Fornøyelig Tiids-fordriv : musikk i norske notebøker fra 1700-tallet: beskrivelse, diskusjon og musikalsk presentasjon i et oppføringspraktisk perspektiv
Doctoral thesis, Recording, musical
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“The pleasurable passage of time”: A description, discussion, and musical presentation of music from 18th century Norwegian music books as seen in light of performance practice. - - This dissertation presents, in text and music, a repertoire widely disseminated and appreciated in 18th century Norway. Hand‐written music books or tune‐books contain melodies that were well known and popular in the 18th century; perhaps we could call these tunes the “hits” of the day? For a variety of reasons they are relatively unknown to modern audiences. Part 1 introduces the reader to the aim and structure of the thesis and the selection of sources (sections 1.3‐5), starting out with an account of the original recording‐project that led to my interest in this music (1.1). In 1990 the renowned fiddler Ånon Egeland and I set out to examine and present the roots of Norwegian traditional music, remnants of which we believed were to be found in hand‐written music books. My personal hope was also to find material that could be included in concert programs along with “regular” baroque music. Some of the music from the resulting CD For Borger og Bønder (For Citizens and Peasants) is included in the enclosed CDs. My intention is to develop a deeper understanding of a nearly forgotten repertoire as it appears in 6 manuscripts associated with the Norwegian part of the kingdom of Denmark‐Norway. My contention is that this understanding will enhance the interpretation of other 18th century music, and my ambition is that this repertoire again can function as a “pleasurable passage of time”. - - Part 2 discusses a selection of earlier writings on the subject, mainly focussing on historiography, the origin and diffusion of cultural impulses, and the attempt to assign melodies, manuscripts, scribes, and collectors to various categories. - - Part 3 deals with methods and theory. While it has been profitable to draw on traditional text‐critical methods and hermeneutics (3.1‐2), the practical nature of presenting this music to the public in the form of recordings and concerts entails combining the relatively new discipline of historical performance practice with the trial‐and‐error “methodology” of a pragmatic working process. Although studies in historical performance practice can tell us something (but never enough) about how music was performed, the choice of using this information in a musical context still lies with the performer. He/she can choose between various ideological positions: Historically Informed Practice (HIP), Historically Inspired Practice, and the even more open Historically Informed Intuition (3.4 and 3.5). This last approach is based on my personal experience as a musician: Even after painstaking studies and preparations, something unforeseen and creative always happens in "sannhetens øyeblikk" ("the moment of truth"), when the performer is left to his own devices and must present a finished performance before an audience. What actually happens when there for the most part is no composer to rely on and no polished “work of art” to refer to, but rather unfinished sketches to assist the memory? Who constructs the missing pieces of the puzzle game? Michael Polanyi's notion of “tacit knowledge” is explored and applied together with the Dreyfus‐brothers' theory of “expert knowledge” to describe how we somehow seem to be able to feel comfortable in musical styles and genres more than 200 years old (3.5.2‐3). When facing uncertainty, which for all scientific purposes always must be there, it is necessary to hold the truth “by an unceasing mental effort” (Polanyi). A similar view is to be found in the writings of Søren Kierkegaard, who holds no respect for objective truths, but maintains that the genuine believer throws himself into “70 000 fathoms of water”: the “leap of faith”. This is arguably analogous to the performer’s “moment of truth”, where, in the act of creation, there is no time for considering alternative interpretations. All his faith must be in the moment and in himself (3.5.9). Belief in one's choices generates the indispensable authority needed to present a personal interpretation. Part 4 describes the main sources. Music historians dealing with the 18th century have found few important and original works that can be ascribed to composers working in the northern part in the double monarchy of Denmark–Norway. Only the names of Johan Daniel Berlin, Johan Henrik Freithoff, Georg von Bertouch, and perhaps Peter Høeg, are familiar to a few specialists, and in most of these cases it is easy to point to foreign origin, mostly Germany, for family ties as well education and cultural background. In Denmark‐Norway, most public music‐making was part of a strictly regulated system of town musicians, holding on to the monopoly given to them by the king. Assisted by their apprentices and deputy musicians, they had not only the right, but also the duty to provide the necessary music in their town and in the surrounding region. The town musicians struggled to preserve these rights against “beer fiddlers” and out‐of‐work military musicians. Numerous court records provide valuable insight into this other, unauthorized music‐making perhaps more widespread in Norwegian society than the urban culture originating in Denmark and Germany. For this reason it is wise to look for evidence of musical activity in the numerous hand‐written music books circulating in diverse layers of society. Along with the inevitable unknown owners, they belonged to merchants, government