Music meant for the eye, as well as for the ear, opens a special compartment in the perception of the art of sounds. There has long been a tendency to encipher symbols and concepts in scores, which are not directly audible, but charm or excite whoever may happen to discover them visually. The complexity of the late fourteenth-century ars subtilior style could be an example. Another, highly ludic one, is represented by the first recurrent canon known in the history of music, by Guillaume de Machaut (Ma fin est mon commencement). Finally, the radically modern twentieth-century style, be it dodecaphonic or experimental in notation, highly plays on the stimulation of the receiver through his or her analytic eye.
But I don’t want to come up with a long list of the possible examples of "music to be seen". In the current issue of Musicology Todaywe only propose three of the multiple possible hypostases. The fascinating Harmonisches Labyrinth by Johann Sebastian Bach continues to trigger ideas, of which Dan Dediu’s comes from the theory of composition and outlines a musical map of the little piece for organ, guided by principles of harmony.
The special genre of ballet – which combines music with the visual dimension of the theatre, of choreographic movement – seems to be the ideal place to create a music addressed to the onlooker. It is true that we, musicologists, focus especially on the analysis of music itself, without ever forgetting that the latter is guided by the specific laws of a libretto and of dance rhythms. This is what Antigona Rădulescu and Florinela Popa attempt to do, in different ways. In the synthetic-narrative presentation of Igor Stravinsky’s ballets, the tension between modernity and specific requirements (of the one who leads the work, of the ballet company or of the choreographer) is always present. On the other hand, in the case of Mihail Jora there is another layer of detecting the "tension", that of an ideologically changed society. Syncretism and multidisciplinarity are at home in such essays.
Nicolae Brânduș’s reflections on the performance of George Enescu’s Sonata No. 3, in Romanian Folk Character also start from the idea of interdisciplinarity. The minuteness and refinement of the musical notation should make one think and should, at any rate, catch the eye of the interpreter. Moreover, they become a source of inspiration for the avant-garde composer, as Nicolae Brânduș himself sets out to establish new sign and sound limits.
(English translation by Maria-Sabina Draga Alexandru)