Serial (Extract. from Schwartz and Godfrey, 1993); Going from gestures typical of Boulez to tonal moments, the composer attempts a sense of disintegration of the music; the notation is used in a way that expresses this collapse (Schwartz and Godfrey, 1993: 254)
Fig. 13: Mañanita de S. Juan, from Ayre, by Osvaldo Golijov. Arabic sound, bagpipe and zorna are used as reference preexistent elements for interpretational purposes. Reproduced by permission of Boosey & Hawkes.
e) Reception: In Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, Messiaen spells “visions of the Apocalypse replete with color imagery (…)”, stating the “need for performance in vast spaces (cathedrals, open air, even mountain heights)(Watkins, 1986:498)”. The composer’s dedication to the biblical reference asks for specific performing settings, influencing Reception.
6 ‐ On the usage of Compositional Materials So far, all compositional procedures have been made of decisions that imply a conversion and a gradual selection of information: the initial Corpus was brought to a musical thinking, becoming Matter; from Matter, a specific portion, the Quota, was edited; the Quota is used in a given stage of the music making process as a specific Material (Fig.14): Corpus Preexisting elements ‐ Direct ‐ Indirect ‐ Abstract)
Importation, Inscription, Transcription, Translation, Conversion
Application in music making
‐ Compositional ‐ Formal ‐ Normative ‐ Ethical ‐ Interpretational ‐ Reception
Fig. 14: Compositional path of preexistent elements: from Corpus to Materia (materials).
For a broader application, we chose for Latin designations until the Materia stage. From now on and for practical purposes we will refer to Materials. Strictly, any action of a composer on previous material, particularly previous music, always results in a new work ‐ as something which is not the same was originated; but differentiation must occur for the achievement of originality. If the borderlines for enough/not enough differentiation are purely subjective, so is originality and consequently authorship. A deep discussion of the very complex issues regarding authorship, originality, newly composed or just arranged works does not belong to the scope of this work. Nevertheless, Stylistic of Formal models are not able to be owned, in creative terms. Their identity is purely abstract, as resources or perspectives regarding music making. In the same way, issues regarding the interpretation and reception of a score are always a result of the information displayed in it, and the way it expresses in performance. So, the key point for preexistent elements’ usage relies on Compositional Materials. They are, potentially, the main substance from which will derive music essence and quality: “Differentiation depends precisely on sculpturing sound material into decisive shapes (Brindle, 1987: 145)”. This unique position justifies then a specific approach.
For objectiveness sake, the following graphics are based on abstractions and not derived from examples taken from the bibliography ‐ P refers to Materials derived from preexistent element in which P’ or P1, etc. are variants of P resulting from independent processes and C refers to newly composed Materials. Compositional Material usage should take into account two perspectives, its Operative behavior and its role in the musical Construction (Fig. 18). 1. The Operative behavior of Materials refers to the way they are transformed and developed. It does not relate to their interaction with other materials in the score. Operative behavior implies Transformation and Development. a) Transformation: refers to the different formats in which Materials appear in the score. It can be ‐ Replicative if the Material is used in its primary format, or ‐Manipulative, if the Material is changed due to Manipulation of its parameters such as pitch, rhythm, etc. (Parametric Manipulation) or to Manipulation of the context (Contextual Manipulation), in which the object remains essentially identical but the musical medium changes (timbre, if not intrinsic, surrounding harmony, etc.). Substantial Manipulation may result in the loss of the Material’s main features, making it unrecognizable; even though, for analytical purposes in the context of the usage of preexistent elements, it should be considered no more than a variant of the primary form. Distinctions between Replicative and Manipulative Transformation as well Parametric and Contextual Manipulation should always consider the intrinsic properties of the initial Matter and their changes in the process of material usage (Fig. 15). 1)
Fig. 15: (1) Replicative or (2) Manipulative Transformations of Material
b) Development: refers to the way the material is displayed over a time period, after Transformation. Development can be discrete or continuous (Fig. 16), according to the evident existence of a gradual change in the Material; it may occur by repetition, disintegration or accretion, according to the shape of the material before and after being manipulated (Fig. 17). Repetitive development is basic Replicative Transformation over a time span. 1)
Fig.16: Discrete (1) or Continuous (2) Development (related to time).
