2011年3月30日 星期三

何為壯美? Sublimity and Beauty in the19th Century Romanticism

前言: 當我們談到十九世紀的歐洲浪漫主義,總不免說到這時期的藝術作品的宏偉與壯麗。查實,浪漫主義,也跟各類藝術發展起來的美學觀點有著千絲萬縷的關係。其中一種美學感受,就是 sublimity,我現在翻為壯美。但凡壯美的作品,必定是宏偉與龐大的。可予人一種然生畏的感覺,就如你看著波濤洶湧的海浪,翻騰不息,那種感覺經驗,就是壯美了。


                                                       The “Sublime” and “Beauty” 

When E.T.A. Hoffmann’s imaginative criticism of Beethoven’s symphony no. 5 was published in the 19th century, the concept of “musical sublimity” was also come across as a novel way of understanding of pure instrumental music, and symphony in particular. As Hoffmann suggests in his writing, Beethoven’s music has a power of transporting listeners to the realms of the monstrous and the unfathomable, which is different from that of Haydn’s sensational delight and Mozart’s emotional touching. Indeed this listening experience of transporting audiences to a new “realm” is somewhat similar to Fetis’s concept of aesthetic experience. For Fetis, music can present two levels of aesthetic experience to the listeners. One is commonly described as the experience of beauty, and the other, the experience of the sublime. He declared: “We listen to a piece of music……It disturbs us; it carries us away…… how beautiful, we exclaim, how great, how sublime!”

According to Elaine Sisman, a (present day) contemporary musicologist, the sublime is regarded as an aesthetic category that usually appears as a component of the elevated or grand style of rhetoric. The rhetorical modes of thought which operated in 18th century instrumental music was a mind-set-like theory affecting the structure and design of a work, as well as the audience’s understandings of that work. But the concept of sublime has gone beyond a kind of figurative mode of speech and has been elevated to a form of aesthetic state akin to an echo of a noble mind, a grand conception and a sense of beauty. To use the term “sublime” to describe the expressive power of music shows a change of emphasis from expression as a mirror of the human emotions of Classical aesthetics to expression as the revelation of the ineffable of Romantic aesthetics. Edmund Burke further argues that sublime objects are vast in their dimensions and this “sublime” ought to be dark and gloomy, being beyond any comprehension and presenting an overwhelming but irrational experience to the listeners. The concept of vast sublimity undoubtedly leads to the notions of “sublime terror” and “monumental simplicity” that sheds a new light on understanding the music of late Mozart, Beethoven and even many Romantic musical giants afterward. As such, when the concept of sublimity was applied to instrumental music, in order to manifest the notion of “grand, monumental and terrifying design”, the simple songs were no longer appropriate to such ideal. It was the symphony, a genre which as Haydn had demonstrated, was capable of creating a form spanning hundreds of measures using mainly the logic of harmony and theme without recourse to text, was generally considered as the highest form of all arts. And the metaphysical aesthetic of 19th century Romanticism was then fully developed under the aegis of this concept of musical sublimity and the rising importance of the musical genre -- symphony.

David Leung (theorydavid)
2011-03-29 (published)

2011年3月26日 星期六

玩盡規則 -- 在寫作上應用修辭手法

前言: 早前寫了一篇文章關於寫作和聲應否跟隨 rules ,不講 feel。有一位 教 Flute 的老師 Spencer Chan 留言,表示同意我的平衡觀點。他評論道: "所言甚是!就正如我們中國人說中文時,雖不會理會文法,但這並不代表我們可以不合文法,只是作為中國人,文法已牢牢印在心中,隨心而發便可說出合文法的說話吧。我們雖沒有刻意使用文法,但其實已是根據文法去說我們的說話,絕不能將「我愛你」說成是「我你愛」。 無論樂器還是樂理、作曲、編曲,我們都應將 rules 熟練到可以隨心而發才去講 feel。"

在這裡,我是很感謝有讀者留言以表鼓勵。我上一篇文章,也是有發表過近似 Chan Sir 的論點。可是,我仍然想就他所說的最後一句話的意義,再加以擴展補充。我認為就算將所有音樂或和聲 的 rules 這個文法熟練,仍是不夠去發揮音樂中的神采與靈氣,表現 feeling,因為還欠了一樣東西,就是我們還要熟練到可以運用 rhetorics 去玩盡所有的 rules.



這當然並不意味這些原則和規範是寫在石頭上的鐵律,永遠都一成不變。可是,若果我們寫文章,只力求文法正確,那麼,我們最多只能做個稱職的審稿編輯,而不是個作家,或個藝術家,甚至作曲家。作家之所以是作家,不是因為他家的文章全無錯誤,而是因為他其獨特的聲音和鮮明的個性。在音樂上,亦是如此。因此,Beethoven 是 Beethoven,不會是另一個 Mozart,就算兩者都是以 tonal harmony 的法則和以 major-minor system 來寫作其音樂。這就解釋為何同學們就算學完了 Advance Harmony,也是不能完全懂得個別作曲家和其特定作品的音樂風格和特點。因為 Advance Harmony 只是 Generalized 了的一般法則。

返回我們的編輯和作家的比喻。正如作家林沛理所說,他們兩者最大的分別就是: 前者懂得如何在客觀 impersonal,屬於每一個人 communal 的文法中留下個人的印記 stamp,甚至簽名 signature, 而後者只會做文法的保安和執法者 grammar police。這就能解釋為何我們一聽第五交響曲的開頭四個音,就知是 Beethoven 留下的印記,而不是 Schubert 的。

所以,要寫得優美,寫得動人,寫得有 feel, 寫得有個人 style,無論作家又好,作曲家又好,都要懂得玩弄那些 rules,最佳的方法,就是運用不尋常的修辭法  rhetorics。

我現試以英語寫一段落,請讀者看看,評評我是否能將個人的印記,通過不落套的 rhetorical setting 去將我在暮年才以合唱指揮和總監的身份,能以音樂再度踏足表演舞台的感受,烙印在文字裡 ?

Fifty -- the promise of more than a decade of nothingness, a thinning list of closest friends to know, a thinning briefcase of enthusiasm, thinning hair. But there has been music in me, who, unlike the deadly utterance of my boss, is too stubborn ever to carry my old fading dream from age to age. As I pick up the baton guiding their wan faces, they tremble against my only deepest zest for music and the formidable stroke of fifty dies away with the reassuring pressure of their hardly murmurs. I wonder as if it is singing, though. Still I stand up to the promise through the stage in the slowly dimming light.

朋友們,你們看看如何。我倒希望合唱團的成員有人明白我這個真的感受。我相信這段的英語程度不淺。可能只有 BT明白,她的英語不錯。所以,如果我們真得體會 rhetorics 的效用,我們應會明白,第一句本人用了 -- 符號去 replace verb,(玩盡文法,句法是由某作家借學過來的) 再加三個 head motive 似的 thinning。你知道 briefcase of enthusiasm 是暗指我對上班做事的熱誠嗎? metaphor 是也。nothingness 在此處是指 一事無成。stand up to 是指迎向,迎戰那往後十年的一事無成。還有,我們 recording 時是關上燈的。reasurring pressure 是對比 ,contrast 著 chorus 歌唱的 murmurs,因為他們不是專業的合唱團。

如果文字可以造出個人風格效果,音樂語言,也是一種溝通媒介,所以也定必可以。當然,音樂比較抽象,我們要更多不同的 theory,才可以幫助我們進一步了解其意義。我們也不可能以語文的修辭法,完全不變的套用到音樂上。因為音樂彙語的結構跟語文文法的結構是不同的。我早前曾淺談音樂的修辭學,可是,以我所知,現在有很多當代音樂理論家也正研究這個學科,如 Robert Hatten 的Markedness and Markedlessness,Allanbrook 的 topical theory 等。我有機會,就會跟各位談談他們的 theory 要點。

總的來說,藝術家要懂得 rules,然後要玩盡 rules, 再來印上個人簽名,才可以表達自己的 feel,音樂的神彩。


David Leung (theorydavid)
2011-03-25 (published)

2011年3月25日 星期五


前言: 這也是一篇資料相當充實的文章。討論範圍相當廣泛。文體不太艱深。可是,我也不期望現在的學生哥會仔細閱讀。他們怕看文字的態度,垣白說,已到了無可救藥的地步。可是,對於喜歡藝術的朋友,我相信他們會喜歡,因為,通過這短短的文章裡,他們可以略略明白某種藝術風格,不限音樂,是如何在二十世紀與起。這是歷史學,也是社會文化學的一篇文章。


The Influence of the 19th Century Intellectual Thoughts on the Modern Arts

The end of the 19th century was a time of relative peace and optimistic faith in technological progress and human productivity. Industrialism provided the economic and military basis for the west’s rise to a position of dominance over the rest of the world and at the same time, took certain impact to the modern arts.

Sigmund Freud’s theories concerning the nature of the human psyche, the significance of dreams, and the dominating role of human sexuality had a revolutionary effect on the beliefs, attitudes, and morals of modern society. They were equally influential upon the arts. In literature, Proust, Kafka and Joyce are representative of the modern novelist’s preoccupation with the subconscious life and with the role of memory in shaping reality. Their fiction reflects a fascination with methods and principles of Freudian psychoanalysis. Stream of consciousness narrative and the interior monologue are among the literary techniques used by modern authors to develop plot and character. In the visual arts, Freud’s impact generated a wide variety of styles that gave free play to fantasy and dreams.

