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2017年6月17日 星期六

離開了豬群的豬王也只是比豬還豬的豬: 評論歌詞 "陪你走"

前言:

這篇文章源於在舊同學群組裡,吾提出了一首最近由電視台翻唱,變成頗為流行的歌曲 "陪著妳走" 的病句問題。當時只是隨意指出問題所在,並不期望引發任何爭論。實情此曲初出版時,圈內的詞評者和唱片監制,已一致指出此曲確是好曲,旋律易上口,歌詞也真摯感人,能流行一時,也絕非僥倖。但可惜歌詞中的文句,確實含有不少沙石。尤以歌詞中的詞組配搭 (collocation),詩句文法邏輯 (poetic syntax) 的問題較為明顯。雖是這樣, 圈中人當時都認為,無減此曲成為一首流行好曲。再者,填詞人唐書琛是外國留學回來,看來英語比中文強,乃不足為奇。

其實病句的觀點實非吾之新見,乃是長久以來行內人的一致看法,那些問題句子更是習詞學生的良好參考例子。積極來看,如果一首歌詞能多受評論,就越顯出其價值,也能成為好的教材,幫助填詞人進步,這和流行與否無關。

但可惜吾忘了這類平台,只是 "吹水" 平台,成員見識氣度水平不一。常常只留於你吹捧我,我又捧下你的層面。如果是談談私下感想,個人想法,即興提供意見還可以,卻千萬不可作學術評論。儘管是 "吹水" 平台,但又確實可讓人輕鬆一下,有其價值。可是作學術評論實是不合宜。要知學術性的詩詞評論,也有其特定規則和方法,不是外行人可以察覺得到。關於吾這個提案,其 issue (評論重點) 只是就詞中的詩文句法邏輯 (syntax) 和 collocation (詞組配搭) 所產生的問題作為討論焦點,其他的 issues 如這首歌是否感人,好歌,又或流行曲是否可以容許像這首歌出現的 "病"句或文法邏輯問題存在等,皆不是評論重點 。

可是,情況可想而知,各路 "高手"各抒已見,但全不是對應 issue,就像你說這菜好味道,他答坐巴士來吃飯很費時一樣。這群高談論之輩,不乏在自己工作領域裡是專業人仕。由此可見,不同專業範疇,思想範式可以是非常天轅地徹的。

其中一個 "評論"  ,原文是這樣寫:

"斜陽裡,無魄更壯。斜陽,何來還有氣魄?"

吾相信評論者所暗示的意思是: 流行曲歌詞的中文寫作文法沒有邏輯 (not make sense),是很普遍的,不足為怪。好似這首歌曲 "前程錦鏽" 一樣。所以,"陪著妳走" 含有不乎合文法的句子,只是小事。

當然,稍有水平之輩,都知道答案,用這例子去支持其論点是否成效。但究竟斜陽真的可不可以有氣魄,又或斜陽能使人感到氣魄雄偉嗎? 這引起了一些爭論。吾也請另一個曲詞評台的成員評一評。

其中一個在曲詞平台的回應,也就是這篇文章的標題。

這評論是論人,不是論事。評論說: " 在豬欄裡就算是豬王,離開了豬群,也只是比豬還豬的豬!"

吾雖不同意評詞變人。也不會寫這樣人的句子,但不得不佩服此句子的修辭技巧。一句完整句子裡就用了六個 "豬" 字,各"豬" 用法皆有些微不同。這使我想起,有人說以往廣東人和外省人 "鬧交" 一定贏。因為廣東人的粗口,可以十八個字連綿不斷,問候對方從親戚至雙親,問個不停。當然這只是笑話。但這句評論既然修辭頗佳,言詞震撼,吾就借來作標題,以吸引讀者,開個玩笑。


作為一位學者,也趁此機會,用比較學術的原則和觀點,去點評那幾句據說有問題的歌詞。至於文章風格,吾仍沿用一貫散文隨筆的寫法,讓讀者易於明白。



正文:

在評論 "陪著妳走" 的病句之前,我先討論歌曲 "前程錦鏽" 開始時兩句,有沒有詩文句法錯誤,和句子意思是否不合常理 (not make sense)。

流行曲歌詞的一般學術評論標準是: 詞句文字是否做到易記易唱易明,歌詞是否含有優美的詩文修辭,詞組是否含有韻律性。當然,寫作詩詞的句法,與寫作文章用的詩詞句法有很大不同。但不是那 "欄外" 的所想的自由到 "無管制","怎寫都得",毫無章法。

周錫教授的 "中文寫作新視野" 就提供了本文的詩文句法所需的標準和原則。讀者可自行參考。


歌曲 "前程錦鏽"裡的頭兩句是:

斜陽裡,氣魄更壯。
斜陽落下,心中不必驚慌 。

首先,這兩句音樂旋律是 "平衡句法"。 所以,歌詞要填得好,也要寫近似 "均衡句"的句式去配合自身音樂的結構。再者,旋律頭三個音 "sol sol do' ", 是句題動機 (head motive),像是邀請詞人用合頭式詩句修辭去處理。果然,盧老師真的用了。他用了兩次 "斜陽" 作為句首合頭詞組。兩組 "斜陽" 帶出不同意思的句子。

在詩詞句法,有一種技巧是省略法。周錫教授的 "中文寫作新視野" 已有詳論。簡單來說寫詩詞時,所有文章句法要求的主語或謂語都在詞句中有需要時省略。最常見就是歌詞中不需點出 "我" 的存在。

例如:
前明月光,疑是地上霜,舉頭望明月,低頭思故鄉 。
究竟是 "誰" 疑是地上霜,"誰" 舉頭,"誰" 低頭,全詩都沒指明。但詩人就是這個 "誰" 了。
顯然,那個 "我" 字,在詩中就省略了。

套用在 "斜陽裡......." 這兩句句子,清楚顯見,絕無問題,也不是病句,又合乎詩詞句法。而且 ,詞句修辭和旋律韻律也互相配合了格律,所以,在這分析論點上,頭兩句是好的歌詞。

至於爭論重點  ,就是句子內容是否合乎常理 (make sense)? 斜陽可以表現氣魄嗎? 等等問題,吾仍聽取其他人的看法後,再作評論。

公開了問題,"斜陽何來氣魄"的評論是否合常理後,收到很多回應。不如看看來自四方眾多網評中的幾條有趣回應。


原文如下:

a. 氣魄,就是氣勢... 斜陽 /夕陽
    幾度夕陽紅,...幾有氣勢


b. 我理解成首歌係唱歌者的感受....氣魄更壯...心中不必驚慌....
    係指歌者的感受....

c. 佢無影相?

