- Side: 7-8
- DOI: https://doi.org/10.18261/issn.1504-2960-2020-01-02
- Publisert på Idunn: 2020-11-02
- Publisert: 2020-11-02
This year’s issue of Studia Musicologica Norvegica: Norwegian Journal of Musicology presents a selection of articles that approach music – its sonic elements, contexts, and functions – from a range of different angles. Even though the majority of the contributions foreground historical developments and circumstances, the issue is characterised, as so often before, by diversity when it comes to both methodological approaches and thematic concerns. This is not surprising, given that a primary ambition of the journal is to showcase the breadth of musicological research in Norway. As editor, I am nonetheless thrilled to see Norwegian music research thriving across a range of sub-disciplines and fields. And it is encouraging to see the journal continuing to attract commendable contributions that span disparate musical forms, eras, and topics.
The article that opens the issue is written by Rebecka Sofia Ahvenniemi, a Bergen-based composer and PhD candidate in philosophical aesthetics at the University of Helsinki. ‘Composition of Vocal Music. Against Primacy of Content’ is a critical investigation of the relation between language and music, approached specifically from the perspective of the composition of vocal music. Ahvenniemi grapples with the common idea that language itself carries a ‘pure content’, which ascribes a secondary and external function to aspects of music and sound. By discussing five apothegms – or myths, in the author’s terminology – concerning the relation between language and music, Ahvenniemi advocates an understanding of language that views its musical and dramaturgical aspects as intrinsically co-constitutive of its meanings.
Arnulf Christian Mattes, associate professor and leader of the Centre for Grieg Research at the University of Bergen, directs attention to Edvard Grieg’s historical recordings: in the period from 1903 to 1906, Grieg recorded several of his most popular pieces on piano rolls and gramophone discs for commercial use. Taking into consideration the limitations and possibilities associated with the music technologies of this era, Mattes discusses what Grieg’s recordings can reveal to twenty-first century listeners. The relationship between performance practice and technology is explored, as Mattes devotes particular attention to Grieg’s distinct performance style (which is also discussed in relation to Grieg’s critical attitude towards the piano virtuosos of his time). The recordings in question, argues Mattes, provide unique insights into the musical poetics of Grieg’s own performances of his piano pieces, and thus shed new light on some of his most well-known compositions.
Bjørnar Utne-Reitan also sheds new light on Grieg’s compositions, more specifically with regard to his ‘forbidden’ symphony. In light of the so-called ‘new Formenlehre’, Utne-Reitan analyses and compares the first movement of Grieg’s symphony and the first movement of Johan Svendsen’s first symphony. The analyses provide a platform for revisiting Grieg’s decision to discard his symphony, and Utne-Reitan pursues a more nuanced image of these circumstances than what has been acknowledged by the popular explanation that Grieg felt outdone by Svendsen. The article provides new perspectives on the treatment of form in two early symphonies by prominent Norwegian composers, and also lays a solid foundation for future research into Grieg’s other large-scale compositions.
In ‘“Syngje og spile fele ti”: Introducing a Tradition of Fiddling Singing in Norway’, Johanna Seim explores a repertoire of Norwegian folk music where musicians sing while accompanying themselves on the fiddle. Based on archival work, Seim documents twelve examples of Norwegian fiddling singers, several of whom often performed in religious settings. By accounting for both the historical contexts and musical specificities of this repertoire, the study produces new knowledge about a part of Norwegian folk music that has received little attention in previous research. As Seim herself points out in her conclusion, there is much potential for the further study of fiddling singing, both with regard to its historical uses and its contemporary forms.
The final article of the issue is penned by Hans Weisethaunet, professor of musicology at the University of Oslo. The piece details the musical pursuits of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen (1943–2020), an influential figure in the jazz field both in Norway and internationally. Focusing primarily on the 1960s, and based partly on interviews with Christensen (and others), Weisethaunet stages a dialogic meeting between Christensens own musical reflections and worldview, on the one hand, and historiographical (and other theoretical) perspectives, on the other. The article thus presents Christensen as a musician who cannot be confined within limiting categories such as ‘Nordic jazz’. Rather, Weisethaunet suggests, he should be understood in light of his many, diverse musical connections.
The issue also contains two book reviews. Both books in question address aspects of music history, albeit in very different ways. Eirik Askerøi reviews Jøran Rudi’s book, Elektrisk Lyd i Norge fra 1930 til 2005 (Novus Forlag, 2019). Arnfinn Bø-Rygg discusses Musikktenkningens historie IV. Romantikken og dens opptakt (Solum Forlag, 2019), written by Peder Chr. Kjerschow.
The editorial team wishes to thank Scandinavian University Press (Universitetsforlaget) and Eli Cook Hope for their continued support and collaboration. We also want to thank our editorial assistant Aud Aasen, and we extend our gratitude to the Norwegian Musicological Society for entrusting us with the responsibility of editing the journal. Finally, we are grateful for the efforts of all authors and peer reviewers who have contributed to this issue.