The expressionism of Munch and Kirchner, the metaphysical art of de Chirico, and the fantasies of Chagall examined the mysteries of repressed fears and desires. The dada movement spread the gospel of irrationality in randomly organized words and images. Duchamp, the most outrageous of the dada cultists, championed a nihilistic, antiart spirit that had far-reaching effects in the second half of the century. In 1924, Andre Breton launched surrealism, an international movement to liberate the life of the subconscious from the bonds of reason.

Strongly influenced by Freud, the surrealists viewed the human subconscious as a battleground of conflicting forces dominated by instincts. Miro, and Klee explored the terrain of the interior life in abstract paintings filled with playful and ominous images.
Dali, Magritte, Kahlo, and O’Keeffe manipulated illusions of the real world in ways that evoked the visionary incoherence of the dream life. In motion pictures, Dali, Bunuel, and others devised cinematic techniques that exposed the dark and unpredictable passions of the mind.

In music, Satie embraced mundane sounds with the same enthusiasm that E.E. Cummings showed for slang in poetry and Dumchamp exercised in his glorification of found objects. It was in the expressionistic monodramas of Schoenberg and the sexually charged operas of Strauss, Bartok, and Berg that Freud’s impact was most powerfully realized.

During the second half of the 19th century, as the social consequences of the western industrialism became increasingly visible, realism came to rival romanticism both as a style and as an attitude of mind. The ideologies of 19th century of liberalism, conservatism, Utilitarianism, socialism and communism offered varying solutions to contemporary problems of social injustice and inequity.

In the arts, realism emerged as a style concerned with recording contemporary subject matter in true-to-life terms. Such novelists as Dickens in England, Zola in France, and Twain in America, they described contemporary social conditions sympathetically and fidelity to detail.

Photography and lithography were invented during the 19th century; both medium encouraged artists to produce objective records of their surroundings. By the mid nineteenth century the camera was used to document all aspects of contemporary life as their compositions. In painting, Courbet led the realist movement with canvases depicting the activities of humble and commonplace men and women. Daumier employed the new technique of lithography to show his deep concern for political and social conditions in rapidly modernizing France. Manet shocked art critics by recasting traditional subjects in contemporary terms.

America’s realist painters, including Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer, recorded typically American pastimes in an unembellished, forthright manner. In music, Puccini wrote operas that captured the lives of 19th century Europeans.
On the whole, the varieties of realism in 19th century cultural expression reflect a profound concern reassessment of traditional western values.

Art for art’s sake was neither a movement nor a style but rather a prevailing spirit in European and especially French culture of the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
Of all forms of art, there was a new attention to sensory experience rather than to moral and didactic purpose.

At the same time, advances in optics, electricity, and other areas of science and technology brought attention to matters of motions and light. Theses affected the French impressionists, led by Monet, were equally representative of the late 19th century interest in sensation and sensory experience. These artists tried to record an instantaneous vision of their world, sacrificing the details of perceived objects in order to capture the effects of light and atmosphere.

Paralleling the radical changes in technology and art, the German iconoclast Nietzsche questioned the moral value of art and rallied superior individuals to topple old gods, that is, to reject whatever was sentimental and stale in Western tradition.

Amidst new theories of sensation and perception, the French philosopher Bergson stressed the role of intuition in grasping the true nature of durational reality. He claimed that time is the continuous progress of the past, which gnaws into the future and which swells as it advance. Time cannot be measured in such a quantitative way, it is a quality, not a substance. The application of Bergson’s theory of time to the arts of the late 19th century can be very illuminating. The philosopher often cited the motion picture as an example of what he meant by the perception of duration. The separate frames in a motion picture film are still; but when the series is run through the projector, the mind melds them together in a continuous flow, and they appear to be animated and alive. So also are the separate colors on an impressionistic canvas, the separate scenes in a Maeterlinck play, the separate chords in  a Debussy progression-all are molded by the mind into a continuum of time.

In visual impressionism, the eye mixes the colors and in a symbolist poem, the symbolist poets devised a language of sensation that evoke feeling rather than describing experience and let the mind supplies the connecting verbs for the so-called fragments. In Maeterlinck play, the imagination gives the irrelevancies speech and action a dramatic meaning and in Debussy’s music, the ear bridges over the pregnant silences. In sculpture, the works of Degas and Rodin reflect a common concern for figural gesture and movement and left parts of the stone uncut. The postimpressionists van Gogh, Gauguin, Seurat and Cezanne moved beyond the impressionist infatuation with fleeting effects. Van Gogh and Gauguin used color not as an atmospheric envelope but as a tool for personal and visionary expression. Seurat and Cezanne reacted against the formlessness of impressionism by creating styles that featured architectural stability and solid, simplified forms.

In all arts, this ceaseless flux leads toward the improvisatory, the consciously incomplete. Each work tries to be a product of inspiration rather than calculation. With visual impressionists, all pictorial substance is broken down into an airy mixture of color sprays, fleeting shadows, and momentary moods.

With industrialization came a specialization in which people were concerned more with fragments than with wholes. Industrial workers were rapidly forfeiting to the machine their place as the primary productive unit. In Mallarme’s ‘Afternoon Faune’, images unfold as sensuous, discontinuous fragments. Similar effects occur in the music of Debussy, where delicately shaded harmonies gently drift without resolution.

During the late 19th century, atomic physicists provided a model of the universe that was both more dynamic and more complex than any previously conceived, e.g. Newton. Einstein produced his special theory of relativity, a radically new approach to the concepts of time, space and motion. Heisenberg’s principle of uncertainty stated that since the act of measuring subatomic phenomena would alter those phenomena, the position and the velocity of a particle could not be measured simultaneously with any accuracy.

Therefore, at the onset of the twentieth-century, modern physics had replaced the absolute and rationalist model of the universe with one that seemed chaotic and uncertain.

Paralleling the advancement of atomic physics, Nietzsche’s new philosophical concepts also had a certain impact on the artists. He asked: ‘Is man merely a mistake of God’s? Or God merely a mistake of man’s?’ Agreeing with Nietzsche’s remark that history was the process by which the dead bury the living, Marinetti declared in his manifesto in 1909 that futurism was being founded to ‘deliver Italy from its plague of professors, archeologists, tourist guides and antique dealers.’ All these new intellectual points of view are also mirrored in abstract art.

In the arts, new ways of seeing and listening were being worked out. In painting, for example, the cubist system of multiple visual viewpoints was explored, whereby several sides of an object could be presented at the same time in 2-dimenional space. In sculpture, a new theory of volume was developed, whereby open holes or gaps in the surface suggested the interpenetration of several planes, and the interpenetration of several planes, and the existence of other sides and surfaces not immediately in view. In architecture, the international style used the vocabulary of steel and glass to incorporate in structure of outer and inner space.

Similar developments occurred in literature and music, which found new ways of presenting materials in time dimension. In music, the so-called atonal method of composition was formulated. Such novel organizations of space and time demanded new ways of thinking about the world, new ways of looking at it, listening to it, and reading about it. Abstraction includes such various developments as cubism, futurism, the mechanical style, non-objectivism, the twelve-tone method and the international style of architecture.

From the above brief discussion, one can understand how a form of art is developed through historical course under the influences of sociol and intellectual thoughts. The emergence of Modernism in the 20th century was not a coincidence. It deeply stemmed from human life and thoughts. If one wants to uncover the veil of this artistic process, one should not avoid examinating the history of socio-culture and science in relation to that of the humanity.

David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-03-25 (published)

2011年3月22日 星期二

微模音樂風格探討 -- 分析華納序曲--萊茵河上的黃金作曲素材之運用

前言: 看來不少讀者都希望我略談一下作曲技巧的問題。我想,作曲技巧,在大多數音樂理論書都有廣泛討論,分門別類地引列出來。我也不便在這裡重覆。對我來說,最佳的作曲參巧書,就是實制的作品本身。一首 mp3,加一本總譜,就可以學習學習。不少作曲天書都有說過現代音樂裡的 Minimalism 微模風格的作品,如 Philip Glass, Terry Rily 等。可是死讀書的就只會想到這些近代作曲家和作品,如果你肯消化 Minimalism 的音樂特點,就是用最少的才料去發展最長的音樂,你可以不再盡信書中所記,反過來自己探索一下,你會發覺,遠至 Baroque,到鄰近的十九世紀浪漫風格,你也可以找到在不同時代的大師們的一些音樂處理,也是很 minimal 的,可說是 minimal 主義的先驅者。其作品的精巧程度,叫聽眾拍案叫絕。我們學寫曲的,就是要學會怎樣以最少的材料去完成最大的作品。