(2) P P1 P2 P3
P’ P2 P3
P’’ P1 P2 P3
Fig.17: Processes of Material development, assuming P as the primary format and P1, P2, etc., as variants resulting from its deconstruction (P=P1+P2+P3): (1) Repetitive, (2) Disintegrative and (3) Accretive developments.
2. Musical Construction can be Organic or by Assemblage (Fig. 18): a) Organic: a single Material is the basis for the whole work. b) By Assemblage: two or more Materials are used, and they can all be subject of different operative behaviors. Therefore, the analysis of Assemblage is a complex process requiring different approaches: ‐ The aural consequences in the Materials used: Extrinsic, if they can be recognized; Intrinsic, if they become unrecognizable. Extrinsic Assemblage can be done by Duplication (if the Material can be listened in its primary form) or Version (if some Manipulation occurred). Intrinsic Assemblage results in Incorporation: the combined Materials make a new entity. ‐ The Formal role of the Materials: how they relate to formal organization. This relevance can be Climatic, Anti‐climatic or Neutral, according to the relation between the materials and Formal and Emotional tensions. ‐ The relative importance of the Materials used in Construction, either Balanced (if they have similar roles) or Unbalanced (if some are clearly more important than others); ‐ Its Discursive role, either Episodic (as an independent event) or Narrative (being part of the musical Construction by its own Development). It refers to the blending of the Material with the whole.
Balanced Relative Importance Unbalanced
Episodic Discursive role Structural
Fig. 18: Compositional Materials: Operative behavior (1) and musical Construction (2).
7 ‐ Extra‐musical implications of the usage of preexistent elements Besides the technical considerations, a full comprehension of the usage of preexistent elements for new compositions involves a study on their extra‐musical functions or roles. As we enter a purely abstract field ‐ music is an acoustic phenomenon with no specific semantic meaning ‐, we must focus on issues directly related to the compositional process, preferably the ones with direct consequences on the sound result. On the analytical side, assigning motivations, emotional relations or inspirational purposes to a composer’s choice of material and procedures is a risky task; from the composer’s side, trying to support musical decisions on extra‐musical features is a rather dubious tendency. Nevertheless, our perception of reality is made of a constant association between our previous experiences and the present ones – and so is music. Carrying the weight of a long time tradition, supported by documents of diverse nature (scores, books, records, etc.), classical music is a natural vehicle for cultural and social statements, as well for procedures that relate, compare or comment different historical and musical moments. These allow infinite possibilities of programmatic or symbolical attributes as a result of the complex net of relations made possible by the usage of elements of different origins and nature. Even though natural curiosity overestimates the importance of these relations as carriers of an esoteric intention by the composers, most of them go beyond an objective analysis and should be carefully considered. For this reason, we propose a strict approach to evaluate and classify extra‐musical content and meaning possibilities, taken into account three factors: (1) Dynamic content flow (2) Reference type and (3) Associative level. This approach is only applicable with effectiveness to preexistent elements that share the latent and immanent natures of classical music – Direct elements. (1) Dynamic content flow: this is a dynamic process that resumes the possible relations between the context model of a given preexistent element and the new work according to what is called to be included in it and what that inclusion recalls for. Everything included in a new work must have some kind of musical manifestation (as resumed in the Custom music making model we proposed), it is concrete and makes part of the work; but its presence creates a bond between the new work
and the original context the element came from, allowing associations and meanings that go beyond the purely musical perception (recalls). So, we have: a) Invocation, regarding the inclusion of specific preexistent elements in a composition (call); b) Evocation, the intellectual consequences of that inclusion causing associations of diverse nature (recall). This way Invocation refers to elements used in the music, assuring a specific musical manifestation. This manifestation can be in terms of Archetype, as an ideal group of qualities and procedures, and Prototype, as a direct result of their specific setting. In terms of extra‐musical content, the Archetype’s properties refer mainly to the “whom” (Citation) or the “how” (Ideation) that can be called into a work. When relating these parameters to the Context Model, we have (Fig.19):
Corpus Credentia/ Acceptio
Fig. 19: Extra‐musical associations related to the Context Model.
