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the world of music 40, 1998-1

Music, the Arts and Ritual

Guest Editor: Martin Zenck

ISBN 3-86135-708-9

Content

 

Articles

Preface

Martin Zenck
Ritual Self-Staging in Everyday Life and in Music Theater. A Comparison of the Turning Points in History Around the Years 1900 and 2000 

Hans-Peter Köpping
Ritual Transgression Between Primitivism and Surrealism: Tauromachia and the Ethnographic Imagination 

Gabriele Brandstetter
Ritual as Scene and Discourse: Art and Science Around 1900 as Exemplified by Le Sacre du printemps 

Martin Zenck
Ritual or Imaginary Ethnography in Stravinsky's Le Sacre du printemps 

Kay-Uwe Kirchert
Between Worlds: Reflections on Ritual in the Music of Giacinto Scelsi 

Gerhard Neumann
Iphigenia: Sacrifice and Ritual in Drama 

Tobias Fichte
"...don't you think this could become a new kind of cantata?" Rituality, Authenticity and Stage-Setting in Mendelssohn's Walpurgisnacht 

Tony Langlois
The Gnawa of Oujda: Music at the Margins in Morocco


Book Reviews

Janet Topp-Fargion
The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, vol. 1: Africa, ed. by R. M. Stone

Trevor Wiggins
World Sound Matters: An Anthology of Music from Around the World, Jonathan Stock


CD Reviews

Linda Fujie
CD-Series: World Network / WDR. vols. 1-42

Max Peter Baumann
Weltmusik-Atlas: Vol. 1: Afrika, by L. D'Amico and F. Mizzau


Institutions

Ursula Hemetk
Institute for Folk Music Research at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Vienna


About the Authors

 

Abstracts

Ritual Self-Staging in Everyday Life and in Music Theater: A Comparison of the Turning Points in History Around the Years 1900 and 2000
Martin Zenck

Awaiting a turning point in history or the fear of changing times may find varying expressions through rituals (cf. Freud 1913, and Soeffner 1992). Both in everyday life as well as in the arts, a particularly critical turning point is circumvented through a kind of science fiction of the present. In addition, conservatism is emphasized to confront the impending future by insisting on an earlier, traditional Weltanschauung in the society. Finally, a historical turning point is evaded through the return to ancient, archaic or else foreign or non-European rituals in the hope of finding a new future by means of a backward-looking orientation. The relevance of rituals to the present as forms of reaction to and anticipation of turning points in history and changing epochs will be examined by comparing Igor Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du printemps (1913) and forms of ritual music theater of the post-modern age in the 1970s on the basis of its staging. In this context, the thesis is essential that on the one hand turning points announce themselves, according to Hans Blumenberg (1966), as clusters and accelerations of processes, as failed revolutions and changes, that are heralded long before the definite "turn." On the other hand, retreat out of abrupt change will only take place if the post-modern age, which is itself a symptom of crisis due to change, is extinguished and worked through. Comparison of the two changes of epochs shows at the fin de siècle of the last century a larger proportion of projections for the future, while the present turn towards the year 2000 is characterized by a stronger orientation toward archaic rituals and tradition.

Ritual Transgression Between Primitivism and Surrealism: Tauromachia and the Ethnographic Imagination
Klaus Köpping

From the turn of the century, European artists have taken "tribal art" pieces, in particular African sculptures, as inspiration to revolutionize those stylistic conventions that they perceived as obsolete. The whole movement of "primitivism" focussed on the exotic forms of tribal art, which were taken out of their context of creation and usage as well as meaning and imputed with values considered lacking in Western civilization. Exotic art production was perceived as being close to the origins of human creativity and a direct expression of emotive and psychic states. Pieces which were usually used in their indigenous context in religion and ritual were now re-interpreted according to European aesthetic needs. In 1937, however, Michel Leiris, who followed most of the European artistic innovations, approached the corrida of Spain, one of the surviving "primitive" mass spectacles of Europe, in an anthropological spirit. While imbuing it with his own notions of eroticism, he developed in his Tauromachia a genuinely innovative theory of ritual which found strong resonance in the ideas of other members of the surrealist movement around the unorthodox "college de sociologie", such as Georges Bataille and Roger Caillois. All three concentrated on the idea of ritual as transgressive mode in relation to the normative social order. Through his analysis of the corrida as a transgressive ritual that in his opinion combines notions of death and the erotic, Leiris also developed a particular notion of the aesthetic as being inherently and necessarily connected to the presence of a "blemish", a transgressive rupture, an idea which, as this essay argues, has affinities with the artistic understanding of Picasso as expressed in a number of productions which culminate in the "Guernica" of the same year (1937). The essay closes with a tentative connection between the European search for re-invigorating artistic expressions through a return to the "imagined primitive" and Leiris’ attempt at ethnographic work that puts the researcher’s self into focus.