The “Minimalistic Setting” in Wagner’s Prelude of Das Rheingold

The musical extract typically shows three significant Romantic traits: sublime orchestral sonority, kaleidoscopic timbres and prolonging melodic line. The overall mood portrayed in this grand passage is extensively dramatic, profoundly poetic and sensationally moving, rather than elegantly classical or well proportionally symmetrical. Apart from the apparent Romantic appearances, however, this inspiring passage is not without having other novel features that invite further scrutiny. 
   Although the entire passage lasts nearly four minutes, the musical motion merely depends on the projection of one single element, the Eb major triad. The thematic melody, the sustaining pedal and the orchestral accompaniment are all derived from this Eb major tonic triad and are continuously repeated throughout the passage.   Here the monothematic nature is obvious. The minimal use of materials probably reminds us of Bolero by Maurice Ravel in 1928, which could be regarded as one of the precursors of the Postmodern Minimalism in the years sixty. Bolero only consists of a single Spanish dance theme and a repeated snare drum rhythmic pattern projecting throughout the whole piece. Similarly, this extract exactly reflects such conspicuous feature.
Another significant characteristic worthy of considering is the continuous small-scale changes within the repetitions. By adding different instruments to the texture and changing the accompanimental pattern in the inner parts, the musical tension is built up gradually. These changes not only enhance manifold timbres to avoid monotonous, but also thicken the orchestral sonority step by step, providing a gradual growth of dynamic from soft to the climatic loud tutti near the ending, as well as holding the musical tension for the entire passage. As a result, neither a single repetition of the melody nor a harmonic pattern generates the same sonic sound.   This characteristic is very similar to the art painting of Minimal style, the Coca Cola, by Andy Warhol in 1962. In Coca Cola, a matrix of many coca cola bottles of the same size is arranged, but in fact no single bottle is exactly identical.  Doubtless the small-scale change within a repeated similarity is one of the most salient attributes of Minimal Arts. The listening extract, to a certain extent, also possesses such element alike. 

In short, this musical passage comprises much novelty and innovation, despite its apparent Romantic outlook. The single Eb tonic triad successfully maintains the entire musical motion and tension. In order to keep the perceptive interest within a monothematic background, the orchestration, timbre, dynamic, harmonic pattern and texture are changing incessantly. This restless small-scale change is the key factor for the gradual growth of musical tension, building up a more complex texture and sonority until the climatic conclusion. The musical extract, therefore, can be regarded as an extraordinary example of hybridization of Romanticism and somewhat nascent Minimalism.


David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-03-22 (published)

2011年3月18日 星期五

和聲寫作是靠 feel 還是靠 rules ?

前言:  朋友 KM 看過拙作四部和聲寫作要訣後,留言說這大件事了,因她寫作音樂完全是靠 feel。這裡,對懂音樂的朋友,就不期然產生了一個問題,究竟寫作音樂是靠 feel,還是熟練 rules 就可以。坦白說,只要我們肯面對一個很基本的問題,就是凡是任何一種學問,必需學的人付出個人的努力,才能得著這個基本原則,那麼,問題就迎刃而解了。因寫靠 feel 做事的人,大都只希望找得一個藉口去逃避付出努力鍛鍊這一個費時費力的過程,喜歡怎做就怎做嘛,又不是專業! 我覺得成就行啦! 不過話得說回頭,音樂是很抽象,一大堆 rules 又怎可能令音樂變成藝術呢? 我們聽起來 work  就可以吧。所以,KM 所說的情況,又值得深思一下。


有很多強調音樂寫作靠 feel 的人總喜歡拿 Mozart 作例子。這位三百年才一遇的天才,被喻為靈感一到,feel 一來,音樂就能如泉湧的湧出來。可是,朋友們,不如我們看看 Mozart 自己怎樣看別人視自己為天才這個看法。從 Mozart 的書信裡,我們看到他這樣評論自己: 如果別人認為我是天才,寫作音樂毫不費力,請想想,他們能一音不漏的背練 Palestrina 那五十多首 Mass 嗎? 從 Mozart 自己的評論,你可以看出,Mozart是以能熟背 Palestrina 的又長又悶的Mass 為榮。為何 Palestrina 的 Mass 跟寫作 Mozart 時代的 Classical style 的 主音音樂 Homonphony 有關呢? 原來當時代的作曲家,皆要學習對位法,這是寫作音樂,寫作和聲的基本技術。大師如Bach, Handel, Haydn ,以及貝多芬等無不精通十六世紀的古對位法。而這對位法就是從 Palestrina 的那五十多首 Mass 由 Zarlino 這位十六世紀的理論兼作曲家整合出來的,再由十八世紀的 Alfred Mann 改良整理成為今天名為 strict counterpoint 的對位法理論。今天,很可惜,已經很少人再肯花時間去學習這種 strict counterpoint 了。由此可見,我們所熟知的 Tonal Harmony,就是對位音樂和其法則演變而成的。無怪乎 Mozart 聲稱他曾付出極大的努力去熟習這很深很難的 Palestrina  Mass,熟習對位技巧。可是,他的天賦才華背後所付出努力卻常為人所忽視。

因此,我們現在學習和聲,又怎能不理會和聲背後的法則 (rules) 呢。所以,我們稱和聲學習是 Harmony and Voice Leading。我們不單要學和絃和和絃之間這縱的關係,還要學和絃間進行這橫的 voice leading 關係。和聲法則,很多是從對位法則伸延變化出來的。如果你今天要學好。Schenkerian Analysis,你如果不懂 counterpoint,是很難明白這種分析法是如何運作的。

和聲法則,在樂曲中的作用,就好比語文的文法。你會寫文章不理會文法嗎? 你能只靠 feel ,美其名是靈感,來寫作嗎? 請想想,就算你只靠 feel 寫了一篇文章出來,卻文法不通,雖然你自己明白,但你的讀者會明白嗎? 所以,就算我們在初學和聲寫作時,要死背一些規則 rules,也是無可避免的。就如在英語的文法裡,你寫:  If I were you ,I would kill you,而不是 If I was you, I would kill you.  這文法我們是要背的。但寫多了,不就記得嗎? 為何音樂上的 rules 就找藉口去逃避,說 : "我寫音樂是靠 feel 的,我覺得 work 就得了。" 坦白說,如果是這樣寫出來的東西,不懂的人就給你寫的嚇死,若是行家嘛,就給你笑死。所以在我的圈之裡,朋友還是朋友,身為行內人的我通常不會對朋友的寫作說些甚麼,但如是學生嗎? 我就會指出問題來。跟我學音樂理論的學生,都知我的教學風格。KM 是我認識多年的朋友,也知她的性格和其音樂造詣,不便多說。

同樣地,音樂創作,又或和聲的寫作,我們也不能光靠 rules。 就算你是熟習所有 rules,也充其量能寫出合乎法度,考試合格的音樂,但不能算是含有個人靈氣,神采的作品。所以我們也要靠 feel。嚴格來說,音樂不是拿來看的,而是拿來聽的,所以有時有些對音樂 sensitive 的朋友,就算不大記得 rules,當寫作時,他們也憑慣性將在記憶中曾聽過的音響,合乎法則的音響寫了出來,所以,也偶有遵守了和聲的法規,可是,這並不可靠。這好比,小孩子學講話,他聽過了,就能摹彷出來,與人成功溝通,但你總不會期望小孩子能寫出如 紅樓夢 這種偉大的作品吧。

我們要鍛鍊音樂的 feel,和聲運用的 feel,我們必需從 practical training 出發,多作  play by ear 的訓練。所以,大多學 composition 的人都識彈樂器,如鋼琴,雖然他們不是專業的表演者。可是他們也不能忽略多做音樂分析 -- score anlaysis,學習了解前輩大師的作曲技巧,這也牽涉到學習音樂理論和音樂進行的 "文法" ,rules。如果你逃避不肯花時間去鍛鍊寫作技巧,又就能明白這些偉大作品背後的含義呢?

因此,總的來說,我們寫作和聲,寫作音樂,是有  rules,也同時要有  feel,即靈感的。創作很重神來之筆,所以學生皆要接受以上兩方面提及的學習和培養,這是屬於不同的訓練和學習的範疇。如果學生能掌握音樂的文法技巧,又同時具有創意和靈巧,他們的音樂與和聲的寫作才算是被視為真正的 composition

David leung (theorydavid)

2011-03-18 (published)

2011年3月16日 星期三

Beethoven's Influences of Symphony - 2

前言: 這篇文章接續上一篇探討貝多芬對後世交響樂發展的影響。

我已經常常說,香港的現代教育,簡直是混賬到極,不知所謂到不能忍受的地步。香港那所訓練未來老師的最高學府裡頭的 "教授" 們給了 assignment 同學,又驚同學們沒有時間做,又驚他們不識做,又驚題目出得深,就說叫他們抄書就可以了。我有一位私人學生急急 call 我,並告訴我看完 Palisca 那本 History textbook 天書,都沒有直接答案談及有 Beethoven 對後世音樂 和音樂家的影響。現在是江湖告急。嗚呼! 連那些修音樂為主科的學位學生,隨口也不能 present 十分鐘有關貝多芬對音樂的貢獻和影響,還敢說自己是讀音樂,懂音樂的嗎? 看著書本也不懂 "抄",(應該是偷),怎辦? 我們常說,熟讀唐書三百首,不會吟詩也會 "抄" 嘛。坦白說,平時我指導這些私人學生,也常常提及不同作曲家和作品的風格特色和對後世的貢獻。些個同學是學 AMusTCL 考試研習的,Set piece 是 Schubert 的第五交響曲,我也談及過這首作品和 Beethoven 的交響作品的相同和不同的關係。我也曾教過同學,舒氏一生以 Beethoven 這位同期的前輩大師為學習對象,連死前也想學習 Counterpoint (這是Beethoven 最精,但 Schubert 最弱的技巧),皆因要寫偉大的交響曲,沒有精練的對位技巧是不行的。可是同學們就當私人老師是補鑊助理,"求其" 要他們改改 past paper 就算是跟他們學了。他們就只關心學校是否給他們一張證書,所以對校內的課就比較認真,私人嘛....嘿嘿....