(2) Reference type: refers to the comparative natures of the used materials. So we have Direct references, resulting from the relation between the used Corpus and the rest and Indirect references relating the Corpus surrounding circumstances to the new work. Reference types are static, they resume the relation between different objects (preexistent and newly composed materials). (3) Association levels: extra‐musical associations are of different level as a consequence of the gradual distance of relation between the new work and the preexistent element’s Contextualization model stages. These associations can be of three types: Primary, Secondary and
Tertiary, as they refer to the Corpus, Gestatio/ Genesis or Credentia / Acceptio, respectively, as resumed in Table 1. Table 1: Reference types and Associative levels applied to Contextualization model. Reference type
Gestatio / Genesis
For example, a plain chant melody taken from a psalm and used in a new work allows a Direct reference (the musical material of the psalm used in the score) and an Indirect references, for instance, to the psalm’s text or origin (which is not musically present in the score). The psalm’s melody (Corpus) creates a primary Association level, a more distant (Secondary) to its circumstances of creation and an even more distant (Tertiary) one to its cultural role or meaning within a given context. All these previous considerations can be organized in a general Extra‐musical content model as follows (Fig. 20):
Acceptio / Credentia
IR Gestatio/ Genesis
‐ Dynamic content flow
‐ Reference type ‐ Associatition level
Fig. 20: Extra‐musical content model; 1A, 2A, 3A – Association levels (Primary, Secondary and Tertiary), C – New composition, DR – Direct reference, E‐ Evocation, I – Invocation, IR – Indirect reference.
The inclusion in a certain work of preexistent elements, namely music, can cause different impact on the listener, depending on the possibility of recognition of the used excerpt. This recognition implies a balance in the size and qualities of the excerpt in order to be mentally processed by the listener, and it is highly dependent on his/ her musical knowledge, practice or skills (Sloboda & Parker, 1985: 147). A composer’s intentions regarding the recognition of a fragment deal extensively with the audience’s characterization and context, implying a general knowledge of a common set of musical references. One of most distinguished musical characteristics able for recognition is melody or melodic contour, a predominant configuration of intervallic and length properties, allowing direct analogies with visual perception and often used by composers accordingly: Debussy’s La Cathedral Engloutie encompasses arch like melodies inspired by architectural shapes (Edworthy, 1985: 170).
8 – Discussion We aimed for a frameset of theoretical considerations, trying to explore all the possible paths resulting from the inclusion of preexistent materials into a new work. The first challenge of applying such a protocol is to clearly differentiate what belongs to the tradition of classical music and is, by that mean, already included in the general compositional work. Next, to clearly separate the stages and essence upon which the multidimensional processes of music making occur: the Custom music making model tries to simply the quite complex organic structure upon which relies the very essence of classical music, the path from the composer to the audience, relying on the skills of intermediaries. This path and these skills have their own intrinsic languages, constantly evolving with time. The model proposed requires further exploration in order to fully understand the relations between different kinds of information transmission: the suppression of elements (the composer’s role by means of indeterminacy, or the absence of human performance by means of mechanic rendering) and the expansion to other music making models, such as electronic music and the way conventional and graphical notations generate shifts in the global results are some examples; in a broader context, studies should also be made to compositional procedures that allow some kind of change in detail or form from one performance to the other, as Boulez attempts in Aléa (Griffiths, :
38). This model is essential to understand the way on which preexistent elements can be included in a new work, as it clearly categorizes the intervenients and processes involved, relating them to the dual nature of classical music. Understanding the impact of using preexistent elements requires their characterization at a deep level, mainly due to their possible musical influence, extra‐musical charge and associative potential. For this, we centered the study of their usage on themselves and not on the final work, as typically done by others. The inclusion of non‐musical related elements is central to our work. Only with it we consider to explore the main guidelines related to the usage of preexistent elements. Relying only on musical materials would considerably simplify our approach. Justification for this option relies the ever‐ expanding possibilities of classical music