   




d. 夕陽 / 斜陽 /   日落 .....最奇妙的地方是,氣勢磅礡得來卻人安寧之感
     火山,海嘯是有氣勢,卻是動態

e.  水平不足就是水平不足,很難跟這些人推理。


以上有些評論確是顯出水平。而吾的最初回應也差不多。皆因夕陽斜照,漫天影映出一片紅霞,確實是氣魄雄偉的攝人壯美。吾亦指出,此美感經驗 (aesthetic experience) 是就是壯美,英語叫 "sublimity"。如你不明白甚麼是 sublime 的感受,聽聽 Mahler 任何一首交響曲,又或貝九交響曲就明白的了。不過,美感經驗不同普通的官能感受。寫了這些在吹水平台,吾也覺不妥,對牛彈琴是也。用一句俗語來形容,就是 "慳番啖氣好過"。


返回 "前程錦鏽" 的評論。

"前程錦鏽"裡的第二句歌詞,是 "心中不必驚慌"。是 "誰" 的心中? 不用道明吧,是有人才可以有 "心中" 這詞組。既是前後呼應的詞句修辭,如果後句有 "我",前句也應有 "我"的存在。再者,前句歌詞裡有一個 "裡" 字,也是明顯道出有 "人" 自己置身其中才合乎語法。這句的意思應是,"我" 在斜陽裡,"我" 感受到氣魄所在。

最可笑的是,"吹水平台" 有人提出斜陽不代表氣魄。這個當然是道理。但盧國沾老師這兩句歌詞,從頭到尾都沒有說 "斜陽" 代表 "氣魄"。他只說 "斜陽裡,[我感到]氣魄更壯" 而矣。

再者,當詩詞中寫景,但又無點明主語的 "你,我,他" ,那景色又帶出人的感情時,就是文學理論中常說的情景交溶。在這情況,詩人是物我兩忘,以景溶情,以情溶景。我們常說詩詞的 "意境" ,就與這種情景有關。"境"者,心境也。與人的感情世界有關,但 "境" 也是地域界限,如國境是也。所以也與外物景象有關。而"意"者,乃詩詞的主題意念 (idea),也即詩人的本意,通過詞歌句子而表達。雖然王昌齡的意境學說,仍屬抽象,至今未有統一理論,但身受華夏文化影響,華人賞詞,仍少不勉常用意境來論之,方便了解。吾也不便在這裡作詳細探討。

以此推論,"斜陽裡..."  這一詞句,也含有意境。

本來 "前程錦鏽" 一曲的歌詞只屬中等水平。就連盧老師也只自評為中規中矩,不值一提。只是勵志歌詞在當時七十年代還是少見,加上旋律夠動聽,所以紅了。現今如果不是有人亂套例子,這麼多年來,都引不起詞評人談論這詞,更遑論歌曲開始時這兩句句子,因為太普通,亦合乎句法,沒有甚麼不妥的緣故。所以,就連吾也不察覺這兩句驟看平平無奇的歌詞的張力所在。

其實,賞詞者該看得出盧老師在這裡用了以虛化實的技巧,把本來只是虛字的 "更" 字,變成有程度上的遞增的描述。 他的歌詞說: 人置身 "斜陽裡, 氣魄更壯"。即是暗示,人看見斜陽,當感受其氣魄雄偉,但能置身其中,感受到的氣魄也更壯麗。這頭兩句歌詞,擘頭而來的景緻,已叫人吃不消了。

我們不要忘記,歌詞主題是勵志的,十分積極的自勉。前文後理都環繞著這既定的主題情節而發展。人要自我勵勉,當然會說類似 "氣魄更壯" 這樣的話。就像遇到挫折時,自己激勵自己說: 明天會 '更' 好!  所以,在斜陽照耀之下,那怕晚夜之來臨,因為明朝天邊的 [旭日] 又會帶出希望。

總而言之,"斜陽裡....."這句歌詞,每論是詩文句法,又或意思邏輯方面,都沒有在 "吹水平台" 裡所提出的 no sense (不合常理)。

現在轉到 "陪著妳走" 中引起爭論的問題詞句。

當時,吾隨意說這雖是好歌,深情真摰,但也不是全無沙石。其中詩句邏輯也有問題。

吾提出了歌詞中最尾兩句是最明顯。

原詞是:

我倆已是無力前行,跟我一起飛去。

這句句子,在多年前,著名詞評人黃志華先生已提出過配搭錯誤,句子出現配搭邏輯不妥的問題。並提議以 "路" 字替代 "力" 字。吾只是再次提出來。

改了後,這兩句歌詞就變成:

我倆已是無路前行,跟我一起飛去。

詞組"無力" 出現在上句,後句在邏輯上不應配以 "飛去" 這個詞組。為何?

不如先看曲詞平台上一個評論:

1. 無路前行才 make sense。試問既然無力,又怎樣飛去呢? 愚見而矣! (原文)

由此可見,不需黃志華老師提出,明眼人只一比較,就知前後句詞組配搭邏輯上出錯。意思當然也出現問題。

因為無路前行 ,不能用腳走,所以才一起飛過去才合常理。

所以前句詞組  "無路前行" 配搭後句詞組 "一起飛去",乃合理之選。

如果選 "無力前行",就像以下比喻。

去到海邊時,你就這樣對女友說: 我們行到好啦! 無力啦! 不如跟我船過去吧!

試問這句話合常理嗎? 你這樣說完,如你女友不回應一句 "你都 short !"
她就真的是 short 的了。

可是讓我們轉一轉這個比喻:

去到海邊,無路走了。你就指著對岸,對女友說: 我們既是無路再行,不如坐直升機飛過去啦!
你女友實回應,"good idea! "

當然,"陪著妳走" 是詞詞配搭邏輯的錯誤,不是出在 "我" 能不能真的飛去這個邏輯問題。其實詩詞句法修辭,有一種名為誇張法,是詩詞常用修辭法則。用了此法,文字當然不能直接了解。

李白詩云: 欲上青天攬明月。
難道李白真的可以飛上天嗎? 人當然不能飛。但詩文句法,卻容許這樣誇張地寫,絕無問題。

吾欲改善這兩句歌詞,會寫成:

我倆已是無路前行,跟我牽手飛去。

"跟我一起..." 和 "跟我牽手..." 這兩句有何分別?

在於詩詞句法中的 "呈現法" 和 "直述法" 之分。

陳永新先生在 "新詩寫作基本法"一書中提出 "show" 和 "Tell" 的寫法。他指出詩詞應多用 "show" 的寫法。文章則應用 "tell"的寫法居多。 "show" 的好處是寫出來的句子是景象 ,有視覺感,讀者看過後,要自已聯想畫面而帶出相應的感受。但直述法是直接告訴了讀者知道,所以讀者就不須思考,感受自然沒有那麼深刻。

上文的提議,想改善最後這兩句歌詞,用"牽手" 去代替 "一起",好處是詞意的密度能增高。因 "牽手" 已含有一起的意思。而牽手這是動作,有畫面呈現,帶出既溫馨又浪漫,誓死相隨的不渝之愛,點出了主題氣氛。

既說到主題氣氛,還有一點也值得討論,就是 "陪著妳走" 全曲的意象,皆隨著這永不分離,白頭到老,顯出真愛的主題而發展。

我們不難發現,副歌歌詞,意象全是與 "路" 有關, 多過與 "力" 有關。走路行路,字詞當然是自然配搭。

副歌一開始就寫:

陪著妳走                       (當然是相守相愛之路)
一生一世也不分
天天編出兩雙足印       (足印當然印在 "路" 上)
過千山,過千海           (當然指行過很多路)
如果走到這世界邊端   (這裡即是走到天涯海角,還不是指 "路" 的盡頭麼? ,無路可行吧!)