5. The whole symphony could be unified through thematic links or a program:

What is program music? This is a slippery term indeed. The definition of such musical genre is different from people to people. If we think of symphony with a programmatic title in a rather loose way, it is quite easy to remind us of Beethoven's first program symphony. He marked the literal description about the music on the score with a clear title. What is this symphony? Yes, it is symphony 6 in F major entitled 'Pastoral'. Listeners can understand the work through reading the descriptions. Indeed, no one would denies that Beethoven also used a title to referencing his renowned symphony no. 3 with a title: dedicated to a anonymous Hero after he tore the front page of the manuscript of this symphony when he heard the new of the self-coronation of Napoleon. That is why we called Beethoven's third symphony in Eb major as Eroica.  Apart from using a program to cohere the work, Beethoven also favored to used short motive to structure his lenghy symphonies. He used cyclic form to link the separate movements. For example, the third and finale movements of symphony no.5 are connected together without break, in order to push the music to the climatic triumphant closing moment, glorifying the victory of fighting against ones' destiny. All these innovative settings in symphonies provide an exemplar to the forthcoming composers in the nineteenth century. Not only Mendelosshn wrote program symphony, but also Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Dvorak liked to employ title for their symphonic works. Wagner, a self-claimed  follower of Beethoven, invented the use of leit motive, an adaptation of an unifying motive used in symphonic work, for his musical drama, inauguarte a new chapter for the late coming compositional writing of Hollywood film music to follow.

6. Use of dynamic scherzo and the sublime hymn-like slow movement:

Beethoven liked to use scherzo to replace the conventional third movement of Minuet and Trio in the symphony. This is a widely known fact. While Haydn employed the courty dance of Minuet and Trio to please his patrons, Beethoven changed the elegance and grace of this court dance to a more vigorous and energetic movement to serve his extended form of symphony. We still remember that Beethoven's symphonies are heard as a pschological journey. Scherzo is more suitable to be placed in the third movement, since the third movement, in the hands of Beethoven, is now becoming a storage pool to provide sufficient energy and motions for the outcoming of the triumphant finale. Minuet and trio, quite obviously, is not energetic enough to propel the forthcoming of the glorious finale. Therefore, to replace dynamic scherzo and solemn slow movement are a reflection of Beethoven's pschological journey of a figurative hero. In the other words, his symphonies are embedded with rich extra-musical meanings that forced Beethoven to change the form and structure of the conventional design of the classical symphony.

7. Large Orchestra: If you think of Beethoven's use of three horns in symphony no. 3, trombones in symphony no. 5 and four horns in no. 9 with a Turkish March Band, you will not surprised top see why the late coming symphonic composers tended to use a large orchestra for their symphonic works. Whether Wagner, Bruckner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky or Mahler, employing large orchestra not only for serving  their expressive means through a gigantic symphonic works, but also for delineating a sense of sublimity to the audience. This was indubitably a reflection of the nineteenth century German Romanticism.

8. Beethvoen move the center of gravity of the symphony more towards the last movements: In the hands of Haydn and Mozart, the last two movements of a symphony are only a suffix of the main chapter. The most important part of a symphony is the first Allegro movement and its counterpart, the slow second movement. The last two are only additional, in order to enhance the so-called classical perfection of balance and well-control. However, after Beethoven's triumph of the triumphant ending setting of a symphony, Romantic symphonies could be categorized according to the success or failure of their finales.

9. Symphony became a more earnes, more 'self-conscious' compositional exercise than before, one that had to be undertaken with considerable caution and preparation:

Of course, this point may link to the rise of the individualism in the 19th century Romanticism. When 'genius', a composer with talent gift, created an art work, originality was the most important than anything. He/she put forth all his/her emotions and reasons to the artistic creations. It is a chance to bring himself/herself out that is different from the others. Brahms, for example, spent almost twenty years to wrote his first symphony, which was regarded as the symphony of Beethoven Tenth. Mahler, furthermore, spent almost his life time to wrote his nine symphonies, and through symphony, Mahler seeked his understanding of universal truth, as well as the meanings of life and death. To him, symphony is a transcendental medium to attain a new level of immortality and eternality.

As such, almost every composer after Beethoven could hardly write more than nine symphonies throughout his life, since they treated symphony writing carefully and cautiously.

Therefore,  many music scholars agreed that the symphony is the most important musical genre in the19th century European community. Since symphony is so important and must be carefully to deal with, almost no major absolute symphony were composed between 1850 and 1870.  Not until 1870 did the emergence of a "second age of the symphony" arrive. With the works of Bruckner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bordoin, Dvorak and Frank, in the 1870s and 1880s, the symphony once again dominated a large part of the concert repertoire till to this day.


David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-03-16 (published)

2011年3月12日 星期六


前言: 無論是愛好音樂的聽眾,又或是研究音樂的學者, 說到貝多芬,總有說不盡的話題。我也不例外,也很想發表我對貝多芬第三交響曲,英雄,的音樂評論。在還沒有接續上一篇未完成的文章,討論貝多芬對後世交響曲和作曲家的影響前,多補充一下對貝多芬的樂曲的個人解讀,對看我文章的朋友,也是好的。說不定看過我的樂評後,真會買一張貝氏的第三交響曲的鐳射唱片來聽。這就是我發表以下評論的第一個原意。第二個原意,當然就是希望同學們通過我這篇樂評,掌握怎樣寫一篇好的音樂分析,又或是音樂評論的文章。我相信參巧以下文章的寫作風格,遺詞造句,同學們應該可以學會怎樣以樂音的角度去形容音樂,而不是只單純地引用一大堆如屬七和絃,又或 G 大調一類的專業音樂名詞去描寫音樂,就像很多音樂教科書一樣。第三個原意,不用多說,是幫助我上一篇文章曾談及學音樂的同學們,學會以專業的角度去了解貝多芬的樂曲,就算做功課也好,出來當老師也好,做學術簡介也好,好歹也可以有一些實質才料發表給聽眾知道,不用常常江湖救急了。


Beethoven’s Eroica

“It represents not only one of the most incredible achievements in the history of symphony, but also the most important step on the progression of the whole western music history,” Paul Henry Lang, the renowned musicologist and critic, once stated it when he commented on Beethoven symphony no. 3 in Eb major, Eroica (1803).  Although Eroica was written more than two hundred years ago, its impact on today’s listeners remains tremendous. 

It has already been widely known about Beethoven’s admiration for Napoleon Bonaparte and he dedicated this symphony for him. But after Napoleon’s self-coronation as the French Emperor, Beethoven gave up the idea. In fact, this legend has nothing related to the magnificent power of Eroica.  Compared to the stormy impact Eroica brought to the audience of different times and nations, the political turbulence caused by Napoleon was but a slight summer breeze.  In no more than a few decades did Europe recover from Napoleon’s devastation.  Eroica, on the contrary, had changed the entire concept of symphony and effectively brought the genre to a new stage.

Before Eroica was premiered to his main patron Prince Lobkowitz in 1804, Beethoven had built up his fame as a composer-performer by writing several instrumental pieces, including at least two symphonies, three piano concertos, in the classical style of Haydn. If Beethoven were merely satisfied with these achievements and continued working in a similar style, he might still had his name appeared in history with those contemporaries, such as Johann Nepomuk Hummel or Lugwig Sphor, but he certainly would not have become a revolutionary hero standing uniquely in the history of music. 

Beethoven’s revolutionary spirit has already been unleashed in the slow movements of both the piano sonata no. 13, Pathetique and Piano Concerto no. 3.  But it is still difficult to envisage the later development of Beethoven’s musical style from these movements. Doubtless Eroica has a particular attribute that no previous works of his possess. From the first note to the last, the music seems to narrate the life of a dramatic hero struggling from a tragic opening to a triumphant ending. In fact, this narrative character enhanced by pure instrumental music is pioneering.  Neither Mozart’s mature symphonies nor those of Haydn can exert such expressive power. In Beethoven’s hands, the classical ideal of balance of emotions and intellects is no longer maintained. The fact that Beethoven boldly gave up the classicism of Haydn and Mozart proved to be far-reaching.  Eroica becomes the first symphonic work stepping into the terrain of Romanticism.

