'The origins of wedding folk music in the composer art of the late 20th century<br>' - 'PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal' - NotaBene.ru
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PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal

The origins of wedding folk music in the composer art of the late 20th century

Shubina Ol'ga Anatol'evna

PhD in Art History

Associate Professor at the Department of Folk Singing and Ethnomusicology of Saratov State Conservatoire

410012, Russia, Saratovskaya oblast', g. Saratov, ul. Kirova, 1

Other publications by this author








Abstract: The study of music in its relation to folklore is of indisputable interest. The present article considers one of the priority directions in musicology - the composer/folklore problem. However, some aspects of this problem haven’t been studied thoroughly enough yet, the more so since the choral pieces of Russian composers, embodying the Russian wedding music, have outlined a new level of composer/folklore relations. The synthesis of various style tendencies with ceremonial wedding songs leads to the new quality of artistic thinking and characterizes a thematically specific folklore direction as an essential field of creativity marked with genre-style and structural diversity, variability of sources and originality of the methods of their performing. This problem, being one of the key problems of Russian musicology, had been studied in detail in the publications of G. Golovinsky, I. Zemtsovsky, L. Christiansen, G. Grigorieva, L. Ivanova, etc., whose fundamental works were used for the study of the specificity of the modern composer art. The performance of Russian wedding folklore in choral works of modern Russian composers is a poorly studied field of musicology which forms the scientific novelty of this work. Thus, the author states that the latitude of style quest along with adherence to traditions is typical for modern composers. These features are connected with the graphic structure - the circle of the wedding subject, moods, and favourite statement forms.   


folklore, choir, folk genre, wedding songs, wedding rite, folklorized composition, regional traditions, songs, rite, traditions

The basis of the given article is the importance of the “composer and folklore” topic. Its problematics covers a wide variety of questions. The interest to folklore in the modern choral art does not fade away; its influence on the professional art continues and occasionally gets new impulses. G. Golovinskiy capaciously said: “The process of folklore creation in the professional art is endless!” [1, p. 256]. An extremely essential layer of the choral culture, which covers the creation of the wedding rite folklore in the composer art of the second part of the XX century, gives a new perspective to this eternal topic.

According to E. B. Dolinskaya, the development of modern Russian music of the last third of the XX century is characterized by the fact, that “…the center of art interests changes its position from the invention of new techniques and procedures of writing to the unusual rendering of already found and even traditional things” [4, p. 44]. The phenomenon of choral sounding itself and great possibilities of sound acquire the particular importance of expression of the spiritual component. The wedding rite songs are still attractive for those authors who compose the academic choral music.

The creation of wedding folklore in the composer art is a complex and constantly developing phenomenon, which is predetermined by the originality of folk artistic thinking. Different methods and techniques are used in the composer folklorized art. The result of a new approach is the appeal to the regional forms of rite wedding songs and the revealing of deep archaic folklore layers. The composer folklorism under the new historical conditions moves towards another level of development, which is caused by the situation in a county musical culture.

The so called “business card” of this period of modern music is a complete cooperation and synthesizing of all the achievements of art experience of mankind. The most highly-demanded type of thinking is the “interpreting” one (the term by V. V. Medushevskiy), “…in which one can clearly feel the orientation on another style and its mastering. <…> Composers tend to uncover their face towards the contemporaries more clearly. That is why the historically remoted styles become the object of interpretation instead of the modern ones” [5, p. 6, 9]. The personality of artist can manifest in both the set of author’s methods and the certain expression of synthesizing of anything [2; 3; 5].

On the new modern stage, the genres of Russian wedding musical folklore, structural and compositional principles and figurative elements form the inseparable symbiosis with the author’s style; they turn out to be “melt in” the personal “word” of an artist. The analysis convincingly proves that the absolutely individual and highly original forms of realization of rite wedding songs are found in choral compositions of the last fifteen years of the XX century and the beginning of the new millennium. The author concept becomes the leading principle of style cooperation between the folk and professional musical art.

The original rite wedding song became the starting point for individual interpretation and revelation of personal attitude towards the values of folk world perception. The author concept is found both in big cyclic works and in separate folklorized compositions. It appears in the general plot of work, in the choice of genres of the wedding folklore and logic of structure; in the unity of composition. Individual creative search clearly comes through the traditional folklore stylistics; and their combination is so high and smooth, that it gives the opportunity to feel the author’s individual style which makes the intonation streams look like a unity.

In the second part of the 80s of the previous century the composers created the following works: “Russian wedding” (1985) by A. Kiselyov; Three choirs from symphony 3 “Lord Novgorod the Great” (1986) by Y. Butsko; “Small wedding wreath” (1986) by M. Firsov; “Three Uglich folk songs” (1986) by S. Chebotaryov; “Wedding round dances” (1987) by V. Kalistratov. Despite the difficult for Russia 1990s, there was no recession of interest in the native Russian rite wedding performance in the native composer art. This period correlates to the appearance of big cyclic opuses by V. Kalistratov: “Russian wedding” (1991), “Five Russian folk wedding songs” (1992), “Russian wedding songs” (1997), and also to the choral concert by I. Yakushenko “From the Russian wedding lyrics” and “The Don Cossack songs” by V. Goncharov (1999).

The beginning of the XXI century is also marked by the examples of individual approach of composers to the development of wedding folklore genres. For example, “Are you the river, my small river” by S. Yekimov (2003); “The songs of Belgorod land” by V. Kalistratov (2004); “The songs of Tambov region” by A. Larin (2008); “Wedding song” by N. Rusu-Kozulina (2012).

