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The theory of musical communication
 9781443897365, 1443897361, 9781443899062, 1443899062

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The Theory of Musical Communication

The Theory of Musical Communication By

Alexander N. Yakupov

The Theory of Musical Communication By Alexander N. Yakupov Reviewed by M.Y. Tarakanov, Doctor of Arts This book first published 2016 Cambridge Scholars Publishing Lady Stephenson Library, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2PA, UK British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Copyright © 2016 by Alexander N. Yakupov All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9736-1 ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9736-5

The monograph is dedicated to a general research of the communicative processes that encompass the creation, interpretation, perception and evaluation of the phenomena of the musical art. The numerous internal and external communicative links in the spheres of the composer, the performer, the listener and the musicologist-critic—the links that constitute a complex integral system of the musical information transmission—those links are considered in the socio-cultural aspect, the aspect that determines the high social role of the academic genres of music. The book may be of use to professional musicians and to all those interested in the acute problems of musicology, musical aesthetics, the sociology of music and musical pedagogics.


Introduction ................................................................................................. 1 Chapter One ............................................................................................... 11 The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication Chapter Two .............................................................................................. 42 The Universe of Musical Communication Chapter Three ............................................................................................ 65 Musical Communication as an Integrative Process Chapter Four .............................................................................................. 82 The Structure of Musical Communication Chapter Five ............................................................................................ 115 The Communicative Means of Music, Main Methods of Musical Reproduction and Channels of Musical Perception Chapter Six .............................................................................................. 138 Socio-Musical Communication: Past and Present Chapter Seven.......................................................................................... 165 On the Theory of Managing the Processes of Musical Communication in the Society Conclusion ............................................................................................... 211 Schemes and Tables ................................................................................ 216 Bibliography ............................................................................................ 221


In a modern society, the unprecedented development of mass media has enabled music, including serious music, music enriched by sublime emotional content, to enter every level of social life and to occupy a leading position amongst other arts. But the unlimited possibilities for music to enter man’s social existence have created a situation where serious musical genres have to compete with the expansion of mass entertainment, popular music. And these are not the only changes the social being of musical art has undergone. The changes include the emergence of technical media that do not only reproduce, but also perform and create music, the global expansion of the European performing culture, the universal interest in nonEuropean musical traditions and national cultures, the globalisation of the systems of musical education and, finally, the universal enthusiasm for various means of musical and sound self-expression that leads to an unprecedented complexity and diversity of a man’s sound environment. So, any music (unfortunately, including its best, most beautiful, classical samples) has acquired in addition to its most basic aesthetic purpose a different meaning. For a modern man it has become something of a tonal background, against which he carries on his other non-aesthetic, mundane activities. This is only a short account of those aspects distinguishing the social being of music today from its situation at the time when the great work of Bach and Beethoven, Mozart and Chopin, Glinka and Tchaikovsky was created at the time when all other professional and folk music came into being during the whole course of previous human history. Nevertheless, on the verge of the 21st century, in spite of all the changes, the spiritual treasures, the everlasting value of classical music, the academic genres of musical art continue nurturing the mind and heart of the modern man. Therefore he is able to fathom the noble ideals the music contains, to personally get in touch with the loftiest creations of the human spirit. So, on the threshold of the new era the problem of the ecology of the serious music is becoming more and more acute. It is the problem of protecting this kind of music (as well as all the other noble arts) from the ex-



pansion of a sound culture that has quite different origin and objectives. In relation to this, in the musical theory and practice, the interest for the practical and theoretical study of the social being of serious music has been rising. Nowadays this interest is duly focused on the study of the phenomenon of musical communication. The phenomenon is considered as an essential, complex entity that reflects the diversity of human musical communication and empowers the countless links created between people in the sphere of music, its content and message, its form of expression, its ways to influence a man’s inner self and his outward contacts with life and nature. Quite obviously the interest for a thorough study of this kind has not been prompted by purely scientific needs. It has been primarily dictated by the urgent task to learn to influence, with proper tact and wisdom, the artistic and creative processes that go on in a society, especially taking into consideration the fact that those processes represent a universal means of modern man’s socialisation. Naturally the influence in question is not intended to subdue or suppress an individual’s creativity. On the contrary— it is meant to liberate his spiritual powers. The mobilisation of those powers is quite important today for the protection of humanity from a certain danger of degradation emerging spontaneously here and there as a result of the simple fact that many tasks that were formerly purely human are nowadays carried out by lifeless machines. So the study of musical communication proves to be closely connected with the global problems of the present—the menace of the planetary catastrophe, the search for the ways of humanity’s survival and progress— the problems that were discussed by the major thinkers of the epoch: Vernadsky, Peccei, T. de Chardin and others (see, for example, 184). One should say that these problems were raised by the Russian musicians as early as the 19th century, particularly in its second half when the democratic tendencies strengthened and the potential of Russian literature and other arts was actively developed. In this respect it should suffice to mention the work of A.N. Serov and V.V. Stasov, M.A. Balakirev and N.A. RimskyKorsakov, P.I. Tchaikovsky and A.N. Scriabin, many other Russian musicians. It seemed that in the Soviet reality of the 20s those tendencies started to develop anew on a theoretically solid basis. The tendencies were supported by the official declarations of introducing the masses to serious art and culture. Indeed, it was the time when a new branch of musicology— the sociology of music, that first emerged in Europe in the late 19th century—came forth in Russia. The fact that this new area was explored by the

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most prominent Russian musicologists of the period—B.V. Asafyev, V.G. Karatygin, B.L. Yavorsky and others—seems quite essential. But almost from the very start the true theoretical reliability of this new promising venue of research was shaken by various disfigurements caused by political and ideological reasons. The proper methodological basis supported by a genuinely humanitarian approach was substituted for the class principle meant to divide people on the grounds of their political affiliation, the principle contaminated by antihuman impulses. The sociology of music experienced a revival during the “thaw” period in Russia in the 60s. It was expected to theoretically enlarge upon the problems of the optimisation of the social being of music and develop a comprehensive approach towards the exploration of the deepest aspects of music’s social purpose and towards the study of the peculiarities of musical language, the formation and stylistics of music, etc. (In connection with that period the names of A.N. Sokhor, Y.V. Kapustin, V.P. Fomin, V.S. Zuckerman and some others should be mentioned.) But now when tens of years had passed it becomes evident that the sociology of music as a branch of sociology in general is quite unable to exhaustively research all the multifarious aspects of the functioning of serious music in social life. The reason for that appears to be the fact that, although the sociology of music strives to consider the creation, reproduction and social functioning of music in their interconnection, it does not accept them as its special subject. “The processes of institutionalisation of art’s development and functioning” (268, p. 25) are generally looked upon as the subjects of musical sociology. Several studies dedicated to the exploration of the complex problems of the nature of musical art, the regularity of its language and structure represented a different trend in musicology. Those works concentrated, for instance, on the specific character of musical perception, the compositional logic of a musical piece, the plurality of the sound universe of music (Y.V. Nazaykinsky), the system character of its means of expression (L.A. Mazel) and the flexibility of those means when directed to the audience, that presupposes the reaction of the latter (V.V. Medushevsky). Of course, the studies in the above-mentioned areas, as well as the fundamental works of S.S. Skrebkov, V.P. Bobrovsky, Y.N. Tyulin, Y.N. Kholopov, V.N. Kholopova, Y.A. Ruchyevskaya and others; also the many articles dedicated to some of the facets of the mentioned problems—all of that has contributed to the analysis of the important, most basic aspects of the social being of music. But none of the mentioned studies has ever attempted to consider the same components of the functioning of musical integrity in



the context of a specific study of the socio-musical communication as the primary subject of musicological research. It is worthwhile to note here that historically three trends have been developed in musicology. One of them concerns itself with the problems of the development of music. This is the area of the theory of composition, historical and theoretical musicology, etc. Another trend concentrates on the problems of musical reproduction (the history and theory of musical performance, the theory of performing styles and musical pedagogics). Finally, the third trend focuses its interest on the functioning of music in a society (the psychology of musical perception, applied sociology, musical criticism, etc). One has to mention that none of the above trends is willing to lock itself within its narrow area of research. A more thorough examination quickly discloses that there are numerous, sometimes escaping links interconnecting the cited trends. For example, the study of the evolution of classical and modern harmony is conducted on the basis of a deep research of the historical development of musical genres, a research that is eventually inseparable from the analysis of the social purpose of music. Another example—the theory of musical thinking touches upon the problems of the structure of a musical piece, researched within theoretical musicology; at the same time, it deals with the structure of musical perception—the problem that lies in the sphere of psychology and sociology (see the works of V. Medushevsky, A. Moles: 144; 156; and others). Nevertheless, none of the trends in question sets the study of the existing links and interdependencies as its specific objective. A study of this kind would be aimed at exploring the musical process in its integrity as a single functional system with all its complex and multifarious communicative connections, internal as well as external. Therefore the whole previous evolution of musicology on the one hand and the acute problems of present-day musical life, on the other, lead us to the understanding of the study of the above-mentioned group of problems to be set aside as a special branch of musical theory. As a theoretical problem, the problem of musical communication is not a new one for musicology. The interest towards it has been rising recently. But it is usually concentrated on the separate aspects of the problem; it fails to encompass it as a whole. And although some of the questions of the communicative function of music, of the role of communication in the musical life of a society, etc., have been cleared up, its specific integrity, and the dynamics of its development have not been researched thoroughly. The major elements of the communicative process have not been revealed, its structure has not been analysed. Obviously, quite understandable difficulties arise in the course of such an analysis. They are inevitable while

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trying to comprehend the system and the process character of any complex spiritual entity, which includes a complicated structure of internal connections and links that, in their turn, may each unfold in accordance with a different temporal rhythm and bear an intricate pattern of their own internal links and may each be characterised by the diverse types of information that circle within them. Therefore the musical theory of today faces a necessity to fill the gaps that currently limit the scope of its practical influence and applicability. Today the historical and theoretical musicology has thoroughly studied the ways and regularities of the evolution of musical language and the constructive principles and compositional basics of creating a musical piece. The generalising concepts of the intonational form, stylistics, thematic aspects, general logic of a musical creation, the particulars of its formation, etc., have been deeply worked out. In the musicology of performing the processes of the so-called secondary creativity—the interpretation of music, the reproduction of music on stage—have been diligently and meticulously explored. But one of the main questions of musical theory, doubtlessly essential to all of its branches, remains largely unanswered. The question is how, in which way, by what means do all the explored regularities and principles of music and its major phenomenon—a musical piece (together with the specific communicative techniques based on the peculiarities of human perception)—enable the music to have a socially significant external existence and enable its meaning and message, its form and purport to be adequately translated for all the participants of musical communication in a society? In the recent years in some works that deal with the cited problems of musicology certain communicative properties, techniques and methods were analysed and a considerable amount of useful material was accumulated (see, for example, 147). But the culturally and socially acute problem of a comprehensive study of the whole group of questions, essential for musical communication management, remains beyond the scope of musical theory. Such a situation is unavoidable, as the links of the integral communicative chain, as it was stated above, have largely been considered separately. The answers to this compound set of questions obviously cannot be found within any single one of the mentioned branches of musicology. The solution to the problem as a whole (let us repeat, a problem cardinal to musical theory) may only be discovered in the interrelation of the various branches of musicology. In other words, the necessity to develop a theory of musical communication becomes quite evident. Such a theory would have as its specific task the study of the complicated processes of the in-



terchange of musical meanings between all those concerned in the integral process of musical communication. Of course, the development of a theory of this kind is a very difficult task that can only be completed with the effort of many scholars. At the same time, taking into consideration the necessity to resist the various crises of today (named at the beginning of this work) with the help of the power of art, and striving to optimise the management of musical life in present-day Russia, we think it advisable to try and suggest a few ways of building up such a theory. These suggestions are based on the diverse research material accumulated within the theory of music, as well as on the practical experience of organising musical life. Developing such suggestions is what the present monograph is aimed at. This work is not an attempt to decisively resolve the problem raised in it, that is, to develop the theoretical basis for the study of musical communication in all its abstractions and interdependencies. It seems that within the scope of this work one would only hope to make a preliminary sketch, an outline of the theory that is sought for, to specify an approximate set of its major problems. We would like to emphasise that one of our final objectives is to clear up the basic principles and methods of managing the functioning and the development of musical processes in a community. The work will deal with the management of musical communication, which stands for providing the best social conditions for this kind of communication in the musical, cultural and aesthetic life of a community. Let’s set just one limitation. The object of our study will stand for the so-called serious music, that is, academically oriented European music. The specific peculiarities of communicative processes that take place within other, non-European musical cultures, in folk music, in the experimental kinds of modern music, popular and variety show music are definitely worthy of becoming the subject of an independent research. Having said that, we will try to clarify the notions and terms used in the course of this work. As it is well known, there are two basic approaches to treating the essence of the notion “musical communication”. The advocates of the first approach (A. Moles, V. Borev and A. Kovalenko; see: 154–156; 40) treat the term and the phenomenon that corresponds to it in connection with the development of the modern media of mass communication (mainly, the electronic media). The other approach (A.N. Sokhor, V.V. Medushevsky, Y.V. Kapustin; see 228–239; 147; 100) considers the term in relation to the aesthetic essence of a musical piece and, consequently, links it to the

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notions fundamental to the temporal unfolding of a musical piece—its process quality and its functionality*. The author of the present work would rather hold to the second understanding of the phenomenon and notion in question, but he makes an attempt to found his study upon a wider category. This category is the musical process as a whole, as an integral dynamic entity that includes all the aspects of the existence of music in a society. In this respect we deem it necessary to note the following. Although in the musicological works the notion of musical form from the process point of view and from the functional point of view, as well as the other notions of musical life, are not sufficiently related to the inherent communicative properties of music, in the general art theory these relationships are more deeply elaborated. For instance, it is noted, “...the essential quality of the artistic process “is contained in the representing of the idea through communicative forms, perceived by the society, in the creative artist’s ability to foresee the artistic ideas of his contemporaries, the ways the artistic forms would progress. The understanding of the dynamic interchange within the system ‘artist-creative activity—work of art society—artist’ enables one to follow the historical continuity of the aesthetic culture, its forms and methods, the innovative interpretation of the reality and the past. This kind of approach explains the qualitative changes in the typological characteristics of the readers, viewers, listeners—the evolution of the social interests” (180, p. 31; italics by the author—A.Y.).

There is a direct indication here, both of the communicative essence of the artistic process, and of the active role of its participants, as well as of the dynamic quality of creative activity, the quality that characterises the acts of imparting and perceiving the aesthetic information. Then how do we define the notion of musical communication taking into consideration everything that was said above? We believe, that musical communication** is the dynamic system of imparting, receiving and storing information, that is inherently characteristic of the diverse and integral process of creating, accumulating, distributing, consuming and evaluating the musical values, that provides for the optimal functioning and effective interaction of all the participants and structural elements of the above process. This system unfolds in time and ‫ כ‬One has to mention that both the notions are quite thoroughly elaborated in the theory of music in this country (see: 13; 34–35; 150; 207). ** Communicato, communicatio (Latin)—message, connection, contact.



space, connecting the musical art with the other spheres of social consciousness and activity, assisting the growth of the social influence of musical art and drawing the feedback from society that enables the art to enrich and develop itself. In the process of musical communication diverse spheres take part in constant interaction. They bring about the specific acts of aesthetic values being created by the artist (individual or collective), interpreted by the performer and perceived by the listener, of the aesthetic result being evaluated by the musical critic. They also account for the interchange with the wide variety of social and historical, aesthetic, psychological and dynamic layers of the social consciousness in its constant development. Musical communication has to deal with different kinds of information (sound, visual, code information, symbolic and semantic information, etc.). But its basic informational material is “the system of the expressive means of musical language that works on the different layers and levels of the listener’s psychological constitution” (L.A. Mazel). A communicative system of this kind brings about the realisation of the various functions characteristic both of the musical piece itself and of all the participants of the musical aesthetic process. This realisation evolves along different lines, and this provides for the multifarious and concentrated character of its impact (L.A. Mazel) on the public musical consciousness and the spiritual world of a separate musical individual. Also, it is important to clarify some other key notions that follow the given definition and are used throughout the course of the work. We understand the process of musical communication as a closed system of the functioning of musical information in a society, a system that unfolds in time and space. The notions of spheres and phases of musical communication are also introduced in the course of this work. The notion of “the sphere of the communicative process” stands for a local part of the process that is limited by certain spatial parameters, within the limits the consecutive storing, processing and transmitting of the musical information takes place. This monograph cultivates the notion of the four communicative spheres—the sphere of the composer (the author, the addresser of a communication), the sphere of the performer (the interpreter of a communication), the sphere of the listener (the addressee of a communication) and the sphere of the musicologist-critic (the commentator of a communication and the regulator of the communicative process as a whole). The notion of “the phase of the communicative process” stands for one of its local components taking place within certain temporal parameters, within which the specific procedures of accumulating, processing and

The Theory of Musical Communication


transmitting the musical information are realised. Within the structure of each of the cited spheres of musical communication (the author’s, performer’s, listener’s, musicologist’s sphere) three phases, during which the mentioned procedures are realised, are singled out. The notion of “communicative chain” is used in two meanings: it may denote the sequence of transmitting the musical information from one sphere to the other (from the author to the performer, and further to the listener and the critic) as well as the progressing through the communicative phases within one sphere (say, within the sphere of the performer, when he moves through the different stages of mastering a musical piece before presenting it to the audience). The notion of “the channel of communication” stands for an established way or venue along which the informational interchange between the addresser and addressee of the musical communication is conducted. The three other notions that we use are connected with the procedures typical for musical communication—the procedures of encoding and decoding the musical information. The term “musical code” denotes a semantically contracted structure that bears the content of images and ideas and is expressed through the typological means of musical language. Encoding stands for the transfer of one type of information into the other. In relation to music, it has to do with transferring the spiritual and aesthetic content from the ideal form (the form of thought and feeling) into a materialised musical form. In its turn, decoding stands for the transformation of the contracted (encoded) form into an unfolded, expanded one that restores the original meaning intended by the author. So, this book is an attempt to explore the main regularities of the creation and the functioning of the integral system of musical communication and to discuss on that basis the essence of the system’s components—of the processes of generating, imparting, perceiving and evaluating the aesthetic values of music. The work studies the essential properties of each of the communicative spheres of the composer, the performer, the listener and the musicologist (critic), analyses the interrelationship of these spheres, discovers the basic communicative channels through which the musical information revolves in a society, demonstrates the transformation of information during the procedures of encoding the artistic meanings and the symbols those meanings bring about. The monograph contains seven chapters. The first chapter reviews the musicological, philosophical, sociological, psychological and pedagogical literature that bears upon the subject of the monograph. It contains an outline of the basic sources of the present study and reveals the most essential ideas that the sources embrace. In the following four chapters musical



communication is analysed and the aspects of its universal role in the existence of musical art, of its dynamic and structural components and links, of the integrity of the means, ways and channels of transmitting musical information are studied. In the two finishing chapters the author strives to outline the situation in which serious music in modern society functions and exists in order to advocate the necessity and demonstrate the possibility of managing the appropriate processes to better utilise the musical art for the spiritual revival and development of man on the verge of the 21st century. 