In the outer appearance, Beethoven basically maintains the principles of what his predecessors did to classical symphony for Eroica.  For example, it is a symphony of four movements, which is a typical classical style developed by Joseph Haydn.  Also, Beethoven uses different keys to express various contrasting moods in all movements and let the home key returned after modulations, in order to keep unity.  However, Beethoven makes a great change in the design of structure.  This change not only makes an unavoidable expansion of the length, but also destroys the classical balance between movements, and replaces it with the unceasing dramatic impulses.  Both the length and complexity of the first movement has gone beyond all past instrumental works.  The first theme appears only in a brief glimpse in the opening few bars, and thus, tonal unity has been broken just after the first ten seconds.  Not until the music reaching the coda can a comparably stable theme be heard.  This completeness makes the ending theme looks like an opening theme, as if it should have appeared in the exposition.  In retrospect, Beethoven seems to have raised a thirteen-minute whirling storm over the first movement. 

Beethoven’s revolutionary “storm” commences with two Eb tonic chords playing in tutti.  The “heroic” theme, which is based on the arpeggiation of this Eb triad, is then heard.  Putting tonic materials in the very beginning of a movement are the most direct and effective ways to establish the stability of a work.  But it is only a fleeting stability because of the sudden intrusion of a C# note.  According to the principle of harmony, this dissonant C# must be resolved.  This unpleasant intrusion disappears shortly afterwards by resolving to another unstable dominant seventh chord.  Music is said to go back to its stable “home” again.  But this “home” only reflects a temporary placidity.  A terrible storm is forthcoming.

For today’s ears, the chromatic C# note is only a piece of black cloud in the sky.  Twentieth century music has been notorious for consisting notes of what the principles of classical harmony regard as “wrong.”  To understand the disturbance caused by this C#, we need only to recall the audience of the late eighteenth-century Vienna.  

Just before the private premiere of Eroica to Prince Lobkowitz, the revolutionary spirit has already pervaded the entire Continent.  The success of American Revolution in 1776 and French Revolution in 1789 brought a chain of impacts to the socio-political structure of Europe. One of the results was the rise of the social status of bourgeoisie and layman.  But this rise simultaneously denotes the fall of the aristocracy. Doubtless the late 18th century is a time for the blossom of humanity and equity, but it is also a time for the growth of anxiety and frustration. When the princes and nobles listened to symphonic works, they have already accustomed to the so-called Haydnian elegance and nobility for years. This fading classical style was still a highly revered beauty. The aristocratic Viennese did not need anything brutal to raise their anxieties, or to increase their worries. Thus, when Beethoven “Eroica” stood before them in the concert, this inflected C# was seen as a loss of social balance, or even a symbol of brutal invasion.

 But even greater anxieties were bought to those Viennese laymen.  Just a few days before Eroica’s first public performance in the concert hall (1805), Vienna was occupied by Napoleon’s army.  The nobles fled the city.  The audiences in the concert were the ones threatened by military invasion.  Thus it is not hard to understand why they easily link the music of the first movement to a sonic description of a battlefield, where they can think of general, soldiers, horse rearing, sabre shining or column of men streaming through the mountain. The awed sounds of war, being fused with the stirring music, were hovering among listeners. This inflected C#, therefore, was certainly seen as a symbol of brutal invasion.

Instead of the unstable C# note in the heroic theme, the other stormy feature embedded in Eroica is the scalic running passages. These passages can always arouse listeners a feeling of spirited forward motions. It is essential for an overwhelming musical storm. Although Beethoven begins his heroic theme with triple time, he makes use of syncopation and shift of dynamics to enhance a sense of two-beat march style of rhythm after the short opening. In addition, using the fragmented heroic theme as the main developing cell is another important source for generating motions. The turbulent storm first starts blowing in the low strings by the heroic theme. The high strings then answer. Every time when repeating, the theme is raised a tone until it reaches the climax. Only the first four notes of the main theme can survive after the climax, and are taken gradually by the woodwinds and brasses. This is not a moment for rest, but the anticipation for another flow. Shortly afterwards, the four-note heroic fragment reoccurs with increasing frequency, arresting every listener in a moment of high tension.  

Another example of Beethoven’s whirling storm happens in the second movement, the Funeral March. After two-third of the music, the opening theme returns softly in the first violin, hovering along the high register without any support.  The whole orchestra then roars with an Ab. The brass at the same time repeats the C, then the F over the agitated string triplet-tremolo. The music now is like a whirling storm, seeming to engulf everything without any intention to stop. What the orchestra playing is no longer the Mozartian slow movement of elegant singing, but a hysteric growl of extreme pain that goes beyond any listener’s imagination. Never has such thing happened in previous symphonies. Never such thing has happened in the previous symphonies. Furthermore, Beethoven seems to let his hero added with a little tragic, dark color. He fragments the funeral theme and let it dissolves in the quietness at the end of this movement, symbolizing the death and getting buried of the hero. Is this tragic hero Beethoven himself or other? Perhaps, no one knows the answer, even Beethoven himself.

The replacement of minuet and trio with scherzo in the third movement also reflects Beethoven’s another innovative character.  In order to maintain the stormy motion of this movement, Beethoven gives up his predecessors’ favorite, the courtly dance of minuet and trio.  The music is no more “lofty” enough to please the Viennese upper classes, or to extend their vanishing noble dreams.  It is reformed to a spirited and energetic chapter, seeming to mock at the hypocrisy of the Viennese upper class.  In fact, the use of a scherzo to replace the Minuet and Trio in the third movement of a symphony becomes one of the major characteristics of Beethoven’s symphonies.

If Beethoven were asked why he made such reformation, he might answer like this: “Why not!” A storm is still a storm. There is no reason why the finale of Eroica is not a storm. If the finale of Haydn and Mozart’s symphony is only the dessert, without any question, Beethoven’s finale will be the main course, or in the other words, the most powerful part of the storm. Usually, the classical symphony focuses on the first two movements in which all important ideas are displayed. The classical finale, thus, will be lighter and more relax in mood. But Eroica is absolutely different.  The overwhelming power of the revolutionary storm can be easily felt in this triumphant ending. Beethoven must have known that a light and vivid finale could not counterbalance the gigantic and complex preceding movements. Therefore, Beethoven not only uses the duple meter, a March design for this spirited movement, but he also increases the complexity of the music and makes the length two times longer than the usual classical finale. 

Furthermore, the structure of this movement does not follow any classical model.  Sometimes, the music flows in form of a variation suite. But in another time, it freely appears as a fugato. The heroic theme propels forward like a fierce storm, seeming to use one man’s strength to break all bondages of the old social hierarchy and set all the people of any class free to a land of liberty, equity, and fraternity. This is why Sir George Grove has once commented: “Eroica is a portrait of Napoleon, but it is Beethoven who paints himself on it.” 

 In short, from no. 1 to no. 9 (Choral Symphony), Beethoven’s symphonies can always enter into a new terrain that no one has discovered. In fact, Eroica was Beethoven’s most favorite symphony throughout his life. But not many Viennese contemporary listeners showed the same appreciation. Some critics fiercely attacked it by saying that it is the most difficult symphony to understand. They criticized that Beethoven could not control many parts of the music, letting them flowing illogically.  If Beethoven cut off some unmanageable parts, the music could be more bright, fluent, and understandable. As such, the Viennese mass seems being unready to accept Beethoven’s revolutionary storm.

However, no matter how 18th century Viennese aristocratic listeners disliked this symphony, the old epoch has passed. Eroica was just like a short gleam from dawn after a long deep night, anticipating a splendid coming of a new and dazzling era.

David Leung (theorydavid)
2011-03-12 (published)

2011年3月11日 星期五

Beethoven's Influences of Symphony - 1

前言: 我已經常常說,香港的現代教育,簡直是混賬到極,不知所謂到不能忍受的地步。香港那所訓練未來老師的最高學府裡頭的 "教授" 們給了 assignment 同學,又驚同學們沒有時間做,又驚他們不識做,又驚題目出得深,就說叫他們抄書就可以了。我有一位私人學生急急 call 我,並告訴我看完 Palisca 那本 History textbook 天書,都沒有直接答案談及有 Beethoven 對後世音樂 和音樂家的影響。現在是江湖告急。嗚呼! 連那些修音樂為主科的學位學生,隨口也不能 present 十分鐘有關貝多芬對音樂的貢獻和影響,還敢說自己是讀音樂,懂音樂的嗎? 看著書本也不懂 "抄",(應該是偷),怎辦? 我們常說,熟讀唐書三百首,不會吟詩也會 "抄" 嘛。坦白說,平時我指導這些私人學生,也常常提及不同作曲家和作品的風格特色和對後世的貢獻。些個同學是學 AMusTCL 考試研習的,Set piece 是 Schubert 的第五交響曲,我也談及過這首作品和 Beethoven 的交響作品的相同和不同的關係。我也曾教過同學,舒氏一生以 Beethoven 這位同期的前輩大師為學習對象,連死前也想學習 Counterpoint (這是Beethoven 最精,但 Schubert 最弱的技巧),皆因要寫偉大的交響曲,沒有精練的對位技巧是不行的。可是同學們就當私人老師是補鑊助理,"求其" 要他們改改 past paper 就算是跟他們學了。他們就只關心學校是否給他們一張證書,所以對校內的課就比較認真,私人嘛....嘿嘿....


Carl Dahlhaus suggested that the development of  symphony in the Romantic period could be described as circum-polar; composers had to response to or answer to, to more or less, the challenges and new trends by Beethoven. The following discussion is the Beethovean influences of the development of symphony.