這也同時表明提議改寫的句  "我倆已是無路前行" 的合理性。

所以, 這首歌的主題顯示,那陪著妳走的,自然就是這條相愛不離的比喻性 "愛之道路"。
全首歌詞都這是以古詩詞文章 "賦比興" 的 "興" 的寫法。這是常用的詩詞寫作手法。

當時 "吹水平台" 有一個回應大意說: 化蝶雖不合常理,但很喜歡,感受很深。
他的意思可能說人又怎能化蝶,歌詞是不需看合不合邏輯,有感受就可以。殊不知,詩詞句法,不同於文章句法,可以用典故,可以誇張,可以借喻,明喻和暗喻,還有擬人法,擬物法。用這些修辭手法,也合乎詩文句法。用了這些手法,不需再用文章法則去衡量。

試看杜甫詩云:

感時花濺淚,恨別鳥驚心。
試問花怎會哭呢? 鳥又怎會懂心驚呢?
這是擬人法的運用。
應運用這些詩詞修辭法時,是不能用文章式句法去解釋。

又或拙作:

烏江傳恨為驕狂.....  (這裡指項羽烏江自刎的典故)
蘇子寒窗勸苦讀....   (這裡指蘇秦刺股勸學,最終受六國封相的典故)
月娥忽悟桃源恨....    (月娥是指嫦娥的典故,桃源是指陶潛的桃花源記的故事)

因此 "吹水平台" 回應中所指的 "化蝶" 可引起共鳴,因無引文,所以只能猜度為詩詞寫法中的典故運用。所以用了化蝶,也並不是不合常理邏輯的句子。能引起共鳴,當然就是詩文句法,修辭用得妙,寫得好的緣故。

至於 "陪著妳走" 的另一句病句是顯然易見的,就算是較寬鬆的詩詞句法也是不能接受。這是歌曲的第一句歌詞:

時間片刻變陳舊。

陳舊是指可觸及的事物因時間久遠而變舊變質 。是形容詞。但 "時間" 此抽象的概念,不是事物,又怎能再用與時間有關的形容詞去形容呢?

吾在此不再評述。皆因在 "吹水平台" 也無人論之。其語法毛病是顯然易見了。


總結:

歌曲 "陪著妳走" 由於歌詞易明,易記,旋律又易上口,細看又發現詞句偶有 "呈示性"的詞句修辭,例如,"皆因有妳緊握我的手"等。這些句子很簡單,但畫面呈示的影象很鮮明,傳遞了溫暖摰愛的情感。聽眾那有不著迷呢?

詞句沙石,在流行曲中在所難免,雙沾一江,雖說是大師,也有不少失手作品。雖說詩詞文體,比寫文章較為自由,但也不是等於說只要這歌詞能感動我,所以就是毫無瑕疵。吾寫歌詞評論,為的是讓歌詞提供改善和進步的空間,也同時提供予歌者聽眾有關歌詞賞識的方法。美感經驗,不單是用直覺感受,我覺得好就好,也包含以客觀性,沉思其意念技巧來感受。能了解歌詞的風格,修辭技巧,寫作方法,詞意,和文字的韻律性,也可以加深對作品的欣賞,培養對藝術賞的品味和能力。



全文完。

David Leung
2017-06-17  published




2017年3月17日 星期五

LMus Set Piece Study (2017): The Intrepretation of Beethoven's Diabelli Variations op.120

Foreword:

The following academic article is written for those who would like to know more about Beethoven's great master piano variation, the Diabelli Variations, op. 120. Students who are preparing for the LMusTCL Trinity Diplomatic Examination 2017 syllabus will also be interested in this set piece. While preparing for the lessons, I, as a musicologist and music theorist, always feel that formalistic analysis is too dry, too boring, and insufficient for one to understand the whole piece. Although there are many articles discussing this lengthy work, many of them just focus on the topic of structure and coherence. Based on a reference Chinese music book, I would like to elaborate the points a little further, albeit brief, aiming to offer a new direction for reading and understanding of this set piece, hopefully to help those, who like and need to understand Beethoven's work more.


Essay


The Interpretation of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations op.120

Based on the Reference:董學渝. The Studies of Beethoven Diabelli Variations and Thirty-Two Variations in C Minor. 全音音樂出版社, 1992.



Introduction:



From 1782 when the nine variations were firstly written for the piano movement in Nine Variations on a March by Dressler woo.63 onward, Beethoven seemed to be fond of using variations, a conventional compositional practice, for his compositions until his last string quartet op.135 in 1826. In fact, throughout his life long career, Beethoven has composed various genres of instrumental work including Theme-and-Variations, and lengthy compositions of more than sixty pieces with variation movements. These works include symphony, piano sonata and string quartet, such as Sonata op.26, op.109, op.111, Symphony no. 9 in D minor, and the late quartets op.127, op.131, op.132 and op.135. Even in Beethoven’s late style works, the last six string quartets in particular, never fails to reflect his profound nostalgia on the fading classical beauty and elegance exhibiting in the form of variation for some movements. Unlike those variation movements in a multi-movements piece, the Diabelli Variations op.120, is Beethoven’s last entire large-scale Theme-and-Variations written for solo piano.



In Beethoven’s early compositional career before 1799, he has already composed twelve pieces of Theme-and-Variations for solo piano. During this period, Beethoven favored to employ popular tunes, such as an aria of the current opera, as the main theme, and varied it in a free quasi-improvisatory way, aiming to display his technical skills and compositional talents. This is a common performance practice in the classical period, since composers did not possess independent financial sources other than patronized support. They needed to display their music capabilities in the court gatherings or salon concerts, in order to attract commissions or careers from the aristocratic circle. Playing brilliant variations on the keyboard based on the given theme became an “examination” for the musicians in the classical period.



After 1800, Beethoven began to write his own theme for variations. This demonstrates that Beethoven no longer treated variation as just a game of courtly entertainment or a prerequisite of one’s prospect, but an artistic expression of a real gifted artist. Six Variations in F Major op.34 and Eroica Variations in Eb Major op.35 for piano solo written in this period are exemplar of Beethoven’s stylistic change. He even put his own heroic “portrait” in these works, expressing none of the structural order of the classicism, but reflecting his imaginative ideas and romantic emotions through every nuance of the sonic picture. Hence, the achievement of these two sets of piano variations are claimed to be parallel with his remarkable middle-period symphonic works, which marked Beethoven to be one of the greatest masters in the music history.



Beethoven’s own idiosyncratic “Oedipus Rex” on the Baroque elegance came from his Thirty-Two Variations in C minor woo.80 written in 1806. He employed chaconne, an almost outmoded Baroque stylistic dance, as the main form for the Cm Variations. The entire work is developed from the ostinato recurring in the bass. Each variation, being created with different melodic lines, aims to constitute a complex contrapuntal fabric, which never fails to exhibit Beethoven’s audacity and inventiveness. If one claims that it was Beethoven’s deafness to move him relying on writing contrapuntally, this would only overlook the significance of Baroque polyphonic beauty and Beethoven’s own nostalgic passion on the conventional counterpoint. Thirty-two variations in Cm woo.80, thus, is regarded as the forerunner of the great piano variation composition, Diabelli, appearing a few years later.



Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations op.120 was composed between a rather long period of five years from 1819 to 1823. Hence, there is no surprise that the work is pervaded with late Beethovean compositional style. In Beethoven’s later life after he had experienced a series of pains and sufferings, he valued spiritual sublimity in lieu of the superficial formalistic shackle by means of his several master works such as Missa Solemnis, Piano Sonata op. 109, op.110 and op.111. Through his music, Beethoven attained a level that reflects his profound understanding of the natural human desire – longing for approaching God – was lofty transcended. The Diabelli Variation op. 120 can be regarded as such music. When the time this Variation was composed, Beethoven’s tragic life reached the zenith. He was almost deaf. He was fiercely sick. He was fully exhausted because of the notoriety of his adopted son, Carl, his ex-nephew. But even being faced with the most serious adversity, Beethoven the composer never lost the jewel in his crown. His late style music showed that he was unrestrained from the outer bondage of the imposed formalism, stepping into a more inner, imaginative world of spiritual realm. Diabelli Variations is such a musical work that not only did Beethoven crystallize the Classical tribute, but he also created a Romantic legacy for the future coming generations. In this work, Beethoven ingenuously incorporated a dualistic style that is a well blending composite of classical melodic eloquence and Baroque contrapuntal beauty, but at the same time, not losing the multifarious Romantic colors. Therefore, it is no surprise that Beethoven music can be regarded as “circum-polar”, according to the renowned musicologist, Carl Dahlhaus. Tovey, another well-known English music commentator, also asserted that “Beethoven’s Diabelli is an unprecedented piano work, which can be said as one of the greatest theme-and-variation compositions that will remain influential for many later coming eras.”

