Bartókiana - Abstracts
Ninth International Congress on Musical
"MUSIC, SENSES, BODY” “LA MUSICA,
I SENSI, IL CORPO"
19-23 September 2006 – Università di Roma
On the Shaman’s Trail: Béla
By Damjana Bratuž
This presentation grew out of the insights I first
encountered in Massimo Mila’s essay LA NATURA
E IL MISTERO NELL’ARTE DI BÉLA BARTÓK (1965).
I examined some of those insights in my paper “un
segno, un richiamo, un ammicco” (IMS,
Leuven, 2002) where I introduced a discussion of shamanic traces
in Bartók’s music.
That paper’s title was borrowed from a page
by Italo Calvino (in Mr. Palomar:1983), a
meditation on coincidence, on things that “present
themselves” and ask for attention and
observation. Calvino’s three terms , “a
sign, a summons, a wink,” remain the hidden
thread that links the observations I develop in this
paper, “On the Shaman’s Trail.“
Pianists are used to the summons of the composer’s
indications as their guidance to
the score. However, when the performer is ethnically
and linguistically removed
from the composer’s background, the task becomes
one of observing what one does not know, rather than of applying familiar relationships.
By coincidence, the edition of Szabadban that
came first into my hands was the old Universal which
gave the pieces' titles in three languages. The Hungarian
title of the first piece, Síppal, dobbal…[With
Pipes and Drums], had three dots that were missing
in the English edition with its translation of the
title, With Drums and Pipes.
A Hungarian child would have been familiar with the
nursery rhyme referred to; I could only recall having
encountered those foreign terms, Síppal, dobbal,
during the preparation of my thesis on Bartók
when at Indiana University I examined the collections
of hundreds of Hungarian folk tunes (Bratuž, 1967).
When later I did retrieve the text, I could sense its
great mythical import and its 'healing' shamanic connotations,
but it took another few years to find, by coincidence,
also confirmation for it (Viski, 1932). The shamanic resonances
of such Regös (winter solstice) songs
were mentioned by Bartók himself when he tried
to call the world’s attention to these “relics
from pagan times!” (Colinde,1931].
Throughout the five pieces of the Out Doors suite,
ancient kinetic and gestural patterns call the attention
of a pianist's ear and hand. The aim of this presentation
is to make them audible.
Equipment needed: Microsoft POWER POINT PRESENTATION