Res Musica

Res Musica 7 (2015)

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The seventh issue of Res Musica is based on selected essays from the Seventh International Conference on Music Theory held in Tallinn and Pärnu, January 8–11, 2014. The topic of the conference was musical form. Mainly due to its multifaceted nature, the interpretation of form is one of the more sophisticated aspect of music theory. Since musical form is a result of an interaction of many different elements, its analysis always raises the question of its main influencers. Is it primarily a temporal positioning that determines the formal meaning of a section, as claimed in the theory of formal functions, or a relation between a section and a referential set of ordered musical ideas that functions as a model for that section, as claimed in the theory of dialogic form?

Nowadays, the latter view seems to have a continuously increasing impact on the understanding of the musical form which is often treated as a deformational phenomenon. In other words, the expressive content of the form or its ability to speak to listeners, lies in its potential to play with the expectations generated by the referential set of ordered musical ideas and its capability for dialog. The deformational behavior of form is also one of the main topics of the first essay of this volume “Turning Inward – Turning Outward – Turning Around: Strong Subordinate Themes in Romantic Overtures” by Steven Vande Moortele. Vande Moortele focuses on the subordinate themes that show an unusual formal design. In traditional Formenlehre, the subordinate theme is not defined in absolute terms, but rather in relation to the main theme. The subordinate themes discussed by Moortele, not only exceed the main theme in their prominence, but sometimes takes over the formal functions associated with the main theme.

The ambivalent articulation of the subordinate theme in exposition and its formal consequences is a topic of the second essay. In her article “Mahlerian Quotations, Thematic Dramaturgy, and Sonata Form in the First Movement of Shostakovich’s Fourth Symphony,” Charity Lofthouse demonstrates how the initial “failure” of the subordinate theme results in a rhetoric drama which is built by the constant thwarting of rotational expectations and eventually leads to an almost-militarized telos, a Mahlerian, recapitulatory eclipse of both the main theme and the subordinate theme fragment’s melodic hegemony.

Aare Tool focuses on the multi-dimensional form, in which constituent parts and the structure as a whole cannot be discussed in terms of a single formal schema in his study “One-Movement Form in the Chamber Music of Heino Eller, Eduard Tubin, and Eduard Oja.” Often such a design articulates the one-movement form of extended instrumental compositions usually combining two different formal dimensions – the dimensions of sonata form and sonata cycle. Tool shows how the formal strategy which was gradually losing its importance in the music of Central and Western Europe played a crucial role in the rise of musical modernism in Estonia between the two world wars.

The next three studies concentrate on the different aspects that shape musical form. Michael Oravitz applies the concept of a metrical profile, i.e. a formal section displaying an individualized metrical structure, to show the impact of meter to the musical form in his article “Meter as a Formal Delineator in Two Debussy Préludes.” Ildar Khannanov describes those aspects that result in the formal deformation in his essay “Function and Deformation in Sergei Rachmaninoff ’s Etudes-Tableaux Op. 39, Nos. 5 and 6.” These aspects include ancient Russian chant (знаменное пение), the manifestation of late-Romantic poetics, but also more modern devices such as theatrical dramaturgy (with its entanglement-conflict-dénouement strategy), morphology of a fairy tale, cinematic montage and aspects of literary form reflecting dialogical consciousness. In her study “The Role of Secondary Parameters in Musical Shaping: Examining Formal Boundaries in Mendelssohn’s C minor Piano Trio from the Performer’s Point of View,” Cecilia Oinas emphasizes the role of the parameters often considered insignificant in traditional Formenlehre. Oinas demonstrates how the sensitivity to these parameters often help performer to find “working” solutions for the formally ambivalent passages.

The collection concludes with two essays on the 18th century music with emphasis on harmonic and contrapuntal structure and their impact to musical form. In his study “Marpurg’s Galant Cadence in Mozart: Theoretical Perspectives, Formal Implications and Voice Leading,” David Lodewyckx discusses a specific cadential formula extensively used in the galant style of the 18th century. He also underlines how consciously composers used this type of cadence in their music. Stephen Slottow’s essay “Sequences in Mozart’s Piano Sonata, K. 280/I” is an analytical case study, which’s results are used to put into question some theoretical positions expressed by Heinrich Schenker in his “The Masterwork in Music.”

Due to the specificity of their topics, the main articles in this issue of Res Musica are in English, but provided with extended summaries in Estonian. Like those of the previous issues, articles published here are reviewed anonymously by the experts of the field, to whom belong my sincere gratitude.

The Seventh International Conference on Music Theory in Tallinn and Pärnu was held in the framework of the institutional grant project “Performative Aspects of Music” (IUT12-1) and was funded by Estonian Research Council, Embassy of the United States of America in Tallinn, Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, and Estonian Arnold Schoenberg Society.

Kerri Kotta

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Table of contents:

Saateks koostajalt

(Kerri Kotta)

Editor’s Preface

(Kerri Kotta)



Jeffers Engelhardt. Singing the Right Way. Orthodox Christians and Secular Enchantment in Estonia. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015, 268 lk.

(Andreas Kalkun)

Maris Kirme (koost., toim.). Peatükke eesti muusikakriitikast enne 1944. aastat. Acta Universitatis Tallinnensis Artes, Tallinn: Tallinna Ülikooli Kirjastus, 2014, 389 lk.

(Ave Mattheus)