[Smt-talk] the prolonged song and its harmonization

Olga Bakulina ellen.bakulina at mail.mcgill.ca
Sat Feb 21 14:34:48 PST 2009

Dear Ildar,

Well, I wouldn't say that R.-Korsakov's and Balakirev's harmonizations are necessarily "unpleasant." Of course, they are not in the *authentic* style of the folk tradition of the prolonged song. And since this was a living tradition in the 19th century, the composers certainly knew what the authentic harmonic style of these songs was. And so Western-style harmonizations can only be a deliberate integration of two types of musical organization: peremennost' (intermittent mode) and the Western triadic tonal system. If this "mixed" style is not authentic in terms of its tonal (modal) organization, it does not necessarily have a negative quality. Integration of two different styles may sometimes create a new style, and a very beautiful one.


-Ellen Bakulina
MA candidate, Music Theory
McGill University
From: Ildar Khannanov [solfeggio7 at yahoo.com]
Sent: February 21, 2009 10:56 AM
To: Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org; Rebecca Hyams; Olga Bakulina
Subject: RE: [Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature

Dear Olga,

Prolonged (or prolong) song is the translation of protyazhnaya pesnya.

As for the juxtaposition of triadic systems, it is clear that Stravinsky was the first to solve one unpleasant aspect of using the folk song in the academic composition. The song is essentially monodic, composers have to write polyphonic music. In Balakirev’s collection of folk songs some “harmonizations” sound like Liszt’s etude Un sospiro. Rimsky-Korsakov also provided some chords under the folk melodies which did not serve the melodies well. What caused this problem was the modal structure with multiple centers. Jury Tjulin called such systems peremennyie ladu, intermittent modes.

The prolonged songs often emphasize triads (e.g.., the opening phrase of "Goru Vorobyevskie"), but very often they do not create the system with one triad playing the role of tonic. A number of phrases emphasize different triads and there is weak relationship among them. Often two competing centers of the intermittent mode are separated by the third (e.g, as relative keys), but they can be also separated by the second, creating the competition of I and ii, or i and VII. Old-Russian church chants display similar features (listen to the opening phrase of Rachmaninov’s Vespers). It takes great ear and unbiased view of pitch structure to simply put these centers together in a vertical, turning melodic intervals into harmonic. Stravinsky did something which was implied by the pitch structure of the Russian folk song.

My teacher Jury Kholopov liked to joke about May 1st demonstration, during which each group had a separate band and they were playing simultaneously. He called this "an example of polymodality." If you put the sounds of several marching bands together, you will get the picture of “juxtaposition of triadic systems.” Neo-Riemannian theory would call it “non-functional pitch centricity,” I would suggest “non-centralized functionality.”

Uspekhov v uchebe!

Dr. Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory

--- On Fri, 2/20/09, Olga Bakulina <ellen.bakulina at mail.mcgill.ca> wrote:
From: Olga Bakulina <ellen.bakulina at mail.mcgill.ca>
Subject: RE: [Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature
To: "solfeggio7 at yahoo.com" <solfeggio7 at yahoo.com>, "Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org" <Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>, "Rebecca Hyams" <rebecca.hyams at gmail.com>
Date: Friday, February 20, 2009, 11:50 AM

Dear Ildar,

Could you comment on your idea of "juxtaposition of various triadic
systems" in the prolonged song? (You mean prot'azhnaya song, right? I
wasn't sure what you meant by "prolonged" in this context...) Do
you refer to the use of triadic harmonies in the prot'azhnye, or to the
juxtaposition of different harmonic styles in the prot'azhnaya as a genre?

Thank you!

Ellen Olga Bakulina
MA candidate, Music Theory
McGill University
From: smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org
[smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of Ildar Khannanov
[solfeggio7 at yahoo.com]
Sent: February 17, 2009 7:07 PM
To: Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org; Rebecca Hyams
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature

Dear Rebecca,

my advice will be somewhat unusual: please, find the textbook Russian Folk
Musical Art by N. Bachinskaya and T. Popova and go over all the musical examples
there. This book is available at Mr. Tarakanov's web page. The art of
harmonization which Stravinsky used in his music, including his neoclassical
works, is based upon neither figured bass, nor basso fondmentale tradition. It
is indigenous. The non-triadic sonorities come from oligotonic (small-range
modes, characteristic of pre-Christian layer of folk music). Juxatposition of
various triadic systems can be found in the tradition of prolonged song.
As for the dialogue with Baroque harmony, it would be useful to listen to some
Fomin or Bortnyanski, or the tradition of so-called kant of Peter the Great
I understand that your first intuition was to use pc set theory. There is
nothing wrong with it. Stravinsky must have had a different   intuition.
Fortunalty, the sources of his intuition are available nowadays to everybody
with the access to the Internet.

Best wishes,

Dr. Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory

--- On Mon, 2/16/09, Rebecca Hyams <rebecca.hyams at gmail.com> wrote:
From: Rebecca Hyams <rebecca.hyams at gmail.com>
Subject: [Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature
To: Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Date: Monday, February 16, 2009, 1:12 PM

   Currently, I'm in the process of working on my MA thesis, where I'm
looking at Stravinsky's alteration of his sources in Pulcinella. As I'm
working, my biggest challenge is dealing with harmonies and what to call them.
wanted to pose my conundrum to the theory community, and though I realize that
no single solution is perfect, I want to see what other ideas are out there (or
if perhaps there's a way to reconcile a method I'm already familiar
with the realities of the music).
   My first instinct was to call them by set class, but that has its
limitations as well as connotations that are not necessarily applicable to this
musical context. I know there's also an approach that attempts to place
non-triadic sonorities into an altered triadic context. While I agree that
there's some instances of altered triads throughout the work (after all,
source materials are clearly common practice) there's sections where the
majority of material is added by Stravinsky. Some of those sonorities, while
they clearly have some sort of root, cannot be explained by identifying them as
some sort of triad, in part because of the functional implications triads have
from tonal music. Of course then while set theory can provide a name for the
sonority and a method of relating it to other similar sonorities, it
easily lend itself to the centric-nature of the sonorities in question. I know
there must be some sort of middle ground or other approach that I have yet to
exposed to.
   (I have a specific section in the music that I've been milling over that
started a whole conversation between myself and my thesis advisor. I would be
happy to share that except of the score with anyone willing to take a look at

Thank you,
Rebecca Hyams
MA student in music theory
Queens College- CUNY
rebecca.hyams at gmail.com
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