Here we will publish the most important excerpts from books and articles of Prof. Valentina Kholopova (certainly, with permission of the author).
RUSSIAN RESEARCHERS OF THE THEORY OF MUSICAL CONTENT. Astana 2015, 43rd World conference of ICTM.
Download: text. presentation.
The following work has been originally published in Russian under the title "Muzyka kak vid iskusstva" ("Music as the Art").- St.Petersburg, 2000.
THE INTONATIONAL NATURE OF MUSIC
1.The Concept of Intonation in Music
"The Art of Intoned Meaning" is how the famous early 20th century Russian musicologist, Boris Asafiev 1, aphoristically defined music. It is indeed true that the nature of music is in its essence not sonorical but intonational.
The word "intonation" is present in the history of the art of music for a lengthy period of time and conveys several different meanings. The term "intonation" was applied to the introductory section before Gregorian chant, introductory, preliminary organ passages before the entrance of the chorale, certain excercises in solfege, the intonation in the performing arts — pure or out-of-tune playing on untempered instruments based upon micro-correspondences of pitch, pure or out-of-tune singing; whereas intonation in the contemporary sense of the term, to which we will now turn, is an occurrence of a totally different nature, of a decisively broader character. The discovery of this meaning of the term intonation is entirely the merit of Russian and Soviet musicology. Contribution to it was made by Leonid Sabaneyev (in his book from 1923, "Music of Speech") and Boleslav Yavorsky (who used the term "intonation" in his work "The Construction of the Modal Process", written in 1929, as well as in other writings, including those still in manuscript form). However, an integral intonational conception of music was developed by Asafiev, due to whose efforts "intonation" became an everyday word in the practice of Soviet musicians, and this definition of the term also spread itself to other countries 2. In the interpretation of Asafiev, the concept of a musical intonation was connected with the meaning of the intonation of speech, and also with the German concept of "Ton", which pertained to the musical sound as opposed to the physical or acoustical sound ("Klang"). His definitions of the explanation are as follows: "This occurence or the "condition of the tension of tone", which determines both "verbal speech" and "musical speech", is what I call intonation" 3. "It is entirely indispensible, when teaching solfege, to indicate to the students to the fact that intonation of speech and purely musical intonation are elements of one single sonar current. Here the duty of observing the nuances and curves of human speech, and the manifestations of the close connection of melodic linearity and melodic constructivity with the movement and dynamics of the flow of speech" 4.
Asafiev saw and acquiesced in the phenomenon of intonation so many diferent aspects, that many of them were perceived as stange paradoxes during the lifetime of the theoretician, and were given explanations only only at a later stage of development of musicology. Moreover, the idea was for him constantly in a state of development, and the theoretician did not leave a broad formulation for this fundamental concept. Although Asafiev brought together to the best of his abilities the verbal and musical intonation, as well as the "moving" intonation, his concept in practice revealed the specific qualities of music intonation in comparison to the verbal and gestural types of intonation, and also the specific qualities of intonation in the sphere of music itself as a phenomenon of a lexical type in comparison with the interval, the scale, etc., the latter presenting themselves as phenomena of a gramatical type. In order to concentrate the essence of this concept in various works of Asafiev, I cite his own definition:
Intonation in music is a unity of expression and semantics, which exists in a on-verbal-sonar form, which functions with the aid of musical experience and non-musical associations.
The historical novelty of Asafiev’s "intonation" is the the theoretician was in all likelihood the first to introduced into musical theory this concept, which pertained not to the "sphere" of composition, but to a broad field, which coordinates music with life. According to Asafiev, "Musical intonation never loses connection with either the spoken word or with dance or pantomime…" 5 it presents itself as "comprehension of sound", belongs to a "specific social milieu" etc. Since it is a unit of a non-structural type, it does not limit itself to any time span, but it could have the duration of an interval, a song or a symphony: the interval as a correlation of tones "presents itself as the smallest intonational complex", a song is the "most laconic type of intonation, which manifests itself on a short ‘time domain’", the symphony is "two or three ‘essential’ laconic intonations and theses, which engage in attracting each other and pushing each other away in great distances of time spans" 6. What quantity of intonations can there be? According to Asafiev, the "domain of of intonation as a semanticv manifestation of sound is limitless" and is regulated by the stylistic principle.
Intonations develop in the social-historical plan, carry out a lifetime cycle of development: introduction into practice, with overcoming resistance from previously discovered intonations; this is followed by an open movement in the same direction, coming into widespread usage, and finally, petrification of the now familiar intonations and a crisis. Moreover, in the case when a composer utilizes intonations, which are widespread in the mass auditory perception, his music obtains a realistic accessibility.
Asafiev’s development of the concept of intonation as a semantic unit in music paved the way for a language-sematic approach to musical art. It must be said that the theoretician, most likely, was the first in Soviet musicology to bring out the term "musical semantics" (in the same work "Musical Form as a Process, Part I, written in 1925). However, he came up with the idea rather early – at that time, Russian musicology was not yet ready to solve the problem of semiotics. Asafiev’s term "musical semantics" began to be associated with such spurious meanings, that as a result, in his book "Intonation" (1942-47) the author was compelled to disown it. The term reemerged in Soviet musicology only a few decades later.
