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2010年12月31日 星期五

回應蕭才子的三首現代詩 -- 遺忘三首

前言: 早前我發表了一篇關於美學的文章,蕭才子以三首詩回應。我也不得不在此答謝。


蕭才子的詩如下:



《遺忘三首》

《快》

我們連忘記的時間都抓不住了
神經線無聲鬆斷
像衣襟沒有扣好
對著滿是天拿味的房間
因為太快
無法旋繞
過去就溢走了
沉澱看來是奢侈的動作
我們只好空空的
練習眨眼



《故鄉》

不要問故鄉何在
沒甚麼值得想念
變化太快
碎屑在那開開合合中流走
也沒留下甚麼
讓人的感歎可以依附的
不要計那距離
量化了就要希冀
以為自己真的有故鄉
告訴你
香港沒有淪陷




《遺忘》

時間最是暴力
不是如人們說的如水流逝
也不是星星般滑過
難道你見過它的尾巴嗎
以爆炸的形式出現
在你未為然之前
碎裂
只能想像被撕開的感覺
懷疑那虛空裏曾有細語
有步履輕盈的痕跡
愈尋索失去的愈多
直至你發覺
身邊滿了空洞
似乎是爆破出來的
卻無法用凝視來注滿它們
因為形貌的餘燼在自轉中剝落
然後用鑿碎又重鋪的工程
洗掉
你的腦袋
可以放心地告訴你
消失的只是時間
2010年12月24日上午10:23

我並不準備以一篇悠長論文回應。但肯定的是,讀過蕭才子的詩,讀者也體會到,自己必須運用聯想空間,才能解讀這幾首詩。但讀者要發揮個人的文學修養和個人的想像力,才能與詩人建立一個可理解的橋樑,對詩意所描繪的意象,作出一個新詮釋。

詩人運用不少新鮮組合的詞彙,去傳達後現代世活裡那種甚麼都要 "快" 的感受。

第一首詩,我很喜歡詩人用 "沉澱看來是奢侈的動作"。
雖是無奈,我們不能不接受 "快",因為我們真的付不起在這現代生活裡享用 "慢"這個昂貴費用。坦白說,"沉澱"已淪為只有在藝術作品裡才尋得的虛擬假象 (virtual image)。可笑的是 ,"沉澱" 才是美的真諦。就連我們合唱團裡的歌手,也沒幾個體會到。

我喜歡的另一個詞組是 "空空的練習眨眼"。眨眼其實不需要練習,因為在生物學上,這可以是一個條件反射的動作。當然,也可以是有意識的活動。但不幸,我們要空空的練習,不為甚麼的,為 "空"的目的而練習這個 "快",可想而知,現代人真的失去了很多。

人要被迫跟著這個只屬於快速的網絡虛擬,不再是旋繞的咫尺真實的時代去走,無怪乎我們都 "神經線無聲鬆斷"了。

由於我常寫古典詩詞,手頭並沒有現代新詩的作品。所以,只能評,而不能回詩一首了。

就此擱筆。餘下兩首詩,只好留待下回分解。

謝謝各方好友觀賞,現拋磚引玉,承謝。


David Leung
2010-12-31






2010年12月30日 星期四

布拉姆斯第一交曲第四樂章的第二主題是否抄襲

前言: 老朋友蕭才子和B.Tam今天閒談,齊齊說布拉姆斯第一交曲第四樂章的第二主題好像是抄襲貝多芬第九交曲的第四樂章第二主題歡樂頌 (Ode To Joy)。我覺得此問題非常有趣。不過,首先聲明,我思巧這些問題時,是比較喜歡以學術的角度去看。我常常鼓勵學生多以不同角度去推敲問題的可能答案 (suggestive answer),但並不是只用所謂的 common sense (普通常識) 去思巧。因為由 common sense 所得的結論是比較表面,也缺乏新意,人人都想得到。


抄襲和 copyright 版權的概念是息息相關的。音樂版權這個二十世紀的概念 (不是專利權),並不是十九世紀布拉姆斯時代的產品。本人認為音樂版權其實是資本主義 (capitalism) 加個人主義 (individualism) 帶動下的一種消費形式 (consumption pattern)。人要購得運用這首音樂 (即商品,commodity) 的權利 (user right),就得付版權費予原作者。就像人祇要付了款,就可以用任何形式,去運用這個商品一樣,包刮再發行出版。如果沒有付版稅,你用了那產品,就是侵佔版權。你以自己的名或品牌拿來再發行出版,就是抄襲。在共產主義以大鑊飯形式生產的商品,就不存在類此的消費文化,或許這就說明為何現今中國仍是世上最沒有版權的地方。老翻成行成市。

你或許會納罕老布所處身的浪漫風格時代,個人主義  (Individualism) 正影響著每一個藝術家,尤以作曲家為甚。究竟為何他的第一交曲第四樂章的第二主題這麼令人想起貝九呢? 其實老布不是抄襲老貝,在第一交曲首演時,他就向外公佈這首樂曲是繼承貝多芬的交曲的創作,是德國交樂曲傳統 (symphonic tradition) 的伸延,這才是未來德國音樂應走的方向 ,即 The future of German music。學者 Walter Frisch 的一本著名作品 German Modernism,就深入討論當時德國音樂在十九世紀末的困境。當時最大的爭論,就是德國音樂應以跟隨Wagner 華格納學派為首的高度變音主義  (High Chromaticism) ,抑或是布拉姆斯學派所提倡的浪漫古典主義 (Romantic Classicism)路線去走。要補充一點,老布擁維的 Classicism,返回傳統等主張,不是指回到海頓或莫差特的交樂路線,而是指從貝多芬第九交曲作起點。

