Thursday, September 30, 2010

Silence and Slow Time: Studies in Musical NarrativeSilence and Slow Time:
Studies in Musical Narrative

by Martin Boykan

For much of the twentieth century, the musical world seemed divided between Schoenberg and Stravinsky. It was a neat pairing: the German versus the Franco-Russian, the presumed Dionysian versus the presumed Apollonian, and it continued a tradition that pitted Gluck against Piccini, Wagner against Brahms (or Verdi). At one point Stravinsky himself took note of the pairing and compared it to the old argument between Tolstoyans and Dostoyevskians, wickedly adding that he was a Dostoyevskian (though it must be said that at that time he had already become a serial composer). (p 129)

Beginning with an essay on the lied this volume studies the nature of musical narrative. Musical analysis and time in music are also themes in the essays in this illuminating volume that suggests ways of thinking about music that is true to the nature of performance. While the book explores musical examples from a wide range of Western music the chapters devoted to twentieth century music proved most helpful and interesting. The exploration of the Schoenberg Trio and discussions of Stravinsky, Webern and twelve-tone theory are incisive. Both the importance of narrative in music and the interrelations of time and music and its impact on those passionate about serious music are given a thoughtful presentation in this valuable volume.

Silence and Slow Time by Martin Boykan. Scarecrow Press, Oxford, UK. 2004.

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