A new stage of development of Asafiev’s concept of intonation occurred in the 1970s and 1980s, when Soviet musicology established contact with a whole spectrum of adjacent disciplines – linguistics, semiotics, psychology, theory of information, systematic approach, etc.
To cite an example, the elaboration of V.Medushevsky, carried out in a whole cycle of his works, deserves special attention. Whereas Asafiev proceeded, as was already emphasized, from a rapprochement of music with speech, the music theoretician of the following generation perceived musical intonation as a non-verbal, non-conceptual means of expression (though not losing from its perception the rapprochement with speech).
One of the bases of Medushevsky’s theory was the idea of contemporary neuro-psychology concerning the functional asymmetry of the hemispheres of the human brain (the left side "manages" speech and logical operations, and the right side pertains to integral perception of sensory-image type). Although the "left" and the "right brain" interact with each other in a complex way, in musical perception the decisive role is played by the right hemisphere. This way, the mechanisms of directing speech and music turn out to be localized in the different regions of the brain and organically divided. The usage of neuro-psychological scientific data allows one to establish a solid material basis within the phenomena of music. As the researcher writes: "Musical intonation is perceived as a living occurrence, because the living human being is reflected in it. Living means, primarily, endowed with a body. Musical intonation is corporeal already in the form of its manifestation, it is permeated with breathing, vocal chords, mimicry, gestures – with the body’s integral movement. Sound and meaning are by no means confined to the ratio; these two aspects of intonation connect with each other when still within the human body. Any musical-plastical sign or intonation are simultaneously breathing, muscle tension and heartbeat. A musical intonation with integrated sound and meaning is comprehended by the right brain already as a corporeal intonation" 7. "The inner world of music is separated from the narrative element, which is kept as a secret from the verbal "left hemisphere" thinking" 8.
Due to the fact that music is "managed" by the "right hemisphere", which is endowed with the capability of a simultaneous momentary grasp of images, Medushevsky brings out a fundamental characteristic of musical intonation – a principled feature of integrity. Intonation by itself is not divisible into elements, whether it be the melodic line, intervals, the rhythmic contour, or timbral coloration, etc.; the latter elements are introduced into the cognition of music with the aid of analytic operations, carried out not by the right but with the left hemisphere. In order to discern intervals, chords, rhythmic features and other compositional elements in music, it is necessary to undergo a special type of instruction, lasting many years, often tedious in its perception, such as the type provided in musical schools and colleges.
The integrity of the musical intonation upon its theoretical analysis arouses such problems, the solution of which has not been undertaken by contemporary musicology. The reason is that the integrity definitely assumes the simultaneity of perception. But how could the simultaneity of perception get along with the "temporal nature of music", which seems to be so axiomatic? The idea of the ability of musical content to present itself in two two temporal conditions – condensed and expanded – was elaborated on in the work of the Soviet psychologist B.Teplov. Neuro-psychology confirms that the brain (its right hemisphere) is capable of especially broad forms of synthesis, presenting themselves in simultaneity.
According to Medushevsky: "a momentary image of a future composition arises from the very first measures in the listener’s soul, and guides his perception: from the innumerable supply of memory musical-lingual and stylistic knowledge is extracted in due time (this readiness for action – in this case, a perceptive type – psychologists call the aim); that which sounds is connected with that which sounded out before. The action of the mechanism of condensation is spread beyond the boundaries of the musical composition: due to it musicians and listeners gather into themselves perceptions of entire styles, genres and musical epochs 9! Such is the generally perceptible case of condensing musical intonation, and even of entire musical compositions, to which Medushevsky refers. How does a pianist, who comes up to a piano to perform a composition, remember the music? He remembers it particularly in a condensed form, in a momentary fashion.
Medushevsky, while comprehending Asafiev’s concept of intonation on the basis of the different branches of contemporary science, brought in the concept of maximal textual inclusion in intonation – the "generalizing intonation". His point of departure was the term in the sphere of biology – the integral, "generalized" condition of the living creature. The generalizing intonation is that which generalizes the intonation of the entire, complete musical composition, which can even be quite a large-scale one. Medushevsky’s valuable idea requires some elaboration. The generalizing intonation pertains in the most direct fashion to performance. In addition to having a unity of conception, a musical composition must have a unified, perceptible audio-plastic expressive-semantic coloring. A remarkable steadfastness of this semantic coloring is achieved by the greatest of the performing musicians. One can see in their interpretation how in all the diversity of nuances of expression in a piece of music one can always hear "the same thing". One type of unified expressive-semantic coloring, chosen from the very beginning by the singer, pianist, etc. undergoes through a diversity of its interpretation in the framework of a piece of music and creates the wonderful phenomenon of integrity of the composer’s (or the performer’s) statement, the perfection of the musical composition (or of its performance). The artistic idea presents itself in as a purposeful and grandiose in in the calibre of its expression.