First, large scale, and longer work: All symphonies have to be extended in order to express the aesthetics of  Romantic Sublimity. One of the elements that Romantic composers to deal with this expression was to create longer and larger work. In reception to  Beethoven's lengthly symphony ninth, Malher, for instance, created symphonies of almost double the length of his predecessor.

Second, greater emotional contrasts: Emotinal content  of the materials ranged more widely than that used in the Classical symphony. Thanks should go to the emergence of the liberal humantistic idea of Individualism in 19th century Europe. Greater and deeper explorations on individual inner emotions were demanded by artists in their artistic creations, claiming for the relief of one's sentimental burdens and immersed unexplainable passions. The common saying, " I am not the best, though, I am different"  was undoubtedly the incentive for composers seeking their inner emotional expressions through the media of musical art. Symphony, regarded as the highest form of all arts, was taken-for-granted to act as a sharp weapon  to achieve this purpose. Beethoven not only expressed his "giant-tyrant" like personality and zeals through his "heroic" symphonies, such as symphony no. 3 and no. 5, but also exerted a large  impact on the later followed composers to investigate their thoughts, ideals and dreams of a higher socio-political level through the musical genre of symphony. Mendelossohn's Symphony 5, Reformation, for instance, can be regarded as a response to the political turmoil  of the Post-revolutionary period in the 19th century Europe.

Third, Beethoven established the uniqueness of each symphony: each symphony had different aims and confronts different problems: What is a symphony? When classical composers seek to maintain a balance form and shape of a symphony with the use of sonata-allegro form as the first movement, then following by a contrast lyrical slow movment,  Beethoven attempted to extend such a rigid genre and structure by adding more weights on the coda and the last two movments. He replaced scherzo for Haydnean minuet, showing his inventive, however courageous, experiment to challenge the classical formality. How about the classical point of view of the balance of keys? What is the ultimate goal for such balance and well-proportion? Composers after Beeethoven would not hestitate to write any form of symphonic music that went far beyond the boundary of a conventional musical genre. If Beethoven could complete a symphony in five movements (symphony no. 6), instead of a standardized balance form of four movements, why not me! Perhaps, this can help us understand why Schubert 's symphony 5 in Bb major broke the normal rule of a sonata principle that the recapituation section returns in subdominant key, instead of the normal tonic key. It seems that this breakthrough just wanted to inform Schubert;s contemporary audience that there is no need to reolve dominant to tonic in sonata principle.

Fourth, The whole symphony becomes unified through its developing emotional content, outlining a psychological journey: To Haydn and Mozart of the Classical period, symphony, was not more than an instrumental piece to let different sounds sounding together. They wrote symphony for the patrons, for the rising middle-class  concerts. They wrote because audience liked it. Beethoven, on the other hand, wrote symphony for himself. According to Sir Grove,  Beethoven's music never failed to depict a protrait of Beethoven himself. Symphony no. 3, for instance, although was written originally for the dedication to Bonaparte, an ideal hero liberating the layman people from political monarchy, was undoubtedly a sonic image of Beethoven himself. The music of this "Heroic" symphony can be realized as four stage of the growth of hero, say, first movement, is the born of a naive hero,  second movement, is the dead of  hero, third, is the resurrection of hero, and then the finale is the  triumphant of hero. While Beethoven wrote symphony to seek the issue of hero, Gustav Mahler, on the other hand, followed Beethoven to transcend symphony as a medium to explore the issues of life and death. Richard Strauss, though he wrote symphonic poem, instead of a conventional symphonic genre, tended to complete the 'definition' of 'Hero', after Beethoven's attempt to do so, in his famous work 'Heldenleben', 'The Life of a Hero.' True, Beethovean effects prevails every sorts of musical work, ranging from a tiny toy-like miniature to a monumental symphony in the19th century up to the 20th century.

To Be Continued...........待續

David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-03-11 (published)

Interpreting Beethoven’s Middle and Late Styles of Work

前言: 對於 Beethoven 來說,或許耳聾了是一個不幸中的恩賜。就是因為他不再須要了解別人的想法,只為根本聽不到他們說甚麼,所以,他就可以用近乎肆意放縱的心態去創作,想寫甚麼就寫甚麼,不須理會別人的感受,甚至喜歡與否。這樣,他流下來那如謎一樣的音樂,讓各種各色人去評論,研究,探索,甚至閒談,吹捧。這都只因這些樂曲往往帶有無限詮釋的可能,跟本是不需要,甚至是不可能讓聽眾達致一個共同的理解。有人說,這類曲樂,往往在貝多芬晚期風格 (late style 1824-1827) 的音樂裡呈現。可是,我卻認為貝多芬的中期的音樂風格 (middle style 1803-1820) 的音樂 ,如英雄交響曲 op.53 等,都已經浮現了這種如謎一樣的特性。而且,我認為這些帶有如謎一樣的音樂特性,正是現代藝術的多角度詮釋 (multiple readings) 的先驅。並為在貝多芬往後一佰多年後的後現代詮釋理論奠下了基石。就讓我們看看前人和今人甚樣看 Beethoven 的 中與晚期作品風格裡的謎樣特性。


Interpreting Beethoven’s Middle and Late Styles of Work

To many experienced concertgoers, Beethoven’s late style works are apt to lack of the composer’s earlier boldness and charm, for which the classical aesthetics is highly praised. The eerie sound is only to signify the listeners that conventional elements have struggled to break away from the work, leaving only incomprehensible fragments behind, and communicating itself as if in cipher, expressing “expressionlessly”. In fact, these fissures and rifts are hard to decipher, just like a spontaneous composite of “irrational” dissonances, perhaps noises, and a series of irrational chopping sound blocks under the governing of an uncontrollable mind.

For this dramatic change of style from an ineffable genius to a nutty deaf madman, the acceptable explanation may be that these works are products of a subjectivity, or of a “personality” ruthlessly proclaiming itself, which breaks through the elegance of form for the sake of expression, replacing sweet harmonies for the dissonance of its sorrow and rejecting any superficial sensuous charm for a deep contemplative profundity.

One explanation for Beethoven's change of style is that he had a change of personality when he became deaf.  His later music, particularly the six late string quartets, starting from op.127 to op. 135, loses previous charm and becomes more dissonant and yet more contemplative.

Therefore, it is not surprise that Theodor Adorno regards Beethoven’s late works are “relegated to the margins of art and brought closer to a personal documentation”. This is why referencing Beethoven’s individual biography and his life are seldom absent from discussions of his late works; as if, in face of human’s life, struggle, destiny, and finally death, conventional art concept has to forfeit its right and give way to the philosophical and aesthetic theory. Thus the concepts of self-consciousness, irony, sublimity, together with the ideas of subjectivity and psychological reflection are often applied in the interpretation of Beethoven’s later works.

However, reading music, symphony in particular, as philosophy, rhetoric, narrative or religious meditation is not only restricted to Beethoven’s late works. In the mid-style Beethoven, works such as Symphony no. 3 in Eb major, Eroica, and Symphony no. 5 in C minor, are also well opened to various modes of interpretation. Scholars, philosophers and musicologists of different generations are like to apply a narrative reading to the mid-Beethoven’s works. For example, both the 19th century philosophers A.B. Marx and Alexandre Oulibicheff coincidentally offered a programmatic interpretation to Eroica. They both claimed that they could hear the music of the first forty-five bars of this Napoleon-oriented program symphony as a sonic picture of a battlefield where generals, array of soldiers and horses with flags, canons, guns and swords are all participating in the battle.

Besides the battlefields, to many scholars, Erioca is always read as a narration of the growth of a hero, thereby describing the dualistic contrast of the musical elements as the conflict between the hero’s inner nature and his/her external world. Sometimes, this psychological reading could be elevated to a higher humanistic level. Romain Rolland projects the hero’s battle as a battle jointed between two souls, figured roughly as the will and the heart. And the fighting will go on continuously between one’s “ego of love” and the “ego of will” as the self continues growing up. Even the formalists who tend to eschew any programmatic interpretation exploit the dual nature of the contrasting elements in Eroica to give a reading in terms of structural downbeat orientation versus structural upbeat orientation. As we have seen, a narration centers around a metaphoric hero’s or self’s growth, conflicts, struggles, conquer and finally victory seeming to be the basic paradigm for all sorts of interpretation of Eroica, or even of the mid-style works of Beethoven.

To more or less, using programmatic interpretation to understand Beethoven’s music relates to the rising importance of the concept of idée in 19th century Romanticism. In fact, the power of idée, or idea, in symphonic works is its ability to override formal musical considerations if necessary. Forms, harmonies, and other musical parameters are subjective to idée. When thinking the main theme of Eroica as an idée representing a human hero, the development of this theme is typically characterized as a spiral process in which the hero goes forth, suffers a crisis of consciousness, overcomes certain obstacles, experiences “death” for eternal glory, and finally returns enriched and renewed. Scott Burnham, a contemporary scholar, agrees with the importance of reading Beethoven’s music as a hero narrative and furthers claims that the value of such programmatic reading lies in our “continued subscription to the subject-laden values of the so-called Goethezeit, or Age of Goethe”. According to Burnham, the worldview of the Goethezeit is an “ennobling and all-embracing concept of self”. The emerging forms of the Romantic imagination are based on the “scenarios of the individual self, such as birth and death, personal freedom and destiny, self-consciousness, and self-overcoming”. Due to the unique on-going musical process set in Beethoven’s works, it is hardly surprise that Beethoven’s heroic style merges the Goethean enactment of becoming with the narration of consciousness. And this accentuation of the dramatic process of “becoming” comes along with many German dramas of the Goethezeith, which are usually expressed as the heroic quest for freedom as the underlying idea.  