as a tradition in constant grow, its constant relation to other art forms (namely performative) and the infinity of different approaches it allows, limited only by imagination. We decided to classify preexistent elements according to their nature, creating three quite broad categories (Direct, Indirect and Abstract). These are of particular use in classical music that relies on the Custom music making model, as stated. A different categorization is required if an application of these models is made in other circumstances – for instance, electronic music or other music traditions. In practice, Direct elements will refer mainly to excerpts of written music used in new works, Indirect elements to music from other traditions or texts. Additionally, the identity and definition of Abstract elements (and their Conversion settings) is particularly arguable and interesting. Often, their application is not clearly perceived acoustically, generating questions that relate musical systems coherence their musical expression – basically, the questions derived from the contrast between comparative analyses of the dual nature of classical music (score vs. audition). The Contextualization model aims for their general description, origin and meaning. If its usage is clear in Direct elements, it can become dubious when applied to others of a more abstract nature. Acceptio and Credentia are undoubtfully complex issues; in them, historical, social and cultural considerations of all order can take place, also opening the most interesting universes of possibilities in the comprehension of the meanings and symbolisms. Nevertheless, the importance of clearly filling all the information regarding a given material is relative: the model is flexible and
should serve the purposes of the user, but its effective application is essential for providing the background that allows the performer to take decisions related to interpretation. The Corpus – Quota – Matter – Materia(l) path suggest an organization implying an understanding of the nature of objects, from their origin to their usage in a new musical context. Again, its application is subject to the formats proposed in the former (Music making and Contextualization) Models, and it should be adapted to other possible applications. Due to the complexity of the processes involved, the proposed categories for Materials (Compositional, Normative, Formal, etc.) may overlap or have their boundaries undefined. Options should be taken in order to best fit the needs of each practical (compositional, performative or analytical) situation. For practical purposes we focused mainly in the possible applications of preexistent elements as Compositional Materials, but similar studies should be made to other Materials. Understanding the processes occurring in the used Compositional Materials and their relation to the global work is the core of our study. Considering variants of any given P material as related to the original Material is a quite subjective procedure: P and P1, P2, etc can be totally different in acoustic nature, essence, etc. Nevertheless, it’s the only coherent approach with considering all manipulated music as something new. Otherwise, we would be constantly dealing with the even more subjective task of identifying, in each step, when enough differentiation occurred. Even considering P5 as quite different from P, it keeps its symbolic association to the initial material, thus representing it in a new context. The Construction model we propose (based on Organic Construction or Assemblage) tries to summarize the highly complex possibilities derived from the usage of diverse materials or a single one. This complexity in enhanced by the very and simultaneous development any given material can undergo by itself. So, in practice, there will be most of the time several processes occurring at the same time: the individual transformations of each material, the junction of different materials along the score and all the resulting operative consequences. Clearly defining which materials are being used and what other musical elements are present – the referred unifying elements, for instance ‐, is of primary importance. Also, to understand that manipulation of a given Material will have an active role in defining to what extent Assemblage can interfere with perception – the progressive differentiation between Duplication, Version or Integration relies on this, as a highly manipulated material cannot represent a duplication of the preexistent element in Assemblage. On the other hand, Version and Integration do not require 26