What presents itself as the generalizing intonational coloring in performance practice is a certain type of emotional "tonality" of music, for instance an elevated aloofness, a bright sadness, irony, scherzo-like sharpness, dramatic pathos, grandiose qualities, tempestuous agitation, etc. how could such a lengthy intonation function in a composition, if it is an inherent feature of an intonation to appear momentously as a flash? The "mechanism" presents itself in that during the course of an entire composition the expressive-semantic of certain crucial motives, decisive for the composition, are spread out. For iunstance, if the intonations in the beginning of Kutuzov’s Aria in the Finale of Prokofiev’s opera "War and Peace" contains in itself dignified, exalted and majestic lyric qualities, this emotional coloring continues throught this entire operatic number, despite the change of concrete motives, intervals and harmonies. Another example is the "Dance of the Knights" from Prokofiev’s ballet "Romeo and Juliet", where the intonation of the heavyweight footsteps of the knights, set from the very first measures, determines by itself the character of the entire ballet number. The generalizing intonation is an intonational flash, which shines with one light beam during the course of an entire musical form or an entire composition. It presents that highest level of bringing out of the basic uintonations, that sound-spatial "distance" of the entire composition, which Asafiev had written about when discussing the unified intonational enveloping of the symphony.
If there exists on one hand a generalizing intonation, and on the other hand an intonation the size of a single interval, melody, motive, then there exist other types of intonations, intermediary between the former two levels of breadth of intonation. The leading intonational level is considered to be the size of the motives, melodies, phrases – it corresponds to the scope of words and vocabulary in verbal language.
2. Intonation and Semantics in Music
The theory of musical intonation in its contemporary elaboration allows with sufficient fullness to bring out the semiotic issue – that of musical language.
The concepts themselves of "musical language" and "musical speech" are established and traditional in musicology. However, they did not carry a precise linguo-semiotic meaning, but merely presented themselves as popular metaphors, moreover the term "musical speech" (for instance, in the works of such theorists as B.Yavorsky, S.Bel’ayeva-Ekzempl’arskaya, Y.Tulin), has possibly preserved that rudiment of meaning, which formed in the 18th century, when music had become a completely independent, autonomous branch of art, due to the orientation towards the idea "Klangrede", i.e. "sound speech".
A non-metaphorical scholarly understanding of music as a language, which in its law-governed regularity has common character with verbal language, already stemmed from Asafiev’s work. As he wrote: "Already now the laws of musical intonation are being discovered – a language, which suffices without concepts and concrete imagery, which, nevertheless, turns out to be an extremely concrete one." 10
Soviet musicology from the 1960’s through the 1980’s developed the problem of musical semantics to such a great extent, that it was able to establish a theory of musical language in a direct, scholarly way rather than a metaphoric way. In the first special publication on this topic – in Y.Kon’s article "Regarding the question of the concept of ‘musical language’ 11 the question about the lingual essence of musical art is answered in a positive manner. The psycho-biological "mechanisms" of functioning of semantical units in music were revealed by Medushevsky. Several of his works featured a detailed examination of any one semiotic level – likewise in the dissertations of D.Terentyev "Mutual Influence of Musical Syntax and Semantics" (Kiev, 1984), O.Nikitina "Phonological Aspects of the Musical Language" (Leningrad, 1987), while other works featured analysis of the system of symbols on all levels of musical organization, such as, for instance, the dissertation of S.Maltsev "The Semantics of the Musical Symbol" and in the diploma thesis by Y.Galieva "The Problem of the Artistic Model in the Music by Composers of the People’s Republic of Hungary of the 1960’s through 1980’s" (Moscow, 1987).
This way important precise specifications and amendments were brought into the idea of semantics in music. The general deficiency of the greater part of the earlier opinions about this subject was an underestimation of the social-intellectual experience in the understanding of music. for instance, M.Wallis (Warsaw, 1961) classifies music in general as a non-semantic form of art, with which it is hardly possible to agree. C.Pierce, one of the founders of the typology of symbols, was able to discern only iconic symbols in music. according to Lotmann, symbols in all arts are endowed not with a conditional but an iconic character. Among all the art forms, the art of music stands solitary: "Music sharply contrasts with the natural languages due to the lack in it of definite semantic connections…" 12.
Following Pierce’s theory of symbols, which retains its scientific viability, I will compile a typology of artistic symbols in music. in my opinion, the only term requiring modification in the context of music is the word "iconical". This is due to the fact that "iconicalness", or description presupposes a visual similarity. Since there cannot be any direct, ingenuous visual likeness in music, it is necessary to look for an analogue. The analogue of the iconicalness or description in music is expressivity. This way, iconic symbols in music are symbols of expressivity. Two different types of Pierce’s symbols correspond in music: these are index-signs, with the aid of which visual subject matter is conveyed in music, and symbol-signs, with the aid of which a musical composition is endowed with conceptual qualities.
The Systematization of Artistic Symbols in Music (based on the theory of Ch.Pierce)
I will now proceed to explain the given scheme.
The emotional signs (1) of the expressive type ingenuously shape psychological processes: the growth of tension, the rise towards the culmination, emotional recession, calm etc. Nineteenth century Romantic music is filled to the brim with such signs of a human being’s emotional life: the waves of lyrical intensification in operas and symphonies by Tchaikovsky, the constant emotional "shifts" from climaxes to recessions in sonatas, string quartets and other chamber music by Brahms, melodic strivings and wanes in the music of lyrical longing of late Wagner etc. Moreover the expression of various emotional states occurs with the aid of either vocal, singing intonations or motor, rhythmic ones. The typical vocal signs of emotional states (1a), which also can project onto instrumental parts – these include exclamatory, imperative, supplicative, interrogative, sarcastic, invocative, quivering, majestic and other types of intonations. Motor-like rhythmic intonational signs (1b) present themselves as a confident, clear, even gait, an uneven, stumbling step, an impetuously rushing torrent, a bouncing rhythm, a rigid, mechanical type of movement, etc.