老布寫的第一交曲用了二十年時間,這是眾所週知的事實。為了表明自己不是抄襲,只是發揚光大前人大師的傳統,即所謂的承先啟後,他就在交曲最後的一個樂章,亦即老貝寫第九交曲,第二主題歡樂頌的同樣位置,用了一個技巧,叫作音樂風格引典 (stylistic allusion),引用了貝多芬這個主題的寫作風格而寫他的主題。老布之所以這樣做,也同時表明了他對貝多芬的敬意。就如著名德國學者 Carl Dalhlaus 所說,"Beethoven is a circumpolar figure." 因此,老貝之後的差不多所有作曲家,不論是想繼承他的,還是想超越他的,都深深受著他的影響,寫作的音樂總是環繞著貝多芬而寫的。

音樂引典,Stylistic Allusion,是一種類似文學,詩詞常用的引用典故的技巧。在音樂上,Stylistic Allusion,是 Musical Borrowing (音樂借題) 技巧的一種。跟據音樂學者 Peter Burkholder 對 Stylistic Allusion 所作的定義,就是: 借用前人某個音樂作品的寫作風格而寫自己的作品。聽眾在聆聽時,可隱約聽到前人的音樂風格輪廓,從以聯想到這是前人作曲家的某首音樂,但仔細分析,卻不是同樣的曲調。通常音樂風格引典,只會出現在整首樂曲裡的一小部份,而不是全部。這樣,作曲家既可以保有自己原創性的樂思風格,也可有一些令聽眾可確認得到的借題音樂片段。如果作曲家是高手,這些借題片段可以是非常有義意的,豐富了整首樂曲,增加了作品的韻味。值得一題,有些人誤解,只要自己作品裡含有別人作品超過十六個音符,就等同抄襲,就是佔了別人的版權。但負責版權的 CASH 的發言人稱絕無此事。要研究這個作品是否抄襲,是需要專家鑑定,沒有不變的律則,要視乎個別情況而定。再者。老布發表的第一交曲時,自己也承認是跟隨貝九,這就等同我們現今在寫作文章時運用 citation 了。

從音樂的角度看,布拉姆斯實在是花了不少心思創作的。不是順手抄來的。我們可以看看這兩個主題有何相似和分別的地方。

貝多芬第九交曲歡樂頌的主題


布拉斯第一交曲第四樂章的第二主題



從以上淺談,我們不難發現,音樂借題 Musical Borrowing,在西方音樂發展裡,是佔有一個非常重要的地位。在提倡音樂作品應有原創性的大前題底下,音樂借題在音樂作品裡的運用,就更顯得有研究價值了。

以下是舒曼 Robert Schumann 的一首藝術歌曲,奉獻 的Coda 結尾部份。請留意何處有音樂借題的出現。為何Schumann會引用 Schubert Ave Maria 的旋律片段呢? 當然這不是風格引典,而是旋律的直接引典 (Melodic Quotation)。


借用Burkholder的一句說話 : "The western music history is the history of borrowing."
再有機會,我會再以另一篇文章去討論 Musical Borrowing 在西方音樂歷史中所扮演的角色。


David Leung

2010-12-30 (published)

2010年12月28日 星期二

以音樂語言學去探討音樂意義 (1): 修辭性的 Head Motive 在詩歌107中的運用


            以音樂語言學去探討音樂意義 (1): 
      修辭性的 HeadMotive 在詩歌107中的運用

前言:

音樂分析,常被視為只是對作品中的和聲曲式等作分析。其實樂譜分析只是了解音樂作品的一個過程 (means),而不是結果 (end)。本文就從個誤解出發,探討音樂怎樣作為一種語言而與聽眾溝通,達到表達音樂意義的效果。

將音樂視為一種語言 (music as language),作為與聽眾溝通的平台,從而看音樂本身 (music per se) 所表達的意義  (musical meaning),並不是甚麼新的音樂慨念,外國的學者也就這個慨念發表了不少有建設性的研究文章。可是,香港的音樂學生普遍學習和拿來考試的音樂理論 (music theory),只著重看音樂為一種結構形態 (music as structure)。這個概念是從樂譜分析 (score analysis) 來看作品中的調性與和聲結構,又或其旋律動態,並以此作為了解作品的意義。在我看來,這概念實在大有相確的餘地。基本說來,音樂是拿來聽的,而不是拿來看的。樂譜 (score) 本身不是音樂的全部,它只是樂音 (musical sound) 的一種固定形態 (stabilized form),目的是將聲音 (sound) 轉化 (transforms) 為容易保存的文本 (text)。當聆聽音樂作品時,一般聽眾基本上不須要了解正在演奏中的樂譜是標記著一個 C Major Chord,或是一個 D Minor Chord; 又或這裡是個 F 音,哪裡是個 G 音等。這些資訊對他們跟本不存在必須理解的意義,更幫不了他們感受音樂作品本身。