It has been mentioned in the Introduction already that musicology has not brought about any special studies that would thoroughly and sufficiently explore musical communication as a complex (system) phenomenon, that integrates all the inherent characteristics of music and its major element—a musical piece—and the processes that take place outside that piece during the communication between the composer (its author), performer (interpreter), listener (“consumer”) and musicologist (critic). At the same time the Russian and foreign musical theory has produced a number of works that, along with the study of many other important problems of musical art and the phenomenon of a musical piece, touch upon or even analyse the various points that have to do with the essential processes of social existence of music, their specific characteristics in relation to each of the cited participants of musical communication that account for the community of perceiving music and understanding its meaning. In this chapter we would strive to outline the group of works on musical theory that directly or indirectly touch upon the problems that we consider important for the elaboration of the theory of musical communication. We would first review the fundamental works published during the recent sixty years. Both of the most prominent figures of national musicology of the 20s—B.V. Asafyev and B.L. Yavorsky—have contributed to the considerable growth of interest toward the problems of the interchange and interrelation of the two musical worlds—the world of the creator and the world of the listener. Proper consideration was also given to the obvious fact that the key role in the communication thereof belongs to a third participant— the performer, “...since the life of a musical creation is in its performance, that is, in putting it into sounds and presenting its meaning to the listeners” (13, p. 264).


Chapter One

The dominant idea of all of the Asafyev’s works, including his earliest studies, is the idea of the intonational nature of music as “the art of the intoned meaning” (13, p. 344). This idea was most accurately elaborated in his second book “The Musical Form as a Process” (13). The intonation concept that this scholar advocated and the fundamental notions and terms he introduced to elucidate the concept—those of intonational epochs, intonational crises, as well as the notion of the “intonational vocabulary”— contribute directly to the study of the deeper ways the musical communication between all of its participants works. The mentioned study, as well as the other works by Asafyev, especially his articles, always contain a very particular and important point—the author’s concern for the development of an adequate (intonational) perception of music, that lets the music really reach its addressee—the mass listener that is looking forward to encountering the noble art*. We have to remark here that later during the Soviet era this uplifting tendency largely dominated the fundamentals of the functioning of the process of musical communication and the ways the process was “managed” (this point is discussed in greater detail in the finishing chapters of the present book). The theoretical convictions of B.L. Yavorsky were also very much in favour of the educational tendency in musical art, in support of the optimisation of the existence of the classical music in society. These ideas were largely sourced from the democratic aspirations of many major Russian composers—such as M.A. Balakirev, N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov, S.I. Taneyev and others. Unfortunately some of Yavorsky’s ideas are reflected only in his correspondence (particularly addressed to his student and follower S.V. Protopopov; see: 195; 296) and the only work that was almost completed—The musical thinking of Russian composers from Glinka to Skryabin. Yavorsky strove to disclose the deeper layers of the genesis of music, the links that interconnect the different processes of human reality and bring about musical expressiveness. In this pursuit he had considerable grounds for confronting musical language with the verbal speech. That was done not as much to demonstrate the dependence of former upon the latter, but to discover the fundamental differences that exist between them, the specific character of the musical speech—the specific character that is contained in its diversity, its inherent multifaceted quality that coexists *

One has to note that the concern for the truly musical perception of music, as well as the intonation concept as a whole, was largely brought about by subjective factors (a rare kind of absolute pitch, characterised by dynamic inertia). See: the article by Y.V. Nazaikinsky, “Asafyev’s Ear” (167).

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


with the invariable character of the meanings expressed through music. Some of the related ideas were expressed by Yavorsky in a very deep article, little known to the present-day reader called Text and Music (297). Yavorsky attempted to research the genesis and the evolutionary character of the musical thinking, to learn which actions and manipulations bring about and support the processes of perceiving, understanding, creating music (by the composer and the performer). In the course of those studies Yavorsky came to the realisation that a basic, fundamental factor has to be found, a factor that we would call “the structure-forming component of the system”. According to Yavorsky this major factor was the harmonic factor. In different periods of his career he used to term it in a number of ways (“the harmonic rhythm," “the hearing gravitation," , etc.). The theorist successfully disclosed the specifying role of the harmonic aspect of the musical sound, the aspect that variously influences the other components of the musical integrity—the rhythm, the volume dynamics, the timbre palette, etc., as well as the constructional and compositional peculiarities of a piece in a broader sense (see: 295, 296). The essential problems of music as the art of human aesthetic communication studied by Yavorsky and Asafyev, the problems of the specific character of musical language, of the compositional and constructional form of music as reflected in the works of these scholars have largely predetermined the subsequent development of the national musical theory, outlined the area of its most intense interest, particularly, in the sphere of the communicative process analysis. Out of the few fundamental works published in the first half of the century, the monograph The structure of a musical piece (1946, see: 46) by A.K. Butskoy deserves special consideration. One has to stress the obviously controversial character of this work. This is a study in which the deep theoretical aspirations and valuable findings of the author are essentially neutralised by the official ideological dogma, especially rigid at the beginning of the fifties. For instance, the monograph advocated the dogmatic idea that, “Any work of art is a complex ideological superstructure, a reflection of the material world itself and the Weltanschauung, the understanding of the reality, that is characteristic of the human society and is eventually defined by the production forces and the production relationships” (46, p. 19; italics by the present author.—A.Y.).

Thus the author of the monograph supported the belief that any work of art is irrevocably dependent on the development and life of society. Such carryovers from the so-called “vulgar sociologisation” characteristic of the


Chapter One

musicology of the 20s, that considered itself Marxist, led the author to the rejection of every manifestation of the truly spiritual, fantasy, unreality aspects in music, forced him to think, “The freest, the most dauntless flight of fantasy cannot surpass the limits of the content that the consciousness has gleaned from the objective reality” (46, p. 23).

The author constantly stresses the dependence of the personal, individual factors on the social ones (“the personal aspects that are ruled by the social ones," “...through his personality the artist reflects the ideology of his social milieu," , etc.). The author makes no scruples about criticising the great composers, whose personal inadequacies provoked various digressions from the “correct understanding of the life’s phenomena” and “crippled” some aspects of their creativity. Thus he blames A.N. Scriabin for his absorption in the search for God, characteristic of a certain part of the Russian intelligentsia that made the composer think of himself as a messiah, ...“create a confused pseudo-philosophy and try to put it into practice in the ’universal mystery of the freely flowing spirit of human creativity’” (46, p. 22).

Butskoy is particularly revolted by the aesthetic concept of the wellknown Austrian art critic E. Hanslick (320), by the latter’s numerous ideas having been in conflict with the established musicological dogma. Such ideas for instance, “Beauty in music arouses the feeling as an auxiliary effect, but first of all it works on the fancy” (320, p. 20); “...the beauty of a musical piece is something purely musical that has no bearing on any alien, non-musical sphere of thought” (320, p. 9); “...not only does music speak in sounds, it speaks in sounds only” (320, p. 170); “...the content of music is the moving sound forms” (320, p. 33).

Rejecting Hanslick’s views Butskoy fails to see the extreme character of his own position. He fails to take into consideration the fact that the sphere of art evolves along its own specific lines, since it is a secondary creative activity of a human being and is different from other forms of human activity. Nor could he see human thinking, particularly artistic and

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


musical, to be a structural and system phenomenon*. Therefore, any musical fragment—from the simple sound that is only characterised by its pitch, its continuity within metre, timbre and volume, to a whole musical piece with its often complicated system of images, associations, etc.— works upon different layers of the human psyche. That accounts for the fact that the layers and the stages at which an individual perceives musical meaning are numerous, and the “meanings” vary from listener to listener. It was said above that the work by Butskoy is controversial. Nevertheless, we believe he sometimes express valuable opinions, very helpful in the respect of developing the theory of musical communication. Thus, while analysing the genesis of musical language, he states the latter, “Cannot be translated into any other language, whether verbal or the language of any other art. The unique quality of the musical language only points to the fact that music is irreplaceable, that it carries out the unique task in understanding and realising the world. This is ‘the pledge of the bare necessity’ of music, of its importance in human life” (46, p. 90).

We considered a brief critical analysis of A.K. Butskoy’s work necessary because it might help the national musicology to get rid of the ties that bound it throughout the recent decades in its analysis of the major categories. These are the categories of the integrity of the musical content and the material form, the relationship of the intellectual and the emotional sources of music and the certain conventionality of musical language and thinking that are manifested in a special system of encoding the message in the musical form. Nevertheless, in spite of certain influence of the old methodological dogma, there was a tendency in the related works of the 70s and 80s to deeply research the nature of musical meaningfulness and the means of expressing it in the sound integrity of a piece. The number of special works dedicated to some of the major related subjects grew. First of all, the analysis of the system of expressive means in the European music of the past centuries was undertaken in the works by L.A. Mazel, V.A. Zuck*

The systems and structure approach to the analysis of musical thinking was developed in the works by M.G. Aranovsky, I. Buryanek and others in the 70s (see: 8; 45). Later it gained considerable recognition. This approach is stressed in S.G. Kuzanov’s dissertation. It helps disclose the specific character of this phenomenon of human creativity, unique in its orientation and determining the genesis, the existence and the functioning of musical phenomena, and, at the same time, manifested through them (see: 123, p. 2).


Chapter One

erman, V.V. Medushevsky and Y.V. Nazaikinsky. Then, the studies were made to research the stylistic integrity of a musical piece as a historically predetermined phenomenon (the works by S.S. Skrebkov, V.V. Protopopov and others). Finally, works dedicated to the study of the regularities of the formation of music were published by V.P. Bobrovsky, A.P. Milka, V.V. Medushevsky, Y.V. Nazaikinsky and others. In relation to the key problem of the present monograph, we have to take into consideration the fact that the inherent regularities of the existence of a musical piece, music in general, studied in the cited works, do not find identical reflection in the processes of creating, performing and perceiving (listening to) musical texts. The triadic character of the musical art, the differentiation of the three spheres of creative activity in its general structure are discussed, to a certain degree, in various related works, but the essence of these works is usually focused on the immanent properties of music itself, and those properties are usually considered only from the viewpoint of studying the activity of the creator of music, its author. But since the object of the present work is the study of the process of the transfer of the essence of the author’s message contained in a musical piece into the spheres of performing it and listening to it, the transfer that is possible due to the emerging communicative links; since the object of the work is this, we are more interested in the general aspects of the genesis of the musical creative process and in its essential characteristics, which are analysed in the publications of the cited authors. One of the central problems of musicology—the problem of the genesis and semantics of musical language—is, quite obvious, also central for this work, since the language of music is the basic means of musical communication. In this respect the present author has largely grounded his research upon the studies of L.A. Mazel; in particular, the ideas and concepts he put forward in his book On the analysis of music: an essay in bringing together theoretical musicology and aesthetics (138). This work develops a new aesthetic, culturological approach to the analysis of the expressive means, semantic meanings and the structure of musical language. This kind of approach has enabled the author to gain the ground for some major generalisations and to set forward some principles and ideas fundamental for musicology. For instance, using the probability principle, Mazel created the concept of the expressive abilities of the musical means disclosing their true semantic meaning only within certain context. The starting point for elaborating this idea in his concept is the suggestion that there exist in European musical culture certain historically formed units of

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


expressiveness, which had established themselves in the public musical consciousness (Mazel terms them as “intonational and genre complexes”). It is these complexes used by all the participants of the multidimensional processes of social musical communication that may in a probability fashion be manifested on all of the communication stages. The other keystone ideas of the concept of expressive abilities are also of considerable importance—particularly the idea of the integrity and the paradoxical character of individual expressive means, the principle of the multitude character and the concentrated character of their impact. As a whole, L.A. Mazel’s concept has disclosed the necessity and brought about the possibility of studying the deeper language regularities that are common to the musical thinking of the composer, the performer and the listener. Most valuable material on the processes of musical communication and the meaningful content of the information that is exchanged during that communication is contained in the major work by S.S. Skrebkov The aesthetic principles of the musical styles (219). Understanding “musical style as the highest kind of aesthetic integrity” (219, p. 10; italics by A.Y.) the author of the above work constantly stresses a very important aspect. The stylistic integrity, according to Skrebkov, “In the shape of often practically imperceptible generic links is spread throughout a musical piece; it permeates the theme, the language, the formation of music. It is manifested in the imagery of the piece as a whole, in the creative tradition of the composer, in his attitude to life, to the listeners, to the performers” (219, p. 10; all italics by the present author.— A.Y.).

It is also stressed, “The theoretical musicology focuses on the logic of the musical art, strives to find the fundamental definition of the general principles of musical thinking” (219, p. 12; italics by the present author.—A.Y.)*.


We believe that this idea should be taken further. Into the context of the studied logical relationships in music one should introduce not only the inner structure of a musical piece, but all the communicative processes during which it is created by the author, reproduced by the performer, perceived by the listener and historically and semantically evaluated by the musicologist (critic).


Chapter One

In the context of the present monograph one of Skrebkov’s ideas may be said to be of special interest. It is the idea that the theory of music while studying the style and therefore having a musical piece as its central object, “Should not be distracted from the essential links and relationships amongst which the piece emerges and lives—from the process during which the creative intention of the composer first arises, from the requirements of the contemporary audience, from the tasks and challenges the performers of the piece faced” (219, p. 11).

Nevertheless, later in the book the author concedes, “The theory of music has to follow different ways while taking into consideration the connections of the piece with the different components of its environment. In its generalisations the theory has to abstract itself from the elements of historical fortune and sheer chance that are present in those data [the facts on the performing cycle of the piece, the reaction of the audience and the critics is meant here.—A.Y.], since the object of musical theory is to define the basic general characteristics of a musical piece” (218, p. 11; italics by the present author.—A.Y.).

Therefore the starting point of this study is justified: the processes of musical communication, that determine both the social stage of the existence of a musical piece and the beginning stages of its forming and creation (including their historically predetermined peculiarities) have not yet been central to musicological research, but have rather been considered as side circumstances, external to the art itself. Today, as it was put forward in the Introduction, the vast changes in the whole complex of the social existence of music as an art have led the musical theory to the necessity of focusing on the nature and peculiarities of these processes. To research the mechanisms of transferring the aesthetic meanings from the composer to the other participants of the system of communication, one has to study the problem of the musical piece since this form of musical message is the very material that cycles through “the communication links” and serves as the central object of communication between the composer, the performer, the listener and the critic. One also has to take into consideration the importance of form in the emerging of music as an art, the specific character of the form’s creation and existence, and the peculiar ways in which the form is fixed and perceived. Discussing the fundamental importance of the perception for the adequate understanding of musical form as a genuinely aesthetic phenomenon, essential for music, B.V. Asafyev wrote,

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


“The form of sonata allegro contains the expressiveness of symphonism. It openly manifests, in a feeling that is so alive for composers, the resilience, the resistance and at the same time the flexibility that contribute to the amazing intensity and expressiveness of the musical development. These qualities are fully understandable and tangible for the composers and are very hard to comprehend outside music, as well as the notions and, quite real for musicians, sensations of introductory tone, harmony, interval, development. And those who do not feel the elasticity of the sonata allegro as well as the elasticity and ‘gravitation’ of the links in every interval will face a great, even unsurpassable difficulty in becoming a musician. It is the deafness of pitch (not the physiological deafness of the ear, but exactly the deafness of pitch, of the musical ear)” (13, p. 303; italics by the present author; the thinned out type by the original author.— A.Y.).

Then Asafyev makes an important note stressing the role of the general understanding of the elements of the musical form. In fact, this has to do with one of the major conditions that provides for the effectiveness of communicative processes. In relation to that Asafyev writes the following, and we deem it very important, “One cannot be an artist without understanding the nuances of colour and chiaroscuro, although one can distinguish colours perfectly, as many nonprofessionals do. So, the musicologists that claim that they disclose the meaning of music, without hearing the musical forms as the product of thinking process, ‘improvise their own meanings’ with the accompaniment of music, but are not thinking together with the composer” (13, p. 303; italics by the present author; the thinned out type by the original author.— A.Y.).

In Russian musicology the problem of form in music—in a broad understanding, when it is considered as a system of means that contribute to expressing the aesthetic meaning through sound—has provoked the interest of many theorists, and therefore it has been thoroughly and carefully researched. A considerable contribution to the theory of the musical form was made in the works by V.P. Bobrovsky, (34; 35), V.V. Medushevsky (144; 145), A.P. Milka (150), V.V. Protopopov (194), Y.V. Nazaikinsky (165) and some others. In his book The functional bases of musical form V.P. Bobrovsky develops Asafyev’s ideas on the dynamic character of musical form as an intonational phenomenon that bears a certain meaning. According to Bobrovsky, the function of musical form, its role and purpose lie exactly in being the medium for that meaning. He defines the musical form as a multilevel hierarchical system with elements characterised by two closely


Chapter One

interrelated aspects—the functional and the structural. The former the author understands as “everything that has to do with the meaning, the role, the purport of a given element within the system," and the latter as “everything that deals with its concrete expression, its inner structure” (35, p. 13). The system approach advocated by Bobrovsky is very important for the analysis of musical communication undertaken within this work. Bobrovsky considers the functional and the structural aspects of music inseparable; he claims that they can only be separated by logical abstraction (35, p. 13) since they exist as an integral unity. Therefore, while analysing the processes of musical communication, any small change in any of the elements of the structure of musical form may be considered as a modification, a deviation in its function—in its role of building the meaning into the musical phrase. On the other hand, Bobrovsky’s work contains another valuable idea. It is the well-grounded and elaborated idea of the variability (mobility) of the functions of musical form. This property is always manifested in the variability of the constructional and compositional structures of the integral whole—a musical piece*. The concept of the variability of the functions enables one to theoretically analyse as well as practically research the oftentimes substantial changes in the meaning of music in the processes of musical communication that take place within the chain “the composer—the performer—the listener—the musicologist-critic”. A different aspect of the analysis of the musical form is developed in the works by V.V. Medushevsky (144; 145; 146) generalised in the monograph The intonational form of music (145). The author focuses on studying the content aspect and the intonational aspect of the deep (basal) factors of musical expression. According to Medushevsky, the musical form (in its broadest sense) is an intonational form that reflects, through the unity of its emotional (according to Medushevsky, proto-intonational) and logical (analytical) aspects, the inner world of the individual*. A deep and


In finishing lines of his study the author presents the following definition of the musical form, laconic but exhaustive: “The musical form is a functionally mobile process of the intonational expression of a certain artistic idea” (35, p. 328). One should note that this is the notion of the essence and the role of musical form in the emerging of the spiritual meaning of music, that has become the leading notion in our further analysis of understanding and the developing the form and its elements during the processes of musical communication. * .It is not by chance that the author of the quoted monograph considers the problem of understanding the intonational meaning of music as central to the professional

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


thorough analysis related to the conceptual idea of the high purpose of music has enabled the theorist to rise to a number of substantial generalisations concerning the basic ways the musical form emerges and develops, particularly its reproduction during performance. Considering the multiplicity of the ways a performer may recreate the music, Medushevsky justly notes, “Although in music, as in everything else, a human being is granted freedom, but he also takes responsibility, and although the variants of understanding are numerous, the difference between the correct and the distorted still remains” (145, p. 233).

The author is critical of the approach whereby, “...the solution of the problem of the difference between arbitrariness and artistic freedom is usually sought after within the horizontal of form and meaning, whereas first of all one should focus on the spiritual vertical. The problem of adequacy is first and foremost the problem of the spiritual calibre, the preservation of the highest ideas and the unacceptability of letting the public culture debase itself” (145, p. 233).

Therefore, the highest spiritual criterion of evaluating all the manifestations of the musical form is considered as, probably, the most important, essential instrument in the analysis of all the aspects and laws of musical communication in human society. The author had been approaching these conclusions gradually. One of the stages that led to their crystallisation was a thorough analysis of the communicative functions realised in a musical piece. This analysis was undertaken in the book On the laws and means of the aesthetic impact of music. Medushevsky develops the theory of the communicative function of music considering the function in its close connection with the semantic function of music. Theorising in this direction, he proceeds from the notion of “the form meant for the listener” introduced by Asafyev. This notion characterises “the highest degree of the communicative perfection of music”. In relation to all that, Medushevsky has deeply analysed (taking into consideration the peculiarities of perception) the communicative techniques, the structure, the appropriate syntactic means and the various manifestations of the communicative function—the way it is manifested through clarification, the heuristic impact of musical meaning, etc. and general musical education reform (see: 148). This major question is raised again in the finishing chapters of the present work.


