Res Musica

Res Musica 8 (2016)

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This eighth issue of the yearbook Res Musica is the second number dedicated to the domain of ethnomusicology (the first was the 2012 edition). This time the collection of articles develops the topics discussed at the First Seminar of the ICTM (International Council for Traditional Music) Study Group on Multipart Music, held on 19–20 September 2014 at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre, Tallinn. The theme of the Seminar was “Multipart Music: theoretical approaches on the terminology”.

It should be mentioned here that the form of this event was quite unusual – the number of participants was limited to eight invited specialists who, instead of giving standard conference papers, chaired the discussions on the related topics. This circumstance has shaped the conception of the present volume. Firstly, the clearly delimited theme of the Seminar has resulted in the greater thematic homogeneity of the collection than usual. Secondly, the influence of the Seminar’s discussions is often apparent in the articles, leading to dialogic connections between the texts.

The terminology related to traditional multipart music has developed alongside the entire discourse of ethnomusicology since its beginnings. This development has proceeded from the use of the common Western musicological terms to the invention of newer concepts, in the search for historically and stylistically neutral terms that may be applicable to the music of different cultures. At the same time, the researchers began to value the local vernacular terms, as they express most adequately the nature of their respective musical traditions. Nowadays we witness a situation in which numerous terms of different origin and various classifications of multipart (polyphonic, multilinear, plurilinear, etc.) music exist in the ethnomusicological world; and quite often these terms are differently understood by researchers belonging to the different national traditions. In this volume, the authors concentrate mainly on the international English-language terminology, but they also involve as a comparison the terminology of other traditions (e.g. those of Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Latvia and Estonia). As a result, questions of the translation of terms arise, and we can find in several articles the citations of the literature given in parallel in two languages (the original and English).

The special nature of this volume is also influenced by the fact that the terminology manifests the researchers’ theoretical comprehension of the nature of the music under study, so that the discussions on this topic concern not only the choice of the words but also the basic issues of multipart music as a cultural, psychological and musical phenomenon. During the Tallinn Seminar, it became apparent that these questions may be approached in different ways, proceeding from the different aspects of the musical process. This collection includes articles dealing with the social, cultural, behavioural, cognitive and musical aspects of traditional multipart music.

The first three articles of this volume discuss the most general questions of traditional multipart music. Ignazio Macchiarella develops the conception of multipart music as the process of social interaction and intentionally coordinated music-making. He also introduces the new term ‘sound gesture’, which joins the musical action and its sound outcome and can be applied not only to traditional music, but also to any kind of sound activity. Ardian Ahmedaja explores the terms that designate multipart music in the general context of concept theory. He focuses on three umbrella terms: the English terms ‘polyphony’ and ‘multipart music’ and the German term Mehrstimmigkeit. Ahmedaja also discusses some newer terms – Schwebungsdiaphonie, ‘polymusic’ and ‘singing in company’, showing that the establishing of the new concepts can proceed from both the musical outcome and the social aspect of multipart music. The article by Žanna Pärtlas is dedicated to heterophony – one of the widespread principles by which a multilinear texture comes about in the music of oral tradition. The article approaches heterophony as a musical, social and psychological phenomenon. As the theoretical comprehension of heterophony requires the revision of the basic concepts related to multipart and multilinear music, these concepts are also put under the microscope in the article.

The next two articles investigate the influence of the emic and etic attitudes on the terminology of multipart music, discussing this question with reference to concrete musical traditions. The research by Susanne Fürniss is based on the indepth study of the music of the Aka people from the Central African Republic and the Baka from Cameroon. The author points to the possibility of contradictions between the emic (native) conception and etic (researchers’) perception of plurilinear music, which sometimes raises questions as to the designation of the forms of musical texture. Anda Beitāne examines similar problems with regard to the multipart song tradition of eastern Latvia. Her study scrutinizes the multipart music terminology that is common in Latvian ethnomusicological scholarship and compares it with the folk terminology and the local understandings concerning multipart singing.

The research paper by Ulrich Morgenstern is the only one in this volume that focuses on traditional instrumental music and on the multipart phenomena in a solo performance. The author attempts to organize the terminology used for the designation of the different types of musical texture, paying special attention to textures with bourdon. The article by Alessandro Bratus widens the scope of the volume’s theme, bringing into consideration multipart phenomena in popular music. He searches for the possibilities of applying the concept of multipart music to recorded popular music, analysing in considerable detail the opening theme by Isaac Hayes for the film Shaft.

Among the texts relating to the Tallinn Seminar, the present collection also includes an overview of the book Polifonie. Procedimenti, tassonomie e forme: una rifl essione “a più voci” (edited by Maurizio Agamennone, 1996) written by Enrique Cámara de Landa. Although this book is not a recent publication, we found that its presentation here would be very useful from the viewpoint of the theme discussed in this volume, especially taking into account the fact that the ideas of Italian researchers are not widely known in international ethnomusicological circles owing to the language barrier.

In this issue of Res Musica the main articles are published in English with detailed summaries in Estonian. According to the rules of the journal, all the articles published here were anonymously peer reviewed by competent specialists. The editors express their sincere gratitude to all the reviewers, whose expert work has helped to raise the academic quality of this publication. This volume was supported by the Estonian Ministry of Education and Research (research project IUT12-1), and by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies).

Žanna Pärtlas

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Table of Contents:

Saateks koostajalt

(Žanna Pärtlas)

Editor's Preface

(Žanna Pärtlas)



Mõiste multipart music kui kontseptuaalne vahend. Mõned ettepanekud

Mõistete määratlemine mitmehäälse muusika uuringutes

Teoreetilised lähenemised heterofooniale

Mis on partii? Polüfoonia taju ja kontseptsiooni vahel

„Harmoonia“ küsimus kohalikus mitmehäälses muusikapraktikas: Ida-Läti terminoloogiaeksperimentide väljana

Mitmehäälse soolo-instrumentaalmuusika traditsioonid Euroopas. Terminoloogilised probleemid ja perspektiivid

Salvestise suhestuslike ruumide jälgel: multipart-vaatenurk levimuusika analüüsis



Eino Tubin. Ballaad. Eduard Tubina lugu. Tallinn: Eesti Teatri- ja Muusikamuuseum, 2015, 239 lk.
Vardo Rumessen (koost.). Vestlused Eduard Tubinaga. Tallinn: Rahvusvaheline Eduard Tubina Ühing, 2015, 360 lk.