The various variation techniques employed in the Diabelli are discussed as follows:


Variation Techniques:


1.      Melody

a.       Turn figure:

The use of “turn” figure aims to embellish the thematic melody can express the tender and delicate characters of Beethoven’s individual compositional style. Such melodic figuration often permeates an aura of classical grace, elegance and eloquence to audience. Typical examples of such variations can be found in no. 3, 4, 11, 12, 18, 21 and the coda.


b.     Trill figure, arpeggiation, running scalar passage:

Beethoven favors to employ such compositional devices to display his passionate fury, at times parodic, and at the other times, seriously designed.

            The examples of using these devices are as follows:


i. Trill figure: Variation no. 6, 16, 21

ii. Arpeggiation: Variation no. 6, 7, 19, 25

iii. Running Scalar Passage: Variation no. 10, 22, 23, 27, 31 and 32.

   
c.      Short fragmented motive and Cantabile melody:


Beethoven’s unique compositional skill is to cut off a detached, short motive from the main theme to developing the whole piece. The advantage of a short motive is its impressive and catchy nature. One example can be found in Variation no. 9.

Beethoven also likes to create a singable, lyrical melody because of its catchy and memorable nature, in order to form part of the variation. No matter the variation is based on a short, decisive motive or a lengthy cantabile melody, Beethoven displays it in a catchy solo, or elaborates it with independent contrapuntal lines, constituting a sonic fabric. Examples are found in Variation no. 3, 4, 11, 12.


d.     Newly created Melody:


Beethoven, as an inventive composer, never forgets to create something new and fresh for his compositions, even for the theme and variations. As such, there is no surprise that Beethoven creates new melodic themes and motives for his Diabelli Variations, sustaining the fresh, impressive characters of the music. Examples are no. 8, 12, 18, 27, 30 and 31.


2.      Rhythm


1.      Skillful rhythmic complex:

The rhythmic complex aims to expand a wide range of rhythmic patterns to each variation.


a.     Use of rests to disrupt the natural flowing of the melodic line, so as to create an unusual rhythmic pattern, for example, Variation no. 13, and 22.

b.     Use of irregular accents to disrupt the natural flowing of the melodic line, so as to create a fresh musical motion, for example, Variation no. 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 27 28, 32 and the coda.


2.      Change of rhythmic patterns:


The function of rapid change of rhythmic pattern is for the purpose of adding dramatic and coloristic effects to the variations, as well as creating a shift of meters or metrical accents of the music structure.


a.      Use of hemiola, (beating in 3 against 2 or vice versa), to create a shift of meter from duple to triple time or vice versa, for instance, Variation no. 26.

b.     Create syncopation with tie notes across bar line to create an effect of sluggish motion, disrupting the regular rhythmic flowing, for instance, Variation no. 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, 15, 19, and the coda.

c.      Use syncopated rhythmic pattern to create an illusion of shift of metrical accents, for example, Variation no. 2.


3.      Harmony and Tonality

Beethoven intentionally uses chromatic altered chords to enhance the dramatic and coloristic effects.

a.       Full Diminished Seventh Chord:

Several examples employing diminished seventh chord to create non-functional harmonic motion, tonal ambiguity and rapid shift of tonicized levels are Variations no. 3, 4, 11, 12.


b.      Neapolitan Sixth Chord (bII level):

Flattened Second, a chromatic device favored by Schubert, whether appearing in the level of chord or key, is an effective device to create a feeling of Romantic “Distance”, which is in fact an aesthetic philosophy commonly found in the late coming Romantic compositions, such as Schumann’s piano cycle, Papillon op.2. Beethovan’s Variation no. 5, 9, 30 in Diabelli foreshadows such aesthetic significance.


c.       Consecutive Chromatic Scalar Passage:

It is a long tradition for music to express emotions and passions with a running chromatic scalar passage. Variation no.9, 20, 22 are typical examples to enhance a similar effect.


4.       Articulation:

Beethoven employs sudden dynamic markings to vary the melody, in order to create a dramatic effect. Indeed, dramatic contrast is one of Beethoven’s musical characteristics. His brilliant fanfare-like propelling piano sonority is largely based on the pianistic idiom of ongoing changes of dynamics and tempos. Music under the support of such idiomatic passages can widen the expressiveness of the work. 

a.       Beethoven uses a wide range of dynamic markings such as “ff”, “fp”, “sf” in the work. This helps to display a Romantic colored network. Examples are Variation no. 1, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 13, 21, 22, 28 etc.

b.      The use of the dynamic markings of “pp” and “fp” tends to bring out the classical style of grace and elegance. Variation no. 2, 3, 4, 8, 21, 33 and the coda are the exemplar.

5.      Conclusion


Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations op. 120, is regarded as a great master work of the same generic repertoire. Through this work, we can experience how Beethoven exploits his unrestrained imagination and strict-disciplined convention, attaining a transcended spiritual state, which is a realm of no ancestor ever enters. Its influences are tremendous and long-lasting. No matter it is Schumann’s famous Symphonic Etudes, or Brahms’s Variations on a Theme of Handel, these works follow the traits established by Beethoven to develop the genre to the full. 19th century composers even employed various variation techniques to enrich the musical garden, helping to develop a brilliant era of Romanticism, which is an important phase of the evolution of the entire western music history.

Finished

2017-03-17 (Published)

David Leung

HKU
CUHK
HKAPA

PhD (Musicology, Candidacy), MPhil (Musicology), MPhil (Music Theory),
BMus 1stHon (Composition and Electronic Music),
LRSM (Music Theory), LTCL (Music Composition)   



2015年10月16日 星期五

Foreword:

Chime 2015 academic conference is going to begin next Wednesday onward. The Conference in this year will be held at Geneva Univeristy, a well-known university in Europe with the world-ranking 27. The main theme, of course, centers around all kinds of Chinese music, ranging from pop music and  traditional ethnic music, to contemporary new music. It is my pleasure that my paper has been accepted and will be delivered on Oct 22, 2015. Since the website for the Conference has just finished a few weeks ago, the time to post all information about the event is not enough to open to the public. My proposal of the presentation, therefore, is published here for all friends' and colleagues' sharing.

For the Conference Event, please visit the followings:

http://www.chime2015.org/

Hope you will enjoy it.


The Proposal:



Whose Face? China Hongkongese or Hong Kong Chinese:

Reshaping the “Chineseness” by Hearing the Quoted Tunes in
 
 Two Contemporary Hong Kong Compositions

 

When the umbrellas were held up against the tear gas attack in the protest on September 28, 2014, the hot issue raised by the marathon-like Yellow Umbrella Movement was not only the matter of politics but also a coincidence created for the locals to face or be faced with an already moot cliché: How Hongkongese can redefine their identity, particularly under the increasingly hegemonic influences from the mainland. My present paper is not intended to discuss the topic of “identity” on the platform of postcolonial studies such as transculturation. But instead, I am far more interested in locating such issue on the aesthetic dimension of collective memory, which is revealed in two Hong Kong contemporary compositions, Tung’s The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (2002), and Chan’s The Enigma of Moon (1998). In the process of shaping and reshaping the “Chineseness”, a new face, in which the composers tend to create, and the local listeners tend to experience, albeit transient, can appear in every nuance of sonic metaphor.