Chapter One

While discussing ontological issues and the issues of the social existence of music as a sphere of human spiritual communication and interaction, Medushevsky follows the tradition of assigning these issues to the field of sociology and social psychology (see: 147, p. 121), although he touches upon the influence that the “whole system of communication” should have on the structure of a musical piece. It is the works of Y.V. Nazaikinsky that largely blaze the trail for the theoretical analysis of the phenomenon of musical communication as a whole, as a complex, multi-component and multi-level system (163–166). His major publications are Upon the psychology of musical perception (1972, see: 166), The logic of musical composition (1982, see: 165) and The sound universe of music (1988, see: 163). These works form a triad, so to speak. In that triad, the theorist gradually advances from the deep analysis of the genesis of the psychological phenomena that led to the creation of music and its influence upon man, to the discovery of the laws of adequately constructing the compositional form of a musical piece, the form that corresponds with the specific characteristics of human thinking, and further to the study of the whole sound environment around us, the environment bringing about the very emergence of music, as well as the appropriate, more or less favourable, circumstances of its social existence. The cited works have largely served as an impulse for the study we are trying to undertake here. This study should be a complex one, related to the other branches of theoretical thought outside musicology, but it would still have to be principally musicological in its consideration of the problem of socio-musical communication, and that problem would have to be researched in all its vital, quite real integrity*. In this respect we took as our lodestar the following words by Nazaikinsky, “I have oftentimes witnessed as the stratagems and fanciful constructions of counterpoint, the ingenious stylistic ornaments, the bright harmonic colours prevent the mind, all too prone to analytical thinking, from seeing the deep, the elusive, the most mysterious lanes along which the musical thought progresses, as the exaggerated focus on the technical, the material aspect of the work of art turns quite unexpectedly into a flight from its inner meaning, so much so, that the musicians fail to notice the very es-


The communicative aspect is involved in many works on intonation. Genre, style, form, aesthetic trends in music and its consideration are also characteristic of the studies upon the sociological and aesthetic problems of music. Nevertheless, as Y.M. Rags justly notes, “the musicologists tend rather to claim that their works are communicatively oriented, than to really explore the pertinent subjects” (160, p. 3).

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


sence, fail to hear the music...” (165, p. 9; italics by the present author.— A.Y.).

At the same time Nazaikinsky states that at different moments the musicians are capable of direct, unprejudiced perception of music, when none of the compositional techniques, “...gets the focus, when the mind does not fail to see all the richness of the fantastically complicated integrity of the musical organisation, but through perceiving that organisation easily and freely follows the flow of the musical thought, lives within the aesthetic world of the piece and joins itself with its logos” (165, p. 9).

A question arises here—what are the “different moments” mentioned by the author, the moments that can steer a musician’s perception and intellect to a totally different point? We would take a liberty to offer a hypothesis that the musical meaning becomes more or, on the contrary, less intelligible to an educated musician depending on the conditions in which a given musical form is transmitted from one person (artist) to the other. And it is one of the major objectives of the theory of musical communication to disclose the mechanisms of that transmission (translation), to find the factors optimising or, vice versa, limiting its efficiency. That is why while studying the problem one has to take into consideration the traits and characteristics of the compositional logic of music that were explored by Nazaikinsky. Particularly, the communicative context of a musical piece, its communicative aspect and structure, the specific communicative functions of the composition (of the preludes, for instance), the communicative meanings and, finally, some traits of the composer’s interaction with the performer and the listener that are related to the logos of music. We would also like to note some musicological studies that have not influenced the choice of objectives for this particular work, but that have, to a degree, given it some direction. To this group of sources, one can count, for example, some fundamental works on the thematic aspect of music. Since when one touches upon the musical form and meaning, upon the ways these are organised and perceived, when one deals with the compositional structure, the functional manifestation of the aesthetic means and with their relationship with the deep (aesthetic) layers of the musical content, the thematic problem of music becomes central. This is the important musicological problem, to which the works of Y.A. Ruchyevskaya (207), V.N. Kholopova (267), P. Reti (342) are dedicated, as well as certain parts in the cited monographs by V.P. Bobrovsky, V.V. Medushevsky, Y.V. Nazaikinsky.


Chapter One

Y.A. Ruchyevskaya writes, e.g., “The theme and the thematic development is such a plane of a musical piece that includes all the other planes—the expressive means, the composition, the form of the piece as a whole the thematic development, the change and the interrelation, the interweaving of the themes realise in the mind of the listener the process of the unfolding of the musical form, the musical drama” (207, p. 3).

Therefore, since the theme is the fundamental component of the musical piece that is most instrumental in getting its meaning across to the listener, the structural components of the thematic aspect of music and its modifications are some of the major (if not the major) subjects of musical communication*. Ruchyevskaya stresses, “The theme is something that represents a particular piece (that is remembered, recognised during listening and recalled afterwards)” (207, p. 8).

Ruchyevskaya has formed a concept that is very important to us within the scope of the present work. It is the concept of the unity of the interior (intratextual) and the exterior (extratextual) functions of the thematic aspect of music. Therefore, the traditional theoretical division between the factors that have to do with the interrelation of the musical text with its listeners’ experience (studied in the sociology of music), as well as with the extra-musical perceptive associations (studied within the musical psychology and aesthetics) and the factors that have to do with the formative role of the theme and its development in the very text of the piece—such a division ceases to seem quite warranted. And it is the object of the theory of musical communication to overcome this artificial division. It is also important for the analysis and development of this theory, “...that the principle of thematic development be understood as change, broadly, as variation of a given object, presupposes the existence of some constant” (207, p. 11).

This is an invariable model, the formula of the theme, that bears the potential for change. *

The author of the quoted study suggests the following definition: “the musical theme—is the element of the text structure that represents the given piece and is the object of its development that constitutes the basis of the process of the form’s evolution” (207, p. 8; italics by the present author—A.Y.).

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


New layers and facets of the problem of the thematic aspects of music are explored in the monograph “Theme—Thought—Culture” by V.B. Valkova (50). Considering the very notion of “the musical theme” as a certain universal notion in musicology, the author analyses its relationship with the problems of musical thought, of the dialectics of the conscious and subconscious in the musical perception of the mythological character of human imagination, etc. All these sides of the problem are obviously closely connected with the study of the essence and the functioning of musical communication in a society. A number of interesting, new and alternative views, free from the dogma that had just recently limited the musicological research, are contained in the course book by V.N. Kholopova Music as a kind of art (266). The author believes that in any art, including the musical art, the basic criterion is the criterion of the meaningfulness of the musical integrity. Therefore, she takes a farewell look at the traditional dichotomy “form— meaning” and develops a concept of musical meaning as a complex hierarchical system. She discusses the multiplicity of meanings that belong to the ideas of different historical epochs and national artistic schools, the genre and the stylistic aspects of a piece, the phenomenology of the musical form itself, the historically typified and individually predetermined specific characteristics of composition, and finally, the dramatic characteristics of a piece as the highest criteria of its poetic quality. Specifically discussing the transformation of those meanings in the performing life of a musical piece, Kholopova considers the problem of the identity of the piece. Needless to say this aspect of study brings in new interesting nuances in the consideration of the problem of musical communication as a system. We have to note here that the tendency to focus on and go deeper into the problems of musical meaning is a characteristic of the Western musicology as well. So, Derek Cook, a well-known British musicologist, whose work was highly acclaimed by L. Mazel, D. Mikhailov, A. Farbstein and many other Russian musicologists, has created an original concept of the musical semantics that reflected his interest in the problems of musical expressiveness. This concept is connected (obviously on quite a different theoretical and historical plane) with the 18th century theory of effects and postulates the semantic meaning of the basic expressive means of the European tonal music of the 15th–20th centuries, music enriched by a huge potential of spiritual meaning. Among the many essential questions of the uniqueness of music as an art that in its specific way reflects the Human Universe, Cook raises the problems of the analysis of musical language and major expressive means,


Chapter One

the study of the acts of creation, existence and perception of a musical piece and the analysis of the functional mechanism of the process of musical communication. An attempt to compile a certain “musical dictionary” of meanings, to classify the basic typical phrases that are characteristic of the European tonal music of the considered centuries is central to Cook’s concept. His concept is in many ways related to the notion of “the construction of musical speech” set forward by Yavorsky (see: 295), particularly, in his work The thinking of Russian composers from Glinka to Skryabin (296), to B.V. Asafyev’s idea of the “intonational dictionary of an epoch”, to the concept of the semantic modifications of “the primary intonational and genre complexes” by L.A. Mazel, etc. But Cook’s attempt to semantically interpret the individual sound and pitch phrases (he distinguishes 16 typical phrases), as well as to individually treat the semantic potential of rhythm, timbre, volume dynamics and style - also the fact that the notion of sonority (the phonic aspects as an essential musical phenomenon) among the major expressive means is absent from his work - makes Cook’s work methodologically akin to that period in musicology (mostly Soviet musicology) when the view that the art of sounds—music is an imaginary, unreal, fantastic world created by the artist’s “vision”-was rejected as formalistic. Within the dichotomy “meaning—form”, Cook grants the priority to the meaning, and he is rather critical of the typical position of the specialist analyst in the sphere of music. Along with Y.V. Nazaikinsky (and a number of other theorists), he justly notes, “Oftentimes the musicologist either ignores or only hints at what the composer wanted to say in his music and focuses wholly on how he said that” (311, p. 2).

But the aim and the essence of any communicative process is precisely what to take over. This idea was also advocated by the prominent musicologist Ernst Kurt at the beginning of the century in his well-known book Romantic harmony and its crisis in Wagner’s “Tristan”, “It is as if the sounds block the understanding of music. And the theory has lost the capability to hear the unheard that hides behind them, to embrace the processes that shine through the sounds and chords” (126, p. 16; all italics by the present author.—A.Y.).

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


Should one stress that the acute problem of modern musicology contained in these words goes back to the study of the processes of musical communication in all their aspects? We have to note here that the problems of “secondary” performing creative activity and of the multiplicity of interpretation, have long attracted the attention of the branch of musical theory that deals with performing*. For instance, V.Y. Grigoryev supports the idea of the multilevel character of the notion “the text of a musical piece”. He believes that the text includes many contextual phenomena that are related to the historically evolving aesthetic views of the periods when the musical piece was created, performed and perceived (see: 72). In a number of his works Grigoryev introduced the concept of encoding (condensing) the musical text of a piece by the performer while learning it and performing it onstage (71). We believe that this concept is quite essential for analysing the musical information that circles through the communication channels. Most likely, it is in the process of interiorisation (folding) and exteriorisation (unfolding) of the sound text of a musical piece by the performer that the possibility arises for the “variable multiplicity” of the interpretations. The characteristics of that multiplicity are analysed in detail by S.Kh. Rappoport (see: 197–199) and some other theorists. It is noteworthy that in the recent studies of performing, its aesthetic aspect is given more and more attention and the related problems are analysed in relation to the specific character of perception (both of the listener and the performer). So, in the dissertation by M.Y. Shamakhian, the phenomenon of the musical image is explored through the dynamics of its aesthetic development—from the author to the performer and further on to the listener. The author notes, “The existence of the active perceptive processes and singles out an independent category ‘image—memory’ that is instrumental in the influence of music upon the listener’s personality and indirectly—upon the musical communication in a society” (287, p. 2–3).

In the last chapter, discussing problems of perceiving music, the author justly notes, *

See the works of the theorists of performing, such as L.E. Gakkel (56), A.D. Alekseyev (5), V.Y. Grigoryev (68–72), Y.I. Milstein (151), M.A. Smirnov (222), G.M. Tsypin (278), theorists of aesthetics and art critics S.Kh. Rappoport (197), M.S. Kagan (95) and others.


Chapter One “Not only one and the same piece is differently heard and perceived in different epochs, and the perception varies within each epoch, but a piece is also differently perceived by different social groups with different social, everyday and aesthetic experience and demands” (287, p. 19; italics by the present author.—A.Y.).

The study of this group of problems related to the system concept of the cultural role of music and the laws of its social existence (and consequently of its role in the communicative processes) has been attracting musicologists’ growing attention. But the social conditions and the peculiarities of the “life” of music in a society are still not singled out from the many other musicological and sociological problems. The particular issues considered in this respect are not regarded as a step towards the forming of an appropriate integral theory. At the same time one has to note: while going deeper into some particular issues of the processes of musical communication and their functioning in a society, some authors approach these issues as essential, as the aspects of the musical universe that are quite central to comprehending the social role and importance of the musical art. For instance, the prominent Polish musicologist Zofia Lissa in her book Introduction to Musicology (327)* has outlined a sequence for the study of the musical art that clearly grants the priority to the problems of the purpose of music in social life and the problems of the realisation of the particular tasks of this kind of art. It is not by accident that after clearing up a number of questions related to the meaning and purpose of music, as well as the role of musicology, the theorist gives her special attention to the two problems (obviously essential to her): 1) the role of performing in music and 2) the role of notation in music. Indeed, one has to concede that the separation of the musician-performer from the musician-author, as well as the introduction of musical notation, has become truly revolutionary for the processes of musical communication (327, pp. 32–37, 38–43). The Bulgarian composer and musicologist Dimitr Hristov considers the composer’s personality within the system of many social relations, primarily, the relations with the public consciousness, with a personality’s social and political position, its moral, aesthetic and ethical ideas, religious views, etc. Regrettably, the monograph published in 1975 is quite full of the ideological dogma that ruled in the musical theory of the time. But nevertheless, the work also possesses certain motifs and conceptual ideas that help one to construct (quite roughly, of course) some kind of a gener*

The author’s term for the theory of music that encompasses all aspects of the latter.

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


alised methodological model of musical communication. The author believes the model includes two multi-aspect complexes: 1) the notional and aesthetic relations and 2) the theoretical musical thinking. The majority of musicological studies that have to do with sociomusical problems consider the communicative processes directed from the act of creating a musical piece (the composer’s creative activity) to the act of its being recreated, reproduced in performance (the secondary, performer’s creative activity) and further on to the act of its being socially perceived (the “tertiary” creative activity of the listeners)*. The dissertation by Y.V. Dukov (83) contains a totally different approach to the direction of the communicative process: it deals with the influence of the social interaction of the people in the world of music upon the emergence of new musical genres and the transformation of the old ones. It discusses the great influence the changes that took place in the existence of the concert musical genres (that is, the genres presented to the listener) had upon the emergence and development of the Haydn-type symphony in the 2nd half of the 18th century. It is also characteristic that there appeared a number of works that advocate the necessity and the possibility of the study of the socio-musical problems within the scope of theoretical musicology. V.P. Fomin was one of the first to raise the question. The analysis of the related works of the Russian musicologists (written mostly in the 20s) has led him to a conclusion that since the understanding of musical life within the social plane is quite traditional for musicology, the modern epoch and the radical social and economic changes of the present, as we deem it necessary to add, demand that the life of music should be studied deeper within the plane of the personal and the uniquely individual existence; and the study has to be undertaken within the two interrelated aspects: the life of Music in a human and the life of the Human in music**. The cited work contains another valuable idea—the author supports the singling out of the two important notions—musical life and the musical culture (253, p. 179). The author believes (and we fully share this belief) that these notions should be con* A monograph by L.M. Kadtsyn “The Musical Art and the Creativity of the Listeners” (see: 96) is one of the first fundamental studies in musicology that deal with the musical activity of the listeners as a creative activity. ** We believe that V.P. Fomin has justly noted an essential point: since the perception of music within the social and individual scope is more characteristic of Oriental music, the study of the latter could be beneficial to the mutual understanding of different nations. It is obvious that this promising idea could be projected within the theory of musical communication.


Chapter One

sidered “within a whole ensemble of other notions of the history and theory of music” (ibid.)*. There is a specific question that always arises while discussing the problem of the theoretical analysis of the functioning of the processes of musical communication in a society. It is the question of the methodological basis for such analysis, its starting points and perspective orientations. In this respect one might note two clear tendencies. The first one is the attempt to conduct the musical studies of the related problems within the scope of the system approach. The other tendency is coming closer to the exploration of the culturological problems, that is the inclusion of the musical phenomena and notions that were previously studied separately within the context of the epoch’s cultural development, of the national school, of the author (or the performer), a particular musical piece, etc. Within the first of the cited tendencies, in his doctorate research (284) T.V. Cherednichenko develops the notion of musicology as an example of the unity of the scientific and aesthetic thinking (the scientific theory and the aesthetic practice), he suggests a transition to a triadic model, an introduction of a new viewpoint (“the third force”). According to the author, this third viewpoint is the philosophy of culture—culturology**. And it is the culturological context that most of the valuable ideas of the cited work belong to. First, it is the idea of the dialogue character of art criticism. And second, it is the idea of the “outwardness” of meaning (M.M. Bakhtin’s term), that is, the idea of the encounter of your meaning with the meaning of another (see: 284, p. 17). In a different work the author clarifies the idea. He considers an issue very important for the study of musical communication—of the two opposite concepts of the comprehension of musical meaning. According to one of the concepts, the tonal structure of the piece itself constitutes the source of the meaning, and it is that structure that the listener’s understanding reflects on. Here, according to Cherednichenko, “...the listening individual is perceived as a hearing ‘mirror’ in which the musical piece ‘sees itself’” (283, p. 19).


The student of aesthetics M.S. Kagan has set forth a similar idea. He noted that the notion of artistic (or aesthetic) culture as a system is wider than the notion of art, as it is full of communicative links and interrelations (see: 95). ** The problem of the relations of culturology with Russian musicology is thoroughly discussed in the dissertation by G.A. Yermakova (85).

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


In the other concept the listener’s mind is regarded as a source of the musical meaning, and “...the tonal structure is only an impulse for the listener’s ‘listening to himself’. The latter projects and extends into the musical language the meanings existing in the world of his own subjectivity without the music and independent of it” (283, p. 19).

The author of the cited article clearly demonstrates that neither of the concepts leads to a true understanding of the meaning of music and an adequate interchange between the composer’s creation and the listener. He justly notes, “The specific qualitative characteristics and the independence of the listener’s understanding, in one case, and of the musical language, in the other, are reduced to nothing” (283, p. 32–33).

Cherednichenko comes to a conclusion that is very important to the present study, “Exploring the musical language one may search for the symbolic layers, whose understanding demands ‘aesthetic identification’, but then again, one might and should also look for the layers that get their semantics, their meaning through the activity of the listener and thanks thereto. And the same goes for the process of understanding music: within it one should distinguish the phases, or levels, at which the projection of the meanings from the listener’s mind into the musical piece that is being listened to takes place; one should also single out the levels or phases that are predetermined by the tonal structure” (283, p. 32–33).

Following this conclusion, the author advocates the necessity of studying the links between those levels; a study of this kind allows one to comprehend the complex world of music in its basic, systematic integrity, instead of trying to resolve the dilemma between “the language” (of the modern innovations) and “the understanding” (of the mass genres). The growing need to introduce the problems of the social existence of music into the context of musical theory has led to a necessity of a special analysis of the acute issues of the kind of musical activity that is in a very broad sense referred to as “discussing” music. T.A Kurysheva, the author of one of the few studies upon the mentioned problem, has a very broad approach to the analysis of the musical criticism and musical journalism. On the one hand, she bases her research on the general art theory and the psychology of art (in their most significant manifestations), and on the analysis of the essential faults of the above disciplines caused by the recent


Chapter One

ideological dogma—on the other hand. This kind of approach enables one to see the role of the critic and populariser (the two most widespread musicological professions, essential to the functioning of the processes of musical communication) in a totally new light. It is noteworthy that the study of the particular issues of the activity of a musical critic (the criticism as an evaluative activity, the criticism as a creative activity, its genre continuum, etc.) is preceded by the mention of the two themes that become very important, even central. First, it is the role of the criticism and musical journalism in the aesthetic culture as a whole; second, it is the theme of the criticism and journalism as the art of perception. Both these aspects are very important for the study of socio-musical communication. We also have to stress the principally essential role of the adequate evaluation of the place of art in the hierarchy of the social values. As A.S. Sokolov justly notes, “The turn of the century has dipped the scale that reflects the balance of general human ideas about culture. Before its final curtain, the century that is traditionally termed as ‘technocratic’ is characterised by a decisive transfer of balance towards the humanitarian knowledge” (224, p. 3; italics by the present author—A.Y.).

