«Musical Motivation: A New Take on Wagner’s Die Walküre»
This article studies the musical process of dramatic motivation in the so-called ‘knowing orchestra’ in Richard Wagner’s music drama, Der Ring des Nibelungen, taking as an example the ‘Todesverkündigungsszene’ (Act 2, Scene 4) in Die Walküre.
Starting with a critical appraisal of earlier studies in the dramatic function of the orchestra, whereby contributions by Carl Dahlhaus, Edward T. Cone, Thomas Mann and Carolyn Abbate are discussed in particular, the article then presents an alternative analysis of the musical process in this scene. The analysis emphasizes that the musical textures do not give mimetic representations of meanings that have already been established in text, theatrical staging, or in catalogues of Leitmotivs; instead, the term Leitmotiv is taken, as denoted by Wagner, to mean ‘motivation’, implying that the inner course of the theatrical drama is largely motivated through the thematic interaction of musical events in the orchestra. The analysis focuses on the gradual musical processes of quasi-symphonic development, underlining that the dynamics of the orchestral process should be construed not as a fait accompli, but rather as a fait s’accomplissant, taking on ever-new meanings through the interaction of musical elements as a driving force in the totality of the music drama. This analytical approach draws on technical features in the score, supplemented by an understanding of the aesthetic experience of musical and theatrical performance.
The analytical findings are then discussed in light of notions of musical time and process in musical comprehension, spanning from Nietzsche’s idea of becoming (Werden) to Bergson’s conception of la durée and Kurth’s understanding of dynamic musical form. Concepts from Barthes (signifiance), Derrida (dissémination) and Deleuze (différence and répétition) are introduced in an effort to contextualize and reconsider Wagner’s own dictum that the music drama is nothing but ‘die ersichtlich gewordene Taten der Musik’ – ‘the deeds of music becoming visible.’ Consequently, this article argues that Wagner’s orchestra in certain sections takes on a narrative voice that does not speak in the past tense of representation of fixed meanings—or of ‘Sein’—but rather produces new and unpredictable meanings in the constantly developing process of musical motivation, of becoming—or of ‘Werden.’
Technology has become part of everyday life for most lutenists in the twenty-first century, and a greater awareness as to how these technologies affect the lute is needed. I will seek to show that the recorded lute sound is not a product of simple transference from point A to point B – from performance to recording – but rather a complex evolution, where each technological instance transforms the sound into something new, affecting the aesthetic result. In this article, I will trace this process and discuss what happens to the lute sound as it progresses through various stages of the production process. In doing so, I hope that my research may provide new insight of relevance to performers and producers as well as scholars.
This article discusses the role of musical practices in ethnicity production within the Sámi community in Norway. Following a general discussion of the musical practice of joik (pronounced “yoik” in English) and Sámi ethnicity, the text focuses on the Sámi band Adjágas and the production of their first album. Musical practices, like performing, arranging, recording, and disseminating music, will further be discussed with the term “sounding” as a way of talking about cultural, social and political aspects of music. Central to this idea is the concept that ethnic sentiments – feelings, aspirations, and desires – are strongly negotiated within the field of music-making. With a close reading of some of the album’s tracks, and an insider’s perspective on its production, I hope to show how musical practices are central to negotiating Sámi ethnicity and creating strong connections both to an imagined ethnic primordiality and a modernity characterized by a globalized soundscape.
Norwegian composer Halfdan Cleve’s (1879-1951) five piano concertos, written between 1898 and 1914, received considerable attention in Norway and Germany in the early 1900s, but have rarely been performed during the last 50 years. In this paper, Concerto no. 1 (A major, Op. 3) is examined with regard to its musical style. This work is closely connected to German musical culture. Its form and harmony bears a traditional stamp, while the pianistic style is influenced by Liszt’s and Xaver Scharwenka’s concertos. Concerto no. 4 (A minor, Op. 12), on the other hand, has an unusual form, which has inspired the author to interpret the work as a musical plot. Finally, various reasons for the disappearance of Cleve’s concertos from the repertoire are suggested. The best of these works have several attractive qualities that may still impress an audience, assuming a high level performance.
This article addresses a phenomenon called «Music visualization». This is a method that seeks to illustrate and portray musical elements through movement and dance. At the forefront of this development we find the Swiss music pedagogue Emile Jaques-Dalcroze who in his work developed so-called Eurhythmics, a method originally intended for training musicians, based heavily on the use of the body. The article draws on newspaper material collected by the author, much of which has not previously been cited or analysed. The original contribution of the article is a study of the first performance that was based on the ideas of Jaques-Dalcroze, «Chopin i Dansebilleder». This was a dance experiment that took place in Kristiania in 1909, staged by the pianist Karl Nissen and actress and dancer Gyda Christensen. So far, this performance, and the special way it incorporates music, has not been researched. The article analyzes the use of music in these performances and contextualizes them according to the European ideals.
Chants in the Nidaros repertory show influences from different geographical regions. Previous research has focused on the hypothesis of dual transmission in which repertoire reached Norway in two separate streams, one German and one Anglo-French, and where the mixing of the two traditions took place after they reached Scandinavia. The present case study of the sequence Iohannes Iesu Christo seeks to differentiate this view by showing that the notion of monolithic “German” and “Anglo-French” practices can be further refined to reveal regional differences and chronological layers that may be helpful in analysing sequence transmission. In contrast to earlier studies on the Nidaros sequence repertory, the present study gives evidence to support the notion that mixed melodic traditions found in the Nidaros manuscripts were imported from regions on the Continent. The results presented suggest that the melodic blending did not happen in Nidaros and that it was by no means unique to this region. Melodic variants in the Nidaros transmission of Iohannes Iesu Christo instead bear witness to contact between medieval Nidaros and specific regions on the Continent.