Manipulation of any kind, as the simple addition of different Materials can be responsible for a different result regarding the Aural Impact of Assemblage on the initial P Material. Climatic role of Materials can be subject of very personal interpretations – if Berg’s usage of Bach’s cantata in his Violin Concerto clearly occurs in a moment of dramatic climax, extensive usage of P Materials (Structural Discursive role) will probably imply their general neutral impact – as Climaxes and Anti‐Climaxes are, by definition, transition moments that express a shift in emotional or dynamical tensions. The relative importance of Materials is of particular interest, as it originates quite extreme possibilities and allows the most contradictory analytical perspectives. Berio supplies us with some good examples: in the Third Movement of his Sinfonia he uses mostly P materials (Metzer, 2003: 130‐1); in Rendering, he imposes his own material to the gaps left unfulfilled by Schubert in his “Unfinished Symphony”; in Chemins II, III and VII he supplies his original Sequenza VI with additional orchestral material (Osmond‐Smith, 1991: 42), reducing its relative importance These examples are representative of the possible relations and functions derived from different quantities of P used, and require further study in order to allow a more systematic approach. The extra‐musical implications of the usage of preexistent elements are of the most diverse nature. As they always imply connections to Acceptio and Credentia, their understanding is quite subjective and personal. The approach we propose tries to differentiate strata of relations between the preexistent elements and the new work, relying on the gradual distance generated by Reference and Association processes along the Contextualization Model constituents. It clearly separates what is made part of the music essence (call/Invocation) from what derives from the inclusion of the materials having no musical presence (recall/Evocation). Even thought the importance of extra‐musical significance is often overestimated, mainly due to the need of deciphering the reasons that justify some procedures, extra‐musical meanings supply a given work with a fascinating network of connections. These connections feed the imagination of performers, analysts and listeners, expanding the piece’s potential and artistic content. Therefore, a more precise, broad and powerful approach is required, in order to better understand the role of the usage of preexistent elements as vehicle for the transmission of the most diverse messages. Further studies should be carried in order to understand and organize in a systematic way the usage of the recognition of a certain fragment of music within a certain context, relating it to other studies involving pattern recognition, which are fundamental for musical perception (West et al., 27
1985: 21‐25). Also requiring further insight is the consequence of the pitch and rhythm organization in such processes, as key recognition seems to be of major importance in the way listener perceives intervallic information (Edworthy, 1985: 186). The comprehension of music as a communication phenomenon involving the transmission of information of different natures should be subject of the development of a specific musical rhetoric. This would allow the creation of definitions regarding the structural units of which the different musical languages are made of, along with systems describing the role of creativity, of all the entrepreneurs in the possible music making models and the possible dimensional organizations of events: Schoenberg’s (1967: 1‐3) considerations regarding the phrase as the smallest structural unit and of logic and coherence as the chief requirements for creation are being constantly challenged by contemporary practices. We hope this work represents a starting point for a coherent and systematic approach on this subject, suggesting paths that lead to recognition of this nature. Its efficiency needs now to be proven by application into different situations and users. The inclusion of foreign material in a score questions implies a reflection over the classical music tradition, as the usage of already made music as a starting point for the discovery of new expressive statements is a practice intrinsic to this tradition. Nevertheless, grasping the essence of any art work demands deep knowledge of the spirit of it execution: an intimate, personal and almost divine feeling of consistency in the recognition of the nature of the sound phenomenon.
Acknowledgements: For their contribution to this work, I would like to express my gratitude to Willem Jeths, Richard Ayres and Michiel Schuijer for their support and suggestions; Hannah Medlam for reviewing part of the work; Boosey & Hawkes Publishing (in the person of Colin Dunn) and Carlos Marecos for supplying me with essential materials; , Mustafa and Randa for their understanding; Paulo Luís, Cláudio Rosa, Kaveh Vares, Terso de Sá, Bruno Rodrigues and Ine and Bert Strijbos for their friendship; and finally, to Hannah Strijbos and my family for their love and support.
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Additional references: All English definitions and terms proposed in this work rely on references taken from The Merriam‐Webster Dictionary Online [updated 2010]. Available from: http://www.merriam‐webster.com; All Latin definitions and terms proposed in this work rely on references taken from Torrinha, Francisco. 1997. Dicionário Latino – Português. Gráficas Reunidas, Portugal
Published on Jun 9, 2012
Published on Jun 9, 2012
A theoretical approach quotation and other related procedures in Western music composition.