It has been widely known that a sense of history and culture can often be manifested themselves in the context of collective memory. Acts of recall triggered by musical sound, I believe, have time and again challenged the destructive force of time, and drop-by-drop they have woven a picture of what we may now legitimately call Hong Kong’s “history” and “culture.” Moreover, to borrow, appropriate or quote from the other musical cultures for a formally self-contained piece is no longer a taken-for-granted or unconscious act. Such borrowing is impossible to escape the question of meaning and motivation of the composer. Yet again this quoted tune never fails to conjure up a memory in the listener or function as a representation of one such act of recall from time to time. As such, in this paper I wish to argue that given Hong Kong’s present unique situation, musical quotation – typically, a fragment borrowed from indigenous folk tune and Cantonese traditional opera – is illustrative of the workings of collective memory. Be it a tune, rhythm or sonority, a reference to a style or genre, a quotation is a tangible link between the sonic and cultural reality of the past and those of the present as well as metaphor for the formation of Hong Kong “Chineseness”, forming part of the local cultural identity.

 
 
David Leung (published)
2015-10-16
 

2014年10月16日 星期四

Film Music: The Modern Version of 19th Century Program music

Forword:

When answering a viewpoint question in the examination, we have to spend enough time to think carefully about the main issue or argument of that question first. The following is the question about film music analysis in the AMusTCL examination. Student's answer seems to show that she does not understand the main issue of the question. As such, I attempt to rework her answer, refocusing on the crux of the argument and expanding its supporting evidences, so as to give a more satisfactory discussion.


Article:

 
AMusTCL Nov 2010 (c):

Film Music Question

 

Question:  Is film music the modern version of nineteenth-century Programme music? Select and discuss TWO        films from those listed below and refer to any others that are relevant in your consideration of the question.

 

Student version:

 

Nineteenth-century programme music evokes the listener a specific experience and conveying emotions, which is written base on non-music idea, images or events. It invites audience invoke the imaginative correlation with the music. Similarly, film music is music that accompanies a film, creating narrative space and gives more body and depth to the story and characters. In this essay, some examples will be discussed.

 

My editing:

 

        Nineteenth-century program music is famous for its expressivity to narrate a story, or to recall and evoke the relevant experiences and emotions based on the storyline and the extra-musical ideas that embedded in the programmatic description for the listeners. As such, program music claims its communicative legitimacy through the written text, or program, which, despite the musical sound per se, can offer a larger imaginative space for deeper interpretation. Similarly, the plot, the dialogues, and the moving images of a particular scene in the movie is also likened to such referential “program”, which is capable of offering abundant referential meanings to the corresponding music, creating an even broader narrative space to the audience. From this sense, the on-screen visual “program” of a film becomes an indispensable guidance to the understanding of the supporting music. As such, film music, to a certain extent, can be said to be the modern version of nineteenth-century program music. In this essay, I will explore three examples that support my claim stated above.

 

Student version:

 

Firstly, in the scene “Seeking a Lesson” of Crouching Tiger and Hidden Tiger, two narrative spaces are created. On one hand, Master Long is fighting with many swordsmen. The Chinese percussions strikes fast with rhythmic pattern, this highlights the fighting action. It evokes audience the imagination of Chinese “Kung Fu” and intensifies the tension of fighting action. On the other hand, the Chinese piccolo produces a relaxing folk tune music which plays against the fighting scene. The lyrical, slow tempo and dance-like music emits an artistic atmosphere. It synchronizes to the poem reciting and sword waving by Master Long. This elevates a fighting action to the Art of Sword Dance of traditional Chinese art.  Thus, the music in this scene tells more than the music itself and gives more body to the story.

 

My editing:

 

       Firstly, in the scene “Seeking a Lesson” of Crouching Tiger and Hidden Tiger, the on-screen visual program, the plot, tells audiences about how Jen skillfully plays her artistic “game of sword dancing”, so as to “discipline” a mob of fierce, trouble-making swordmen in the eatery. If we want to understand why the underlying music is displayed in two layers of sound – one is moving rapidly under the support of the Chinese ethnic percussive ensemble, and the other one is singing in comparatively slower tempo by Chinese piccolo – we have to consider the “programmatic” reference on the screen. Indeed, the on-screen moving images and dialogues, such as Jen's sword fighting and reciting poem, seem to cry out in two narrative voices for these two musical layers. On the one hand, the power and strengthen of the sword fighting skill can be experienced from the fast moving Chinese percussion repeated in constant rhythmic pattern intensify the pace and strength of the fight. On the other hand, Jen 's dexterity and elegant gestures are exhibited through the music of the slow-moving Chinese piccolo folk tune. Such musical effect can likely elicit a sense of relax, effortless spirits in audiences, showing Jen’s mastery of the art of sword fighting. Interestingly, this dance-like tune, accompanying with Jen’s recitation of a traditional 8-line poem, seems to creates an imagined dancing stage, on which only Jen the artistic dancer is swinging freely to and fro like a bird hovering in the sky.

 

In fact, to many who know Chinese traditional culture, reciting poem is an intellectual activity which is usually found in the social gatherings of ancient literati. These people view sword dancing and poem reciting is a welcoming entertainment. As such, using slow-wind but fast-percussion ensemble of the folk musical style of northwestern China in this scene is a wonderful setting to express how skillful Jen is in sword fighting, and therefore, she can easily give a “lesson” to the swordmen and teaches them what is meant by art of sword fighting.  Although the audiences may think that the music is expressing a fierce fighting on the surface, however, by referencing the visual program reference, their understandings may be greatly adjusted. If no “program” is provided on-screen for reference, we may misunderstand the underlying ideas of the music, even of the scene. From this view, film music as a modern version of program music is undeniable.



The above reworking version (a part of the original essay) is only a suggestion that may help student to understand how to cope with the main issue and how to organize and present the points in a reasoning manner.


David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-10-16    (published)



2014年10月11日 星期六

Analysis of the Music Used in "Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon" -- Reworking on the Summary

Foreword:

The following writing is not a complete article with appropriate argument. It is originally written by a student who attempts to summarize what she has learnt from the film music analysis lessons.


Although the draft contains many grammatical errors and some ideas cannot be clearly explained, the writing direction and ideas are quite good in nature.  It is worth to rework on this incomplete writing, though there is absent of the argument.


In fact, analyzing musical sound and transforming it into words is not that easy as one think. The formal analysis, which involves using many jargon-like symbols and signs, is not sufficient enough for such writing to general readers. The following reworking essay can, perhaps, provide a valuable reference for readers who not only want to write musical analysis, but also want to understand the musical meaning of some particular scenes.



Article:



Summary

Music used in the film “Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon”
Main focus on fighting scenes:
 

The scene of “Catching thief” speaks of the first fight occurred between Shu Lien and Jen since Jen has stolen Wudon master Li’s precious sword. In order to intensifying the fighting violence, a pair of Chinese drums is employed to create a series of fast moving percussive sounds. As the level of excitement is raised, the tempo and volume of the drum ostinato increase simultaneously until reaching the climax. At this moment, audience’s emotion is also pushed up to the zenith. Such frenzy is achieved by means of the percussive drum, which is able to create a contrapuntal two-part texture to multiply the hit points of two fighters' actions. In addition, the familiar percussive sonority of Chinese drum, to many audiences, is easily associated with the activities held by traditional Chinese martial art school, such as lion dancing, or free-fighting competition. Tan Dun’s idiosyncratic use of such timbre purports not only to express his wanting to parallel music with the fighting mood of the scene, but also his ambition to exhibit an oriental characteristic of traditional Chinese Kung Fu to the locals as well as the foreigners.
 