It is obvious that these changes in the character of the public preferences should be used as a basis for the theory of musical communication. Summing up the above, we could draw the following conclusion: national musicology has directly encountered the necessity of a special study of the problem of musical communication as a systematic, integral and essential phenomenon, as a certain “circulatory system” of the musical art, since communication in music, as Y.N. Rags notes, “It is at the same time the connection, the message and the way the message follows. The musical communication is also the message itself, the dialogue, the polylogue in which the listener, as well as the performer, the critic, the musicologist, are not at all passive” (160, p. 4).

Some particular aspects of the problem have been studied with various degrees of thoroughness, both in Russian and foreign musicology. Therefore, there is an opportunity now to try and research the problem as a whole. Nevertheless, a study of the problems of musical communication should invariably be based on the data from those branches of science that at different times touched upon the issues of musical theory that are related to the processes of musical communication in a society. So, we would like to give a brief outline of the other sources (psychological, sociological et al.) that influenced the course and the outcome of the present study.

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


Amongst the many works on psychology that dealt with the issues of perceiving aesthetic phenomena (in particular, musical phenomena)*, we should single out the works by S.M. Belyayeva-Ekzemplyarskaya. Her studies were published at a time that might seem remote today, but that is quite close to the present in its social priorities, at a time when the artist and art in general attempted a search for their true “consumer”. The problem is that the outline of the “mass” listener typology that she suggested in the 20s (see: 23) was not developed further (and neither were the first steps in elaborating the sociology of music as a branch of musicology that were taken by some Russian theorists at that time). Nevertheless, the works by the cited scholar have left a considerable trace in the national musical psychology and it is not by chance that they are currently referred to more and more often. Among the other psychological works (related to music or exploring general psychological problems) we might also give a brief outline of a monograph that, we believe, contains some ideas that are quite characteristic of the present stage of the development of that science. So, V.V. Znakov considers the category of understanding and terms it as “one of the major needs of a human being as a social individual” (83, p. 3). He justly believes that “...the problem of understanding proves to be universal, important for practically every sphere of social and private life—for medicine, education, science, culture, etc.” (88, p. 3).

The author notes that there are two basic approaches to this problem in psychology—the cognitive and the culturally historical. Within the first, the more narrow approach, understanding is regarded as a procedure of human thinking, in particular, social thinking. In this respect it is important “ find which way the knowledge of an individual and the thinking procedures that generate the meaning of that which is being understood, are organised; one also needs to explore the structure of the individual’s personal relationships that influence the formation of understanding as a component of the functional mechanism of social thinking” (88, p. 4).


We only cite a few works—the studies on the culture of musical perception by A.G. Kostyuk (116), on the psychological nature of aesthetic perception related to the metaphoric character of human thought by Y.P. Krupnik (117) and on the gradual character of the development of aesthetic thought and perception by A.L. Gotsdiner (66), etc.


Chapter One

We would like to make a few very important points now. It is hardly necessary to specifically note the importance of the adequate understanding of art (especially, music) for the man of today, particularly in the situation that humanity faces now on the verge of the 21st century. But the introduction to art has traditionally been considered as a cognitive or educational, that is subject-object directed, process. Just recently the ideas have been springing up that advocate the change of the methodological paradigm in education (particularly, in musical education), that support the principle according to which art can only be comprehended within interpersonal (subject to subject) communication between people. We would like to note here that this basic suggestion could be instrumental in correcting the processes of musical communication development in a society, since these processes currently function within the frame of the subjectobject relationship between a musician and an inwardly undifferentiated “mass” of listeners. But we will return to the subject again in the course of this study. The other approach to the problem of understanding is defined by V.V. Znakov as a historically cultural approach. He notes, “The last century hermeneutics treated understanding as ‘melting into’ the thoughts and feelings of other people (the earlier generations and the contemporaries) that were reflected in the texts, paintings, buildings and other entities that emerges in the course of human historical and cultural development” (88, p. 3).

We would like to stress this point as also important in relation to music, an art that has its special way of reflecting man’s spirituality in his interaction with the world. The author further notes that in the second half of the 20th century understanding came to be regarded in a wider fashion as a universal psychological capability, and even as the method of human existence in the world. It is here important to us that “...within the context of the historical and cultural approach that understanding comes to be regarded as a notionally richer category than cognition, let alone individual thinking” (88, p. 3).

There are a number of definitions of understanding in Znakov’s work valuable for the present research. Understanding is an “existential (ontological) reaction”; “the meaning of human existence is in understanding” (he specifies: not in cognition, but in interaction with the material world). Then he finally sums up,

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


“Understanding is a specific, exclusively human method of existence. Through this method an individual realises oneself as a spiritual and personal entity, although he is at the same time both a creator and a product of his epoch” (88, p. 4; italics by the present author.—A Y.).

It is quite obvious that everything stated above in respect of understanding has to do primarily with art—a special kind of human activity that reflects the most elevated spiritual aspirations and ideals. It is not by chance that we stressed the problem of understanding and its treatment in modern psychology. It is well known that the category of understanding was oftentimes reflected in the works on musical theory, musical aesthetics and pedagogics. This problem might also be touched upon in the works on the study of musical capabilities, musical talent, etc*. Of course, it is also essential for the analysis of the theoretical bases of musical communication. An interesting opinion on the issue of understanding music was suggested by A.V. Lunacharsky. In the twenties of the 20th century he published a short article on the subject in a musical magazine (see: 137). The article contains favourable criticism on a brochure of a contemporary foreign populariser of music who noted that most people who loved music essentially failed to understand it since they were guided exclusively by emotional reactions. Lunacharsky supports the author of the brochure and suggests true understanding of music to be closely connected with intellect. Or we might add—with the whole cultural background of an individual, a view that is supported by the currently developing links between theoretical musicology and culturology (the fact that we have already mentioned). We would like to outline briefly the number of philosophical and generally sociological sources taken under consideration in the course of this present study**. A.A. Brudny in his article Communication and Semantics (41) gives focus to an idea that is very interesting to us. He writes,


So, the problem of understanding is considered in the monograph by G.S. Tarasov, in which the formation of an adequate musical perception is related to the development of an individual’s general spiritual needs (see: 244). This problem is also indirectly considered in the works of the musical psychologist S.I. Naumenko, who studied the genesis of the individual manifestations in children and adults. ** Only the works whose analysis was not included in the main chapters of this study itself are mentioned here.


Chapter One “For a number of years the theory of communication has been chiefly busying itself with the efficiency of transmitting information through the communication links, but the issue of the way that information influences the receptive system, has remained virtually neglected” (41, p. 42).

The author notes that the question was first raised by N. Wiener, the founder of cybernetics, who pointed out, “There is a difference between the information that enters the system through the communication links, and the information that impacts the system’s behaviour. Wiener believed that that difference is accounted for by the peculiarities of the information transfer within the system” (41, p. 42; all italics by the present author.—A.Y.).

We believe it is needless to stress the importance of this point for the theory of musical communication, the kind of communication that includes four living and complexly organised “receiving systems”. Moreover, it is quite obvious that the mentioned systems often find themselves in an unstable (chaotic) condition that, as synergetic theory puts it, may be best eliminated with the active inclusion of the so-called “order parameter” that influences the system’s self-organisation*. A lot of promising ideas and opinions were introduced at the round table discussions set up by the Voprosy Filosofii magazine. The theme of the discussion was specified as Dialogue and Communication: The Philosophical Issues (see: 78). Some prominent philosophers, such as A.A. Brudny, A.P. Ogurtsov, T.P. Grigoryeva et al., contributed to the discussion. Important principles and ideas were suggested by V.S. Bibler, the author of the culturological concept of the “dialogue of cultures”, a concept that, according to its author, is closest connected with smaller social groups and human interaction at their level. He reasonably argues that, “ is the social milieu of the smaller, dynamic groups that turns out to produce the most decisive and essential impact” (78, p. 7).


Synergetics is a comparatively young science that studies the processes of selforganisation in complex and hyper-complex systems. The ideas of synergetics have recently found their way into the works dedicated to the philosophical analysis of the problems of the spiritual life (see: 104), art (see: 84), etc. Any element of musical language or musical activity in a broader sense may become the order parameter in the system of musical perception (say, such elements as the optimisation of the harmony factor or of the rhythmic reaction, the image association, the expressive gesture in performing, etc.).

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


Concerning the educational tasks (the development of a more fundamental character of the processes of musical communication in musical education and upbringing is one of the major objects of this present study), Bibler makes note of an important point, “Thanks to the ‘dialogue of cultures’ school, the ‘intellect’ of a child evolves from the dominance of consciousness to the dominance of thinking. Because thinking always provokes a question that is wild, strange, paradoxical and impossible in the bare consciousness mode”. (78, p. 6).

And we would like to follow him in that and stress that it is the thinking (and, hic!, its peak—understanding) that is fundamentally important for the efficiency of the processes of musical communication. That is why Bibler so justly notes, “The development of the thought of ‘the cultured man’ (exactly, ‘the cultured man’, ‘the man of culture’, but not just ‘an educated man’, or ‘a man of good upbringing’) is a very essential matter and inherently connected with the ideas of dialogue and dialogue theory” (78, p. 6).

At the same time, as the philosopher T.P. Grigoryeva believes, “The dialogue behoves us to accept the existence of a different philosophical matrix, a different kind of thinking [and we note—a different way of perceiving music.—A.Y.]. But this is not that easy and only possible when the other is not treated as an object” (78, p. 12).

Therefore, musical communication in all kinds and manifestations should be based on the subject-to-subject principle. However, as it may well be known, the musical education of the recent times, exclusive of a few happy exceptions, was programmed to follow a different, subject-toobject relationship. Essentially, this is what Y.M. Lotman* wrote about when having noted that

* The works by Y.M. Lotman that deal with structural linguistics and poetics are, as it is well-known, of far wider importance for the general theory of art. Those works have had a considerable impact upon the theory of musical (aesthetic) communication developed in the present study (see: 133; 134; 135).


Chapter One “...ideally a relationship develops between the text [of a literary work.— A.Y.] and its audience, a relationship that is not characterised by passive perception only, but is of a dialogue nature” (135, p. 55).

And according to Lotman, the dialogue speech “ not only distinguished by the common code of the two related statements, but is also characterised by the existence of a common memory of the addressor and addressee” (135, p. 55–56; italics by the original author.—A.Y.).

Noting the presence of the different functional groups in the structure of the perceiving audience that are distinguished by the character of the addressee constructed by the text itself, the theorist notes, “In a literary text [certainly, even more so in a musical one.—A.Y.] the situation is much more complex. Here the orientation towards a certain type of collective memory, and therefore, towards the structure of the audience takes on a totally different character. It ceases to be automatically implied in the text and becomes a notional aesthetic element that may establish a game relationship with the text” (135, p. 58).

Regarding the sociological sources, we should note that the works on the sociology of music (and art in general) are considered in the subsequent chapters in considerable detail. So, here we would only try to briefly characterise several works that have prompted us to some general considerations and ideas that are most in line with our interests. Considering the aesthetic processes in a society as the object of the sociology of art, Y.V. Petrov (181) justly notes that the great interest towards that theoretical discipline that arose in the 60s and 70s was mostly accounted for by the applied capabilities of the discipline, rather than theoretical expectations. This idea also goes for the sociology of music that has found itself away from the modern musicological trends that are directed towards a deeper exploration of the inner essence of the musical art, towards the knowledge of its nature and its means of artistic expression. This is the major reason behind the fact that the sociology of aesthetic life (particularly of music), in spite of the serious character of some of its empirical findings, has produced little impact upon the cultural life of society and upon the actual presentation and perception of the various kinds of art. In this respect the author notes, “The necessity of a transition from the descriptive level to the explanatory, the transition that implies the need for a more solid theoretical basis,

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


not just the common sense and the conventional methods of concrete sociological studies” (181, p. 4).

The survey of the literature would be inadequate unless we make at least some mention of the conceptual ideas expressed by the well known foreign sociologist and musicologist T. Adorno, while dealing with the issues from within the sphere of our interests. Advocating the emergence of music as the process “of shaping the sound material into categories” (see: 304), he essentially forms the idea of the importance of the theoretical analysis of the genesis and the functioning of a musical phenomenon. As A.S. Sokolov justly notes, “...those definitions highlight the very specific connection between the practice and the theory of the modern art” (226, p. 7).

One of the major basic assumptions for the further development of the theory of musical communication in this particular study was formed under the influence of B.H. Bgazhnokov’s idea that the ethnic peculiarities of communication might be considered as one of the major and innate aspects of the traditional culture of the ethnos. It has therefore become evident that the standards of the ethnic communication culture that are the elements of the elements of the culture as a whole, are capable of indirectly (possibly, very deeply) manifesting themselves in the process of musical communication. In other words, the processes of musical communication are not monosemantic if the representatives of different ethnic groups act as their subjects. Say the semantics of musical communication are realised differently if the composer and the listener belong to different musical/ethnic background. For instance, it might be the case when the listener belongs to the culture of the musical monody of the Oriental kind, whereas the musical pieces that cycle along the communicative channels are based on the European melodic and harmonic thinking. Therefore, while enlarging upon the problem of controlling and managing the emergence of the processes of musical communication, one should introduce into the related theory the ethno-cultural criterion. A supporting opinion may be found in the works of the Swiss linguist Ch. Bally. Discussing the considerable influence of man’s ethno-cultural peculiarities and background upon his communicative behaviour, he wrote, “As certain customs or elements of clothes may act as the signs of social station and give an idea of a social milieu, the facts of speech, even the most insignificant—for instance, a word, an idiom, a technical term, a literary phrase, even the particulars of pronunciation—may be perceived as


Chapter One an element of the habits and the ways of life of a certain definite group, as long as those facts are rampant within that group and quite rare without it” (306, p. 204; italics by the present author.—A.Y.).

Finishing this overview chapter, we would like to dedicate a few words to the works dealing with analysis of managing the system of communicative links in a society. One should note that this problem was explored by the representatives of different branches of science. Not only musicologists, but composers, prominent performers, as well as educated listeners contributed to its analysis. A fundamental work in a field related to musicology—the theory of entertainment—was published by N.A. Khrenov at the beginning of the 80s (The socio-psychological aspects of the interaction between the art and the public; see: 268). The author has based his study on the prevailing tendency at that time of searching for the “human factor” and attempting to raise its importance. He strove to consider human communication in the sphere of entertainment through the culturological aspect. Along these lines he analysed the communicative modernisation of the urban life during a given historical period (19th—20th centuries), he evaluated the evolution of the visual entertainment in relation to the urban communicative situation and attempted on that basis to explore the communicative peculiarities of the theatre at the present stage of urban development. And although the author has touched upon the different kinds of art (cinema, theatre, circus, etc.) and the appropriate visual forms of aesthetic communication, the musical art in his study has remained somehow neglected. Therefore, in relation to this present study his work bears only general methodological importance. Some ideas related to the present study could also be gleaned from the works lying outside the sphere of art and music. So, in the works on system analysis and the system/structure approach, I.V. Blauberg and E.G. Yudin discuss the existence of two kinds of complex systems. Musical communication should in this respect be considered one of the so-called open systems accepting external influence upon their behaviour in accordance with the principle “within from without” (see: 32; 33). The appropriate consideration proves that musical communication bears all the characteristics of an open system. The clear and promising ideas of R. Atkoff (4) on the structure of large economic systems (the necessary consideration of a great number of factors, the reasonable classification of those factors, etc.) could also be, although with some difficulty, extrapolated into the sphere of aesthetics and musical communication, provided its specific character is kept in mind. A considerable amount of valuable material for the building of the theory of musical communication was sourced from the empirical research

The Theoretical Problems of Musical Communication


conducted in the 60s and 70s by the Institute for Aesthetic Upbringing of the Academy of Pedagogics: the works of Y.U. Focht-Babushkin (257 et al.), Y.P. Krupnik (117) and other scholars (see, for example, 172). Those works are given their due attention further in the course of the work. Some traits in the understanding of the structure of managing musical communication (as an open system) are borrowed from the monograph by V.G. Afanasyev (15). In the recent years the tendency to develop the means of managing the evolution of art has obviously undergone certain changes. The rigid scheme characteristic of the totalitarian era has been abandoned in favour of an attempt to create the most suitable—both for society and for the art itself—conditions for creating the aesthetic values and an attempt to make the choice of the themes more democratic, as well as the selection of the authors, the performers and other participants of the aesthetic process, etc. But those attempts have not yet led to the appearance of a sufficiently developed model of a modern approach to the organisation of the aesthetic communication against the background of vast social and economic change in the present day Russia. Therefore, the theoretical and research objectives of this present study have again proved to be acute and reasonable.


The universe of music is a particular sphere of human interaction that encompasses the most diverse world of art, that links a human being to culture, society and other people and enables him/her to absorb and impart the loftiest ideals of beauty and perfection, the moral impulses, the most hidden thoughts, the deepest feelings and the sometimes improbable fantasies. What are the powers that make this universe progress, what are the processes that underlie its existence as an integral and evolving entity? The very basis of this universe is the specific activity of the composer, the person that intones and expresses by means of sounds the new, imaginary reality, the invisible, intangible world that can still be heard, be alluring, be resonating within the souls of the listeners. The universe of music can also exist only thanks to the activity of the performer that enlivens that “brave new world” again and again through the actual sound of the voice and the instruments. Neither could the universe of music exist without the aesthetic impulse of the listener that absorbs the sounds that carry across the unique information unparalleled in everyday life, the information that may prompt the listener to change his outlook of the world and influence his behaviour. And there is a certain specific communicative system that empowers and sustains the flow of this musical information, the system that, as well as the musical art itself, possesses a complex, clear, diverse and dynamic inner structure. As the circulation system in a human, it nourishes every cell of the aesthetic spirit and aesthetic matter and enables the musical art to expand and augment its influence upon the human soul and spirit. Probably, no other field of aesthetic activity is as important in the course of social interaction. The highest degree of the generalisation of the aesthetic meaning together with the universally understandable character of its expressive means enable the musical phrase and the meanings, the images, the ideals and the aesthetic collisions it produces, to reach the very depths of the mind of those who listen and can hear. Moreover, all those meanings of music not only reach the minds of the listeners, but provoke significant responses that are the most acute and important to the listener himself and in that particular, unique moment in time.

