Béla Bartok (Musique) (French Edition)

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Staple-bound softcover music book 16 pp. Audio CD. Very Good. Written in Turkish. Turkish folk music from Little Asia. Volume 16 of Pan Yayincilik. Cover is moderately creased. Previous owner's gift note on half-title pg. A tight unmarked copy. Very Good Minus. Soft cover.

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In Turkish. Turkish Edition. This book is a substantial and thorough musicological analysis of Turkish folk music. It reproduces in facsimile Bartok s autograph record of eighty seven vocal and instrumental peasant melodies of the Yuruk Tribes a nomadic people in southern Anatolia. Bartok s introduction includes his annotations of the melodies texts and translations and establishes a connection between Old Hungarian and Old Turkish folk music.

Begun in and completed in the work was Bartok s last major essay. The editor Dr. Benjamin Suchoff has provided an historical introduction and a chronology of the various manuscript versions.

An afterword by Kurt Reinhard describes recent research in Turkish ethnomusicology and gives a contemporary assessment of Bartok s field work in Turkey. The pentatonic theme of the castle is based on a scale common to European folk music, and common as well to modes of music prior to seventeeth- through nineteenth-century modes of harmony.

As such, it seems to mark the castle as the neutral background for the action of the opera, as the environment into which the characters, Bluebeard and Judith, enter — fig. The castle theme, throughout the opera, is associated with darkness, nothingness, and the lack of motion, qualities which become ascribed both to the being of the castle and to Bluebeard himself, who, like the castle, attempts to prevent Judith from entering its rooms.

In either case, the quivering motion of the light theme provides a stark contrast to seemingly static and non-developmental pentatonic theme of the castle. The tonality of light, C major, we notice, is disharmonious with the F tonality of the dark castle: the notes played together form an augmented 4th, just short of a perfect fifth, the triadic interval that most Western notions of harmony are based on. Light and knowledge are inharmonious, in other words, with the being of the castle; this is the drama around which the entire opera will revolve, condensed into the first opening themes, the first two minutes, before we even hear a singing human voice.

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The stage directions for the opening specify that while the pentatonic castle theme is playing, the stage remains dark. In one sense, we can think of the pentatonic castle as just a static background for the action of the characters, an oikos gradually unshrouded by a light-bringing logos.

The opening use of the pentatonic scale harkens back to the pre-seventeenth-century musical world, before the dominance of traditional triad-based tonality; it can be thought as a kind of primordial origin for the music of the opera, the theme out of which all sound is generated. In another sense, however, the castle assumes a dynamic role in the interrelation of nonhuman and human worlds by setting up the logo- sonic idiom by which dissonance will become legible: dissonance comes into being once the C tonality-based light theme emerges, but this dissonance would not exist without a contrasting theme.

In this sense, what the interaction between the two themes gives us is both an aesthetic of non-reconciliation and a new mode of relation or simply of being-with based on this irreconcilability. What sighed? Tell me, Bluebeard—why this moisture on my fingers?

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The opera revolves around the opening of a series of doors, leading to the inner chamber of the castle. Each time a door is opened, new knowledge is discovered, new objects come to light, literally, and enter the perceptual space of the characters. To mark the presence of these objects, we hear trills and fragments of a scale, like the sound of chains rattling. It turns out that all of the objects Judith encounters behind each of the doors—the instruments of torture, the weapons in the armory, the gold coins of the treasury, and the flowers, trees, and lakes of the garden—are stained with blood.

At the same time, the first violins split into two tremolo phrases, with one set playing B and the other an A , giving another variation of the minor second interval B-A. Similarly, the clarinets play another minor second trill between D and C unmarked in the reduced version of the score cited here. Before Judith begins her cry, then, the violins and clarinets are already sounding the dissonant intervals through which the objects present themselves.

Here and elsewhere, the logo- sonic agency of the castle and its objects is given as the power to repel the knowledge-creation associated with the C tonality of light. This emerges whenever Judith is about to open a new door of the castle, starting with the torture chamber.

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The dissonance of the minor second interval here is more contained, more subdued, as if the castle is sounding a cautionary motif of what may happen if the characters continue their unwanted exploration of its inner being. At the same time, the sigh motif also produces a sense of anticipation that drives the characters forward in their pursuit of knowledge, as if the castle is using the characters to unfold further layers of its being.


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Throughout the opera, the castle carries an identification with Bluebeard, who sings in the same F -minor tonality that opens the opera and expresses the darkness of the castle. The suffering and the labor of the wives becomes articulated through the dissonant clamor of the blood and sigh motifs. The presence of blood on the objects also marks a form of human-object relation, as the interaction between human history—the histories of gendered violence, ecological violence, and warfare—and the history of the objects that bear these legacies within them.

At the end of the opera, the wives are presented to us as objects themselves: mute, abjected figures chained to the walls and fully absorbed into the environment of the castle. All who come here cease their gossip. All the rumors hushed in silence. The walls are sweating. Walls and rafters, all are weeping. The suffering of the captive wives is given expression through the medium of the castle, into which the wives have been absorbed. Or is it simply that the two have become inseparable from one another, so that the blood of the castle and the blood of the wives are one and the same phenomenon?

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In this sense, objects are entangled with human beings in a quite literal way, but this entanglement can only be expressed through dissonant sounds and motifs. In each case, dissonance emerges as the gap that prevents a full, harmonious reconciliation between entities. But this dissonance, it seems, is clearly directed against light, against the forms of knowledge-production that would reduce the castle and its objects to the constraints of the understanding.

In this sense, we can read the continual movement of the characters into the inner chambers of the castle not as a process of discovery or bringing to light on the part of the characters, but rather as the castle employing the human characters as a vehicle through which to unfold the content of its own being. In this reading, human characters uncover the histories of violence and oppression that have become sedimented into the castle, into its walls, into its objects, into the captive women that have become violently converted into objects, but this is a process that is determined by the castle itself as it leads the characters deeper into its own recesses and inner chambers.

The sigh motif that anticipates and even drives forward the progression of the characters into the inner being of the castle is performed by the sounding castle itself. Human beings would then become the backdrop against which the castle sounds, or expresses the logo-sonic being of itself and its objects, which achieve articulation through their differentiation from human voices, sounds, tonalities, and light-based logoi. Correspondingly, the C into which the castle theme degenerates is one half-step a minor second above a C.

What this final dissolution of the two themes into an A-B dyad and a single C gives us, then, is two notes that border C, but do not fully reach it. They do not reach light, in other words.

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