In the scene of “Dark Cloud”, Jen’s comb is robbed by Lo and she is eager to get it back. So she chases Lo and fights with him without noticing that this fight has already ignited her candle of love, which is suppressed in her inner heart for many years. Here, the music is designed in two layers of sound of distinct styles. The first sound layer makes use of the traditional native instrument, yun, to produce a lively, pleasant, and exotic folk dancing tune. The second one is a layer of rhythmic sound played by hand drums and other percussive ensemble as the accompaniment moving in steadily pulsation. To audience, the use of two sound layers is rich in expressive meanings. On the one hand, a rapid detached sound is created by the drums to enhance the power and violence of the fighting, creating many hit points to intensify the fast moving images. On the other hand, a sense of romantic feeling emanates from the dancing tune, which is composed by using the Xian Jiang folk scale to highlight a special feature, the augmented 2nd intervallic flow, in order to soften the vigorous excitement of the fight. In addition, the native plucking instrument, yun, is also capable of producing a quite unfamiliar timbral color, seemingly to inform audience that this love affair between Jen (high social status as aristocracy of mainland) and Lo (low social status as bandit of ethnic minority) is an unequal exotic love. Indeed the minority dance tune consists of the both metrical regularity and spontaneous flexibility, aiming to support certain lively and vividly gestures in the folk dance. Since dancing always reminds audience of a cheerful and happy occasion in many traditional festival activities, such as social gathering for youth to search for lovers or celebration of harvest, of the ethnic minority, the tune used here can fantastically romanticize the scene, transforming covertly the hostile tension to a lovely tender occasion, in which the two lovers can pour out their mutual admirations to each other without using a single word.
 

In the scene of “Seeking a lesson”, the composer has adopted a traditional folk musical style of Northwest China – music of slow-blowing wind with fast-striking percussions for instrumental ensemble. Jen exhibits her artful sword fighting skill to give a lesson to a large group of provocative swordmen in the restaurant. Here, the meaning of using the traditional folk pattern to accompany the scene is similar to that of the scene discussed above. Two opposite layers of sound produced by the ethnic folk ensemble, again, are able to express a musical pun to the audiences. On the one hand, the striking percussive layer highlights the fighting actions, enlivening audience’s tensions to the moment of frenzy. On the other hand, the comparatively slow-moving Chinese piccolo solo tune displays a glamorous image replete with free, relax, yet artful, gestures. At this very instant, the warrior Jen has seemingly been transformed to both of a graceful dancer and a sagacious poet: bouncing to and fro and flaunting her elegant figure at the one time, reciting lines of a beautiful poem and waving her sword dexterously like a butterfly fluttering and dancing amid the ferocious swordmen at the other. It is definitely an appealing traditional Chinese art of sword dance performance. Here, for this fighting scene, director Li On tends to elucidate a message to audience that Jen’s mastery of sword fighting art is likened to the entertaining subjects in an ancient literati gathering, which always contains poem reciting and sword dancing to enliven the party. To those literati, these intellectual “games” are so easy, so artistic.
 

The final discussion centers on the scene about Li fighting against Jen in the bamboo bush. Interestingly, the music is designed in sectional form of a ternary like A,  B, and A Sections. While the  ethnic wind instrument bawu playing the theme song melody of “Love Before Time”, which is quite independent of the moving images and moods, the A-melodic music accompaniment in B section  implies certain the Buddha philosophical meaning to the scene. Music of these two sections narrate a voice replete with  meanings. In A section, besides the thematic melody of "Love Before Time" is played by bawu, the supporting wind accompaniment plays some glissandi occasionally in slow tempo, going hand in hand with the moving strings of the repeated notes pattern, the ostinato. The accompaniment seems going non-directionally. Without a clear and specific goal, the music now creates an effect just matching with the two fighters rapidly swinging to and fro on the top of the bamboo trees without putting a foot on the firm ground. This A-melodic setting accompaniment  forms the B section continually after the main theme song finishes it first murmuring of the fate of Li and Jen's encountering. In fact, fighting in the bamboo bush pervades both of the religious and symbolic meanings. Since bamboo tree, according to the “Zen” philosophy, always symbolizes, an “enlightenment”, or “awakening” from the “secular mediocrity” to the “transcendental Buddha”, Li chooses to fight with Jen inside the bamboo bush aims to give her a moral lesson, or in the other word, to “awaken” her from going astray back to the right way through the Way of Sword. Music used here contributes to soften the violence of the fighting, bringing much sublime Buddha philosophical message to audience. In addition, the thematic bawu melody of “Love Before Time” murmurs in A section is used not for supporting the fighting. Instead, it aims to create a musical voice seemingly to narrate a different story to the audience. If the non-directional string glissandi in the B section is voicing the idea of “Zen – Awakening” to audience, the familiar tune of the theme song “Love Before Time” will undeniably speak in the second voice to notice the audience that this “awakening” lesson is doomed to be a failure, since it is not in the right time and the right place. Master Li’s arduous attempts cannot affect the wild, arrogant girl. His showing of love toward Jen as his Wudon disciple is futile.


Finished


 
David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-10-10 (published)



2014年9月26日 星期五

Two English Poems: After Reading Elieen Chang's Novel "The Young Marshal"

Foreword


Comparing to writing Chinese Poem, writing English Poem is very difficult for me!
For my profession is not English Literature, nor my major study in the research department relates to Language. Indeed, I learnt hardly how to write effectively in English during my final stage of PhD study. Perhaps my interest in English writing, not the general grammar learning, is aroused from that time. Although I am not expertise in English, I still enjoy reading poem, no matter the Chinese or the English one. After reading a few pages of the last incomplete short English novel, The Young Marshal (recently published), written by the now-famous deceased Chinese writer Eileen Chang, I was stirred up an intense but unexplainable feeling toward her. You may say that I am quite sympathetic to her writing tones, styles, as well as her life. If I am asked to describe what kind of feeling it is, perhaps, a word may immediately flash in my mind -- "legendary" or "legend". To me, not only it is Eileen's writing a legend for both of her and her readers, but also it is of her own life, spanning from the prosperous decadence of younger years in Shanghai to the desolate seclusion of later years in US,  an enigmatic "legend".  As such, I have a strong impulse to write something using the theme of "legend".  So I attempt to compose a poem, albeit simple and raw, entitled "A Love Legend".


Essay



Poem I:



A Love Legend


They said my love for you is a legend.

I said it is you to make the legend!

But you choose to reside in your legend,

Alone I leave the reminiscence in my legend.

If we're asked what is a legend,

Could our love legend is the only legend?



***********************



It is a pity that this rather raw, somewhat a beginner's exercise is not rhymed. So I try to write another one constructed with rhymes.




Poem II:

Memory Ebbs and Flows


Memory, silently ebbs and flows,

As the evening breeze blows;

May the merry-sorry past go?

Still the old song floats;

Who gaze upon the stream?

within a moment of sigh and dream;

And fish for the hopes as they pass,

Within the limpid watery glass!


**************************



These two poems is my first attempt of writing English poem. To me, it is not that important whether these two poem are qualified as poetry or not, or it is beautiful or not. The mostly important is that they will remain in my reminiscence throughout my life, just like a seed of a flower sleeping in the soil, and waiting for its growth, as time goes by.


Finale


David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-26 (published)


2014年9月19日 星期五

怎樣才算是.......最喜歡的?

