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This musical analysis of “To the Queen of my Heart” starts out from reception materials connected to Agathe Backer Grøndahl’s and Nina Grieg’s performances of the romance and tries to trace the critics’ descriptions in the score. Focus is directed on how the performed song becomes performative via the reception materials, hers, the listeners’ and amateur performers’ “producerly texts” attached to them. In her interpretation of three different versions of the poem Backer Grøndahl shows her masterly ability to express unspoken, but very important words for thoughts that are not explicitly stated. In this way her romance, in a Mendelssohnian sense, explores the limits of language. On a general level the song’s identification process plays on what the composer, listener or musician places in the voice part. Not only does the voice construct impressions about the poem and the singer’s persona, it also assigns positions for the listener, whether or not s/he chooses to identify with the subject of the song or the object of her/his passion. The romance illustrates the possibility to choose interpretations that stay on good terms with alternative as well as recommended, gendered practice, whether a woman sings it to a man or another woman, or a man sings it to a woman or another man.
It is the hypothesis of this article that a case study of Grieg’s ‘Forbidden symphony’, probably the most discussed work in Grieg research during the last four decades, can offer new answers not only to the question of why academic interest in Grieg has declined, but to the broader question of why music history has lost its privileged position in musicology. In revealing how Grieg research was ordered and disciplined into a set of fixed argumentative steps (or cadences) which disallowed other perspectives, this article problematizes the musicological quest for systematization, the use of general (analytical) methods and the misuse of authority. In this respect, the present case study of Grieg research may also reveal tendencies that are likely to have relevance for other research topics within musicology and the humanities. To combat these inhibiting forces and disenchanting tendencies, the conclusion is that the prime agency in the humanities must be found in the material – the particular – and never in the model or method, nor in the personal authority of leading researchers. It further makes an appeal to investigate the aesthetic and ideological values that are unconsciously present in the way we actually do research.
This article presents a summary and critical review of existing research on asymmetrical rhythms within the genre of Scandinavian fiddle tunes known as springar/pols/springleik (Norway) and polska (Sweden). The reviewed body of work covers a range of more or less related issues, including descriptive and prescriptive accounts of different rhythmic styles (long-average-short and short-long-average beat cycles); presentation of measured beat duration patterns, including accounts of measurement procedure; hypotheses on patterns and mechanisms of variation in beat asymmetry; and notes on the relationship between dance meter and musical meter, between rhythmic levels (measure, beat and subdivision), and between measured and experienced rhythm. The present study extracts and compares the different currents of thought on and approaches to these topics, and assesses their methodological performance and explanatory potential. Finally, some recommendations for future research are presented. It is concluded that more studies are needed to fully account for the asymmetry phenomenon. These studies should include a larger and broader set of timing data through more efficient methodologies; ethnographic and experimental research on music/dance interactions, on synchronization behavior in ensemble settings, and on the perceptual and conceptual representations of rhythm and timing among performers. It also remains to construct a theoretical model that integrates the different – and to some extent contradictory – concepts, perspectives and findings from existing research.
Although the Norwegian opera field is often linked to the National Opera in Oslo, it extends throughout the entire country, i.e. being part of extensive support for regional and local opera production. This article discusses how different quality understandings are articulated, understood and negotiated in an opera discourse characterized by numerous well-known cultural policy dichotomies, e.g. national / regional, amateur-based / professional, institutional / freelance, and diversity / elite. More specifically, it asks what quality understandings characterize the Norwegian opera field? The analysis is based on a comprehensive ethnography from ten operas. We find that the field is deeply divided in terms of both understanding and applying the quality concept. In particular, small opera institutions advocate an expanded quality thinking, where quality in a traditional sense (focusing on mainly artistic quality) is supplemented and in some cases even replaced with quality in terms of building the operating field as a whole.