[Smt-talk] Theory of "Intercultural" Composition

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Fri Apr 24 11:17:55 PDT 2009

Thank you for asking! 
Yes, I agree, then, with Fyodor, there have been some problems with the transcultural music and musicology and we are now solving them. I thought that I knew Russian ethnic traditions, but now I realize that the repertory is immense. Take any national tradition within former Soviet Union and you will find generations of composers and musicologist doing the intercultural work. Franghiz Ali-Zadeh is one that comes to mind. She writes that she does not care for the national aspect of music as such. She writes music in traditional forms and genres for traditional instruments, but I have never heard anything more informed about Maquam written for the string quartet than her String Quartet no. 3. 
Or, another example, musicologist Michail Kondratiev from Chuvashi Republic, from Tcheboksary. This ethnos belongs to Finno-Ugric group, they are the most ancient inhabitants of the Volga River basin. He is considered an expert on ethnic music and folk music used by academic composers. 
Zagis Ismagilov was a very bright star in Bashkirian Republic, his ballet Schurale, piano music, are very interesting. They combine the trends of Italian verismo aesthetics with nomadic musical art of the proto-Turcic tradition.
Among some more known examples, I can mention Sofia Gubaidulina, her Seven Last Words of Christ. This composition is written in response to Haydn's Seven Words, but she has chosen a very interesting combination of instruments, bayan and cello. Bayan is virtually unknown in the United States, but in Russia they play bayans in the villages. Not only Russians, but Tatars, Bashkirs and other ethnic groups highly value this tnstrument. Therefore, a hidden transcultural context of this composition is German-Tatar. She is Tatar by ethnicity, like myself. 
In general, this direction seems very promising. Good luck researching this massive material.
Ildar Khannanov, Ph.D.
Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University
Editor of the International Division of 
Music Scholarship/ Problemy Muzikal'noi Nauki

--- On Fri, 4/24/09, matralab <matralab at gmail.com> wrote:

From: matralab <matralab at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Theory of "Intercultural" Composition
To: "Ildar Khannanov" <solfeggio7 at yahoo.com>
Cc: "smt-talk Talk" <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>
Date: Friday, April 24, 2009, 4:12 AM

Thanks Ildar 
very interesting.

I just want to point out that Fyodor seems likely as critical of what you call the "refined stance" as you are. 
He just explained to my why it is still so dominant - and the political forces at play in maintaining this situation.
And he certainly never even suggested that relevant musicology happens only at Moscow and St. Petersburg. 
I am sorry if my rendering of our very interesting conversation somehow suggested that to you. 
He explicitly referred me to a festival in Kazan and research done in Novosibirsk. 
I just will have to learn Russian first to even read the texts this in this field... or would I ? 
Do you, being out of the country, know of anything that is translated into German, English, Italian or French ?

Is e.g. your journal "Music Scholarship/Problemy Muzykal;noi Nauki" published in Russian and English (as your title suggests) ?
And could you perhaps even give me names of interesting composers in these centres (and how to get their music ?) ?


2009/4/24 Ildar Khannanov <solfeggio7 at yahoo.com>

Dear Collective Wisdom,
the comment by Fyodor, my schoolmate, is interesting. However, there is a different side to this story. In addition to a very refined, and I would say, elitist approach to musicology, maintained by some figures at the Moscow Conservatory, there have been dozens of other institutions of higher musical education in the USSR with their local traditions in musicology. The level at these schools was somewhat lower than the the MGK, but there were talented composers and musicologists in Novosibirsk, Petrozavodsk, Dushanbe, Ufa, and other places. The journal Music Scholarship/Problemy Muzykal;noi Nauki which I edit is the first one published by 12 provincial conservatories. So, the view of Russian musicology as only  developing in Moscow and Lenindgrad and oriented toward the West and western modernism is not very adequate. There were hundreds of large-scale compositions written for dutar, kurai and other national instruments, and many interesting
 musicological dissertations on intercultural topics. They were habitually underestimated, but now, in the recent decade, there has been a rise of the local traditions. Something new for a change. 
Ildar Khannanov, Ph.D.
Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

--- On Thu, 4/23/09, matralab <matralab at gmail.com> wrote:

From: matralab <matralab at gmail.com>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Theory of "Intercultural" Composition
To: "smt-talk Talk" <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>
Date: Thursday, April 23, 2009, 11:59 AM

Dear all who have answered on and offline - what an overwhelming and positive response.

And there were indeed some suggestions about books that I did not know existed.
As one respondent suggested, I will share my reading list either with the smttalklist, 
or, if that is against the list netiquette, I would post them on my academia profile. 

Thank you all again, and those who have sent me personal mails  - I will respond asap.

One nugget of information: 
I am on tour in Russia right now, and in discussions about this suject (and composers like Faradzh Karaev or Franghis Ali-Zadeh etc.)  with musicologist Fjodor Sofronov from Tchaikovsky Conservatorium Moscow he explained to me that Soviet and Russian musicology have major problems dealing with any form of interculturalism in contemporary composition, because interest in new music is perceived as being equivalent with a liberal attitude that is pro-western - already a difficult position in an increasingly nationalist intellectual environment. To compound that with the, as he said, "official, but unfulfilled" multiculturalism of Russia, also a hot seat issue, would be too much to take on - and so Russian musicology, despite the fact that it got off to a good start with Asafiev's Intonation theory, did not look at this subject much over the past 80 years. Does any one have any corrections or comments to this statement ? Does anyone know of important
 Russian theories of multicultural composition...?

Best yours

2009/4/22 matralab <matralab at gmail.com>

Dear Collective Wisdom

could you help me with references to any (comprehensive / seminal / detailed) (theoretical/ aesthetical/ analytical/ overview) publications in English or French
about contemporary (trans-/cross-/inter-/poly-/cultural) composition that one must not be unaware of if thinking about the subject...

I mean western art music composers such as Tan Dun, Frank Denyer, Takahashi Yuji, Isang Yun, Liza Lim, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Jean-Claude Eloy, Mochizuki Misato , Hosokawa Toshio, Guo Wenjing, Xu Shuya, Jin Hi Kim, Chen Xiaoyong, Younghi-Pagh Paan, Claude Vivier, Klaus Huber, Karlheinz Stockhausen, etc. - a wide selection but I hope you get the drift.
Publications after 2000 are preferred.

I will give some lectures and analysis seminars this summer, and I already have a small reading list, but as I am not a theoretician myself, and not really well versed in the anglophone discourse (being more of German extraction) I may have overlooked some essential reading.

Thankful for any hint. Names of composer you consider seminal and who do not appear in the list above are also welcome, if possible with contacts or publishers.

Sandeep Bhagwati
Canada Research Chair Inter-X Art
Concordia University Montreal

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