從以上討論得知,分析樂譜中的旋律和聲,樂曲結構 (formal analysis,樂曲分析),或可幫助演奏者去活化那已凝固在紙上的音符 (frozen notes),將作品以聲音的形式再重現出來,以及讓學者和研究者去探索和了解作曲家在寫作時的樂思 (musical idea) 和設計 (structural design),我們常稱為作曲圖意 (compositional intention)”。不過,話得說回頭,從樂曲分析 (formal analysis) 所得的結論,也不一定完全是作曲家的作曲原意,有時也是分析者自己個人看到樂音想表達的意思。因為,音樂本身也是會發言的。即撇開作曲家的意圖,作品裡的樂音常常為自己說話 – music often speak for itself in context。所以,一個新的詮釋就這樣生了。

由此可見,這視音樂為語言 (music as language) 來了解作品意義的慨念,可以是從聆聽者的角度去看問題,而暫時不從作曲家和演奏者的那一方面來看。就如 Roland Barthe 所說 : "The Author Is Dead 作者已死" 。 應用語言學 (linguistics) 中的一些概念去探索作品的意義,多少涉及音樂上的語義學 (semantic meaning),語法學 (syntactic meaning),修辭學 (rhetoric) 和美學 (aesthetics) 的研究。當然,要了解以上論及的各項音樂語言學上的細節分類,我們不能完全放棄運用formal analysis,即樂曲分析,來剖析作品中所曾用到的作曲技術 (compositional techniques). 在下一篇文章,我會討論從作曲技術 (compositional techniques) 中的 Head Motive 在音樂中的運用,去看聽眾如何以音樂語言的慨念去尋求作品要表達的意義 (expressive meaning)

To be continued

2010年12月27日 星期一

美在哪裏?

前言:

我的母親在五年多前去世。想不到外母也於日前過身。看來到了我這個年紀,身邊的至親也少不免會相繼離去。為人子女,不知怎的,通常對母親的感情,總比對父親的深多一點。最近,每每看到妻子有點失落的樣子,自己也不禁想起我已過世的母親。

這篇短文,題材雖是有些陳舊,或許就是我們為人子女的心底聲音。




                      美在哪裏?


多少年來,我追求美像哲學家追求真理,修道者追求永恆一樣。

年輕的時候,我唱著山歌,去拜訪每一個原野,問色彩繽紛的野花和小草: "美在哪裏?" 它們低著頭,含羞不語。於是,我只好奔向海洋。

海,屬於智慧的兒女。她張開寬闊的胸膛來歡迎接我,並且賜給我初戀般的甘美。但從她眼波裏,我只找到神秘和深沉。因此,我向她伸出了告別的手。

一首首悅耳悠揚的樂韻,在耳邊響起,我年青的身心也漸漸陶醉了,微笑從嘴角滲出來。 蒙納麗莎的低迴淺笑和維納斯的光潔圓潤,也同時誘惑著我流連忘返。這時,我彷彿聽見美的呼喚。

可是,我很快又失望了。雖然她們是很美,但我並不喜歡。

馱著滿身疲倦,回到自己的家。母親正用雙手為我燙洗舊衣,我忽然看見了一個柔善的目光,裏面有閃爍著她兒子的影子。

母親的微笑發出萬道光芒,包圍著原野,包圍著海洋,也包圍著我; 比悠揚的樂曲還要悅耳,比蒙納麗莎的微笑更燦爛,比維納斯的身軀更晶瑩純潔。世間一切的生命,都憑藉著這道光芒而活。

我尋到美了。在母親的雙手裏,目光裏,笑容裏,我才尋獲到真善美。


David Leung

1981 (published)
2010 (revised/published)


(: 不知怎的,我很喜歡這個主題,所以不單為此寫了這篇小品文,也同時用這個意念譜寫了一首民歌和其中的歌詞,歌名也叫美在哪裏。)

2010年12月26日 星期日

情深義重

前言:

我年青時很渴望做作家。可是,父母反對得很勵害。所以就放棄了,轉學機械工程,但換來的是一事無成。

雖說是出身理科,我的文學水平,或許比不上老友蕭才子,卻不覺得比別人差很多。在我自學的中國文學裏,尤其喜歡古典韻文和現代散文。所以,我年青時就在雜誌裏發表了不少散文和古典詩詞,也在年前拿過一個寫作音樂評論文章的比賽亞軍。

我的好朋友 B Tam,常說自己是理科人,對事對物,都以實用的角度去看。可是,我卻常見她情緒起伏多變,多愁善感,動不動就眼濕濕,似足一個詩人。真奇怪,我想難道那些 engine 可以抹去她的眼淚? 不用多說,又是一個在人生路途裏,上錯了車的人。真是同是天涯淪落人。(可是她是否應的)

閒話休題,現以這篇文章,獻給所有準備結婚的朋友,聊表寸心。




情深義重

知道老朋友要結婚,心裏很替他高興。但同時也接到另一位朋友來電訴苦,告知我他和女友要分手了。我真不知怎樣安慰他。原來我的朋友和那個女孩子已相識多年,接近談婚論嫁的階段。現在對方突然跟我朋友揮一揮手,就勞燕分飛。我聽後心裏不禁感慨萬千,只嘆世事變幻,多麼無常,多麼無情。

我們做人,應該怎樣看情義呢? 當然,朋友相交,以義為重。這也是中華民族固有的特質。要將情義這種特質翻做英語,幾乎沒有完全相稱的字詞。我對男女相愛的看法是: 愛情不該只有情,還該有義。這就是我們中國人常說的 情深似海,義重如山了。

