Researching Musical Relations between City, Town, and Village in the Southern, Central and Northern Balkans, from the 18th to the 20th Centuries
Between the two World Wars, and especially after World War II, the Balkan nations produced much solid research in ethnomusicology as well as in Byzantinology. These scholars frequently benefited from a confluence of musicological methods originating in Germany, Hungary and Russia. But usually a given of the ethnomusicological research was a predilection for documentation and analysis of the village musics and rituals of the peasant majorities of these countries, who had generally been the dominant language group of the existing nations prior to the Ottoman or Habsburg Imperial eras. But in order to gain a truer understanding of the actual musical conditions and relations in the centuries immediately preceding the modern era, it is necessary to reimagine almost all of the Balkan territories at a time when urban populations frequently spoke and wrote a language different from the surrounding villages, and sometimes also practiced a different religion. The musical implications of this abundant reality were evident in almost every region of the Balkan countries existing today. But this was by no means a uni-directional musical movement. The entire area from the Western coast of modern Turkey up to Moldova and the historically Moldavian regions of Ukraine in the North, and Bosnia in the West, were the scenes of complex and mutual musical interactions on many social levels, from the highest to the lowest. Learning how to research some of these issues is a major task confronting anyone wishing to understand the musical history of the Balkans in recent centuries.
The present study analyses, for the first time, the relationship between Phanariot poetry (Phanariotika) and music preserved in manuscripts (collections called Mismayes) and printing anthologies with the help of Byzantine musical semiography, starting from the end of the 18th century until the second half of the 19th century. Produced by the Greek elite in Istanbul, but also in the Danubian Principalities during the Phanariot reigns in Wallachia and Moldavia, this repertorial corpus with an obvious entertainment function is investigated on various layers, from aspects related to the themes of Phanariot lyrics in relation to the social function of this music to technical aspects related to specific musical rhythms and modal structures (ēchoi and makams) etc. An important segment of the research deals with the categories of musicians who composed and performed this melange music, as well as the forms in which the repertoires in question were promoted at the courts of the Phanariot princes, in direct relation to musical practices at the Ottoman Court in Istanbul.
During the first decades of the 19th century, Byzantium was still strong in the collective consciousness and memory, and remained a powerful influence in the lives, the attitudes and the cultural creations of the people of South Easter Europe. In this environment two important personalities emerged: Athanasios Christopoulos in letters and politics, and Nikēphoros Kantouniarēsin music. Their paths crossed in the cultural environment of the Phanariot society and the result of this relationship gave birth to a series of works of art that are the subject of this paper. More specifically, we are presenting twenty-seven (27) songs composed by Nikēphoros on lyrics by Athanasios Christopoulos. The article makes a brief reference to the musical context, gives brief biographical information and proceeds to a topical, rhythmic and morphological analysis. It’s noteworthy that the musical arrangements are in sixteen (16) modal entities and their names pointed out by using both the terminology of Byzantine music and the maqam music one. From a rhythmic standpoint, most of them are in the simple and understandable pattern of one 4-beat usul sofian and two songs in peculiar 10-beat rhythms.
The texts of Georgian polyphonic chants (heirmoi), written down in the 19th century using the European notational system, can be found in medieval musical manuscripts as well. Is there any connection between these two sources with at least ten century-long time difference? The article reveals six heirmoi with their initial clauses having similar patterns of neume symbol arrangement and similar melodies in corresponding musical scores. This correlation points to the continuity of the Georgian chanting tradition. Based on the set of the variants of neume patterns for a particular melody, the melody identification criterion is elaborated. Generalization of the criterion will make it possible to conduct the exhaustive study of the whole musical and textual material and to prove the continuity of Georgian ecclesiastical musical tradition.
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