 

Ritual as Scene and Discourse: Art and Science Around 1900 as Exemplified by Le Sacre du printemps
Gabriele Brandstetter

With the beginning of modernism around 1900 in the sciences (ethnology and anthropology) on the one hand and in the arts on the other, nothing less than a poetic of culture unfolded from the scenery of ideas of an archaically postulated (sacrificial) ritual. In this constellation, in reference to the ritual as cultural pattern—indeed both equally as scene and as discourse—, a reflection reveals itself which achieves its representation in the choreography of Le Sacre du printemps. At the same time, this reflection marks a break with the traditional constitution of space and conception of the body of classical ballet.

 

Ritual or Imaginary Ethnography in Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps?
Martin Zenck

In earlier interpretations of Le Sacre du Printemps, Stravinsky research has one-sidedly characterized the ritual in terms of the subject of the scenario by Nikolai Roerich and the choreography of Vaslav Nijinsky, the latter of which has been recently reconstructed by Millicent Hodson. The following essay assumes that Stravinsky expressly distanced himself from a conception for the ballet that referred to plot and subject in order to abstractly execute the ritual in the music itself. Sacre’s time structure was created in such a way that the contradictions of liminal periodicity and excessive illud tempus ("that [closed off] time") as structurally characteristic of the ritual are mirrored by Stravinsky in a correspondingly artificial way. If in deliberating this latter point the choreography of Nijinsky is brought into consideration, then only in order to illuminate the shift of emphasis of this essay from self-sacrifice to the murder of the Chosen One. Contrary to many interpretations, Stravinsky did not archaically revive ritual in the Sacre of 1913. Further, in his criticism of the sacrificial practice of ritual we see conspicuous parallels to Freud’s analysis of totemism that was formulated in the same year as Stravinsky composed this ballet.

Between Worlds: Reflections on Ritual in the Music of Giacinto Scelsi
Kay-Uwe Kirchert

The manner by which Scelsi applies ritual to his compositions lies in the reduction or concentration of musical means of expression. Scelsi’s improvised approach to music lends his compositions or settings an authenticity which seems, through their reduction, to exist in a cultural no man’s land. In doing so, he takes on a certain mediative function between cultures, a function which removes itself from standardized criteria of evaluation. In addition to Scelsi, this article also cites concrete examples from the visual arts and from literature that offer comparable approaches which, within their respective genres, also create new perspectives with known or generally applicable magnitudes of reference.

 

Iphigenia: Sacrifice and Ritual in Drama
Gerhard Neumann

Using the example of the Iphigenia myth, two theses are presented here referring to the ritual sacrifice and its cultural function: the thesis of the origin of Greek tragedy from the sacrificial ritual and the complementary thesis of the Occidental tragedy as organ of a casuistic of sacrifice and its function in the development of culture. The myth of Tantalus and one of its most important derivatives, the story of Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia, play a key role in European culture. In Iphigenia’s story, the motives of the victim and of Anagnorisis converge, thus of a social taming of surplus anarchic violence on the one hand and of an extraction of nomologic knowledge on the other. In the development of material from both "Iphigenias" of Euripides to Goethe’s Iphigenia on Tauris, the metamorphosis of human to animal sacrifice in symbolic action, and thus in language as medium of communication, follows: as a way from archaic ritual sacrifice to a utopia of humane understanding.

"...don't you think this could become a new kind of cantata?" Rituality, Authenticity and Staging in Mendelssohn’s Walpurgisnacht 
Tobias Fichte

Assuming a potential analogy between art and ritual, or between art and the interpretation of ritual as a Gesamtkunstwerk, the question arises as to what degree boundaries or transitions between aesthetic presentation, staging and identification with ritual can be determined in art. This topic could be discussed in terms of reception-aesthetics, with the question of the participation of an implicit or exclusive audience in ritual or in art. On the other hand, the perspective of this question can also be developed, as in this article, in terms of production-aesthetics, using the model of a musical composition based on a preexisting literary text. In Goethe’s and Mendelssohn’s "texts," not only their cultic-religious rituality will be investigated, but also the problem of how far beyond the cultic subject the immanent formative principles of ritual in terms of music are effective. Although in his early ballad "Die erste Walpurgisnacht" (The First Walpurgis Night) of 1799 Goethe distinguished the "pagan" Walpurgis night from the "classical" and "romantic" in both stages of Faust, in his own way Mendelssohn related these three forms of ritual directly to one another within one work.

The Gnawa of Oujda: Music at the Margins in Morocco
Tony Langlois

This paper describes some of my fieldwork encounters with the Gnawa, a group of ethnic minority musicians living in Oujda, north-eastern Morocco, where I conducted research in 1994. I recount how I met the group and some impressions of the places where they lived and worked. After discussing the structure and nature of the musical events through which they interacted with the rest of the population, I describe their instruments and comment upon their repertoire. The economic and political circumstances in which the Gnawa appear to live are considered, and I offer an explanation as to why women comprise the greater part of their audience. Returning to the performance itself, I observe its most dramatic high point, a gestured self-mutilation, which both raises the level of excitement of the event and serves to reinforce the belief in the Gnawa’s supernatural powers. Finally, the relationships between Gnawi music, local saintly figures and colour are discussed. I conclude that the group’s precarious economic and social niche depends upon their manipulation of their ‘otherness’, the maintenance of secrecy surrounding their practices, and the need of local women for the catharsis their rites allowed.

 

 

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