海,予人的感覺是動盪不安,而山卻是穩重不移的。澎湃的海浪雖是多姿多采,既充滿了浪漫,也揚溢激情,令人回味無窮。但無論如何,總不及穩定的山,能給人一份天長地久,永恆不變的感覺。男女相悅,郎情妾意,雖說是盟誓旦旦,但如果相方沒有培養義這種特質,在這人慾橫流,物質至上的世界裏,總不免受到影響,最後還是分手告終,各走異路。熾熱的愛根本就不能使人體會到義才能給予對方更多幸福,更多喜樂。由此可見,夫妻患難相依,至死不渝,絕不能只靠情來維繫。夫妻本是同林鳥,大難臨頭各自飛。這些只是有情無義的愛,是片面的,飄忽的。來時甜蜜,去時凄楚; 世間只有含義的情,才是真摯,才是永恆。男女兩情相悅,至白頭到老,由情深似海,到義重如山,才是情愛的真諦。

想起朋友的遭遇,不禁慨歎一句: 人生無別離,豈知恩義重。



David Leung
1980 (published)
2010 (revised and published)

Ways of Listening (怎樣聆聽音樂)

Forward:

The following article investigates the issue of how a listener hears art music. Unlike common discussions on the similar topic, this article opens a new and creative perspective for one to understand music from the receptive side .


Note: Since the following essay is a qualified academic paper presented at The University of Hong Kong, I have reserved the main portion, which contains some important new findings of mine, to prevent plagiarism. Hereby published is only the introduction section of this paper. If anyone who would like to go through the whole paper, please contact me directly.


Ways of Listening: Aesthetics, Metaphors and

Quotations in Music


Introduction

    For some listeners, the response is almost instantaneous.  A mistuned March parade easily sparks the most spectacular sound picture in Ives’ orchestral set.  A hurdy-gurdy waltz furtively occasions in the movement of the most ambitious Mahler’s symphonic music.  The ability in both to weave banalities into wonders, with the mundane – whether it be the band music in one or the street waltz in the other – being transmuted into the stuff of marvels, reconfirms us a saying, that, “in music, nothing seems impossible.”  Would it be a singer’s voice, a familiar tune, a sonic gesture or a rhythmic pattern or any other musical device that can exert such tremendous impact on listeners?  I would suggest that musical quotation is able to do it.

Musical borrowings have long occupied an important place in western music.  For centuries, composers have incorporated materials from existing music or earlier works into their compositions.[1]   From the parodic masses of Dufay’s or the use of Lutheran hymns by J.S. Bach to the “re-composition” of earlier music in Stravinsky, borrowing as a compositional procedure constantly presents itself as a challenge to the composer’s imagination.  Yet there has never been such an epoch as the 20th century in which quotations and references feature so extensively in works of numerous composers.  And it is in the music of Charles Ives, an American native composer that one discovers, perhaps for the first time in history, some missed opportunities and unrealized potential in western music.

One of the first tasks that confront Ives’ scholars who undertake research into his music has always been to go through the labyrinth of quotations in the composer’s works. Peter J. Burkholder, who identifies different kinds of “quotations” in Ives’ music, focuses on exploring the complex musical, psychological and philosophical motivations behind the borrowings, and shows the purpose, techniques and effects that characterize each one.  Wiley Hitchcock offers a general but succinct survey of Ives’ music in his Ives: A Survey of the Music, providing analyses of some important pieces and tracing the sources of the quotations.  Philip Lambert’s studies apply set theory analysis to music, revealing the pitch organization and structural coherence of the works.   Larry Starr adopts Lambert’s approach but offers analyses that relate Ives’ musical settings to the composer’s philosophical ideas and biographical background.  Other scholars also advocate research on Ives’ uses of quotations in relation to the European musical tradition, American patriotism, the early 20th century socio-cultural background of New England and other European masters such as Stravinsky, Mahler and Schoenberg.  Doubtless the above-mentioned research takes place in the domain of either the compositional dimension or the biographical terrain of Ives.  As such, the issues of quotation, if any, are viewed mainly from the composer’s scope. 

Despite the multifarious approaches, however, few regard it an issue of aesthetics or attempt to address quotations from the perspective of the audience.  How does a listener experience, feel or respond when facing the network of quotations in Ives’ music?  In what way do listeners respond to these quotations in relation to their own socio-cultural surroundings?  Referring to the functions of music, Tia DeNora remarks that music “is not merely a ‘meaningful’ or ‘communicative’ medium.  It does much more than convey signification through non-verbal means.  At the level of daily life, music…may influence how people compose their bodies, how they conduct themselves, how they experience the passage of time, how they feel – in terms of energy and emotion – about themselves, about others, and about situations.”[2] Music in general, and quotations in particular, can be read as a force of social life, a medium of social relation, a technology of self, or a device of social ordering.[3]  Furthermore, if music, just as what Nora has claimed, consists of an interlacing of experience (feeling, action) and the materials that are accessed as the referents for experience and its metaphoric and temporal parameters,[4] it may thus be seen to serve as an operating platform for the temporal structure of one’s past events, as well as the emotional responses. 
 