The Universe of Musical Communication


The wondrous combination of the cosmic and the earthy, of the unfathomable depth of Music and its escaping, elusive quality—this amazing combination is the most significant point that distinguishes music from all other manifestations of the human aesthetic drive. In other words, everything that is alive and human finds its generalised expression in Music. And everything that is alive and human comes back to man, to society as a whole being aesthetically enriched and developed thanks to the communicative links that music variously creates and joins into powerful and diverse channels of human communication, and thanks to all that, everything that is alive and human gains another chance to progress and evolve successfully. Therefore, the theory of musical communication has to take as its object of research both the single elements of musical expressiveness and everything that that expressiveness is linked with, everything that it springs from. Thus, we deem it extremely important to explore the nature of the elements of aesthetic expressiveness, to single out the respective characteristics of musical expressive means—the means that are included in the communicative process—and to research all the diversity of the links that connect music to life, to multifarious human experiences and to other arts. Let us first consider the specific characteristics of the communicative processes that take place on the plane of the communication between the creator of music (the composer) and the “consumer” of the outcome of the creativity of the former—the listener. The creator and the listener may communicate with the help of the common medium— musical language, as well as by relying upon the traditions and the norms of perception and by actualising the personal experience, gained both through plain everyday living and through general aesthetic impressions of art. And though the study of musical language and its structures is not among the very major aims of this particular research, we should think it necessary to consider some of the related issues, in the aspect that is most interesting to us, of course. It is also important to learn which channels—direct and indirect—the information follows while traversing from the composer to the performer and further on to the listener, and which receptive structures it works upon. Let us touch upon the original issue first—the essence of the notion that we discuss. The term musical language, as it may be well known, does not yet have an established understanding in the related theory. Some scholars stress its relation to the common characteristic that is present in different musical pieces, that recurs in them; therefore, the term is identified with a certain set of stereotyped connections that exist between the sounds (see:


Chapter Two

8). Others suggest that the term may be used strictly metaphorically, since they believe that musical language is void of the essential qualities that characterise verbal language (232; 347). Still another group of scholars agree with the existence of a certain metaphoric factor, but they are still apt to consider the phenomenon and the notion in question less metaphoric than, say, the language of painting, or the language of architecture (139; 147). We would use the term without a direct relation to its essential aspect, but focusing on its communicative side, implying an instrument of musical communication that is based upon the system of the musical expressive means, their semantics and grammar. Music, as a temporal and spatial kind of art, is of a process character, it lives in its unfolding and in its dynamics. At the same time, in its process character one may distinguish a certain drive of the elements and phases towards centralisation and a higher synthesis (Asafyev used to term this process as “the crystallisation of the musical form”). Besides, any expressive unit or structural fragment is based upon the dichotomy of the material and the spiritual, the physical and the notional, the form and the meaning. Even a single sound in a musical piece may be of a vast importance regarding its aesthetic, spiritual aspect (e.g., in A. Webern’s work). The infinity of the tinges of thought, emotional impressions, discoveries and revelations that music stimulates and the differentiation of the levels of human spiritual self-cognition—all these are signs of both the polysemous quality of music as a whole and of the multiplicity of meanings contained in its separate microstructures, since in art a part always possesses some characteristics of the whole, at least potentially. We encounter music as a mysterious phenomenon of spiritual harmony. While analysing it, the mind stumbles at an unsurpassable block, a certain “indivisible and irreducible balance” remains—the transcendentality of music. Therefore, the musical piece and its mysteries are only open to the researcher with their outward, material, tonal part. The inward, spiritual and ideal aspect is only revealed in its most general manifestation. Meanwhile, it is the deeper layers of meaning, hardly open to direct observation, that contain the potentially most valuable aesthetic information, the information that can be only partly transferred through the open, the tonal (and sometimes visual*) communicative structures, and even that is conditional upon the mastering of the mechanisms of decoding the musical meaning expressed by the author through the musical form. *

Visual perception of the notation is meant here or, for instance, a musical piece accompanied by some theatrical presentation.

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Musical communication is therefore connected not only with the sounds, notes and signs in their infinite combinations, but is also closely related to the different material—the mechanisms of encoding and decoding the composer’s meaning of the piece that cannot be reduced to the mentioned signs and sounds. Therefore, a due analysis is necessary—both of the material, the tonal aspect of music in all its diversity, and of the specific mechanisms of encoding the musical message (the mechanisms that fill the open channels of communication), as well as the mechanisms that provide for the adequate recreation of the original meanings. There are also underlying, hidden communicative structures that are not as much connected with a particular musical piece, but rather with a whole complex of general cultural traditions, the norms of perceiving music and the ethnic and other peculiarities of art. The transfer of information is not conducted here through the encoding and decoding of the ideal meanings, but with the help of accepting larger patterns stereotyped in the social practice, with the help of the structures of interacting with music, with the means of integrating the everyday and the aesthetic experience, etc. These structures are to a great degree related to the so-called “psychological task” of composing music and performing it (all that is largely based upon the existing styles, schools and the accumulated experience, etc.) and to the social type of perceiving and analysing the musical impressions, to the traditional ways of concert performance or other forms of transmitting the musical information through the communicative channels. Of course, the open and closed communicative structures can only be separated abstractly, for the purpose of analysis. In actual practice they are melted together, especially at the significant junctions of the information system. The study of the communicative universe of music calls for the finding of the web of information channels and for exploring the integral structure of the process, but it also demands that the following points be cleared up: 1) which material the communicative system handles and whether the material is uniform; 2) what is the mechanism of encoding and decoding the information and 3) what is the way that the ideal and essential meanings expressed by the composer are reproduced after being first encoded and then decoded. The musical text (tonal, noted, transformed into other shapes, graphic, digital, etc.) is the basic material of musical communication. It utilises the expressive means of musical language to represent the musical form that was given by the composer and was destined to “materialise” his aesthetic


Chapter Two

idea. Such a text is far from being uniform and homogeneous. The encoded notes or sounds fail to contain all the information that the author implied. Within the very notion of “text” one might distinguish a number of diverse layers that each deal with their own material. Usually, the textual and extratextual structures are distinguished. Besides a composer originally includes in his work some information that is not related directly to the aesthetic meaning of the piece, but is aimed at assisting its proper and correct perception. Among these particular techniques, Medushevsky distinguished the primary and the secondary ones, “The primary meanings of the devices are in their directing influence upon the perceptive processes, the secondary come forth when psychological effects arise on that basis” (147, p. 114).

He also believed that in a particular piece those devices and techniques were organised into a certain structure. He wrote, “The communicative structure is the encoded programme for its perception. That programme may be simple or complex, clear or arcane as in a puzzle, interesting or boring. All that depends upon whether it uses the laws of perception aptly enough, according to the conditions and aims of the musical communication” (147, p. 115; the thinned out type by the original author).

That structure is typified and leads to the emergence of the specific syntactic entities and is, in fact, the material medium for the basic characteristic of music—“the musical form directed towards the listener” (Asafyev). Nevertheless, this direction should not be reduced to the area of constructive formational structures. We believe these directions are also contained in the other extratextual structures, that provide for the emergence in a listener of a directed system of aesthetic and non-aesthetic associations and psychological stimuli, that help to localise the process of decoding the original information in a sufficiently narrow sense zone and provoke the necessary and adequate reaction (of course, as an isomorphic variant of the author’s original message, with a considerable zone of the original information “dispersion”). Let us consider in greater detail the basic structure of the text produced by an author. Many prominent musicians, and generally, artists have believed that the real, aesthetic meaning and sense of the piece should be “read between the lines”. Discussing the same point, K.S. Stanislavski

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stated that in any work of art one must look for the super-idea, which is situated “above” the text of the work and often far beyond it. N.V. Gogol in his work “Leaving the Theatre After a New Comedy Staging” (63) discussed the importance of a special, artistic synthesis when the non-aesthetic meaning is transformed into the aesthetic one, “And the more lively, the brighter the images into which the meaning has split and through which it expresses itself, the more is the public attention concentrated upon the images. And only through putting them together can one get to the outcome, the idea of the creation. But to see those letters aptly and at once, to put them quickly into words and read them through easily and elegantly is not a very common skill that everyone has mastered, so for a long time one might just see the separate images, the letters, before putting them into words and fathoming the actual meaning” (63, p. 264).

V.Y. Grigoryev distinguishes three layers in the structure of the musical text: 1) the acoustic text itself, recorded with the help of the notes and appropriate symbols; 2) the subtext that accumulates the most important connections of the musical piece with life, the connections that are formed intentionally by the text and its specific structures that activate the perception of the listener on the basis of his experience (both musical, and everyday life experience); 3) the super-text—the aesthetic concept of the piece, its idea and the dramatic content of its images, that come forth in the performer and the listener as the result of the transformation and the synthesis of the perceived musical information with their own personal experience and their established aspirations and ideals. Of course, the solution to the problem of the optimisation of the communicative links is mainly contingent upon the comprehension of all the layers of the musical piece—the textual, the subtextual and the super-textual alike. To a certain degree, those layers are unfolding gradually in the course of the dynamic development of the musical canvass. Thus, first the tone of music is perceived, its genre and style, the circle of the immediate and remote associations that it provokes, the system of its images and its dramatic expressiveness. And it is at the final stage that the ideal concept should emerge. This phenomenon might be termed as the through communication of the musical means, the communication in which the open and hidden channels of information interchange come into action. Both the subtext and the super-text of Tchaikovsky’s Fourth Symphony are disclosed by the author himself in his letter to N.F. Von Meck. The first part opens with a fanfare theme—the symbol of the sinister force that intrudes into the human life. The composer wrote,


Chapter Two “It is the fate, the higher force that prevents the human pursuit of happiness from reaching its goal, that jealously ensures that human well-being and bliss are not careless and complete, that, as the Damocles’ sword hangs over your head and poisons your soul, cruelly and consistently. It is invincible and is never to be overborne” (280, vol. 7, p. 125–126).

Nevertheless, the intonational contours of the opening theme betray the leading melody of the symphony’s finale—“The Birch-tree” song. Here Tchaikovsky intentionally starts constructing the arc of remote associations that leads to the finale, consistently disclosing the major conceptual idea of the piece—the tragic loneliness of man. Thus, the composer constructs the three-layer structure: the text itself, the string of symbols wherein the fanfare sound, the timbre of the brass and the tocsin quality of the sound bring forth the associations with the alien force, with danger (the subtext). And at the same time the predetermined intonational arc (B. Asafyev) to the coming finale, the tragic character of the general coloration and the tensed tone of the musical declamation (the super-text) clearly introduce the deep philosophical concept of the piece—the impossibility of happiness and the loneliness of man. Let us now discuss the issue of the very “instruments” of musical communication with the help of which the communicative processes are conducted. There is no doubt that these are the same means that constitute the language of music. The national and foreign musicology has not yet developed a special branch that deals with the communicative properties of the units of musical expressive means. Some hopes for the establishment of such a branch have been raised by the development of musical semiotics—the theory of signs and meaningful units of musical language. And although its formation only started in the 20th century, it is noteworthy that the attempts to connect the sound and the word, the sound and the sign (and therefore, to consider music a semiotic object) have been undertaken for quite a long time already. The first instances of when the category of “musical thought” was used in the works of the prominent mid-18th century German theorist and flutist I. Quantz and his compatriots—the historian I. Forkel and the philosopher of the beginning of the 19th century I. Herbart (341; 317; 321)—might be considered the starting point for the development of this theoretical branch. This makes sense, since many believe that thinking is primarily an intellectual act wherein the word takes the lead. F. Mendelssohn’s remark that the notes “contain a meaning as definite as that of the words”, made in the 40s of the 19th century, bears witness to this idea.

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The musical semiotics has been forming under the direct influence of the linguistics and the semiotics of the verbal language—they act as metatheories in relation to it. Along with the obvious advantages that these theories possess in respect of the fundamental studies, there is a danger of a mechanical transfer of their categories a methodology upon the study of musical language. Meanwhile, there is no doubt that this language bears some unique characteristics that distinguish it from any other in principle. The above considerations have prompted the theorists to explore at least the following three issues: 1) what is the specific character of the signs of musical language in relation to the verbal ones; 2) can we count music to the number of systems that utilise semantic signs; 3) can we, in principle, regard music as a “sign system”. L.A. Mazel, for instance, has given those issues considerable space and attention in his monograph “The Problems of Classical Harmony” (139). Thus, confronting verbal speaking and singing, he has observed that while singing the sound is set at a fixed pitch, reading (even recitative) it “slips down” from the starting point. This has led him to the conclusion that music in general “should not be termed simply as the art of sound, but predominantly as the art of tones” (139, p. 32). Bearing in mind that this argument does not fully reflect the unique nature of musical language (the reciting of poetry is also, in part, an art of intoning), the author has attempted to consider the issue from the viewpoint of the relative value of the word and the tone. Discussing the differences between them, he wrote, “Both the direct emotional expressiveness of music and its elementary aesthetic appeal (the tones are liked) are contained in the intonational nature of music” (139, p. 33).

So the line that the author draws between verbal and musical language is based upon the reason for the use of either, not upon their specific characteristics. He also writes, “One should bear in mind the words in their practical use, even those that contain some traces of verbal expressiveness (as “buzz”, for instance), are applied by the speaker as the symbols for the objects, actions, phenomena and notions The musical phrases, on the other hand, constitute (with the exception of certain symbolic motifs, perhaps) the means of image expressiveness, of realizing emotions and phenomena—not the signs or symbols thereof; and those means are based upon the actually perceived premises and regularities. In other words the relative character of, say, the system of harmonic means should be understood as the simple fact that that system was formed in the musical practice (and was not ready-made


Chapter Two by the nature itself); this relative character is also demonstrated in the fact that the individual means take on a certain sense and meaning within a system and a context, and it is not manifested in the fact that harmonic means act as the relative signs for the respective phenomena and emotions” (139, p. 41).

Regarding the various signs of the verbal language, Mazel points out that any of them may only be counted to one of the three types*, whereas in music the sign possesses a number of meanings, or rather, potential meanings and combines the properties of the signs of different types. To illustrate the idea, one might cite the following example. The sign stretto** anticipates the dynamic quality of the inner processes of the piece (the index sign); at the same time it denotes the movement itself (the image sign) and finally, it reflects the traditional way of finishing a piece or some of its parts (the symbol sign). Nevertheless, analysing the different works and single opinions published on the subject in Russian and foreign theoretical literature, one may come to the conclusion that in relation to the issue of the elementary structural units and musical semiotics there are considerable discrepancies in the theorists’ opinions. Summing up their polemics one might single out the three basic trends. One group of theorists—M.G. Aranovsky, B.M. Gasparov and to some degree O. Hostinsky, Y.V. Stepanov and some others (8; 59; 323; 234)— share the opinion that musical language is a signless (non-signal) semiotic system. This viewpoint is based on the obvious fact that none of the musical structures has a definite denotation; that is, there are no objects or phenomena of reality that the given language units would directly correspond to. One should note, though, that M.G. Aranovsky accepts the possibility that there exist structures that bear a signal function. To that number he *

Allow us to remind you that three types of signs are distinguished in the verbal language: 1) the index signs that are used in the context with the subject or phenomenon in question. For instance the sign “run” [noun] is the indicator for such signs as “movement” and “speed”. But the sign itself does not denote movement, it only points to it; 2) the image signs that describe a phenomenon or a subject, that correspond to a certain image (for instance, the signs “boom”, “bang”, “to bite”, “to buzz”, etc.); 3) the symbol signs that are based on a social concord as to their meaning and sense (so, the sign “outer space” denotes the phenomenon of the universe). ** The sign is regarded here not as a term, but as a means of musical expressiveness.

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counts, for instance, Tchaikovsky’s “signal images of the fatal inevitability”, Rachmaninoff’s sphere of infernal images, the images of the “mechanic” death created by Shostakovich, etc. But the cited author still believes that these and other similar structures, the motifs like “Dies Irae”, “the moan intonations”, “Schubert’s sixths”, etc., are rather exceptions than rules. At the same time this particular author believes that it is the connections and links between the musical sounds, and not signs, that act as the material that constitutes the system of musical language and therefore of musical communication as well. Then a reasonable question arises—in what way is the process of musical communication conducted? Upon this issue M.G. Aranovsky writes, “A stereotype defines the type and structure of an element and its connection with other elements of the same subsystem. It constitutes a cell of the subsystem as the system of creation and therefore it does not contain any actual, realised link, but only some potential thereof that could have different variants of realisation. Here we regard a stereotype both as an element of the creative and the perceptive, the ‘decoding’ system making the whole process of musical communication possible” (8, p. 105).

We should note, though, that the authors that advocate this theory, while denying the idea of the signal quality of music, count it to the number of semantically charged kinds of human creative activity. Another group of theorists (S. Moravsky, M. Vallis, A. Shaff) consider music a system that uses signs; but they believe that the signs might be regarded as devoid of content and meaningless. So, according to them, music is a system that utilises asemantic signs (see: 334; 349; 288). The gist of their position is that music is doubtlessly a signal art, but its signs are devoid of substantial meanings, since an unprogrammed creation cannot provoke definite and lasting ideas of other subjects and even when it does, the ideas are related singularly to the creation itself*. Among the foreign theorists, Nelson Goodman is closest to this trend—he denies the representative character of the works of art (319). The most impressive group of theorists—B.V. Asafyev, G.E. Lessing, Y.M. Lotman, L.A. Mazel, V.V. Medushevsky, R. Mueller-Freienfels, A.A. Farbstein and some others—counts music to the systems that utilise *

A critical analysis of this trend and an overview of the problems related to the development of musical semantics are contained in the article by A.A. Farbstein (252).


Chapter Two

semantic signs, but notes the relative nature of those signs’ meanings (see: 13; 128; 337; 133; 139; 147; 252). Nevertheless, there are considerable discrepancies within this group related to the use of terms and notions. So, G. Lessing, for instance, believes that the signs in music are not separate sounds, but “successive sets of sounds” (see: 128). B.V. Asafyev, in many respects, likens the musical intonation to the word (and therefore, to a sign) and advocates their similarity in content, form and function. He introduced the two notions that are very important to the communicative links—the notions of “intonational language” and “intonational vocabulary” (see: 13, p. 354–365). Noting the considerably metaphoric character of the notions, he, nevertheless, has put them into wide theoretic use and created a considerable basis for their becoming legitimate. But A.N. Sokhor, on the other hand, deems it impossible to regard musical intonation as signs came to be regarded. He argues that the intonational language of music cannot be translated into other languages, that different relations exist between the meaning and the form of a word, on the one hand, and the musical intonation, on the other. Mazel suggests the term “meaning” has to be discarded in relation to the musical sign. He believes that one may only speak of a “potential meaning”, since the musical sign is free from a fixed rigidity of meanings. But, as A.A. Farbstein noted, that argument here is not about the existence of signs and signal qualities in music, but about the way those signs and qualities should be treated. One should specially note the work On the Regularities and Means of the Aesthetic Impact of Music by V.V. Medushevsky (147). The author favours the idea of developing musical semiotics. He has in fact made an attempt to lay the theoretical basis of it and to suggest some important ideas for its future elaboration. He defines the musical sign as “…a specifically formed acoustic material entity that carries out the following major functions in music (one or all of them): provoking images and ideas about the phenomena of the world, expressing the emotional attitude and evaluation, working upon the perceptive mechanism, demonstrating the connection with other signs” (147, p. 10).

In relation to the development of the theory of musical communication, this particular work is important and interesting since it thoroughly considers, for the first time, the communicative meanings of signs and the communicative function of music as a whole. Three groups are singled out in the system of meanings: the syntactic, the semantic and the communicative. The syntactic meanings indicate the potential or realised connection of a given sign with other signs. The semantic meanings are based upon

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the signs’ relation to the actual world and the world of thoughts, ideas and feelings, with the system of human, spiritual values. The communicative meanings, according to Medushevsky, are “manifested in the directing influence upon perception” (147, p. 35; italics by the present author.— A.Y.). V.V. Medushevsky distinguishes primary and secondary communicative meanings. The primary ones are characterised by their directing influence upon the processes of perception; the secondary by the psychological effects that emerge on that basis. Such hierarchical quality, according to the author, optimises the processes of perception and serves as a kind of instrument used to overcome the limitations of short-term memory. The secondary meanings create the element of the lightness and ease of perception. Medushevsky’s notion of the limitations of the short-term memory needs clarification. The richer the information, the better it is organised semantically—the easier it comes to be remembered, stored and processed in the short-term memory. It is easier for our brain to memorise 10 words than 10 figures. Therefore, we should consider the qualitative, rather than the quantitative aspect. These regularities are especially important since it is known that a human can only absorb a limited amount of data during a given period of time*. Therefore, to be understood, a composer has either to limit the amount of new information, or use different means of optimising perception more actively. Discussing the communicative function of music in general, Medushevsky considers its structure, which he understands as the programme of perception encoded in a musical piece. He believes that, in a way, this function materialises in the communicative techniques. These techniques are numerous (“countless”) in perceiving music. But the author organises them into a “finite” number of classes. Those are: the means of stressing, the techniques that create expectation, the highlights, the anticipations, the deceptions, the prolongation, the false moves, the painful suspense, the means of hierarchical organisation, splitting, ranking in order of im-


The majority of theorists that cite this fact consider the experiments of the Bell laboratories that found that the brain can absorb a flow of information that does not exceed 16 bits per second (see: 154; 338, p. 22). But the capabilities of the brain to receive information other than the binary code (that was used in the experiments), in particular, aesthetic information in which the meanings are concentrated and encoded is, probably, much higher.