True, it is the idea “freedom” that brings us closer to Beethoven’s symphonic works. In fact, according to Daniel Chua, Beethoven’s middle period works are no longer confined to be interpreted as philosophical heroism, but has elevated to represent a form of humanistic quest for total freedom. Chua borrows Theodor Adorno’s word to explain how the idea of “freedom” can be expressed in Beethoven’s music by saying that “the musical processes of Beethoven’s heroic works articulate the very structures of freedom.” But this is a particular form of freedom, not the cliché slogan of freedom, say, political freedom, of one commonly thinks of nowadays. Indeed Beethoven’s own voice of “freedom”, which can be derived from the German Idealist thought, is a kind of freedom to be articulated by the zero equation between the subject and its actions, which is capable of enabling humanity in two ways: first, “zero, as the origin of human self-creation and generates everything from nothing; second, nothing is the frictionless condition where the will is free from all determination.” Here, the keyword that brings us closer to the understanding of the idea of Beethovenian freedom is “nothing”, that is, in Adorno’s sense, nothing is signified, and “nothing” does anything. Of course, for the philosopher, zero-origin of creation that articulates the freedom of void does not simply mean an empty sign of music. What Beethoven does is to turn the empty sign into a symphonic procedure. It is zero origin because nothing is found at the origin of the creative act in Beethoven’s symphonic music.

Take the opening of symphony no. 9 as example. According to Adorno, the music heard in the initial measures just signifying nothing. This absolutely nothing is due to the nothingness of the programmatic element of this work that refers to. And the music goes on a “continuum of nothing” mainly because the symphony merely begins with an alien two-note gesture leaping downwardly in a bare, hollow sound of open fifth without showing any sign to articulate the forthcoming materials. Its appearance here is just like a free act over which no material has precedence. True, nothing is narrated here. As the music goes on, it still contains nothing and becomes nothing. From this sense, the idea of Beethovenian “freedom” is said to be articulated in the freedom of the void, which is only imaginable in the context of aesthetics, not in the reality. 

From the above discussion, Beethovenian scholars seem favor of using programmatic narration to interpret Beethoven’s mid-style works, viewing his music as a representation of a hero’s growth. The success of using this paradigm in many musical interpretations, to more or less, I believe, is because of the revolutionary milieu that makes the fin de siècle Europe well-prepared for accepting of such a “hero” come, and the power of the so-called motivic variation technique, which is largely demonstrated in numerous Beethoven’s works for its fitness for such paradigm. On the contrary, since the political-cultural milieu and Beethoven’s compositional language have been greatly changed in his late period, the paradigm of interpretation thus turns inwardly to the individual side of Beethoven’s personal psychological and aesthetical states, rather than the socio-cultural side. That is why the concept of self-consciousness and irony are well fit for explaining the music of late Beethoven. However, for the far-reaching and overwhelming power of Beethoven’s music, whether it is Beethoven’s mid- or late style works, thinking his music as a philosophical idea is always possible. Daniel Chua’s exploration on Beethovean freedom is undoubtedly a typical example of illustrating this.

David Leung (theory david)
2011-03-11 (re-published)

2011年3月9日 星期三

Biedermeier Culture

前言: 這兩年 AMusTCL的考試的 set piece,範例作品,是  Schubert  在 1816 年完成的 Bb 大調 交響曲第五號。由於這首作品的風格,跟舒氏自己在約五個月前寫作的交響曲第四號 ( 悲劇,Tragic),有很大的分別,樂隊編制也相對細少得可憐,很多聽眾都因而感到大為困惑。寫何在同一個時期寫作的作品會有這麼大的差距呢? 當我教授這首作品時,我就提出了當時在維也納一帶湧現的一個藝術風格,稱為 Biedermeier Style。我相信個算是比較突然出現,但看來不大持久 (1815-1830),並具有地域性限制的風格,是影響舒伯特寫作這首樂曲的主要來源。可是,何為 Biedermeier Style 呢? 同學相信可從以下簡論找得答案。


Biedermeier Culture (David Leung)

Few historians will deny that employing the single term “Romantic period” to characterize the European music of the 19th century, at least in the first half of the century, is problematic. While Hugo Riemann recognizes the presence of anti-Romantic or non-Romantic trends in music, one of his contemporaries, Walter Niemann, speaks of the “near-Romantic” composers such as Sphor and Kuhlau, who were in a lesser rank, though they also composed within this Romantic period. Such style has attracted greater scholarly attention in the recent studies of German literary, art history, and music history, and has been labelled the “Biedermeier” style, which emerged in the year immediately following the French Revolution and its Napoleonic aftermath. The Biedermeier style is characterized as a retreat from Romantic striving and pathos, an abhorrence of excess in all forms, and a love of bourgeois tranquility, and it also concerns the things of everyday, modesty, decorum a reverence for the past, and the idea of self-improvement. Carl Dahlhaus, a modern German Musicologist, regards Biedermeier as a kind of culture and an artistic life which coincided with the 19th century Romanticism as its sister movement.

Since the intrinsic value of Biedermeier is “realistic”, rustic, domestic, and in favor of restoring the revered past, the Biedermeier music is based upon the classical model enchanted with somewhat noble simplicity and elegance, which easily associates with the Mozartean beauty. The Biedermeier thematic melody tends to favor the uses of classical topos and the phrases are usually short-breathed, easily assimilated with turns of phrase and gesture borrowed from the past. The graceful ornaments commonly found in music often retain much of the shape and expressive gestures of their Mozartean antecedents and are more concerns of an attractive melodic surface than an expression of a strong personal feeling. Even the employment of chromatic materials in music tends to be localized (within a diatonic framework) and ornamental, more than structural. As a result, at the turn of the 18th century when Romanticism started to play a leading role in all kinds of art, the Biedermeier music was written to conform to the stylistic expectation of 19th century “public”, and to embody the cultural aspiration of the conservative side of the society. Its essence and values originate in its appeal to and its comprehensibility by the rising middle class. Through the Biedermeier music, the disappearing musical conventions of the Classical era reappeared and were restored in a nostalgic haze, by which the aesthetics and core values of the music of the previous era thus were temporarily redeemed.

David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-03-09 (published)

2011年3月4日 星期五

Bach Chorale 的和聲與四部和聲的分別

前言: 學生在學習寫作初級和聲時,第一種要寫作的音樂積體,通常就是四部和聲,即我們常叫的 SATB 和聲練習。Bach Chorale 這種樂曲,外貌也看來很像四部和聲。雖然寫作四部和聲的法則,是可以 apply 到 寫作 Bach Chorale 這種樂曲裡,可是,兩種外貌相似的音樂寫作,卻有很多不同的地方。


學寫四部和聲是 writing Harmony 的基礎。如果學生基礎不好,他們就不能應付寫作為其他音樂積體而寫作的和聲練習了。學習四部和聲,全面一點的理解是,學習四個聲部導引, 4-part voices leading ,的和聲進行。這意味到四部和聲,不單是和聲進行裡 "縱" 的關係 (vertical relationship),還有 "橫" 的關係 (linear relationship),因為有 voice leading 嘛。Bach 的 chorale,從外表的形態看,很像四部和聲的積體。因為兩種音樂的 textures 都是 heterorhythmic (chordal) 的形態 (style)。可是,顧名思義,既說是 chorale,即是一種樂曲,是真實的音樂 (real music)。可以拿來表演的。有它的特定風格,當然也有 Bach 個人運用和聲的風格。反過來說,四部和聲,不是某一種特定曲種 (genre),所以,它不含音樂風格,也不能拿來演出。正確一點,四部和聲是一個有關調性和聲理論 (tonal harmony theory) 的一個理論模形 (theorectical model),是用來幫助我們理解和聲研究 (harmony study) 方面,有關和絃進行 (Chord progression) 的一個 ideal model。只因為 Bach Chorale 的 texture 和四部和聲的都是一樣的,同學們就很容易混淆不清了。因此,我們可以推論,四部和聲 model 所顯示的和聲法則,可以不單止運用在 Chorale 這種樂曲上,也可以運用到其他含有和聲寫作的樂曲上,如,piano work,string quartet,或 orchestra work 上。

