Bartókiana - Abstracts
International Musicological Society
IMS 2002 SYMPOSIA - August 2002, Leuven,
I : Hearing-Performing-Writing
sign, a summons, a wink:” Shamanic traces in
by Damjana Bratuž
The title of this paper is borrowed from a page of
Calvino (1985), a meditation on coincidence, on things
that present themselves
and ask for attention
and observation; it is the thread linking the observations
of a pianist used to the summons
of the composer's indications as a guidance to the score.
When the performer is ethnically and linguistically
removed from the composer's background, the task is
however one of observing what one does not know, rather
than of deriving and applying already familiar relationships.
By coincidence the edition of Szabadban
that came first into my hands was the old Universal
which gave the pieces' titles in 3 languages. Thus the
first title, Síppal, dobbal was followed
by three dots: "
" that were missing
in the English and German translations. A Hungarian
child would have known the text referred to; I could
only recall having encountered those foreign terms during
the preparation of my thesis, when I examined the collections
of hundreds of Hungarian folk tunes (Bratu, 1967).
When I did retrieve the text I sensed its great mythical
import, and 'healing' connotations, but only after a
few years I also found confirmation for it (Viski, 1932).
The shamanic resonances of the Regös
songs were mentioned by Bartók (1931). This paper
probes, throughout the suite, those ancient kinetic
and gestural patterns that call the attention of a pianist's
hand and ear, and are neglected by current analytical
practices; it does not presume to document, explain,
verify, only to 'make audible.'
The first and the fifth pieces, especially, reveal
not only the intervallic construction typical of Regös
tunes (Kodaly, 1971), but also that particular fragmentation
of the material which for the modern artist echoes the
ancient shamanic rituals and initiations (Woodcock,
1980). The second piece invites the exploration and
the retracing of the Water element as conceived by Bartók,
both through sound layering and undulation. If in the
third piece one follows the composer's note about bagpipe
tunes (Bartók, 1981) and one "adds in one's
imagination" the unwritten, permanent sound of
the drone (the 'magic' polyphonic peasant instrument),
one creates a rotating sound-spectrum with built-in
inner harmonics. When the figurations are thus played
in relation to the imagined drone, the Musette
is heard as a sort of emanation - breath and Air. The
Night's Music is examined for the seven 'territories,'
or piano registers, in which the musical elements appear
in a state of formazione
.Through similarity of pitch and melodic contour an
ancient (unconscious) connection appears, echoing a
XII.cent. hymn. The final piece, with its left hand
finger- drumming and its fiery speed, reminds us of
the 3rd Mvt. of op.14 as recorded by Bartók:
it foreshadows the Chase
in the instrumental 'juxtaposition' of circular and
vertical planes, and the clarity of the left-hand design.
The Chase appears to embody,
through those Arab characteristics, the ceremonies of
in detail (Bartók, 1933), "in which the
possessed, je veux dire les
auditeurs, doivent être poussés jusqu'
á l'extase pour être libérés,