    This paper attempts to explore different ways of listening to Ives’ quotations by offering a critical survey of some of his music.  Quotations, as I would like to argue, can and ought to be read and understood in terms of metaphor.  In fact, just as Lakoff has claimed, “metaphor permits an understanding of one kind of experience in terms of another, creating coherences by virtue of imposing gestalts that are structured by natural dimensions of experience.”[5]  From this sense, metaphor is not only a matter of imaginative rationality, but also aesthetic experience.  It is created from our daily surroundings and cultural experiences, and is able to conceptualize our cognitive minds and to induce our emotional sensations.  New metaphors are capable of creating new understandings and new realities, involving all the natural dimensions of our sense experiences, especially that of sound.  Analysis, therefore, is no mere counting of quotes or characterization in terms of compositional techniques.  It rather evokes the totality of the sonic world of a specific time, place and event, operating in every dimension of the listeners’ psychological and aesthetical states.  Be it a tune, a rhythmic pattern or a specific 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 a metaphorical representation in one’s own imagination.  Applying ideas and concepts borrowed from paintings and literature, it is hoped that an intertextual reading of the quotations will open up new areas of scholarship on the subject.

David Leung
2010-12-26 (published)
2010-12-31 (republished)
Copyright Reserved by David Leung Tai-wai, Hong Kong 

2010年12月25日 星期六

Was Beethoven a hard-selling salesman, or really an innovative artist?

This brief discussion about Beethoven's Sonata in F major op.54 is contributed to all pianists and piano teachers. In order to offer audience a stylistic performance, this short article may open a wider perspective for all of you to understand the underlying marvellous pecularities of Beethoven's work.  If you are interested in reading the whole analysis and intrepretation of this work (the whole article), you can send me a request.


Abstract: Generic Ambiguities in Beethoven’s Sonata in F major op. 54:
An Innovation or Self-enterprise?

Lying between the two gigantic neighboring sonatas, Waldstein and Appassionata, Beethoven’s op.54 in F major, a sonata of only two movements, must be considered one of the most original if somewhat neglected piece of the composer. Of the three concomitant sonatas written around 1803-1805, the years marking the beginning of Beethoven’s middle period of compositional style,[1] Sonata op. 54 stands relatively on its own.  Carrying no specific dedication to any individual patron, this work amounts to the only exception with the composer’s works written in the same period.  The Waldstein Sonata (op.53) and the Appassionata (op.57), for instances, were dedicated respectively to Count Waldstein and Count Brunsvik; while both the Triple Concerto op.56 and Symphony no.3, “Eroica,” op.55 were dedicated to Prince Lobkowitz.  The fact that Beethoven decided to keep the “miniature” for himself seems to lend support to the argument that the piece has a character all of its own.

In the following discussion, I shall offer an analysis of the F major sonata in an effort to lay bare its generic ambiguities.  I shall also attempt to postulate how generic choices were made, taking into account both the socio-cultural milieu of the early 19th-century Vienna, and the innovative and revolutionary instinct of Beethoven.   I shall argue that it is the external socio-cultural environment as well as Beethoven’s internal innovative, self-enterprising attitudes that constitute the creative force for this tiny work.  I shall start off my exploration by reviewing the historical background of the years spanning Beethoven’s middle style-period.  Next, I shall attempt a structural analysis of the work.  The discussion of Beethoven’s innovative features reflected in the music then follows.  I shall also observe the formation of this revolutionary attitude with reference to both the internal and external factors, namely, Beethoven’s self-constructed image of “genius” and the mass-produced image of “genius” in the early 19th-century Vienna.  Finally I shall explore Beethoven’s own marketing strategy in promoting this generically ambiguous sonata, to see how he built himself up as one of first self-enterprisers in the music publishing industry of the early 19th-century Vienna.

Tovey, among others, considers the F major Sonata a work of extraordinary beauty and subtleties.  It represents what can be regarded as Beethoven’s “Socratic humor” carried to the full.[2]  A “sonata” in name but of materials more suited for a minuet and a toccata, this “Socratic irony” is also evidenced in his grouping of two monothematic movements in the same key.  The piece was as much applauded for its subtlety and humor as for its experimental nature.  Charles Rosen regards it as essential to the composer’s stylistic development.[3]  Frohlich Martha, siding with Rosen, refers to it as the first important two-movement sonata by Beethoven.[4] William Kinderman, another Beethoven scholar, claims that the directional process and ongoing synthesis of experience explored in the second movement of the sonata, described as a perpetumn mobile, have received further development in some of Beethoven’s late sonatas, such as the “Arietta” of op. 111.[5]  Kinderman discerns a variety of innovative approaches to the genre amongst the composer’s middle-period sonatas, particularly regarding to the problem of welding the successive movements into a unity.[6] 

    While scholars long regarded op.54 an anomaly, few undertook the task of considering the auditory experience of the work, let alone exploring the implication of its generic ambiguity, which, however, is what makes it one of the most original works for the piano in the composer’s middle style-period.  Marked “In Tempo d’un Menuetto,” the first movement has been variously interpreted as a monothematic rondo, a variation, or a minuet-scherzo with da capo reprises.  Yet it is the absence of a sonata-allegro movement, rather than what has sprung up to take its place, which holds a challenge to, and helps extend the boundary of, the very notion of the genre. 

    The two-movement structure of the sonata may, as some argue, have its precedents in some of the piano sonatas of Haydn’s, but its substance is almost entirely of its own.[7]  For in Haydn’s case, generic expectations are always met by the presence of a sonata-allegro movement, whereas it is the sole purpose of Beethoven to defy what has often been taken for granted.  By introducing a minuet-scherzo like movement in his sonata, and by compressing the formal plan into a pair of movements, Beethoven tries consciously to break the generic contract set up between the audience and his work, inviting the former to question previously held assumptions of the genre.