前言:


朋友說想了很久,也不知道甚麼是最喜歡的。她說這話時,相信是正在想新學年的選科問題。我想,她思索時也一同令她想起完成學業後,如何選擇工作,想做甚麼呢? 想自己的路怎樣走? 但感情生活又如何? 我最喜歡的人應是怎樣的呢? 會和他結婚嗎? 要組織家庭嗎? 會喜歡生兒育女,安穩做個家庭賢妻,好媽媽,又或是成功的職業女性嗎? 年齡都差不多,年輕時的激情也看似隨風逝去。橫看這個所謂人生,簡單來說,就是一長串的選擇。從哇哇落地的那一剎,每人都主動地和被動地要去面對很多很多無盡的,又大又小的決擇,直到最後一口氣為止。可是,我們的決定是否就一定要和我們最喜歡的掛勾呢? 問自己最喜歡的是甚麼時,是否就一定意味到這就是我們唯一要選擇的麼?

這的確是沒有一定答案的問題。但我想,人生在世,很多時候,自己找到最喜歡的,也不一定是我們最終的選擇。不是最喜歡的,最終卻是自己所選的。甚至有時,不大喜歡的,竟慢慢變得是自己最喜歡的..............

或許,如何履行已作出的決擇,
比起找尋出哪才是真正喜歡的去作決擇更為重要。

矛盾,無奈,也算是人生。


正文:


說到最喜歡的,我就想起了許冠傑的一首流行曲歌的歌詞。這首歌叫作 "最喜歡你"。王馨平在她最近的大碟裡用重新的編曲重唱。很有趣的是,林振強填的詞,並沒有指明這個 "你" 一定是情人,聽者也不一定視這曲是首浪漫情歌。更甚的是,這首歌的原本 MTV,情節是有關許冠傑和他那可愛小 puppy 狗一起玩樂的情景。就連原版 CD 封套也是許冠傑和他的小狗,而背景就是一片藍天白雲和一望無際黃沙的海灘。這散發出來給人的感覺是消遙的,是自在的,是愜意的。這就是最喜歡的............皆因有 "你"。 。。。。。。


歌詞很值得知音細嚼,現記錄如下:


愛看天上鳥飛
愛看海浪跳起
亦愛望星空千里

但我更加喜愛踢著浪花
跟你望雨點紛飛


*********


這些活動也是我最喜歡的。不過,生活迫人,也忘記上一次做些活動時是幾時了。
是十六歲時嗎? 好像只能往記憶處追尋。好像是跟同學朋友們在長沙的海灘,那時剛好考完會考,一起去宿營。
依稀記得,那是在日落時玩海浪,雖仍有幾滴雨點,還用腳踢著滾滾浪花,好不寫意。
沒過多久,大家都各奔前程。已沒有聯絡幾十年了。
現在只剩餘那份淡淡回憶,和那份真摯情懷吧。

這些事,是最喜歡的.....


副歌:


原因好簡單 皆因你真
天生不會做戲
永遠也做回自己
原因好簡單 開始至今
天天雙眼亮起
皆因所見是你


**************


很喜歡 "真" 的人。可以作我的朋友。有時這些朋友可能缺乏所謂世故式的面面俱圓,就比較自我為中心。不過,與其天天跟那與你做戲的相處,倒不如比較簡單好一些。不用帶上面具去面對,那用機心去算計每一日的相處是很費心力的。是人呢,最好就是英語所說的 "guileless" 的人。


這些人,也是最喜歡的..........


如果說到這個最喜歡的,一定要和所愛的人有關,那麼,怎樣才算是最喜歡的呢?


要思考這個最喜歡的人是誰,不禁使我想起二十年代美國短篇小說家 O' Henry 的一篇我喜歡的短篇小說 -- 聖誕禮物。在這裡,我只能說,看過這個故事後,讀者總有一點啟發。

小說的主人公是一對很貧窮,但卻很恩愛的夫妻。他們都是傾盡自己地為對方著想的,深愛著對方。

故事背景是二十年代美國的大蕭條時候。在這個年代生活,是沒有甚麼所謂的個人理想,有的就只是三餐糊口的偉大願望吧了。這對貧賤夫妻真的是百事皆哀。

聖誕臨近了,做丈夫的,和做妻子的都為再沒有餘錢去為對方買一份充滿濃情蜜意的聖誕禮物而發愁。

丈夫可以勉強做的,就是賣了他那已三代保存下來的黃金陀錶。宅的紀念價值就不用多說了,但如果賣了,如何對得起那已過世爸爸的承諾。畢竟自己曾應允過永遠都不會,也不能賣。可是面對最喜歡的人,伴隨了自己這麼多年,也沒有吃過一口安樂茶飯。對眼前的人,也不能信守誠諾,讓她一生幸福,還說甚麼對已死的人信守諾言。算了! 就先賣了這錶,將來有錢時,才想辦法買回來。

拿到這一點兒錢,可以買甚麼禮物給她呢? 是了! 她最漂亮,引以為傲的長長秀髮,正需要一套全新的,名貴得配得起她那秀髮的髮梳飾品。這樣,她就可以好好打理頭髮,彰顯出她那天生的動人氣質。

就這樣,丈夫買了那名貴的髮梳飾品作為禮物。

但妻子可以怎樣做呢? 她並沒有三代留下值錢的東西可變賣。看看鏡子,又想想。想到他大半生都為生計奔馳。在這個年頭,坦白說,才幹都不重要。最重要的是運氣。別人說,如果能在聖誕節時,送給自己最喜歡的人一份禮物,他這年就會好運了。但甚麼最能匹配他呢? 他最珍貴的,最有價值的,還就只有他那三代單存的黃金陀錶。但是錶鍊也陳舊了,彰顯不出這錶的氣派和魅力。

是的,絕不能讓最喜歡的人不快樂地過這個聖誕。但錢呢? 鏡子裡的倒影照出了自己焦慮的臉容,同時也影照出那烏黑的長長秀髮。是了,就這樣辦吧,可變賣這個。這個年頭,上流社會,有錢名人都時興戴假髮,而假髮的製作需要真髮。所以,漂亮的,幼長的真髮可以值一點錢。

就這樣,妻子也買了那昂貴的黃金錶帶作為禮物。


聖誕禮物的故事就大概是這樣。我們試想想當他夫妻倆互送禮物給對方時的感覺是怎樣。
能感動你心的,還算不算最喜歡的?


怎樣才算是最喜歡的...........人 (如是愛人)?
O' Henry 的故事簡單地告訴我們一個道理,可是卻偏偏很容易忽略。這就是:


就在這個當時。那一個你 / 妳願意付出自己,為之有所犧牲的人。犧牲付出越大越多,就是你 / 妳在當時越喜歡的..........最喜歡的..........


如果最喜歡的,不是指向人,同樣原則也可以應用在物和其他東西上,如理想,興趣上。有朝當你/ 妳發現那願意花上自己很多的不便,犧牲更多的資源,心思,時間的人或物出現時,那就是你 / 妳正找尋的最喜歡的了...........



全文完



David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-19 (published)

2014年9月18日 星期四

AMusTCL Film Music 試題的迷思 - Voicing in the "Other" Voice

前言: 
 

The students' results of the film music question in the last May AMus examination were not satisfactory. Many complained severly that the question was very tricky.That the question looks easy in the surface when the students encounter with it at the first moment, in my opinion, is the underestimation of their realization of what is meant by "innovative and new". Indeed, the examination results reveal the fact that this question is proved to be more difficult than the student preliminarily expect. The following discussion is not focused on seeking a perfect definition or answer for what is artistic "innovative" and "new" for film art. But, rather, it only reflects my contemplation of a moot issue about artistic creation and aesthetic appreciation for film musical art, which has obsessed me for a long time.