Modern choral compositions, based upon the realization of rite wedding songs, are complex and figuratively filled; they are original in texture and harmony. The brand new techniques of composer writing, such as polytonality, bitonality and polymodality, can be found, for example, in the compositions by V. Grigorenko, I. Yel’cheva, V. Kalistratov, L. Prigozhin, A. Larin.

When realizing the folklore genre, the composers save the intonation and poetic structure of a wedding song in some compositions, enriching it with the texture and harmony means; in other compositions they combine a number of wedding songs together in one cyclic composition. Such an “interference” into the folklore material does not change its genre basis, as for example in “When one blows the trumpet” by S. Chebotaryov [8, p. 201].

From the point of view of interpretation of the wedding folklore genres, the authors give their own understanding of the archaic texts. When realizing the folklore genre, the composers base upon the principles which are common for the authentic folklore (“Russian wedding” by A. Kiselyov, “One blows the trumpet” by A. Larin). In most cases the authentic material undertakes the function of an “extra-textual unit” by flowing into a new musical context, when a number of genuine wedding chants combine in the original counterpoint (the variant of poly-quoting), that is the combination of a number of northern wedding laments in the original author counterpoint (“Farewell to home” from the choral cycle “Five Russian folk wedding songs” by V. Kalistratov) [9, p. 217].

One can find a simultaneous combination of different types of genre realization of the wedding folklore in one and the same opus, for example, the genre synthesis (1 of “Five Russian folk wedding songs” by V. Kalistratov): Magnificat and a wedding lyrical (orphan) song, where the first song is genuinely national, and the second one shows the author’s tune written in the manner of a ballade, while the text is authentic. In the choir “Oh you, small apple tree” from “Russian wedding songs” by V. Kalistratov there are Magnificat, a dance tune and a lament, which combine together. The transfer of subtle psychological details of folklore figures is expressed by the interpretation of original genre and its transformation, which in its turn leads to the appearance of genre hybrids. The modern sign of the times is a subtle cooperation of “the inside” and “the outside”, original author work and folklore, e.g. interpenetration of different styles. Stylization as a method, which is widely used by composers of the “new folklore wave” period has evolved into a characteristic technique of an author individual style.

In folklorized choral compositions by I. Yel’cheva, V. Grogorenko, V. Kalistratov, A. Kiselyov and A. Larin the author style, deliberate “acquisition” of folklore elements with maintenance of a personal creative pattern are prevalent. Composers think in a “folklorized” way, dote upon the folklore; it is their whole existence. The strong intonation connections between the author’s work and the folk material become almost invisible. Composers borrow the verbal text (Y. Butsko, A. Kiselyov, A. Larin) or short melodic “popevki songs”, e.g. small fragments consisting of 2 or 3 notes in a particular sequence as in folklore (V. Kalistratov) from the folklore style system and save the connections with the original material. As a result, a new author’s interpretation enriches itself with different associations, coming from a preexisting wedding formalism of folklore framework and appears in a completely redefined original form, enriching the artistic expressiveness of music.

The appearance of modern folklorized compositions, which realize the wedding formalism, is frequently connected with the commitment to particular performing musicians, whose art is one of the sources and incentives for composing for various choral groups. For example, V. Kalistratov created “Five Russian folk wedding songs” for Moscow choir of young people and students under the baton of B. G. Tevlin. A. Kiselyov dedicated his “Russian wedding” to V. V. Rovdo; A. Larin dedicated “The songs of Tambov region” to the Tambov chamber choir and its conductor V. V. Kozlyakov [7, p. 360].

One of the brand new achievements of modern composer folklorism is the desire to extend the boundaries of classical choral execution, to “erase” the border between the stage and the audience and to make the spectators become “a part of folklore”, as it happens in the folk art, e.g. to transform the folklore context into the author’s text. The turn of the third millennium stimulated the development of a specific type of composer’s way of thinking, which is the “director mentality”. It affected the appearance of such “theatrical” compositions as “Russian wedding” by A. Kiselyov, “Five Russian folk wedding songs” and “Russian wedding songs” by V. Kalistratov, “The songs of Tambov region” by A. Larin. Theatricality seems to “grow into” the choral music; it becomes an essential part of compositions and their compositional benchmark.

Modern composers are constantly looking for new forms of interaction with the audience, trying to make music not only audible, but also visible. The authors plan the scene realization even on the pages of score; they write the instructions for the performing musicians. Such method of work shows the exact connections with the ritual figurativeness, that is a wedding rite. It has the form of a certain music performance appealing to the syncretic art of antiquity where the folklore motives of lamentation, invocation and magnification are reflected. The playing aspect here is one of the basic dramatic factors making the rite a single whole. The idea of movement while performing the choral compositions opened a range of opportunities for the acoustic techniques, because moving of the source of sound leads to new stereo effects.For example, in works of V. Kalistratov and A. Larin, this tendency got with fresh solutions and surprising forms of realization.

The active and profitable search of modern Russian composers for the ways of realization of Russian wedding music gives us hope for the prospective and advanced development of folk genres in authors’ compositions. M. E. Tarakanov fairly writes: “Folklorism, going back to Russian classical music, is the very tradition which Russian masters of art are not going to betray” [6, p. 33].

Thus, to sum up, it is possible to state that choral compositions of native composers of the second part of the XX century, based upon the realization of wedding folk songs, characterize a topically special folk genre as an essential field of art marked with genre, style and variety, variability of primary sources, originality of methods of their realization. The folklorized choral compositions created by Russian composers in the last third of the XX century, realize the genres of old-time wedding rite, they have enriched the modern native music art and saved the past valuable experience.

M. V. Shchurov highlights, that the songs of Russian wedding formalism “in most cases refer to masterpieces of national classical music. The complexity and melodiousness of musical drama makes the wedding rite a part of top Russian folk art” [10, p. 92].

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