    The finale of the F major sonata can be understood either as a two-part contrapuntal toccata suggested by Tovey, or, as I would argue, as an etude.  But the enormous development section launched after an extremely short exposition may, alternatively, remind us of a monothematic sonata in a nascent form.  But what is certain, however plausible the interpretation, is the ambiguity of the genre, the very element by which Beethoven has succeeded in extending the “sonata” legacy in the development of the genre.
 
    Apart from its contribution to the overall meaning of the sonata, op.54 also reflects Beethoven’s attitude toward the genre.  Presented as neither preeminently “heroic” nor “lyrical”, the F major sonata comes closest to what Rosen had in mind when he said, “the most prestigious form of serious music was Beethoven’s piano sonata.”[8]  Once considered a kind of “Hausmusik” (music in the home) confined to the aristocratic salons and amateurs at home, the piano sonata, a genre Beethoven had much to contribute, had come to be regarded as one of the greatest achievements in the Vienna’s musical culture of the 19th century. 

    Beethoven’s piano sonatas also helped toward effecting the change from a patron system dominated by the church and the court to an open system of music publishing and concert performance.  They formed a bridge that served to connect music practised at home to that performed in the concert hall.  The F major sonata, for one, and in particular its second movement, typically presents the kind of technical challenge that often remains a formidable obstacle to all but the most accomplished musicians.

David Leung

2008/04 (Written)
2010/12/25 (Published)

Selected bibliography

Beethoven. Beethoven’s Letters: With Explanatory Notes by Dr. A.C. Kalischer, transl. by J. S. Shelock. New York: Dover publications Inc., 1972.

Downs, G. Philip. Classical Muisc: The Era of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992.

Kinderman, William. “Beethoven” In Nineteenth-century Piano Music, ed. by R. Larry Todd, New York: Routledge, 2004.

Frohlich, Martha. “Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in F Major Op. 54, Second Movement: The Final Version and Sketches.” The Journal of Musicology 18, no. 1 (Winter 2001): 98-128.

Rosen, Charles. Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion, New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002.

Somfai, Laszlo. The Keyboard Sonatas of Joseph Haydn: Instruments and Performance Practice, Genres and Styles, transl. by the author in collaboration with Charlotte Greenspan. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Tia, DeNora. Beethoven and the Construction of Genius: Musical Politics in Vienna, 1792-1803. Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1995.

Tovey, F. Donald. A Companion to Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas, Southampton: The Camelot Press Ltd., 1931.

Truscott, Harold. “ The Piano Music I.” In The Beethoven Companion, ed. by Denis Arnold and Nigel Fortune. London: Faber and Faber Ltd., 1986.

Footnotes:

[1] I will suggest that 1803-1823 is the middle period of Beethoven’s musical style.  In 1803, the renowned symphony no. 3 op. 55, Eroica, was started composing, marking the revolutionary spirit of Beethoven’s compositional manner.  First piano sonata of the middle-period musical style was Waldstein op. 53.  Of the thirty-two Beethoven’s piano sonatas, twenty were written in his first-period and twelve for the middle-period.  The last piano sonata was finished in 1822.
[2] Donald F. Tovey, A Companion to Beethoven’s Pianoforte Sonatas, (Southampton: The Camelot Press Ltd., 1931), 161-62.
[3] Charles Rosen, Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas: A Short Companion, (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2002), 189-91.
[4] Beethoven has written seven pieces of two-movement sonata during his career.  Please refer to Martha Frohlich, “Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in F Major Op. 54, Second Movement: The Final Version and Sketches,” The Journal of Musicology 18, no. 1 (Winter 2001): 100-101.
[5] William Kinderman, “Beethoven,” in Nineteenth-century Piano Music, ed. by R. Larry Todd, (New York: Routledge, 2004), 63.
[6] Kinderman regards Beethoven’s revolutionary middle-period of Beethoven’s musical style began from 1802 onward.  It is a bit earlier than my suggestion.  Please refer to footnote 1.  For further information, also see: Kinderman, Beethoven, 59.
[7] Of nine Haydn’s mature two-movement sonatas, only the op. 54 G does not contain sonata form movement.  Please refer to Laszlo Somfai, The Keyboard Sonatas of Joseph Haydn: Instruments and Performance Practice, Genres and Styles, transl. by the author in collaboration with Charlotte Greenspan, (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995), 195.
[8] Rosen, Beethoven Piano Sonata, 4-6.

一個美學問題: 聯想空間

早前跟朋友傾談有關 D S Likhachev 就文化和記憶所作的有趣評論。看來他們都欣賞他的論點,但說來又不甚了解其中幾個字的含意。


D S Likhachev 的評論英文翻譯如下:

Memory is active. It does not leave a person indifferent, idle.
It takes over a man's heart and mind.
Memory challenges the destructive force of time 
and accumulates drop by drop that which we call culture.