四部和聲的寫作,包括了很多從對位法演變出來的 rules。當中有一些是  hard rules,也有一些是 soft rules 。既說是 hard rules,寫作時就不能犯的,例如,寫作和聲不能有平衡八度 和五度,一個和絃不能含有兩個 leading note,又或所有 七和絃的 dissonant seventh 都應當下行 一級音解決到 consonant 的和絃音上等。當然,就算是稱為 hard rules,有時也會有例外,始終音樂是一種藝術,exception 是總有的。至於 soft rules,其實是一種原則,可跟也可不跟,視乎前後的音樂語境 (musical context)。例如,我們會盡量做到聲部的橫向旋律是大跳小回,recover 番 leap 空的音,或 令 bass line 盡可能進行流暢,多作級進,walking bass line 等。既說是 principle, 就要靈活掌握,視四部和聲不是一大堆 letter names,而是樂音,sol fa names 才可以寫得有效果。這就解釋為何我在較早前說學生的四部和聲習作大都寫得不好,因為他們不以寫音樂的方式去對待這種寫作,也不肯熟背這些寫作的 rules,再以這些 hard and soft rules 去作決定怎樣安排四個聲部的 voice leading 和 作 Chord 的選擇。

話說 Bach 的 Chorale 裡,有很多個人的和聲愛 (personal harmonic idiom)。例如, Bach 很不喜歡用三和絃的 second inversion。我們在寫作四部和聲時,可以運用的 passing sixth-four ,就最不用。Bach 只是偶爾用 cadiential six-four ,用在 perfect cadence (IAC/PAC) 處。他在更多時候會用 一個 adnormal double 的 I chord 或其 first inversion 在 perfect cadence 處 的 V or V7 Chord 之前,令 bass line 含有一個 voice leading 為  3 ----5------1-----,而 upper line 則是一個返向進行的 voice leading,為 3-------2------1------。

我們常說的 abnormal doubling of a chord ,就是說一個三和絃  (triad) 不是 double root (根音)。 通常的 soft rules是,所有三和絃最好double 這個和絃 的 root 音,這使和絃產生最豐厚的音響,可是,我們就會在以下四種情況不跟從這條 rule (soft): 第一: diminished triad,減和絃是不能 double 三音的 。第二: second inversion of a triad 不能 double root音的。第三: 第七音 ,即 leading note 是不能 double 的,所以當一個和絃的根音是導音時,就不能 double。第四: 當一個和絃 double了根音後,聲部進行會產生一個錯誤,如平衡八度或五度時,我們就當然不能 double root 音了。

 可是,除了以上四個顯明的 rules 之外,為何 Bach 會在上述的 cadential movement 處 double 了 I Chord 的 third factor (3音) 呢?,這是 rule ,法則,不能解釋的。但我們既說是 principle,是有彈性的,我們可以用樂音的流暢度去衡量用了 abnormal doubling 後,Bass line是否真的 smooth了。

當然,對於合唱歌曲而言,音樂線條 (melodic lines) 越 smooth 越好。我們剛剛談過,Bach Chorales 的 bass line 是含有很多 walking bass 的設計。所以, 就這一點而論,,我們就明白為何 Bach 用 3---5----1---- abnormal doubled 的 I chord 了。第一: Bach 可以加 passing note "4" 音去做成
3----4----5----1---- 的 bass line。第二: 如果 perfect cadence V---I 這兩個原位 chords 之 前再用一個原位 chord I,bass line 1----5---1---- 就會很 stable,而且,三個原位 chords 一起進行,也會令 cadence 的和絃進行缺乏推進的動力,因為原位的 chord 比轉位的 chord 更 stable。這也解釋了為何我們喜歡在 臨近 cadence 處用有張力的 seventh chord 或變化和絃去動 cadential movement。Baroque Music 有一句 description 是這樣的: Music is driven to the cadence。

所以,學習四部和聲,要扎好根底,因為不論是寫作 chorale 還是 classical piano harmony,我們都要運用從四部和聲所學得的 rules 去引導我們作出決定,如何選擇和絃和寫作其中的 voice leading。再者,熟練 harmonic concept,也可以幫助我們理解各個不同時期的和聲風格,和作曲家個人的寫作手法。只有通過分析前人的作品,我們才可以掌握和聲的寫作。這樣,我們就可以說是學懂和聲學了。

David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-03-04 (published)

2011年3月1日 星期二

寫作四部和聲的要訣 -- edited

前言: 教了二十多年的和聲學,總覺得現在的學生,在處理四部和聲時,雖是盡力,但卻寫得不好。可是,要寫四部和聲,卻是大多數公開考試的常設題目,學生要逃避也不可能。最近AMusTCL 課程快要開始了,我請學生做一條簡單四部和聲習題,好檢示一下他們的寫作能力,嗚呼! 寄過來給我評改的,仍是老樣子,看來學生真的不懂四部和聲寫作的 soft rules 和 hard rules了。


我認為學生的問題一般出於他們不肯將和聲寫作視為真正音樂的寫作。他們滿腦子只是 letter names。他們數一個 chord 只懂數 A,B,C, 音,但不肯花多一些時間去視唱其 scale degree 音,即 視 1, 3, 5音為 I chord 等。因此,他們的和聲寫作只顯示縱的關係 (vertical) ,卻沒有橫的關係 (linear)。所以很難寫得好 voice leading。他們的四部根本沒有 voice leading ( linear 的一面)。但為何學生不肯改過來呢? 就是因為他們樣樣學習,都只是有洞補洞,急就章的學習,考完試,過關了,就不再對自己有要求,不再練習,不肯扎根,這樣,碰上高一級程度的考試,就不能應付了。所以當學生考完八級後,再上 AMusTCL,他們就應付不了 Bach Chorale 的寫作了。

學生 BR 寫了一個短的 Bach Chorale 習作給我點評他的水平。我看後,不禁搖搖頭。只好趁此機會淺談一下和聲寫作的概念。

1.  和聲進行:

        單看 BR 寫下的 chord symbol,就看出他不明和絃間的進行規則了。
       你寫一句 simple sentence,一定是 S ---- V---- O,例如: He plays football。
      你不會寫  plays he  football。
      Tonal Harmony 的法則 (harmonic grammar),也與此類同。

2. 和聲功能:
因為以調性為中心,所以,chord 進行的選擇,第一個考慮因素就是 support/establish tonality。
為了達到這個要求,我們必需先看看 一個音階所能構成的 triads 的 和聲功能。因為這功能 (function) 就與語言的結構類同。

我們可將  I,(vi,iii ) 歸入 tonic function ,主功能。以I Chord 為首,vi chord 為副,iii 為 替代。
又將 IV, (ii,vi) 歸為 PD 或 SD function,下屬功能。以IV Chord為首,ii chord為副,vi 為較次的替代。

然後,將 V ,(vii dim,和 iii ) 歸為 dominant ,D function,屬功能。以 V 為首,vii dim 為副,iii 為替代。

好了,原來各級和絃是有 hierarchy (高低等級) 的。我們常見到的和絃進行,如果要全力 support tonality,其功能就會是 T---- (PD) ---- D---- I  。偶爾 pre-dominant 的和絃不出現也是 可以的。因為最重要的是 dominant 解決到 tonic 這個  process 去 keep tonality。 查實這組和絃的進行,很像語言的 grammar,就是: Tom always Plays Football。
                                                           S       Adv    V        O

                            Chord prg.               T       PD     D        T

從以上的比較,我們可得知,SD/PD 的和絃就等於語言學上的 adverb,拿來 articulate dominant 功能的和絃 (Verb) 出來,而最終的目的地也同樣是 tonic function 的主和絃 。

所以,如果我們去分析一些簡單的和聲題目 ,不難發現,來來去去的和絃進行,都是

I---IV----V----vi,vi----ii---V---I 之類。應付基本和聲的習題,我們應該不會害怕多用這些 function 清楚的和絃。用多了 I,可用 vi。用多了 IV,可選用 ii 代替。偶爾用 iii 來 prolong I 功能。另外,原位和第一轉位的選擇,是要勾劃一個流暢的 bass line 為目的,不是隨意選擇。

當然,要 support 調性,最重要的還是 cadence 裡用的和絃是不能任意改變,要跟足是某個 cadence 種類的要求。

我們光看看 BR 的chord selection: 第一句配絃就有問題:

V   /     V7   iic    V   vii7b (half dim7)   I   vii7b (half-dim7)   /     ii 

第一疑問: 為何弱拍到強拍會用同 bass note 的 V Chord. 我們一般是祈望轉 chord 的,不然就產生了syncopated 的 harmonic rhythm。但 Bach 偶爾會在 樂句 opening 重覆 I Chord,以穩定 Home tonality 先。但不是重覆 V chord.
第二疑問: 為何 V7 進行到 pre-dominant 的 ii,還要是 second inversion,試問怎樣 keep tonality?
第三疑問: 為何 vii7 (half-dim7) 有兩個 leading notes?
第四推問,為何 seven factor of a seventh chord 沒有下行決到 consonant 的音上?
第五疑問,為何 cadence 用的 chords 是 vii7 (half-dim7) 到 ii chord? 這是甚麼 cadence?
第六疑問,為何 有這麼多 second inversion 的 chord 出現? 所有second inversion 的triad 都是有條件的運用,不是像其他原位,轉位的和絃 一樣,隨意運用的。

因此,寫作和聲,基本說來,是需要學生熟知其中的原則和規則。我看先學好和聲的概念,懂得解釋和聲在作品中的作用,再加上多分析大師的作品,看看他們是怎樣運用和聲,選擇和絃,其目 的何在等。然後學生就可以摸彷 masters 去寫作他們的 harmonic style。



David Leung (theorydavid)

2011-02-28  (published)