Object signs, (2) presenting themselves as index-signs, exist in music in the form of indirect reflections, determined by some kind of attendant features: the depiction of birds is carried out by means of transmitting one of the features – chirping or movement of wings, the depiction of a moving cart by means of imitating a heavy and rotating movement. Conceptual signs, (3) presenting themselves as symbol-signs are inseparable from the art of music. presenting themselves as conditional signs, they function, so to speak as if in pre-arrangement between the composer and the listeners. The conceptual musical signs (3a) include musical elements with a-priori meanings, which have been established in historical musical practice. Such signs include the rhetorical musical figures of the 16th-18th centuries, themes which imitate various recognizable genres and styles, motives with certain definite symbology, determined by the composer. Rhetorical musical figures stand out in music history due to the fact that they had been compiled into special codes, with explanations of the meanings, placed in dictionaries, which could be seen in the famous "Musical Lexicon" by Walter in the 18th century, as well as in the famous "Riemann Musical Lexicon" of the 20th century. Here are examples of several of such figures: the tirata (literally, "arrow" or "shot"), which is a fast run in scalar motion, depicting moments in heroic, battle scenes; the "passus duriusculus" ("harsh type of move"), which is a chromatic melodic figure, depicting the affectations of suffering, grief and torment of the soul; also the "anabasis" ("ascension"), which is an ascending melodic motion, presenting a symbol of the sky, heaven, divinity, stars, mountains, etc.
Attaching "programmatic" labels on certain associations of genre is a characteristic features of Chopin and Brahms in the 19th century, as well as of many 20th century composers. As examples, one could cite the "depiction" of the genre of a Mazurka in Chopin’s Prelude N.7 and of the genre of the funeral march in his Prelude N.20, the quotation of the folk song "Verstohlen geht Mond auf" in Brahms’ First Piano Sonata, and the "depiction" of the genre of the Tango in Alban Berg’s concert aria "Der Wein". A similar type of "programme" labeling could be examined in the 20th century stylistic features of poly-stylistics and collage, the allusions to Bach’s and Vivaldi’s musical styles in Stravinsky’s music, the allusion to Beethoven’s "Moonlight Sonata" in Shostakovich’s Viola Sonata, allusions to the various styles throughout the history of German music in Schnittke’s Third Symphony. Certain symbolic themes, determined by the composer, for instance the leitmotifs of Wagner’s monumental opera tetralogy "The Ring of the Nibelungs" (the leitmotifs of the ring, gold, the spear, Valhalla, redemption and others), the motives of will, flight, self-assertion and others in Scriabin’s "Poem of Ecstacy", the monogram theme DeSCH, symbolizing the name of Dmitri Shostakovich in Edison Denisov’s composition "DSCH" for chamber ensemble.
Conceptual verbal signs (3b), introduced by composers in their works should also be taken into consideration in the overall system of music semiotics. Their role is very much related to our 3a group of signs. They include, first of all, titles of compositions, which are very widespread in musical practice: Grieg’s "The Butterfly," Schumann’s "Papillons," Rameau’s "Cyclopes," Liszt’s "Il Pensieroso," Tchaikovsky’s "Manfred," Boulez’s "Rituel" and Shchedrin’s "Self-Portrait." This also applies to poetic texts of vocal compositions, and, on rare occasions, also to the unspoken verbal text under the musical text of the score, such as, for instance, the words of the chorale "Es ist genug" in Berg’s Violin Concerto. This also applies to the composer’s verbal instructions in the music, such as: "not too fast, gently," "with expression," "slowly," "lively," "not too fast, sonorously," "vivaciously, with spirit," "fast and tranquil" (from Prokofiev’s ballet "Cinderella").
In what kind of correlation to each other do the various kinds of signs in music stand? Although they succumb to a distinct type of theoretical differentiation, in the context of music they constantly complement each other: the emotional signs in European music always are usually accompanied with some kinds of associations of a "cognitive" order (notions of genre, style, an imaginary plot or a subjective program), the symbols are filled with emotional associations, the signs of contrapuntal voices become molded into definite rhythmic figures, while rhythmic signs bring into action the intonational realm (being accompanied with an introversive reaction of the polyphonic apparatus). Moreover, one can discern several regularities of rule in the correlation of three types of musical signs: emotional, object and conceptual. The most important significance in music is carried by emotional, descriptive and "iconic" signs (1). It is mandatory for them to accompany the signs of the other types (2 and 3). The object sign (2) should be endowed with the corresponding emotional sign, otherwise it would come to contradict with the meaning of the context. Conceptual signs (3) should also combine with the emotional-descriptive context, otherwise it will go beyond the scope of musical art. With the apparent primacy of the "iconical" signs in music, the index-signs and symbols, despite their secondary features, nevertheless organically enter into musical art and must necessarily be taken into account in the theory of musical semiotics.