Chapter Two

portance, etc. The criterion for distinguishing those classes is the function of the cited techniques in organising the material directed to perception. Summing up the above, one might come to the conclusion that the musical signs bear the communicative function thanks to their meaningful aspect, since it is the point where the connection with the semantic function is manifested. But such a conclusion would be premature. The danger of mechanically transferring the experience of verbal semiotics upon musical language was already stated above. We believe that some theorists, bearing linguistics in mind, have been carried away by the meaningful aspect of the musical signs and failed to give their material constructive peculiarities proper attention. At the same time, it is important to note that the role of material constructive aspects in both cases is different. In linguistics, the sign and the language as a whole are characterised by their informative quality. Their material aspect is secondary in relation to their content. The printed letters and the verbal sounds are mainly the bearers of meaning only. There is no point in enjoying the shapes of the newspaper letters or searching their graphic structure for any meaning beyond quite simply what they mean. There is also hardly any sense in trying to get aesthetic enjoyment from listening to, say, a radio news update. The above may only take place when the fonts, the letters or the sounds surpass the usual norms*. In music, the sounds, the timbres and the intonations bear the major meaning. The very perfection of the tonal form of music is enjoyable. No matter how the physical characteristics of the voice and the pronunciation are changed (their register, the force of the sound, the timbre, the tempo, the agogics, etc.) the meaning of a word in verbal speech would remain practically the same. A word can take on a different meaning in a whole phrase only. In music, every intonation and every nuance is important. Changing the particular sound characteristics here, one might correct the notional meaning and introduce quite a different one, even quite the opposite. The composers and performers utilise this fact rather often. For instance, it is enough to compare some variants of the “Paganini Rhapsody” by Rachmaninoff to realise the importance of the material and the constructive aspect of music. Regarding the schoolbook theme of the Caprice A-moll by Paganini, Rachmaninoff was able to disclose the most diverse meanings of the theme: the fragility and the sharpness in the first variation; *

Since we discuss the meaning of symbols here, we abstract ourselves from the aesthetic layer that doubtlessly exists both in perceiving the printed text and in listening to human speech and provokes a certain emotional reaction.

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the morbid break and the mystical character in the eleventh and the finalising expressiveness, the cruelty and the infernal meaning of the whole piece (Dies Irae) in the finale. The material and constructive aspect of the musical art is not the decoding of its meaningful or emotional aspects only. It is the music itself**. Whatever meaning and sense a musical piece bears, it cannot be realised without the aesthetically cultivated sound. So, everything that has to do with the regularities of the musical sound (tone), creation and existence appears extremely important for the study of the universal nature of musical composition. The study of the tonal phenomena of music conducted for a number of years by a group of Moscow musicologists (N.A. Garbuzov, Y.V. Nazaikinsky, Y.N. Rags, O.Y. Sakhaltuyeva, S.S. Skrebkov and others) has demonstrated that the musical sound itself, in the complex of its tonal, pitch, metric and rhythmic, timbre, volume and dynamic parameters and their subtle gradations, possesses a certain aesthetic potential. The same may be said of separate components of the musical and tonal whole. Thus, in the forties, N.A. Garbuzov studied the ways the pitch and other sound parameters influence our perception. He proved there a certain pitch zone exists, within which the perceived sound does not change its quality, even if it deviates a hertz or two in either direction. For instance, the sound A within the first octave is perceived as unchanged at the frequency of 435 through 443 hertz. The scholar has termed the phenomenon as the zonal nature of human pitch (see: 57, p. 80–143). He has found the same regularity in relation to rhythm and tempo, dynamics and timbre (see: 57). This discovery is widely proven in the performing practice. So, when a singer or a violinist uses the vibrato technique, the sound pitch changes quite substantially. But this does not produce any negative effect upon the listener; on the contrary the aesthetic impression is stronger. We might as well note that the high class piano tuners do something of the kind when they tune the piano taking into consideration the coming concert. If this is going to be a violin performance, the pitch is lifted one or two steps. Or, if a vocal performance is coming, the pitch is slightly lowered. The aesthetically sharpened intoning with string and vocal performers, if different art-


So, in the “Bumble-bee’s Flight” by Rimsky-Korsakov, the listener does not only get a very lively image of a bumblebee, but is also carried away by the dynamic, colourful character of the sound flows.


Chapter Two

ists are compared, is therefore characterised by a considerable discrepancy in the pitch of the sound. In his acoustic studies the psychologist A.A. Volodin has come to similar conclusions in respect of the aesthetically expressive capabilities of the subtle intoning of the timbre and articulation aspect of the sound material. He has demonstrated the following, “The stroke texture that is the very fabric of the horizontal construction of musical expressiveness, is the chiaroscuro of the whole intonational and rhythmic picture, the bearer of the emotional characteristics of the melodic syntax” (cit. after: 27, p. 17).

On this basis, the theorist has introduced a notion, central to the understanding of musical language, the notion of the timbre and pitch unity, and has elaborated the hypothesis that the latter bears two functions in a musical piece—the function of musical expressiveness, related to the intonational (the pitch) parameters, and the function of image expressiveness (the timbre function). The importance of these ideas for the theory of musical communication and for its understanding as a universal aspect of the musical processes, is very high. It is not by accident that the mentioned research results have been recently widely used in the theory of performing, particularly, string performing (see: 27). The existence of a vast sphere of associations, aesthetic and otherwise, that Y.V. Nazaikinsky advocated in his work The Sound Universe of Music speaks for the necessity to persistently take this factor into consideration while studying the communicative universe of music (see: 163). Is it possible to say then that the various kinds of musical signs bear the second, material and constructive content? There is no answer to this question in musical semiotics. It rather has to be searched for in the theory of musical thought. There are three kinds of thinking singled out within this branch of musicology. The first one is the objectifying thinking. The people in which this kind of thinking dominates “objectify” their perception of a musical piece: they activate the extra-musical impressions related to the actual events, phenomena and objects of reality. The second type is the disobjectifying type that goes away from the material, definitely visual associations. In their aesthetic impressions, people of this kind tend to see something specific in the musical sounds, something radically different from their everyday impressions. It is upon the concept of the existence of this particular kind of thinking that the scholars try to base the notion of the existence of the specifically musical thinking. This viewpoint based upon the differentiation of the cited kinds

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of thinking was advocated by the German art critic and philosopher R. Mueller-Freienfels, the Czech composer and psychologist O. Zich, the musicologist J. Buryanek and others (see: 337; 350; 45). Nevertheless, practice shows that the most rampant type of thinking is the third—the synthesising type, that melts together the two mentioned types, since each of them “serves” the different structures of music: on the one hand, the structures whose content directly provokes a wide sphere of visual, motional and other associations, and, on the other hand, the structures that do not directly call forth such associations, but are still closely connected with the diverse (the spiritual and practical experience of a human being). At the same time, one has to stress the perception that does not include a rich complex of associations (of any kind, including extramusical) that cannot be considered sufficiently deep and artistic. Analysing the issue of musical thinking the well-known Czech art critic J. Buryanek notes that the modern theory favours the opinion that the majority of people belong to the mixed type (45). But granting one of the cited concepts, that is, one of the types of musical thinking, an absolute character is still a theoretical fact of today. One has only to look through the works of A. Moles, B. Fuchs, M. Kasler (154; 259; 101) to see it for oneself. So, for instance, A. Moles who advocates “the idea of form creativity” states that the aesthetic in music lies in the art of varying the physical deviations of form from its accepted norm (154, p. 37). Thus, the material and constructive aspect of the musical sign and of the elementary particles of music becomes central and the meaning takes on a completely relative character. Needless to say, many of the mentioned authors back a different concept and grant priority to the meaning. But the issue of the second, physical content needs some clarification. We have already mentioned the importance of the material and physical aspect of music. Can we, therefore, say that music possesses a special, purely physical content? Here we have to do with a regularity that, in fact, distinguishes art from all the other phenomena and objects of reality. The material substrate of the musical means is no result of natural evolution. It is the outcome of creative activity. The difference between the material and constructive elements of music and the non-aesthetic material substrate lies in the most complex hierarchically constructed inner organisation of the sound material that enables the transfer of the deepest aesthetic content. And assigning the regular organisation of the material and constructive elements of music some meaning is probably possible, metaphorically, rather than in terms of a strict scientific procedure. It would be more appropriate to speak of the material and physical characteristics of the musical means. But the means


Chapter Two

themselves, as products of human activity, are, of course, informative and, therefore, may be regarded as the substance of communication. The variative nature of interpretation, that enables the creation of the different variants of the means themselves and their process connections, is of considerable importance here. Let us now try to give a certain generalised notion of the hidden and mysterious data carriers of the “subtext” structures, that help to concretise the most acute and meaningful associations with the wide sphere of individual experience, and the “super-textual” structures that enable the listener to perceive the ideal and conceptual meaning of a piece; although this topic definitely merits a special thorough study that lies beyond the framework of this one. Already in the ancient times, while noticing the great impressive power of music, people tried to search for the most tangible and substantial structures that were “responsible” for that power. The ancient Greek theory of ethos was one of the earliest attempts to discover the direct cause and effect connections between the character of music, its structure and the particular feelings that it may intentionally provoke. In the ancient theory of harmony, to the development of which Plato made a practical contribution, it was considered that the Doric harmony calls forth the courageous and bellicose conditions, the Myxolydian and Lydian harmony pampers and lulls and the Ionic harmony (the present day major) invigorates and is fit for dancing, etc. The theory was further developed by Zarlino during the Renaissance. He believed music rouses the spirit, rules the passions and subdues fury, etc., especially when it is used in “the proper harmony”. He stated that Aeolic harmony (the present natural minor) provokes gloom, earnestness and sombreness, whereas the Phrygian harmony calls forth elevated moods. Later the theory lost its acuteness. But singling out such a specific structure as harmony (the other structures, as is well known are not characteristic of music alone) was not at all accidental during the epochs when the other expressive means of music were not yet sufficiently consolidated. The harmonic feeling provoked by music influenced the other psychological and physiological structures of the perceiving person and produced a particular effect. The other creations that “worked in the same direction” were the genre complexes (that largely contributed to the development of the musical norms), then the “theory of affects” emerged. The latter theory declared quite a direct connection between the expressive complexes and the emotions that they provoke (the affected conditions). Here such entities as the

The Universe of Musical Communication


harmony, the melismatic aspects (“the manners”), the rhythmic aspects and the variations of all the above come to the foreground. The German scholar A. Kircher in his work Musurgia Universalis (1650) wrote that the diversity of harmonies in combination with a certain measure affects the soul of the listener in a particular way. He distinguished the eight typical affects provoked by music: joy, passion, forgiveness, fear, hope, anger, compassion and mercy. It is noteworthy that he did not include here love and hate, since these are not generalised, impersonal conditions, but are always personified and directed at a particular object. The theory of affects was widely accepted up to the middle of the 18th century. The composers found inspiration in the images of various tragedies, catastrophes, etc., and the performers cultivated the ability “to be carried away into the affects”, so that the performance would “go from heart to heart” (suffice it to recall the division into the “experiencing” and the “presenting” actors that survived into the 20th century). But the theory was already seriously criticised from the middle of the 18th century. Along with this theory, or eventually substituting it, the rhetoric in music was developed. It was largely borrowed from the theory of an orator’s public speaking. This kind of musical rhetoric was topical during the Enlightenment and the period of classicism. The rhetoric “figures”—the certain compositional micro-techniques that strengthened the expressiveness of a phrase and provoked direct associations with the speech structures (“aposiopesis”, “antithesis”, “inversion”, etc.) were later supplemented by other “figures”—“the breath”, “the syncope”, “the Lombardy rhythm”, etc. In their due time they used to be quite important for the realisation of the “subtext” of a piece, and they are still sometimes utilised today, but are understood and treated in a more generalised way. In the 20th century the sense units of the “subtext” underwent certain changes. Thus, the psychologist A.V. Zaporozhets has come up with the theory of perceiving “the sensory standards”, that while perceived “relate” the person to a certain object. B.V. Asafyev has introduced the notion of “the intonational dictionary of an epoch”. M.A. Smirnov has elaborated, probably, the most detailed system of “decoding” the sub-textual meanings that bear the information of various human emotional and psychological conditions, of the diverse movements of the human will (see: 222). One typology by Smirnov deals with the “groups of human intentions” that are reflected in the generalised and recognisable complexes of musical impressions. He has projected this typology onto the typical traits of the Russian character and mentality. The other typology that develops the first one is based upon certain “primary psychological elements” that serve as


Chapter Two

the specific decoding mechanism for comprehending the extra-textual structures. M.A. Smirnov wrote, “The composers’ profiles around the world contain the same primary elements. The latter, while preserving their basic fundamentals through the centuries undergo certain changes in the creations of different composers. The degree to which a certain characteristic is manifested varies (but the bases of the characteristic remain the same). As a result the whole set of elements, that is, the whole composer’s profile is changed. The cooperation of the two laws—of the permanence of the conservation of the psychic energy and of the change of the elements and their position in a complex—encompasses both the spheres: the emotional/imaginative and the formative (the area of the means of aesthetic expressiveness)” (22, p. 316).

All the constructs of the kind are seemingly leading us to the “resolution” of the mystery of music. They really disclose some of the regularities of the ways a human being reacts to various structures. At the same time the rapid development of the musical art and the introduction of the new expressive means prompt us to research the infinite sphere of the extratextual structures, without which the quest for the imaginative and the ideal meaning intended by the author would have been a hopeless task. A few words on the conceptual “super-text” of a piece. This is the sphere that contains a whole number of unexplored areas. To fathom the author’s concept as well as to decode the concept of the performer is an incredibly difficult task for the listener that demands a great concentration of his creative energy. The idea of the piece as a whole—in contrast with its first two layers—can only be comprehended after the whole piece is perceived, after, in the listener’s mind, it has passed the phase of “followup listening” (the post-phase, the aftermath phase), when the “feedback circle” is completed for that particular piece and it emerges as a certain integral whole. The numerous attempts to typify the composer’s conceptual decisions and techniques were undertaken on the analogy with the literary creativity. In this respect the tragic, dramatic, humorous, lyrical, poetic and philosophical directions were singled out amongst the ways of arriving at an integral aesthetic solution of the piece, the contemplative or active character of the major images was considered and the presence of contrast was studied. Such analogies seem quite warranted and acceptable, but they present only a generalised idea of the author’s concept. At the same time, because of the composers’ own statements, we are well aware that sometimes they attempted to express in their work some

The Universe of Musical Communication


quite definite and clear-cut ideas. This is especially characteristic of the programme music. Although whether the listener should be intimately familiar with the author’s original concept or whether such a familiarity limits the capabilities of his own imagination and prevents him from freely dealing with the material he perceives—remains a question. On the other hand, the validation and the understanding of the conceptual characteristics of the earlier pieces often change, and quite drastically at that. Thus, Tchaikovsky failed to see the dramatic quality of Mozart’s music, while Bach and Vivaldi had practically remained in oblivion for about a century. And only with great difficulty has the tragic quality of the musical concepts created by Shostakovich made its way to the hearts of the listeners. The issue of encoding and decoding the musical information remains largely unexplored in the theoretical literature. Which way the aesthetic meanings that the composer creates are encoded and “folded” into specific musical entities, which forms of the creator’s mind the different informational models of the piece coexist in, what the so-called “original intention field” is, and how it is related to the eventually created form—these and many other questions still remain quite unanswered by musicology. We believe that it is the same natural mechanisms of encoding and decoding information that work here, the same mechanisms that are currently studied within psychophysiology—the mechanisms related to perceiving any sensory information and transferring it into a certain “compressed”, encoded form of brain activity. Academician N.P. Bekhtereva has studied the analogous codes of the psychic verbal sphere (“the word codes”); the issues of “compressing” time and the possibility for the listener to act within an “encoded” time frame were discussed by V.Y. Grigoryev (see: 69, p. 71). In relation to music, the encoding and decoding that has to do with transferring information from one medium into the other also occurs while using different codes for recording the information (notes, graphic representation, other different data carriers, etc.). Today digital encoding appears to be most interesting, since it does not only change the code of the original information, but also makes an attempt to restore, if partially, the original form, freed from “noise” and static. Practice itself has been in its due time a way of encoding, say, the ciphered bass practice, or the former condensed notation or the modern ways of condensed notation in aleatoric and other styles that only act as a certain programme of actions. One of the major ways of restoring the actual essence of the encoded information is the mechanism of attaining the isomorphic character of the original and the restored structures. This mechanism is based upon the


Chapter Two

practically developed relation (isomorphism) of the aesthetic mind of the artist, the psychological structures of creativity and the social consciousness and the individual consciousness of the listener, whose development ensues in a parallel and interconnected way. This is the external aspect of the problem. The internal aspect is rather based upon the principles of the aesthetic logic that were elaborated in the musical art during the course of its historical practice. The isomorphic mechanism that works within the aesthetic process was first studied in detail by G.I. Pankevich (180). The “constant” mechanism that was suggested by Nazaikinsky is partly akin to the isomorphic one, although it works in a slightly different sphere—it is rather applied to perceiving music (see: 165; 166). But one should not treat the problem of restoring the isomorphic meaning of a piece as a process of literal copying. On the contrary, it is exactly the literal copying that is quite unsuitable for the process of musical communication, since the subsequent spheres of communication—the performer’s and the listener’s spheres—are not at all that simple; they fulfil a different, specific, role in the whole process and, to a degree, may change the original, the composer’s meaning of the whole message. Besides, it turns out that the very piece created by the composer cannot be reduced to the aesthetic form presented by the composer, even when the extra-contextual links are taken into consideration. The deep understanding of the isomorphic character in the musical process is not as much contained in the restoration of the result of the author’s creative activity, the result the author tried to force into the framework of the forms he could use, as in the restoration of the musical meanings that the author’s mind had produced, the process that has to do with decoding those meanings. It is also contained in the anticipation of the ideal creative rendition of all the layers of the author’s original intentions that can be undertaken by a performer, the ability that can most forcefully and impressively influence the perception of the listener. It is not by chance that Rachmaninoff wrote of the specific “picture” of the future piece, of the fact that the piece expresses “the very essence of that picture”—the most important and the condensed imaginative meanings. He believed that a piece is a certain contracted “code” of a more global “picture” of the intensive aesthetic field. So, Rachmaninoff wrote, “This means that when the composer interprets his own creation, the picture is clearly presented in his mind, whereas any musician that performs somebody else’s work has to imagine a completely new picture. The success and the vitality of this interpretation are greatly dependent upon the power and the vitality of the interpreter’s imagination. In this respect, I believe the interpreting composer whose imagination is highly developed by

The Universe of Musical Communication


nature might be said to possess an advantage over the artist that only interprets” (200, p. 560–561).

