Dr. Damjana Bratuz
Home Page < Bartokiana < Abstracts

Bartókiana - Abstracts

EthNoise! Approaches to Analysis and Music Theories in Ethnomusicology.
The 3rd Annual Conference Sponsored by the Ethnomusicology Workshop at the University of Chicago.
May 21-22, 2004.

Bartók’s “only really true notations…[1943]”

By Damjana Bratuž

Béla Bartók’s admonition (1951[1943]) that one can neither detect, nor decipher, from their notation alone those intricacies and subtleties of rhythmic and expressive articulations that the ear alone can grasp from the sound-tracks on the record itself, is still generally ignored. Some performers have claimed to have studied Bartók’s recorded piano performances as a score. But the world of peasant timbres and utterance behind the composer’s own interpretations remains unknown, although the recordings of Bartók’s folk music collections are available.

The musical analysis of a score that takes place in the ‘smithy’ of a piano studio is based mostly on the interaction of the teacher’s and pupil’s musical images stored in the inner ear, on their “Remembrances of Things Played” (Edward Said, 1985), which lead to the embodiment of knowledge of a score’s performance.

The knowledge my paper addresses is one that can be inferred not from a de-contextualized analysis of the notated score, but one that derives from the performer’s acquaintance with the “elements and strategies” of an “inherent” idiom belonging to oral tradition (John Miles Foley, 1991).
Recent studies of Bartók’s music (e.g. Paul Wilson, 1992) have concentrated above all on the value given to a composer’s “personal manipulation” of material resulting in what Foley (1991) has defined as “conferred meaning.” But, by examining examples of peasant dirges as notated and as recorded by Bartók; by correlating them to similar patterns found in the II movement of his Sonata for Piano; by listening to ‘readings’ by both Hungarian and non-Hungarian pianists; and finally, by listening to the composer’s own performance of these same patterns in his 2nd Piano Concerto, the result is a revelation that indeed brings to mind Luciano Berio’s “prodigious phenomenon…: sound becoming sense” (1985).

Power Point presentation


  Damjana Bratu TOP

new concept design - web design london, ontario