當時我隨意問了朋友,為何時間 (Time) 會有毀滅性的力量? 為何回憶 (Memory) 可以挑戰 (或可戰勝) 這種毀滅性的力量,從而一點一滴地纍積起來? 他們也沒有即時回答。故勿論這對回憶的形容應否叫作文化,Likhachev 所描述有關回憶和文化的關係的條文,所用的修辭可以說是充滿詩意,美得叫人拍案叫絕,也玄得令人深思嘴嚼。

我相信任何朋友只要有一般英文水平,大都可以明白 Likhachev  對文化所作的定義。但若要百份百理解每個字詞,從而欣賞其美,讀者就不能不運用聯想 (Association) 了。

詩意描繪之所以是美,是因為作者為讀者建立了一個可以理解的聯想空間,讓讀者的思緒可以在這個空間作適當,受指引的馳騁。中國藝術美學的重點在於流白,貴乎虛實相間。文學,繪晝和音樂的美學皆建基於此。

但要建立一個聯想空間,也同時需要作者與讀者建立一個共通的橋樑。不然的話,讀者就會無所適從。又或他們那過度自由的想像,變成無根無由的理解,任意所之,破壞了原先作品所建立的美。

對於 destructive force of time 這個描述,作者與讀者對時間的理解的一個共通點就是: 一般來說,記憶隨著時間過去,就會逐漸消失。人就不再有回憶,忘掉了已往。所以時間是記憶的敵人。假如有一些記憶,能夠成功地挑戰時間,點滴地留下來,這就成為回憶了。

可是 Likhachev 用回憶來為文化作定義,留下給讀者的聯想空間就更大,需要讀者先對文化這個字詞有一些理解,才能欣賞這對文化充滿詩意的描述。Likhachev 在這裏所談到的記憶,當然不是指個人的回憶。很明顯是指集體回憶 (Collective Memory),是屬於一個社群的共同記憶。對於一個社群而言,其留存的文化可以是有形的,可觸摸的 (Tangible),見到的。但也可以是無形的,不能觸摸的 (Intangible),只存在社群中個別人心中的一份回憶。舉一個例子,如果中環及尖沙咀舊天星碼頭的鐘樓沒有拆掉,這個建築物留給香港社群的是一份具有歷史價值的有形文化遺產。現在鐘樓拆掉了,看不見了。可是建築物的形像,及鐘樓所敲出的鐘聲,mi do re sol -- sol re mi do ,卻仍然活在大多數香港人的記憶中 ,成為遺留下來的屬於香港人的文化的一部份 -- 如果記憶能戰勝時間的毀滅性力量,從而將這份回憶世世代代地保存下來的話。當然,如何將集體回憶保存,令脆弱,容易消逝的文化記憶留住在整個社群裏,則是令外的一個討論題目。

不過,對於原文,我還是喜歡用 The Unforgettable (難忘) 去代替原文的 Culture (文化)。這樣,回憶  (Memory) 的力量  (Active Force) 就更能發揮了。

從以上的淺談,我們不難發現,聯想空間對於我們去理解文學的美,藝術的美,甚至音樂的美,都是十分重要的。

若要進一步走進中華民族藝術的美學殿堂,看來我們必須由藝術作品所能營造的聯想空間的研究開始。

下一篇文章, 我將會探討一下如何在文學,特別是詩學和音樂作品裏營造聯想空間。


David Leung

2010/12/24

2010年12月23日 星期四

Michelangelo and His ‘David’

To all my unknown 知音人:

I like to write poem.
I like to write prose.
I like to write music.

This is I.

The first article published here is something about the 'David' and me -- David.

Any response are strongly welcome.



Michelangelo and His ‘David’




Florence of Republic was established in 1501. The Medici Family, which ruled the city for over a half century, was repelled. The new regime decided to make a symbol of liberty for memorization. Michelangelo, therefore, was commissioned to create the sculpture David, which regarded as the symbol of ‘Strength’ and ‘Wrath’

Michelangelo broke away from the traditional way of representing David. He did not present us the winner with the giant’s head at his feet and the powerful sword in his hand, or try to depict us a nearly womanlike youth with a hat wearing posture. Instead, Michelangelo placed his ‘David’ in a most perfect and affectionate poise in which the two important virtues of the ancient patron city of Hercules, ‘Strength and ‘Wrath’, were embodied. These lofty virtues, coincidently, were the essential elements that the newly formed political community required.

                  Strength and Wrath: Michelangeo's David


                      Donatella's Young Warrior David
  
In this article, I will like to examine the main features of the sculpture David as well as some interesting
backgrounds of its formation. By examining the underlying ideas and symbols of the sculpture, at the same
time, I will try to demonstrate how Michelangelo gives rebirth to the ‘Classical humanism’, exploring the
concept of the ‘Renaissance individualism’ that influences the creative trends of the artists later.





The Origin of 'David'


The most important and memorable event for the Florentines in 1501 was not only the formation of the new Government, the Republic of Florence, but also one of the greatest statues that they can be really proud of, David, was in the process of being sculpted. Michelangelo, a genius artist acknowledged already as the foremost sculptor of his day, was given a commission by the new Republican Government to chisel a statue from an abandoned large block of marble left in the Cathedral in Florence. In 1464, Agostino di Duccio had been commissioned to execute the statue from the same block, but he did nothing, and nor did his follower, Antonio Rossellino, in 1476. The task, therefore, seemed to be obstinate and problematical. It was thought that the block was practically worthless and that nothing worthwhile could come of it. However, even a stone could become a piece of gold in the hands of a genius. Michelangelo decided to carve a statue, David, symbolizing that just as David, the king of Israel in the ancient kingdom, had protected his people with unrelenting strength and governed them with the wrath of justice, so would whoever was entrusted with ruling Florence[1].