At the end of the chapter one may state that musical communication deals with the transmission, through the material and constructive, and other aspects of music—its language, forms, expressive means, its evolutionally developed ways of influencing the perceiving individual and many other structures—the transmission of the most important: the spiritually significant content, the images, the ideas and the aesthetic concepts. Here the material and constructive aspect of music is often the one that takes initiative, directs the musical form towards the listener, calls forth a rich circle of his associations and provokes the creative activity of his thought and feeling. In the universe of music the process of communication is of a dual character and conducted not through the open, the clear and the musically abstracted information channels only but, to a considerable degree, it bears a latent character, functions in a subdued manner, sometimes with a lag in time. It is based upon the analogous structures of thinking and data processing that the addressor and addressee of the messages possess; it takes place in the dynamic cultural field and society. Beyond this field, without the identical cultures of creating and perceiving, any musical communication becomes ineffective. Any musical message, both in the condensed, relative form of notation or any other text, and in the unfolded sound form, is only an aesthetic code, that, within a certain culture of a society and an individual, enables the true content of the message to be revealed (decoded); that content is isomorphic to the author’s intention but it goes beyond the message recorded by the author, since that message is only the tip of the musical “iceberg”. The fact of a certain transformation of the piece with time—of its “life” in a society that changes its “face” but goes deeper and deeper to the essence that the master created—already demands no proof. So, the idea that a work of art is “the movement of the aesthetic codes within culture” advocated by some theorists seems quite reasonable (see: 180; 145; 147). The genuine art, while changing the culture and functioning as a value is, in its turn, changed together with the culture of a society, since the contextual and the extra-contextual fields of meaning are changed and man himself changes, together with his thinking, his outlook of the world, the worlds of his feelings and his activities. Therefore, the communicative universe of music functions in a certain “notional field” that provides the necessary conditions for encoding and decoding the musical meanings. The field is preserved in the history of musical development and it carries on, thanks to the traditions, the practice


Chapter Two

and the historical theory, thanks to musicology. It is absorbed through perceiving the patterns, the persisting tendencies and the techniques and it plays the major part both in creating the musical values and in performing, as well as in perceiving the music; to a degree, it invisibly directs the specific “tuning” of the various aspects of the communicative process, adjusting it to style, to the choice of forms and genres and to the further development of the culture and of the musical thinking. Without the effective functioning of the most complex communicative universe of music, the art would have lost its importance in relation to human communication, would have been deprived of its high purpose in humanity’s aesthetic culture and would have been unable to evolve according to its specific inherent laws and to bring forth the new, beautiful, unexpected musical values and to inspire and please the listeners, opening to them the magical worlds of music. 


Considering musical communication as an integral process, it is necessary: first, to find out the ways that the information circles, creating and sustaining the integrity; then, to see what the major object of communication is; and finally, to learn which transformations the information has to undergo within the system when it moves through the complex and dissimilar chain of the participants of the process of musical communication. It has already been mentioned that the major participants of the process of musical communication are the composer, the performer and the musicologist-critic. Their roles in the process are different—they transform the received information to a considerable degree, “dragging in” their diverse living, aesthetic and musical experience, as well as certain socio-cultural layers. The musical form acts as the major object of the transferred information; that form is widely understood as the representative of the ideal and notional, the author’s content of the work, as the result of the artistic “materialising” by the composer of his original intention. This materialised, specifically encoded communicative form, that acts as the original substrate of the aesthetic message, demands a further decoding (interpretation) by the performer, so that the original idea could be restored to its acoustic form, that is to the natural material and medium of music. It is here that the first “restoration” of the musical information takes place, whereby the information is restored, though not literally, but in its isomorphic form (that is, it still remains self-identical, but is, nevertheless, transformed to a degree). Such a transformation is unavoidable, since the performer does not only decipher the information, but treats and handles it artistically, for his final object is to get it across to the listener together with his own understanding and attitude. The listener, in his turn, decodes the information received from the performer and constructs upon the basis of that information, using his living and cultural experience, his own version of the music that he later, if indirectly, brings out into society through his own activity.


Chapter Three

At the same time, the musicologist-critic decodes both the composer’s and the performer’s versions, takes into consideration the evaluation of the listener and creates communicative channels to all the participants of the process and to the public musical consciousness. One has to note especially that the content of the author’s message serves as the “all-round”, general information material here, not quite as much its form. One of the major tasks of the latter is to preserve, through the system of encoding and decoding, the notional and aesthetic content of a musical piece*. But here not only is the observance of the isomorphic factor of all the communicative chain links a necessity, it is also a presence of a clear-cut and definite logic of musical language, of the expressive means of music, and, in a broader sense, of the whole fabric of musical thought. Up to the middle of the century, scientists had largely avoided the issue of the integrity and the content of the communicative process. And it is only in the middle of the century that the works by the German physicist Werner Meyer-Eppler that laid the basis for the general theory of communication were published in Germany and France**. Using the terminology applied to the technical communication links and the cybernetic principles of thinking developed by C. Shannon, the founder of the theory of information (see: 345), Meyer-Eppler has developed a general scheme of the communication process, that may be concisely presented as follows. The sender, having studied a certain number of signs and the signal system that is utilised by a particular socio-cultural group as a whole, takes out a certain number of signs from that general amount, then combines the signs according to the rules established within the given system and transfers the information to the addressee in the form of a certain message using a certain physical channel of communication. The addressee deciphers the whole set of signs and their combinations, compares it with the set of signs he already possesses and thus perceives the message in question. This is the way the process of communication takes place. According to Meyer-Eppler the transfer of ideas through the communicative channels is only possible provided the signs and the sign systems of the sender and the addressee are identical. When the process of communi-


The informational essence of the material and constructive aspect of music is treated in greater detail further in the book. ** To the Russian musicians, Werner Meyer-Eppler is known as the creator of the German school of the experimental electronic music—the Cologne “Elektronishe Musik”.

Musical Communication as an Integrative Process


cation is repeated a considerable number of times, the human memory and the capability of the human mind to create statistical generalisations enable the learning process, the outcome of which is contained in the condition of “adequacy” that exists in the sign volumes of the sender and the addressee. A. Moles, who used the scheme as the principal one in his work, believed that the scheme reflects the essence of the process of perception, both of the technical messages, and the information related to the cultural sphere. He wrote, “In case of an aesthetic message, the author’s imagination creates a form or an idea that is then encoded for transmission. The addressee, in his turn, constructs another form or idea. The quality and success of the communicative process is dependent upon the degree to which the perceived and the original forms coincide” (154, p. 19).

A. Moles presented the process graphically (see: Scheme 1 on page 216). The originality and simplicity of the scheme has attracted a number of theorists. The transformation of the opinions on the essence of the communication between the composer and the listener and the fact that the informational theory terminology came to be accepted in musicology—all that serves as a proof that Moles’s ideas were considered quite reasonable. On the other hand, there are serious reasons to doubt the fact that the cited scheme and the related terminology quite adequately reflect the essence of the complex phenomena of the musical art, including its communicative phenomena. First of all, one has to state that according to Meyer-Eppler’s conceptual scheme, all the participants of the process of communication in the sphere of music cannot be represented. The musical art is specific. Even Hegel noted the following, “Since the sounds themselves are devoid of the lasting objective existence, unlike buildings, statues and pictures, since they vanish after a momentary spell, the musical art, even because of that momentary existence, has to be constantly reproduced and recreated” (59, p. 295–296).

And it is the performing musician who reproduces the musical form again and again, connecting the author to the listener. But it would have been wrong in principle to identify the performer’s aesthetic mission with the function of some transmitting link in the communicative chain, thus leaving him but a passive role. Had it been so, the modern technical media of music reproduction would have forced the actual musician out of the communicative field. In practice, as it is well known, the public is often attracted by the performer, irrespective of the programme that is offered—


Chapter Three

the public is often attracted by a particular name, it comes to see and hear Pavarotti, or S. Richter, or F. Lips. In this fact, some even see an alienation of the author from the communicative process, an unwarranted usurpation of his creative role by the performer. In fact the great importance of the performer in the communicative process is quite reasonable, for it springs from the very nature of music. From the very moment when music emerged as professional art, it has existed as a unity of the two processes: that of composing, and that of performing. Music, as it is well known, is a process art. For its deep comprehension both what sounds and the way it sounds are of paramount importance. “The public comes to a concert to hear one of the most famous symphonies by Tchaikovsky, exactly because it is interested in the way the conductor will treat it, and in the way that treatment will be different from the others’ treatment”, notes D.B. Shafran (cit. according to: 279, p. 148; italics by the present author.—A.Y.).

But how do we place the performer into Meyer-Eppler’s scheme? Who is the performer—the second sender? Or is a bifunctional component of the communicative process a sender and an addressee at the same time? The analysis of the performer’s activity demonstrates that his function is different from that of the author, although he seemingly conducts what the author actually used to do, or what he must have been doing before the historical division of labour in the musical art took place. Creating the form of the musical message the composer materialises on paper, with the help of notation, the ideal image or symbol that his aesthetic mind originally created. While reproducing the sound matter of music the performer moves rather in the opposite direction—towards recreating the original spiritual meanings. But when he deciphers the notes and interprets the sound matter of music, he does not only decode the symbols, he also creates on their basis a new original “vision” of the ideal image*. Therefore, in the communicative process, the performer comes to act not as an animator of the form and an interpreter, but also as a kind of au*

We consider here the traditional way of creating a musical piece. There are a number of authors today who, while composing, save their music to disc or use other digital media, thus avoiding the performer’s phase. But in that case they themselves become the performers that interpret the ideal form that sprang up in their fancy that is the creation of their aesthetic imagination and their musical consciousness.

Musical Communication as an Integrative Process


thor for the new, additional meanings. From this viewpoint the seemingly paradoxical idea that R. Wagner once expressed in a letter to F. Liszt, becomes clear, “...In fact, it is the performer that acts as a true artist. All our poetic efforts and the whole of our composing work is just a certain statement of I will, not I can. And it is only in the performance that I can emerges, that the art comes forth” (48, p. 22; italics by the present author.—A.Y.).

These words are very illustrative for demonstrating the essence of the communicative links that we discuss. The historical musical practice has seen a considerable number of examples when a certain performer’s interpretation provoked the general interest, whereas the performance of the same piece by the author himself failed to do just that. Say, S. Prokofiev and D. Shostakovich, wonderful performers themselves, both refused, at a certain point in their creative careers, to “combine the functions”, and entrusted the first performance of their piano pieces to prominent pianists. For instance, V.V. Sofronitsky was one of the first performers who offered an original interpretation of Prokofiev’s music, as compared to the interpretation by the author himself. As early as the 20s, at his concerts in Russia and abroad, he started, in accordance with his aesthetic credo, to actively explore the lyrical nature of the music, trying to establish the line of continuity between Prokofiev’s art and the general spiritual direction of the national musical culture. Another example: at a Moscow concert in November of 1940 S. Richter brilliantly performed Prokofiev’s Sixth Sonata (op. 82) and audaciously contrasted the lyrical and poetic episodes with the paganistic and the Scythian images that were considered traditional for Prokofiev’s art. The subject basis of the piece was therefore disclosed through the confrontation of the two polar essences—the cruel expressiveness and the subtle lyricism. Thus, the performer provoked the genuine interest of the public towards that particular piece (see: 77). It is noteworthy that the mentioned performance had been a few months before preceded by a radio broadcast of the same sonata performed by Prokofiev himself. That broadcast did not make a sensation at all. The prominent musicologist V. Delson has noted on the subject, “One might presume that in the final phase of his concert activity Prokofiev was already dissatisfied by the character of his performing style. This probably accounts for his statement that when his works were performed by some of the first-rate pianists (S. Richter, E. Gilels) he was ‘quite satisfied’ and even ‘came to see his own work anew, as if in a new light’” (77, p. 98).


Chapter Three

It is interesting that this ability of “the pianist of the century” to create remarkable performing concepts (not just versions of the same piece, but, exactly, aesthetic concepts) was explored in L.Y. Gakkel’s famous article with the intentionally paradoxical title “Beethoven’s Richter” (55). Well, taking the above into consideration, let us come back to the structure of the process of musical communication. The cited scheme by Meyer-Eppler has no place for the necessary participant of musical communication—the musicologist-critic. And it is that participant who plays the central part of forming the public musical consciousness; therefore, he fulfils the most important, the managing function in the process of musical communication. He is, doubtlessly, one of the most important participants in the communicative chain: “the author—the performer—the listener”; since his activity is involved in each of the cited links, it significantly influences the dynamics of their interaction. Therefore, the musicologist (as well as the performer) is a rightful and active participant of the process of musical communication. That is why, in relation to music, the scheme by Meyer-Eppler has to be significantly corrected (see: Scheme 2 on page 217). Let us now touch upon the important issue of using the information theory terminology in musicological studies. For clearing up the issue, we deem it advisable to first single out one of the key terms, then consider its notional aspect by trying to explicate it, and then to study the very subject that it denotes and the place of the latter in the process of musical communication. A. Moles helps to resolve the problem of choosing a term—he often uses the term “message” as a synonym to the term “a musical piece”, since he believes that the message “is the basic element of the communicative process” (154, p. 18). A. Moles defines the term as “...a message is a finite and ordered set of the elements of perception taken from a certain set and joined into a structure” (156, p. 40).

The theorist treats a message as a materialised form—an information carrier/medium. Here he demonstrates his abidance by Shannon’s principles, whose theory is characterised by finding the content of the information through the precise measurement of the amount of physical information received during a given time period. This theory is of a clearly abstract character, for it fails to consider the notional aspect of information and its value level. Shannon’s theory of information is aimed at realising the statistical probability approach and this fact has an explanation. The theory emerged as an instrument of solving the technical problems of

Musical Communication as an Integrative Process


communication and was basically related to studying the throughput capacities and static resistance of the technical, material channels of information transfer. It seemed that Moles realised the weaknesses of applying the theory of information to the aesthetic sphere. Thus, he introduced such additional notions as “semantic information” and “aesthetic information”. But in practice he still applied the same physical measurements. Suffice it to say that the first of the mentioned notions he reduced to a certain set of the commonly used standard signs and the second—to the variations in the accepted deviations of the signs from the norm*. He also suggests a system of measuring both, a system based on the degree of originality and unpredictability of the deviations, again, in the physical, formal aspect. Thus, the notional and spiritual essence comes to be regarded as a derivative of the material essence, as dependent upon the latter. It would be unfair to state that the theorist ignores the specific character of art and fails to understand that the material aspect of the artistic means cannot reflect the whole spiritual and aesthetic essence of art. But, anyway, his study is dedicated to the material substance only since he believes that the spiritual essence of art is nothing but the play of the physical forms. So, the focus is made upon the material aspect of the aesthetic means. In short, we deem it appropriate to revise the attitude towards A. Moles’s theory of aesthetic information. It should not be regarded as allembracing, since it is just a local theory that discloses the whole only in one of its aspects. That is, it discloses (but partly, at that) the meaning and influence of the physical and material values in art. The classical (academic) musicology does not use the term “message” in the sense of musical content expressed through an adequate form. It uses the traditional terms of the “musical piece” and “musical form’. We should also note here that even a century ago (and even much later) the term “musical form” was only applied to define a certain type of composition. But for the recent fifty years it has been used in a different, much wider sense. Thus, B.V. Asafyev, for instance, defined the semantics of the piece not as a reflection of the architectonic silent schemes, but as an orderly process of the sound material organisation and crystallisation, *

The “deviations from the norm” are meant here as described, for instance, by N.A. Garbuzov and known as the phenomena of the zonal nature of pitch, tempo, timbre (see: 57).


Chapter Three “Let it be the crystallised form of the sonata allegro, or the scheme of cadences, or the formulas of harmonies or scales—all of that conceals the lengthy process of searching for the best means and trying to arrange them for the most ‘understandable’ expression, searching for the intonations that would be most productively perceived by the environment through the forms of musical performance” (13, p. 21).

This statement proves that, although Asafyev gives the tradition its due respect in regarding the musical form and considers the latter as a certain typified structure, he greatly widens the types’ boundaries. The modern musicologists, in their turn, utilise the term in still a broader sense—as a certain content expressed through sound, not necessarily having a typical structure. That is the approach that V.V. Medushevsky advocates in his work (see, for instance, 147, 115–117, 132–133, etc.). The notion of “a musical piece” is often used in musicology to define a concrete, finished and exclusive content of music, whereas the term “musical form” is often utilised in a broader sense—from denoting a structural part of such an integral entity, to the whole itself; it is also used to indicate a certain system of musical expressive means as an object of theoretical research abstracted from any concrete content. In spite of the established polysemy of the term (it may also denote the individual sound contours of a piece, the aesthetic regularity of the musical composition, etc.)* nobody can fail to notice that this polysemous tendency has not influenced the study of the musical form as an object of philosophical cognition, particularly if it is considered through the interrelation of the categories of the form and meaning of their integrity. In musicology the categories are traditionally understood as a terminological pair that reflects the original interrelation of the two aspects—the natural and semantic, the material and the spiritual and the structural and the notional. It is known that even the smallest particle of musical content is often accounted for by a complex formative combination of the musical means. And vice versa—not a single formational structure exists without an appropriate meaning. The appearance of even a single new tinge of meaning cannot take place without some change of the formal sound aspect. And even the most insignificant transformations of the form influence the meaning immediately. In this respect, both the categories are equal. There is no chance to define any priority among them. Those relationships are especially noticeable in performance (the central element of the communicative process) and at the small scale level at *

See in greater detail in the article The Musical Form by Y.N. Kholopov (265).

Musical Communication as an Integrative Process


that, as it was clearly demonstrated by O.Y. Sakhaltuyeva and Y.V. Nazaikinsky, who undertook an acoustic analysis of the subtle nuances of intoning Schumann’s “Dreams” by three prominent instrumentalists (see: 209). In the case of a message, if it comes to be regarded as an information carrier (according to A. Moles), the acceptable transformation in form does not always lead to a change in meaning. Thus the gist of the information would remain the same if, say, the Gothic script is changed into some ornamental ligatured one, or a phrase is first pronounced in at a low pitch and then at a high pitch, first slowly—then rapidly, etc. The same situation is impossible in music. If “The Cuckoo” by L. Daquin, created in the sound imitation manner characteristic of the harpsichord musicians, is conducted in the “Gothic” style of J.S. Bach (that is, when the deviations analogous to the above example are introduced) without any change in the author’s pitch and rhythm, the content and the aesthetic meaning of that expressive miniature will change perceptibly*. The examples that bear witness to the above ideas may be encountered daily. Say, when in our sound environment we hear the music of the old masters styled like rock or various other contemporary genres. Formally preserving the author’s text, but influencing the form by breaking the performing traditions and the established style of intoning, changing the character of articulation, the timbre nuances, etc., the modern ‘interpreters’ of the classical music sharply distort its content. At the same time, according to A. Moles’s methodology, a “message” may be presented not as a synthesis, an aggregate of form and meaning, but as an object with local form and meaning. But in music the form and the meaning are naturally inseparable and we consider this fact the demonstration of a major discrepancy between the cited theorist’s position and the way that matters actually stand. Taking into account the considerable discrepancies between the terminology of the theory of information and musicology, we deem it appropriate to use the terminology of theoretical musicology while studying musi*

This relation was demonstrated during an experiment that the 2nd year students of the chair of wind instruments of the Magnitogorsk musical college took part in. At a musical history class a record of the piece was presented to them. It provoked a lively interest. When questioned on what the music depicted, 12 students out of 15 replied correctly, saying that the author had “Cuckoo” in mind. After a time, a pianist performed the piece in the same group of students. He intentionally changed the style and performed it together with some works by Bach. A paradox, but none of the students recognised Daquin’s “Cuckoo” then.