The mechanism of functioning of musical "lexemes" in music is described in greatest detail in the works of Medushevsky, to which we shall now turn. In discussing musical intonation as an element of language, the musicologist has included into the orbit of his theory its social and psychological occurrence, the fact of its consolidation in human consciousness. He brought up the question of the capability of intonation of typification, generalization, curtailment of musical essence, which is selected and secured in social consciousness, out of separate turns of events, which obtain characteristics of recognizable semantic units. The instantaneously recognized, chrystalized musical intonations generalize and condense in themselves various sorts of musical content, accumulated by the lengthy functioning process of music, as a result of a great social, cultural and artistic experience. The given intonational generalizations, although they are preserved in the sensory memory (pertaining to feelings and image) of human beings in the form of plastically perceived signs. These kinds of concentrated, selected, generalized and typified intonation signs include, first of all, signs of genre and style. Some of the examples of intonation that Medushevsky cites are those of the barcarolle, the ballad, as well as the Brahmsian, the Lisztian the Grieg, etc. Musical intonation is also capable of typefying an enormous supply of life occurrences and, this way, utilize the entire human experience in its perception of object reality. Through the typical intonational-plastic movements one can depict lightness, heaviness, swiftness, evenness, unevenness, rotation, upward flight, swaying, sharp and convulsive flinching, sweeping, insinuating, swift or slow movements etc.. An especially rich experience for musical typification is inherent in the experience of human speech to which the individual is always especially sensitive and capable of catching the smallest and finest nuances: appeal, invocation, narration, preaching, orator’s speech, argument, calm discussion, objections, etc. As Asafiev perceived, typified intonations do not limit themselves merely to question, answer, astonishment or doubt, but their possible quantity is limitless.
In solving the musical-semantic issue of the existence of so-called "musical words", or phrases with consolidated meanings, it is necessary also to take the psychological aspect into one’s perception. In his work from 1934 "Thinking and Speech," when analyzing the essence of the word as a unit of human speech, Vygotsky emphasized: "The primary function of speech presents itself as a communicative function. Speech is first of all a means of social communication, a means of statement and understanding". "it is fully justified to examine the meaning of a word not only as a unity of thinking and speech, but also as a unity of generalization and communication, the communication of thought" 13 following this train of thought, one can make the assertion that the primary function of music and "musical speech" is a communicative function, albeit a specific one – most importantly, a ritual and aesthetical one. Music and musical speech are means of social communication, statement and understanding. Musical intonation, similarly to the spoken word as a unit of verbal speech, is a unity of "generalization and communication".
It follows that consolidated meanings and semantic associations, arise due to frequent repetition, memorization and adoption of musical constructions by social auditory perception. This is for the most part enhanced by the conditions of genre, since genre is what presents itself as the direct functional realization of the connection between art and reality.
However, communication with art happens both in the unprofessional milieu and among professional musicians. Through frequent repetition, carried out with a realization of semantic meanings, they undoubtedly expose themselves to the various elements of musical composition – modes, harmonic progressions, intervals, rhythmic formulas, polyphonic interconnections, different types of textures, orchestral means, etc. Just as for the mass auditory perception the genre conceptions of the march, the chorale or blues become signs of certain content complex, so in the professional milieu with the means of musical theoretical instruction, the notions of consonance or dissonance, D7-T5/3, pentatonicism or chromaticism, syncopations or even rhythmic movement also turn into definite signs with consolidated meanings. Certain musical means acquire such a stable type of semantics, that they pass on from the specialized professional musical-theoretical language on to a generally used language of the layman. Among these are such terms are "major", "minor", "consonance", dissonance", "symphony", "Allegro", "anticipation" and many others. Thus the means of musical composition strive for the same kind of semantic qualities as do the phenomena of genre and style. Complementing the intonational-semantic theory of Medushevsky, let us bring musical-compositional elements (means) into the circle of the sources and signs of intonational semantics as well.
Nevertheless, professional semiotic elements possess such a feature that "at the other end" of the perception they could possess doubles of an un-professional layman quality, which are derived out of the overall emotional and object notions. I shall offer a general systematization of the basic types of musical intonation on the foundation of the most important centers of the formation of semantics. It includes the general type of musical semantics, which is perceived by professional musicians and laymen alike, and condenses around emotional perceptions and object images. On the other hand a special type of professional musical semantics is taken into account, which is formed around musical compositional means. An intermediary place is taken up by a type of semantics, which is partially general and partially professional, which is concentrated around the phenomena of genre and style. In contrast to the "Systematization of Artistic Signs in Music" presented earlier, established on the basis of the conception of C. Pierce, the "Systematization of the Basic Types of Intonational Semantics in Music" offered here, does not adhere to the former system, but follows its own path; it comes out of the given qualities of music and presents itself as an original system. The points of the scheme (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) are situated not in a vectorial but in a "circular" dimension.
The systematization of the Basic Types of Intonational Semantics in Music
An intermediary type of semantics between the general and the professional musical type.
I shall proceed to explain this scheme by using concrete material.
The emotional-expressive types of intonation (1) are, to cite an example, intonations of sighing, longing, heroic surge, agitation of the soul and contemplative peace. Since they are typical for the emotional life of the human being in general, they have long since entered into musical art and have established themselves there as locutions with particular kinds of melodic, rhythmic or textural patterns. One concrete example is the "theme of love" from Tchaikovsky’s "Queen of Spades", in the tuneful ascending motives of which the emotional striving is contained and the live human breathing can be heard.