officials, farmers and deputy musicians from the southern part of Norway. For the most part, the melodies appear to have been collected haphazardly, and there seems to be evidence of both oral and written transmission. Six music books with altogether 1094 melodies, some of them duets, adapted for keyboard, violin, recorder, bass viol and oboe, make up the main sources (section 4.1). Other similar music books have been consulted and are referred to when necessary. The musical repertoire in these manuscripts gives us fascinating insights into the changing fashions and styles of informal music making, both in the cities and in rural areas. As discussed in section 4.2, most of the tunes are probably of foreign origin. However, two previously unknown minuets that can be ascribed to the Norwegian composer and violinist Johan Henrik Freithoff were found in one of the main sources, and are transcribed and edited as appendix 3. In his book Impuls og tradisjon (Impulse and tradition), Asbjørn Hernes discusses the dissemination of culture from the leading centres to the periphery. He asserts that the royally appointed town musicians introduced many of the tunes that later became traditional folk music of Norway, as well as its main instrument the fiddle, to the population. He was not able to present sufficient facts supporting his theory. In this dissertation, largely thanks to the expertise of Ånon Egeland, the missing evidence is revealed, especially in the examination of the five melodies singled out for a closer look (4.4). The general characteristics of fashionable dances such as the minuet and various country‐dances have indeed influenced Norwegian traditional music, and, in fact, even entire melodies have been assimilated by our musical culture and are today regarded as genuinely Norwegian. A handful of melodies appear in several sources, often in different versions and arranged for different instruments. Used for a variety of purposes and associated with both secular and religious texts, they testify to the exceptional power of a good tune. Part 5 deals with the practical side of performance practice, here considered a useful and necessary tool when revitalizing ancient and unknown music. Reflections on the nature of this discipline and its partly ideological nature are presented in Part 3, and function as a connection between the theoretical and practical aspects of the dissertation, just as they lead to specific, personal and artistic choices in the performance of this repertoire. Since the methodical approach combines theory and practice, the writer's personal views are made explicit. Advice on performance matters was derived from the working process behind performing this music, and it is observed that new insights into musical practice are also applicable to the more conventional repertoire of the 18th century, including music by wellknown composers such as Bach, Händel and Telemann. Topics of musical notation, tempo, time signatures and form are discussed, and the results point to a certain similarity between "art" and "folk" music, although it should be emphasized that both concepts were almost certainly unfamiliar to the scribes and users of the 18th century music books. Do we need to develop a special style of performance in order to recreate this music (5.3)? The study of the theoretical writings of the town musicians of Trondheim, Johan Daniel Berlin (1744), and Kristiansand, Lorents Nicolaj Berg (1782), reveal no significant differences when compared to similar literature by contemporary German writers such as J.J. Quantz, L. Mozart, and C.Ph.E. Bach, but there is always something that cannot easily be described in words. Musicologists have suggested that 18th century "art" music practices have been preserved in other genres (5.4). Although it may be tempting to be inspired by folk musicians and jazz musicians of our own time, adopting their ornamentation and sense of rhythmical subtleties to the minuets and marches in the music books of the 18th century is risky. Carried too far, this can easily make all music sound alike. It is argued here that there is more to learn from the general attitude and spirit of leading artists in other genres than from their actual performances. Part 6 explores these attitudes and relates them to the attached recordings. Some of this music (see the list in section 6.4.7) has been previously released on commercially available CDs (6.4.1‐4), but there are also melodies especially arranged and recorded as part of this dissertation. Most of the music is performed on historically appropriate instruments and has been recorded and edited in professional surroundings; but spontaneous takes with almost no editing are included as well. In addition, a handful of recordings by other performers serve as illustrations to the text. Comments on the recordings describe the arrangements and examine the relationship between the sources and the musical results (6.5). These recordings, as presented on the CDs, must be regarded as an important part of the work and appreciated as a persuasive argument leading to the conclusion that this repertoire still functions as a “pleasurable passage of time". This is also proven by the success of the commercial recordings (6.3). Appendix 1 lists the manuscript used in this study. Appendix 2 is a table of concordances with information on title, attribution, genre, tonality, and time signature for the melodies found in the main sources and references to dissemination, listed by countries. As previously mentioned, Appendix 3 is an edition of 2 minuets by Freithoff.
Avhandling (Ph.D.) - Norges musikkhøgskole, 2011. - Den trykte versjonen har vedlagt lydfiler (CD) som det jobbes med å få lagt ut på nettet.