正文:

To define what is meant by "innovative and new" is as slippery as explaining what is art. However, in the broaden sense, we usually commend a product, say, a smart phone, is innovative or new because of its multi-functional capability. This generalization of the term is not unreasonable, even not unconceiveable. To many customers, a phone that is not only for chatting but also for working as a personal computer or music player is already a new and innovative design. You cannot imagine how a phone could work in such a way in thirty years ago. Similarly, every scene of a film speaks of its story and plots in a voice through images, dialogues, and actions on the screen. But a passage of music, however succinct, can always add a unique extra-voice to that particular scene, forming a multiple web of voices narrating simultaneously. In such case, music definitely can convey more and richer meanings, leaving a vaster and deeper dimension for further contemplation. If the first voice is enhanced directly by the images on the screen, the music narrating behind can be regarded as the second voice.



In many movies, the former first voice constitutes the fundamental core for the understanding of the plots, going hand in hand with the musical second voice to enhance the moods, the characters, as well as their actions and emotions in the scene. In some occasions, however, this easily neglected musical voice moves against the moods and actions, or at least voicing independently from the dramatic context of that particular scene. In such momentary instance, the music is creating an "other" or "new" voice, expressing a new  level of meaning to the audience. Is there any subliminal messages concealed behind the scene? At this time, the "other" voice is creating an expectancy of the forthcoming plots for the audience to speculate. How can this expectation be realized in the later scene? Such an emotional suspense is one of the sources of artistic pleasure. As such, the meaning of the "other" voice is often a trigger for aesthetic contemplation.

 
Regarding a cliche function of music in a film, say, leit motive (leading motive), a term coined by Richard Wagner for his music dramas in the 19th century, is never failed to appear in many audiences' minds. All film music composers exploit the uses of leit motive. Indeed, the basic function of a leit motive is for unifying the story-line of a film. Every single event is cohered each other when the leit motive is recognized by the audience. However, leit motive used in a film per se is not innovative enough for the creation of film art. We need to step forward to a deeper level by investigating its musical meaning, understanding why it is transformed, and how it elevates the aesthetic meaning of a particular scene to the higher state. The artistic innovation for film art, I believe, is originated from the understanding of the meaning of this musical "other" voice.
 
 
 
It needless to repeat the effectiveness of leit motive. The power of music can also easily be experienced when the music is used to create a unique voice in a particular moment. One of the exemplars of using transformed leit motives in such an innovative way may be found in Casablanca (北菲諜影, 1942): the reunion scene. The scene before this one acts in many respects as a prologue to the reunion scene: the evening after their arrival in the city, Ilsa and Laszlo go to Rick’s café; after a while Laszlo walks to the bar to talk with a man, and Ilsa tells a waiter to ask Rick’s friend, Sam, also the Jazz pianist of the café, to come over to her table. Sam arrives and she asks him to play “As Time Goes By.” From this point, the audience hears that motivic melody four times in a row: sung (hummed) by Ilsa, then played and sung by Sam; then heard twice in the nondiegetic orchestra, first as the slow-motion reaction music in the oboe (transformed), and then as a slightly distorted (transformed) waltz when Ilsa refers to Paris in the conversation. Each time the tune is varied in some ways – not only in orchestration and tempo but also in its stylistic and aesthetic significations.


The first appearance of this now-famous melody in the film is through Ilsa’s self-humming, and brief wordless singing: instantly it becomes the love theme as it is literally embodied in her while the audience sees her in the close up. Here, the interaction of music with images  on the screen all together in the particular instant aims to convey a new meaning to the audience. Since the song, a lyrical tune dispersed with droplets of somber memory, is hummed by Ilsa, it is both of her point of view music, which can conjure her unforgettable, however painful, memory up, and of a diegetic music voicing to her herself and Sam in the café. Sam’s repeating it reluctantly but fluently tells audiences that this leit melody has an undisclosed history, a seemingly ‘perfect, good thing’ associated with it in the recollections of Ilsa’s and Sam. Is it a love affair of Ilsa with someone else? The audience is supposed to know nothing at this moment. The love  story about Ilsa and Rick has not yet been disclosed to the audience. The director employs the technique of flashback for Rick's recollection in the forthcoming scene to re-tell the deepest, yet poignant, romantic love story happened in the past.  While the first voice is narrating a general meeting of two old friends in a café, the hidden "other" voice of this self-humming diegetic melody undoubtedly creates a broader space for audiences' numerous speculations.

 
The suggestion of the undisclosed love affair in Ilsa's humming is powerfully realized her “point of view” recalling voice that immediately follows a stinger chord, working as a musical punctuation pronouncing in loud volume by tutti orchestra, to dramatize the moment of the sudden encounter register in the minds of Rick and Ilsa. The bombarding chord signals the audience that Ilsa is awakened from her deep immersion of the recollection. Again, using a distinctive instrumental timbre, the oboe, for the return of the transformed melody -- "As Time Goes By" -- is an appropriate choice. In fact, the oboe voice is capable of eliciting a feeling of missing, perhaps a even more anguish recall of her unwillingly separation from the ‘distant’ beloved, in Ilsa’s inner heart, as she is so missing of this unrequited love. When being compared with the other woodwind timbres in orchestra, oboe sound is always regarded unique, characterized and heterogeneous in nature because of its double reed color. Together with the slow moving pace, this exotic oboe tune seems narrating to the audience that the immeasurable sorrow of Ilsa is deep rooted in her far off memorable past. Here, the old, already faded out 19th Century Romantic sentiment of longing and yearning is relived again through the innovative use of such a poetic, yet slightly distorted (transformed), leit motive. 

 
Finally, the audience learns where the whole memorable history can be localized – in Paris (through dialogue), as Ilsa makes a reference to the city and the audience hears “As Time Goes By” in waltz, however greater distorted, form. It has been widely known that dance of waltz is beautiful in nature and can easily be associated with a delightful context. But now it is transformed, or  more directly, distorted, in a certain level, seemingly voicing something unusual happened in Paris. The leit melodic theme is distorted in such a way that not only the melodic notes are chromatically inflected, creating a somewhat out-of-tune melody, but also several massive sound blocks are intruded to the originally eloquent tune, bringing the audience a disconcerting feeling. Indeed, the audience can realize later that this distorted (transformed) leit motive speaks of a miserable story between Ilsa and Rick meeting in Paris, which is a tearful but memorable place for both of the lovers. In fact, Paris was the place where Ilsa tasted her both the happiest and bitterest moments with Rick in her life.



Compared with the voice crying out from the uneasy, embarrassed conversation among Ilsa, Rick and others, the eerie second voice ("As Time Goes By") murmuring behind seems more important for one to reveal the subliminal message between Ilsa and Rick. Are they previously known to each other? Is Rick the protagonist of Ilsa's recollection? If that so, does such a distorted tune aim to herald a message that the love between Rick and Ilsa doomed to be a failure? Is their falling in love only a ‘distorted’, yet beautiful, illusive memorable dream even in the beginning of their first acquaintance? Here, this "other" voice of the now-famous love theme has already disclosed Ilsa’s sorrowful but unforgettable story  to some extent to the audience.


 
While the music in a movie mostly operates together with the characters, their actions and dialogues as the first voice to carry out the basic plots, there is music, at times, works against the scene, creating a second narrative space to speak in an "other voice." The use of music as such is capable of deepening the aesthetic and artistic dimensions of the narrative context of a film. Thus, musical voice is always open up to multiple readings, creating an expectancy of the forthcoming plots for the audience. As I believe, one of the factors to determine whether the music in a particular scene of a film is innovative or new largely depends on the interpretation of how such a musical voice narrates in the "other" voice.

 
全文完

David Leung (theorydavid)
2014-09-18 (published)