The object-depictive intonations (2), aided by sound depiction in music of movement of certain objects, imitate various sounds, for instance, galloping of horses, the flight of the butterfly, the movement of a chariot, the run of a train, the warbling of a brook, peals of thunder, tides of waves, forest murmurs, birds singing, playing of a music box (objects of the outer world, phenomena of nature), as well as the ringing of bells, tuning of a piano, strumming the strings (objects of musical art). As examples of these one can cite the Song of the Viking Guest from Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera "Sadko", where the orchestra depicts the menacing waves, furiously splashing against the shore, as well as Rodion Shchedrin’s Second Piano Concerto with the depiction of the tuning of the piano (in the Finale). Musical-genre intonations (3) – presentation of features of the march, barcarolle, jazz ensemble, mass song, classical piano music, operetta cancan, church chorales etc. An example of this is the Pilgrims’ Chorus from Wagner’s opera "Tannhauser", where the majestic, hymnal and, at the same time, delicate and steady sound determines the intonational appearance of the theme.
Musical-stylistic intonations (4) – recreation of typical features of the music of Bach, Vivaldi, Beethoven, Chopin, etc. An example of this is Schnittke’s "Dedication to Paganini" for solo violin, where short fragments from the Paganini Caprices for solo violin are used as quotations.
Musical-compositional intonations (5) – usage of separate devices of melodic, rhythmic, harmonic, textural, orchestral or other types of features: a singing cantilena melody, a detached whole-tone scale, "open fifths", harsh "clashes of seconds", "the aerial interval of a seventh", "nota sensibile" (the gravitating leading tone), "marche harmonique" (harmonic sequence), a tense anticipation on a dominant chord, spicy dominant ninth chords, sharp and dotted rhythm, an active and iambic upbeat, a steady regularity of the rhythm, the menacing glissando of the trombones, the gentle violin harmonics, the nasal timbre of the oboe, the piercing outcry of the piccolo, the military beat of the side drum, the chest voice timbre of the cello, "chaotic" aleatory writing, dense clusters, sparse pointillism, the powerful orchestral tutti, the subsiding diminuendo, etc. For any type of musical-compositional intonations it is possible to indicate numerous concrete musical examples.
In order to understand the "mechanism" of functioning of the intonation in music in the form of a lexeme, which possesses integrity, semantic certainty and delimitation from other types of musical lexemes, it is necessary to take into consideration the psychological regularity of the "figure and background". Upon perception of a musical composition, just like upon any other type of act of perception, a human being immediately picks out what is most important (the figure or relief shape), separating it from the subsidiary element (the background). To cite an example, in the beginning theme of Rachmaninoff’s Third Piano Concerto the role of the "figure" (the center, the relief) is taken by a smoothly tuneful, flowing, spread-out Russian melody, whereas the "background" (periphery) is delineated by the minor mode, an evenly textured accompaniment in the orchestra. The original piano melody forms a bright, semantically concise musical image, which presents itself as the "central semantic element". The background means comprise an uncontradictory remote plan of perception, without bringing out its own semantic initiative.
It must be taken into account that the "central semantic element" can be perceived by the listener in different ways, depending on their own personal artistic experience. A musician may find the flowing melodic intervals of seconds "vociferous", whereas the lay non-musician, such as, for instance, an art critic, may be for the most part struck by the "visual" image of the landscape of a Russian plain, resembling those in paintings by Levitan. An "average listener", not very much affiliated with the arts, could grasp the overall mood of breadth and a certain sadness. In other words, following our model, the professional musician stems from the type of musical-compositional intonations (5), a listener who may be an art critic, may stem from the object-depictive intonations (2), whereas an "average listener" – from emotional-expressive intonations (1). Each perceiving listener develops their own version of semantic perception of Rachmaninoff’s composition. Nevertheless, all these versions in their most essential features of imagery will be versions of one single semantic invariant, transmitted by the composer into the composition and conveyed by the performer 14. Listening to a piece of music without any semantic indications would not be a case of musical perception, but merely an auditory grasp of a compilation of sounds.
The delineated course of semantic formation upon perception of musical intonations is also confirmed by "the science of logic", which developed the principle of unity of foundation. In order for the musical intonation to be integral and specific, it must possess some kind of a single, unified semantic impulse. The psychological principle of prevalence of the "figure" over the "background" is specifically what makes the selection of this kind of "semantics forming" element, which creates a semantic "physiognomity" of intonation. I shall conclude the systematization of intonations by noting that V. Medushevsky suggested another aspect of defining intonations — intonations marked by genius 15. In the domain of art, qualitative and evaluative properties are of paramount importance, they are always perceived and presumed. However, theoretically they are developed least of all and are the most difficult to prove.
3. "Lexemes" and context in music
The correlation between lexemes and context presents itself as one of the most problematic questions in the domain of musical semantics. There exists a point of view that in the verbal arts lexemes carry an independent semantic meaning, whereas in music the meaning of any of the elements arises only in context. In musicology the decisive role of context in the creation of semantics of musical meaning has been defended by M. Aranovsky (in his article "Thinking, Language, Semantics") 16, in which he, thereupon, recognized not a "lingual" but a "speech" character of the expressive system in music. as has been stated earlier, M.Lotman, has written about the "lack of mandatory semantic connections" in music.