The Political Connotation of the Statue


The decision to carve the statue, David, was not a mere coincidence making use of a large block of discarded marble, but represented a desire and yearning of the Florentines. From the previous century onward, David the shepherd boy who became king of Israel by defeating the tyrant, was a common motif in Florence. He was a warrior as well as a ruler, who united the kingdom of Israel and re-captured Jerusalem for his people. More importantly for the Christianity of Florentines, David not only seemed to prefigure Christ, symbol of salvation, but according to the Book of Matthew, he was also Christ’s direct ancestor[2]. Thus, it was not surprising that the Florentines could accept a young, justice figure like King David as their traditional symbol of the city-state. Furthermore, the bravry, courage and righteousness of warrior David portrayed by Donatello and Verrocchio in their sculptures had successfully rooted in every mind of the Florentine. As such, the newly established Republican Government really required ‘David’ to represent the triumph of the People’s Republic over the tyrant. The defeat of the fierce giant Goliath by King David symbolized the successful revolution of the common people against the Medici family of the stronger side, and also her monarchic rule of the city for over a half century[3].

Sculpture Technique and Artistry


Doubtless Michelangelo’s David breaks away from the traditional way of representing King David. He does not present us with the young winner with the giant’s head at his feet and holding the powerful sword in his hand, somewhat like the style of Verrocchio, nor a tenderly feminine-liked figure of not more than two meters height, wearing a hat and standing sensuously which is in the style of Donatello, after the battle with Goliath. Michelangelo’s David is a mature young man, more like a statue of Goliath than the ruddy shepherd boy with a sling. He portrays David in the phase immediately preceding the battle. Perhaps, this is the moment that his people are hesitating and getting frightened, while giant Goliath is jeering and mocking them. The strength of David is felt not only in his muscular arms and mature body, but also from every nuance of flesh and detailed facial expression. Without depicting any vigorous and energetic action, the sculptor skillfully conveys the impression of the unrelenting strength, or even the wrath of justice, through the sparkling eyes, the frowned forehead, the closed lips, and the tightened eyebrows of David to viewers. The determination and courage of David are easily felt. Michelangelo's 'David' could overcome any difficulties laid ahead without any hesitation in order to protect his people and maintain justice in the country[4], so as could the Republican Government.

Nevertheless, the poise of the statue is not entirely new. Using classical male nude as a medium of expression is seen in the work of Donatello and Verrocchio. However, the style that Michelangelo revealed is not only the revival of classical humanism and realism, but also its extension. The portrait of David is remarkable for his detailed naturalism, delicacy, elegance and complexity. In such a way Michelangelo developed a formidable sculptural technique that David rivaled the work some ancient sculptors such as Praxiteles, or to some extent, surpassed them[5]. David’s perfect poise is full of latent energy and strength, with huge limbs and a watchful expression on his sharply delineated features. One massive hand dangles loosely against his right thigh and the other is raised to hold the sling, so that the long line of the open, bent left hand silhouette contrasts with the closed, straight forms on the right. According to the art historian, J. Wilde, the Medieval concept emphasized the right side of the human body as the closed, active, defended, and God-protected side; while the open, vulnerable, passive and unprotected side was on the left[6]. The turn of David’s head
directs the viewer to look in the direction, the left side, from which attack may come. His left hand is ready to fight against any enemy with the sling and even his body, his left foot, turns and steps a bit leftward opposing the open, relaxing right side. The underlying idea of Michelangelo’s David is clear. This is the David of watchfulness, faith and hope. He represents the essence of all civic virtues, the courage, fortitude, faith and far more important, the ‘Strength’ and the ‘Wrath of justice’ that came from these virtues. All these qualities possessed were also the essential elements required for fortifying and unifying the newly established Republican Government and the people of Florence[7].

 

A Republican Legacy


Without letting anyone see the work in progress, Michelangelo spent nearly two and a half years on the task. It is a statue of seventeen feet high and hence, people often like to call it ‘Giant’[8]. When David came to Florence in 1504, he indubitably brought tremendous impact to the society of Florentines, as well as the committee of the highest ranking citizens and artists. Where should David be placed, in the main square 

of the town or in front of the Palazzo Vecchio, or the Town Hall? Although the dispute was not easily settled,

it gave no harm to the loftiness and respectability of David. The two most important virtues, passionate

strength and wrath of justice that are embodied in Michelangelo’s David are not only the most

indispensable elements of the Florentines and their Republican Government in the past, but also, to some

extent, of all the people, including every individual, every nation and even every Government in the present

world.


David Leung

2001-11-01 (written)
2010-12-23 (published)


[1] Rupert Hodson, Michelangelo, Litografica Faenza: Philip Wilson Pub., 1999, p38
[2] Hodson, p42

[3] 王文融等譯,世界藝術史,第三版,聯經出版社,台灣,一九九九年,120頁。
[4]王文融等譯,世界藝術史,第三版,聯經出版社,台灣,一九九九年,121頁。
[5] W. Fleming, Arts & Ideas, 9th ed., Forth Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1995, p284.
[6] 王文融等譯,世界藝術史,第三版,聯經出版社,台灣,一九九九年,121頁。
[7] Linda Murray, World of Art: Michelangelo, Singapore: Thames & Hudson, 1992, pp40-41.
[8] 王文融等譯,121頁。