Prior to presenting our conclusions in regard to the correlation of the lexemes and context in music, let us turn to the corresponding theses of theories of the natural verbal language. Already V. Humboldt, who is considered to be one of the founders of semiotics, has written about the variability of verbal meanings: "nobody thinks, upon hearing a well-known word, in a manner similar to another" 17. Y. Tynianov insisted that words in general do not have a single, definite meaning. "It is a chameleon, in which each time not only various shades of meaning but sometimes various hues of color arise" 18. A. Losev summarized his opinions about the linguistic law of polysemantics: "It is that, which is called polysemy, namely the law of multiplicity of meanings of the word and all categories in language" 19.
It is possible to speak approximately about a similar type of semantic recoloring of musical "words" in the context of a specific musical composition. Here, too, there is a prevalence of the law of multiple meanings, a polysemy of intonations of all compositional levels. In the conditions of musical context any semantic element is transformed even as far as to the level of its opposite, it is possible to state about musical intonation that "it does not posses merely one specific meaning, it is a chameleon, in which each time not only various shades of meaning arise, but sometimes even various hues of color". Moreover, a certain thin thread links together various intonations, which receive a different, sometimes even an opposite meaning.
I shall examine, for the sake of clarity, the contextual recoloring of word in the natural language. In a book, published in the 20th century, we read: "The newspaper "Pravda" reported that the composer Borodin is working on his opera "Prince Igor"". The transformation of context is in that "the newspaper ‘Pravda’", referred to here is not the publication of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but a newspaper, published in Odessa in the 19th century. I shall illustrate similar examples in the sphere of music. in the codified system of the rhetorical musical figures of the 16th-18th centuries one of the most popular of such figures was the figure "passus duriusculus" ("harsh type of move"). It has been used for expressing and symbolizing images of grief, sufferings of the Cross, as well as torments of love. When it was brought into Wagner’s opera "Tristan and Isolde", it was stylistically and semantically redefined – as an expression of impulse of love, passionate longing and burning passion of love. Despite the emotional and figurative transformation, the semantics of suffering turned out to be common to the same kind of musical turn in the music of opposite life perception.
In the music of the 18th-20th centuries the intonation of the "open fifth" became endowed with the semantics of emptiness of space, of a vacuum, and, as a result of this, of an unusual, strange setting. Let us examine how it is reevaluated in the context of the following four compositions: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Schubert’s Song "Der Doppelganger", the scenes along the bank of the Nile in Verdi’s "Aida" and the first movement, "The Palace Square" of Shostakovich’s 11th Symphony "The Year 1905". In Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony the "open fifths" at the very beginning of its first movement, are similar to a universal void, which existed prior to the creation of the world; it is disrupted by the heroic impulse of the main theme – as if a mighty Divine hand spread over the world and created heaven, earth and all living things. In Schubert’s song "Der Doppelganger", set to the text of Heine, the "open fifth" in the piano accompaniment corresponds to the poetic image of the poem – the empty streets of a sleeping city, the frightening footsteps of an Unseen Being. In the scene along the bank of the Nile in Verdi’s opera "Aida" the sound of the "open fifth" in the orchestra presents itself an expressive indication of both a desert area and of Eastern exoticism; the filling in of the interval of a third flickers in between major and minor but does not fully take on a traditional European form. In the first movement of Shostakovich’s Eleventh Symphony "The Year 1905", titled as "The Palace Square", the "open fifths" are spread out vertically throughout all the different ranges of the orchestra. In accordance with the composer’s program, the listener perceives the gloomy scene of the empty square, framed with hanging columns, frozen in the pre-morning torpidity in expectation of the bloody events to come. One could very well examine the transformation of meaning of the same lexeme in Debussy’s Prelude "La Cathedrale Engloutie", in the opening scene of Ravel’s opera "L’Enfant et La Magique" (the remark "the child is lazy") and numerous other cases. Nevertheless it remains already clear how lexemes and contexts correlate in music. The context of the composer’s style and of the individual conception of a musical composition is capable to transform qualitatively an artistic image, connected with a musical lexeme. However a certain element of this image remains permanent and semantically stable due to the presence of the given lexeme. Thus, the "requisite semantic connections" in music are on hand, and without them the structure of content in musical compositions would be impossible.
As a result in music the correlation of lexemes and the composer’s context is possible, approximately in the same way as in literature and poetry. A significant and, occasionally, harsh discrepancy with the regular principles of any types of "stable forms of art" in music, as a "mobile art form" begins with the consideration of performance practice. Various interpretations of performance, arrangements or transcriptions of one and the same musical text by a composer, could very well differ from each other fundamentally up to a level of complete semantic incompatibility. Here another problem arises – the extent of concreteness of the lexemes in the language.
This problem has been dealt with in the theory of grammar of the 20th century. Thus, Jesperson in his "Philosophy of grammar" emphasized that just as separate words, lexemes are not in the least endowed with a maximum extent of concreteness. Those realities, with which the human beings frequently confronts, cannot with an exhausting fullness be grasped with words which transmit only the most important indications of the designated phenomena. "Language always deals with abstract words writes Jespersen, "only the extent of abstraction changes infinitely" 20. In other words, in natural language the semantic filling of words in connection with there natural application in life is very variable. The same type of uniformity applies to the language of music. Musical lexemes in compositions by composers, fixed in notes present themselves as relative abstractions. Their comprehension and reexamination in the interpretation of the performer is principally variable 21.
Finally, one more theoretical question arises – regarding the distinction of functioning of semantics in an artificial artistic language, which music presents itself, from its functioning in the natural verbal language.
In the functioning of the "musical word" as an ingredient of an artistic system and the word itself as a part of the practical daily language, there is an essential difference, connected with the norms of the artistic and the unartistic language. The natural verbal language, the chief aim of which is to achieve a maximum extent of general coherence, strives towards stereotypes, standards and clichés of semantic meaning. On the other hand, genuine art undoubtedly includes in itself the component of novelty, originality and individual, inimitable character. This quality is directly antithetical to the tendency towards cliché, which is regular for the semantics of speech. This is why in the conditions of musical art, semanticalization functions in a qualitatively different manner than in everyday verbal language. In music whenever the utilization of some kind of expressive element reaches the stage of cliché or stereotype, it becomes non-communicative (hackneyed musical idioms make the music uninteresting). And then art, if it does not submit to an a priori canon, drifts away in its direction fro the established stereotypes, reexamining its previously used elements in a new artistic context. This was the fate of the Medieval rhythmic modes, the rhetorical musical figures of the 16th-18th centuries, as well as the classical major-minor tonality, etc. The semantics of art are endowed with a dialectic mobility on principle in the correlation of means and meanings, so the tendency towards typification combines in a supple way with the opposite tendency – towards atypification and the emergence of a new brand of typification on the next turn of the spiral. As a result, musical language – its means and their meanings – changes at a considerably faster rate than the language of words. For example, since the age of Pushkin the Russian language changed only slightly, whereas the musical language from the time of Glinka to that of Shostakovich transformed at a cardinal rate, the old semantics being preserved only to a slightest degree.
Music is a language and it is requisite to learn in one way or another to understand this language. Music is an artistic language, and it is necessary to catch a heightened role of original, heuristic elements, a living dialectics of the traditional and the innovative, a heightened dynamism of historical changes. The musical intonation presents itself as the "lexeme" of this language, endowed with obligatory semantic connections, but subjected to an entire system of modifications: polysemy in various composional contexts, variability in different interpretations of performance practice, and transformations during radical historical stylistic changes. L. Vygotsky cited the following thought about art, belonging to Diderot: the actor weeps with genuine tears, but his tears flow from the brain. One can make a statement about professional European music, that it expresses itself with living emotions, and with vocal and motor intonations, however these emotions and intonations "flow from the brain".
1 Boris Asafiev. Musical Form as a Process. Part 2. Intonation. Leningrad, 1971, p.344
2 About Asafiev’s approach to building the conception of musical intonation see E.M.Orlova’s book "B.V.Asafiev: the Path of a Researcher and Writer", Leningrad, 1964.
3 B.Asafiev. Musical Form as a Process, p.355
4 B.Asafiev Intonation of Speech. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965. Pp.7-8
5 B.Asafiev. Musical Form as a Process, p.355
6 Ibid., from p.223.
7 V.V.Medushevsky. The Intonational and Narrative Nature of Musical Form. Doctoral dissertation. M.1984, p.235.
8 Ibid., p.231.
9 Medushevsky. The Duality of Musical Form and the Perception of Music. || Perception of Music. Moscow, 1980, p.185.
10 B.Asafiev. The Historical Year./Sovetskaya muzyka, 1933, N.3? p.107.
11 Y.Kon. Regarding the question of the concept of ‘musical language’", From Lully to the Present. Moscow., 1967.
12 Y.M.Lotmann. The Structure of the Artistic Text. Moscow, 1970, p.16.
13 L.Vygotsky. Selected Psychological Research. Moscow, 1956, p.50, 51-52.
14 Examples of rather broad intonational analysis of separate musical compositions could be found in my the chapters in book "Melodic Elaboration", featuring the analysis of Moussorgsky’s musical pamphlet "Gallery" for voice and piano set to the composer’s own text and Scriabin’s Etude for piano in E major, opus 8 N.5 (see pp.30-39). For a semantic analysis of Berg’s Violin Concerto see the book "Tajemstvi hudebniho významu" by J. Jiránek, Praha, 1979.
15 V. Medushevsky. "Intonational Theory in Historical Perspective".// Sovetskaya muzyka, 1985, N.7, p.69.
16 M.G.Aranovsky. "Thinking, Language, Semantics".// Problems of Musical Thinking, Moscow, 1974, p.119.
17 Quoted from the book: A.A.Potebnya. "Aesthetics and Poetics". Moscow, 1976, p.56.
18 Y.Tynianov. The Problem of Poetic Language. Articles. Moscow, 1965, p.77.
19 A.Losiev. The Structure of Language. Moscow, 1983, p.213.
20 O.Jespersen, "Philosophy of Grammar". Moscow, 1958, p.69.
21 The semantics of performance is examined in the chapter on performing interpretation.