Chapter Three

cal communication, since that particular terminology better reflects the essence of the phenomena under consideration. Say, it would be helpful to replace the category of “the quality of musical communication” that A. Moles uses with the notion of the depth of the process of musical communication, thus stressing the vertical of meanings that constitutes the process. One should also bear in mind that according to the cited theorist the quality of the process is measured by the degree of adequacy (coincidence) of the form—the addressee’s perceived form and the sender’s original form. Let us try to see how matters really stand here. The musical form may be considered in its latent condition (its condition of tranquillity), say, when it is a noted text on paper or when it is stored in the memory of a computer, etc. Then it definitely possesses a complex of original parameters, an aggregate that bears a certain amount of information. But in notation this information reflects only the pitch, the rhythmic, the timbre and dynamic sound relationships, that is (basically the physical) the material aspect of music. The spiritual aspect of the form in that case exists only potentially; it can only be realised in reproducing the whole form in its integrity. But when the appropriate reproduction starts, a new paradox arises. Together with the reproduction of the author’s premises and of the original information, an additional attitude to those premises is realised; that is, an interpretation of the potential information takes place. While recreating the original form, every performer may only do it taking into consideration the way he himself understands and feels the mentioned premises, in accordance with his own professional and personal characteristics. Reconstructing the original ideal image in his mind, he cannot reproduce it with complete precision, even if he strives to. Neither can the author himself. Although the author may better fathom the spiritual, notional aspect of music, and his own authorised rendition may be of special value (as a second authorised text), he is still bound by the expressive means at his disposal. In this respect, the author is akin to any performer and becomes, to a considerable degree, another interpreter of the original form, even though he was the one who created it. The above is proven by the fact that an author (as well as a performer) is unable to perform the same piece twice in the same detail and reproduce the same musical form twice in an identical manner*. M.P. Moussorgsky, for instance, was forced to specifically learn his own work for public performance. Therefore, the original form in its notional aspect exists in the *

The materialised musical forms, as records, tapes, etc., provide such a possibility.

Musical Communication as an Integrative Process


author’s mind as an ideal image. While reproducing it, he transforms it, in spite of himself, because of the limitations of his own performing capabilities, the instruments he uses, etc. So, when the ideal image is transformed, the author changes the information he gets across to the listener, too. Therefore the author’s form itself cannot be considered as a uniform, fixed and static phenomenon. Let us consider the issue in slightly greater detail. The author’s form in music may exist in two variants—the complete and the contracted (reduced). So, during the baroque and early classicism periods, the slower parts of sonatas were fixed in the contracted means of notation. There was a whole epoch of ciphered bass. Some of the modern aleatoric music gives relative latitude to chance, when the notes fix just the direction of the sound and pitch movement, the time scale, limits of the rhythmic structures, etc. While a more detailed kind of notation provides for a relative stability of the author’s form, the contracted notation makes the form dynamically mobile and variable. Therefore, in the communicative process, the two mentioned kinds of the author’s form play different parts, defining the different depth of the communicative processes. The second kind calls for a more active participation of the performer in the artistic process of deciphering the physical layer of the form—it practically demands that the form actually be created anew. The modern practice of the kind spurs the public interest towards the seemingly known, old repertoire and provides the latter with a new acoustic shape (say, when the antique instruments are used); thus, the old pieces are given new life*. If the musical form comes to be considered as a communicative object, one might distinguish several essential factors that are directly connected with the optimal realisation of the process of communication. One of those factors is termed as “the form’s being directed towards the listener”. The factor includes a whole complex of the means and techniques that enable the listener to most effectively organise his perception of both the form and the content of music. For instance, in such a complex form as the sonata allegro, the introduction bears an especial importance for tuning the psychological condition of the listener, for it helps him anticipate the coming musical events. And the final part finishes the exposition and marks the transition to another facet of the compositional form—the development. The importance *

The pieces by Corelli, Vivaldi, Handel, Scarlatti, Marcello, Schütz and many other prominent composers of the past are meant here.


Chapter Three

the composers assign to the preparation of the main culmination and the pronounced transition towards the reprise is well known. The code with the help of a sharp change in tempo, the manner of performance and other expressive means, give the listener a signal to sum up in his perception the development of an integral form. Often, say, in Prokofiev’s music, the shifts in harmony and style signal a change of the aesthetic environment, the stop of the time flow of the events—the shifts associated with an intrusion of the evil forces or a flight to the crystal dreams of the childhood. In S. Richter’s and E. Gilels’ performances those moments stand out as the special, key ones—the moments that can arrange the main venues and lines of the content development in the mind of the listener. The culminations, in their turn, stress the threelevel-structure: the light and noble nature—the man—the evil forces—that is so characteristic of Prokofiev. The first structural category is directly related to the special performer’s approach towards creating the actual sound integrity—the constructive principle of realising the form. According to the principle, the performer develops the plan of treating the piece and marks the basic steps in unfolding the musical form. He strives to prepare the listener for the most difficult parts of the way—the shifts of the tempo, the changes in timbre, the extension of the phrase endings and other expressive means of performance. Thus, the performer creates a carrying wave of perception that assists the listeners in appreciating all the facets of the musical form and of the structure of the musical drama, and in eventually in fathoming the aesthetic concept of the whole integrity of the piece. D.F. Oistrakh noted in this respect that in the performer’s and then listener’s interpretation of the form, the strong, colourful, thoroughly elaborated realisation of the main aesthetic idea is of paramount importance. Glenn Gould, for his part, stressed that it was very important for the treatment of Bach’s pieces that the listener should be prepared for any introduction of a new theme, for the moment of a change in style and manner of performance, for the beginning of the organ point, stretto, etc. I.S. Bezrodny similarly pays special attention to the psychological justification of any significant change in the flow of music. The other structural factor, on the contrary, is related to “hiding the form” from the listener. The process takes its integral shape when it is conducted as an improvisation, when it spontaneously reflects the flow of human thought, etc. Here the composer and the performer construct the form retrospectively, not prospectively. The future steps are not exposed; moreover, an attempt is made to hide them to sharpen the unexpected, unpredictable effect. With this type of communication the performer should

Musical Communication as an Integrative Process


make the listener think that the performance is created right at the moment, at that very time, in that very place. This helps in creating a specific “presence effect”, the impression of the listener’s active participation in the creative process (when the listener’s anticipations are most active) that empowers the listener’s and the performer’s mutual creativity. To degree, this principle may be utilised within a constructive approach, when a performer is willing to hide some facets of the cyclic form or create an atmosphere of suspense and uncertainty. Say, the Chaconne from J.S. Bach’s Partita in d minor for the violin solo may be performed in a constructive manner, when the different variations are separated, or it may be performed in a totally different manner—in a single flow as a great intense phrase (this is the way that this prominent work was performed by J. Heifetz, L. Kogan and I. Bezrodny). It is according to this principle that “The Carnival” by Schumann, Corelli’s “Folia”, “The Variations” by Brahms and other cyclic pieces are often performed. The very choice of the communication type depends on the performer to a considerable degree—the author’s texts provide numerous opportunities for it, the opportunities contained in the musical form itself. This way the performer sets a dominant for the listeners’ perception, as though letting them choose this or that way of recreating the invariant, without predetermining the creative process of listening that can, in an original manner, combine both the principles. Therefore, the significant aspect of the original form does not have any sharply defined boundaries nor does it bear any kind of fixed and certain aesthetic information. So, A. Moles’s formula for measuring the quality of the communicative process cannot be applied to music. But how then should the quality of musical communication be defined? We believe it should primarily be defined by the relationship of the creative activities of the four subjects of the process: the author, the performer, the listener and the musicologist-critic. If we accept the author’s form as stable and relatively unvaried in quality (except the cases when the author’s text is differently decoded)—then the activity or passivity of the performer and the listener add up to the four degrees of the quality of communication. The first degree. The listener receives the aesthetic information in its physical aspect through the author’s form*, and in its spiritually significant *

Or, rather through a transformed author’s form—it is accounted for by the influence of the spiritual meanings upon the physical means and by the degree of the performer’s mastery. Nevertheless, there are certain limits to this transformation, and it is not only the zonal nature of the pitch, metre and rhythm that defines these


Chapter Three

aspect through the form’s interpretation (therefore, it is traditionally said that the invariant and the variant are perceived). The fact that the listener is capable of differentiating the two flows of information is proven by his ability to separately evaluate the author’s creativity (or, the original physical form) and the performer’s interpretation. Perceiving the physical aspect of the musical form, the listener is able to create his own variants (or variations) of the meaningful aspect in accordance with his previous experience and the rules of the system that he absorbed. It is possible because of the apperception mechanism and the anticipating activity of the mind. And if the author’s variant provides such an opportunity whereas the performer’s interpretation fails in this respect (that is, the suggested variant fails to persuade)—then a deep quality of the communicative process cannot be reached. The listener may then just evaluate and compare the two variants*. The second degree. Unless the performer’s interpretation prevents the listener from concentrating upon the physical form, the depth of the communicative process increases to a degree. Here, a whole lot depends on the listener, since the communication is basically conducted through the physical aspect, whereas the spiritual aspect related to the interpretation is insignificant. The performer just reproduces the original form without betraying his attitude towards it, leaving the major work to the listener. This is the so-called “objective performance”. The third degree. The quality of the perception and, therefore, the active character of the communicative process increase in case the performer begins to create lively and strong images in the meaningful aspect of the form; that is, when he starts actively interpreting the latter. The listener may be satisfied while following the course of the performer’s interpretation. But, while remaining just a passive perceiving subject, he simply adopts the performer’s interpretation and therefore creates just an illusion of his own creative activity. This kind of process structure fails to produce the highest degree of the communicative depth, since there are only two active participants—the author and the performer.

limits (although, that is what A. Moles believes in). The factors like the performing school, style, taste, traditions, etc., play the major part here. * Logically, rejecting the performer’s interpretation the listener should seemingly treat the original, the author’s interpretation, more favourably. But in fact, the situation is much more complicated. The performer’s failure casts a shadow upon the author as well. And although the listener’s mind might see a certain inconsistency here, the emotional perception still dominates, as a rule.

Musical Communication as an Integrative Process


The fourth degree—the highest stage of the process depth when the original form and the strong lively interpretation together spur the listener’s creative imagination. Thus, the apperception mechanism enables a new creative variant of the meanings to emerge in the listener’s mind. The practical concert experience proves that the listener is capable of creating an individual variant of the aesthetic meanings. The talented performers, trying to stimulate the listener’s imagination, always take into consideration the specific characteristics of musical perception and strive to create the optimal conditions for the work of the listener’s mind. This is manifested in picking the concert repertoire, choosing the time to perform a certain piece within a concert and even deciding on the length of the pauses that should separate the pieces in concert. So, many prominent conductors, on finishing the dynamic and impetuous third part of Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, made a long pause before the fourth part. This was necessary, so that the strong images, or rather the listener’s variants that emerged on hearing the Scherzo, could become more or less settled and complete. It is known that when the music is over, its images persist in our mind for quite a long time. The imaginative thinking, the sensory and the short term memory, as well as the impression produced by the music, may for a certain brief period augment the dynamic quality of the listener’s imaginative processes. The psychological mechanism of the so-called interiorising—the folding of perception—takes place. Thus, after the last chord or sound the listener, largely subconsciously, in a very condensed way, relives the meaning of a piece. Therefore, time is needed for the creative imagination of the listener to stop “pulsing”, for the listener’s variant to take a finalised shape. So, Pankevich distinguishes the final phase of the perception process— the aesthetic impact of a piece, “That does not end with the contact period, but is revealed later in all its complexity within the space of the mind and the time of the human life. The social adoption of the aesthetic activity is the process of its entering the culture and its being retained there—the process of augmenting its impact” (180, p. 71).

To enable this stage of information processing, the musical piece itself, as well as the performer’s form, contain the communicative structures that assist in both perceiving the information of the same order and transferring it into other information levels, as well as in retaining the very mechanism of the transfer in the memory and in expanding it upon a wider scope of phenomena. This is the way the communicative process enters society and


Chapter Three

influences the creator, the integrity and the gradual development of the whole musical process. And vice versa, the attaca technique is used between the parts of a piece in situations when the author or the performer is trying to manage and direct the listener’s perceptive process, striving to create a thorough impact by connecting the images of the different parts of the piece. So, to create an integral impression of a certain actual event, the performers of the “Pictures from the Show” by Moussorgsky often use the attaca technique between “The Walk” and the separate numbers. All the above leads to the conclusion: the process of communication is not homogeneous or uniform. This fact is reflected in the cited number of degrees of the process. And if the first (the initial degree) only implies the coincidence of the author’s and the listener’s form, the second already demands some creative activity on the part of the listener, and the third is related to the lively original interpretation by the performer as a factor of activating the listener’s creativity. The fourth, the highest degree of the quality of the communicative process, is measured by the combination of all three aspects: the author’s form that stimulates the performer’s interpretation and the creation of the listener’s variants of the original author’s form. Therefore, the criterion of the quality of the communicative process is not contained in the coincidence of signs, but in the depth of going into the spiritual content of the piece and in the ability of the person who perceives the musical information to create his own meanings for that information. We can cite a number of considerations that can serve as proof of the above conclusion. First, an ordinary informative message, in case it is adequately perceived by the listener and the addressee (that is the appropriate signs and symbols coincide), does not call for its repeated reproduction. The case of a musical “message” is different and more complicated in principle. We might note that certain music lovers are prepared to listen to the same well-known piece over and over again. There is only one explanation for that: the particular musical form and its interpretation excite the listener and actively stimulate his or her aesthetic imagination. Second, had the quality of communication been defined by the degree to which the original and the perceived form coincide, all the music lovers and professional musicians who absorbed, say, the system of European music would have made up, in relation to musical communication, a single group. But it is well understood that the historical facts bear quite a different testimony. The process of musical communication cannot be a uniformed finished cycle until the author and the performer are able to fully evaluate the lis-

Musical Communication as an Integrative Process


tener’s reaction to the original form. The reaction is not only materialised in the listeners’ applause, in the way this or that concert fares at the boxoffice, or in the preference that is shown towards certain performers or programmes. The reaction is fixed in the musical consciousness of society, it is demonstrated through certain traditions of performing and perceiving and it is manifested in the critical reviews, listeners’ discussions and remarks, in the transformations of the public tastes and in many other aspects of everyday musical life.


The structure of the integral process of musical communication is very complicated and diverse, as well as the process itself, the process that dynamically evolves within the social time and space. The structure has to fully encompass the open and closed channels of information that function on different levels and connect all the participants of the musical process (individual, collective, impersonalised social entities like “public consciousness”, etc.) both to the sources of information, its senders (as well as keepers) and to the those who assist in transforming the musical information into other kinds of human creativity and activity in general. Let us first define the major levels of the informational communication. We believe that one might single out three such levels. They are distinguished by their links and connections, their position in the integral structure and the specific character of the information that circles through them. The levels are: the structural (central), the micro-structural and the meta-structural. The central—the structural level—includes the major participants of the musical process and the main channels of information that sustain the functioning of the system as a whole. One might distinguish four major spheres of communication here. The first one is the sphere of creating the musical values by the author (the individual and the collective composer); the second one is the sphere of the artistic recreating of the author’s work by the performer (the individual and the collective performer); the third sphere is the sphere of the active perception (by the listener); the fourth is the sphere of the aesthetic and socio-cultural evaluation of the results of both the author’s and the performer’s activity, and all the social phenomena, actions and events that have to do with the musical art (the musicologist-critic and, to a degree, the individuals that deal with the functioning of the musical process and managing it—the producers, the administrators, the managers, sponsors, etc.). The structural level provides for the functioning and developing of the integral communicative process within the musical art. The information

The Structure of Musical Communication


that circulates through the communicative channels on this level is contained, basically, in the open musical codes—the codes that in accordance with the traditions, the norms and the musicians’ skills, become open to deciphering by every participant of the process, the deciphering that implies the constant recreation of the isomorphic form of the original information (unchanged, enriched or reduced). Each of the cited communicative spheres contains a particular microstructural level that provides for the encoding and decoding of the aesthetic information, for the connection with the other spheres of communication, as well as for the transfer of the skills and traditions that are developed. One also has to note that, together with the general informational structures, each of the spheres possesses its certain specific means of storing, transmitting, encoding and decoding information in accordance with the diverse material that defines the local character of a given sphere. Finally, the third—the meta-structural—level provides for the inclusion of the musical process into the wide area of the diverse connections to the culture of society as a whole, the social context of art and the creative and active nature of man. It is here that the communicative chain is locked and the circuit is closed providing for the functioning and the effectiveness of the musical process in a society. The information that circulates on the meta-structural level possesses the most diverse character. The mechanism of its encoding and decoding takes on a largely secondary importance. The transfer of information in large structural units comes to the foreground; the units are the patterns, typological constructions, traditions, the emerging norms, etc.—the units that often circulate through the hidden channels and through the structures of the public consciousness, the structures through which the cultural values are absorbed. It is here that the communicative processes may be most open to the influence from society and its institutions impacting, in their turn the most basic—the structural—level of the whole process of musical communication. While venturing a more thorough analysis of the ways the information circulates at this level, let us first define the basic relationships between the four cited spheres. The initial, fundamental sphere is here the sphere of the composer. It gives the initial impulse to the whole process and bears the major informational charge, since this is where the musical form is created, the form in which the author’s aesthetic idea is specifically encoded for further transfer through the channels of information. The composer’s sphere is connected by a direct information channel to the performer’s sphere, since the latter is an indispensable participant of the musical process, the author’s “co-creator”, so to speak; he deciphers


Chapter Four

the original author’s form and creates in his interpretation his own performer’s form, the code directed towards the listener in accordance with the latter’s perceptive capabilities and active artistic absorption of the received information. Decoding the information received from the composer and the performer, the listener, in his turn, creates in his artistic imagination his individual variant (invariant) of the original aesthetic meanings. An isomorphic recreation of both the composer’s and the performer’s original intention takes place here, in the circumstances of a certain differentiation of the meanings. This becomes possible due to the comparisons made between different performances, due to a deeper familiarity with the style of the composer, or this or that performer. In the listener’s sphere the evaluation of the received information first takes place, then it is transmitted through the information channels to all the other participants of the process and influences its further development. Finally, the last sphere—of the musicologist-critic—receives the information from the previous three spheres. Then it is subject to study and expert evaluation at a professional level, when the opinions of all the participants are taken into consideration. The evaluation includes personal opinions and preferences that are characteristic of individual perception, and this sometimes leads to a certain deformation of the actual aesthetic meaning of the information received (this is the “static” that brings about the “distortions” of the original message). The evaluation criteria that are developed in this sphere may perceptibly influence all the other spheres of the musical process, their aesthetic aspect, stimulating or inhibiting some of the aspects of the process— regulating it to a degree. The impact of the various structures that are active in organising musical life—the press, the radio, the television, etc.— may also be said to belong to this sphere. Therefore, one may state that the communicative spheres of the composer, the performer, the listener and the musicologist-critic interrelate and cooperate. The central core of their intersection is the musical form initially created by the composer that bears the encoded ideal information and is therefore the initial point for decoding, artistic re-decoding and evaluation by all the other participants of the process of communication. The structures of the communicative processes at all the other levels of the communicative system are largely analogous. The micro-structural level of the informational interaction will be considered further within the analysis of each of the spheres of the central structural level. The metastructural level—the entrance of the musical process into the wide socio-

The Structure of Musical Communication


cultural context—will be considered in the closing paragraphs of the present chapter. It is only recently that the complexity of the process of musical communication became understood, as well as the existence of the certain methods of encoding and decoding information, the open and hidden channels of transmitting and receiving information, the importance of the isomorphic principle in restoring the original meanings, etc. The works on the general theory of communication were largely instrumental in bringing about that understanding. So, it seems necessary to touch upon some of the works, at least briefly. Two different notions of the process of information interchange have emerged in the national and foreign theories of communication by the end of the current century. One of them was formed within the humanitarian plane (V. Borev and A. Kovalenko, Y. Lotman, Lasswell, Lewis, LeviStrauss, R. Jacobson and others); the other—within the scientific (N. Wiener, W. Meyer-Eppler, A. Moles, Shannon, Ashby and others). Each of the trends offers its own methodology and terminology, theoretical approaches and solutions. But the representatives of both the trends are united in their approach to structuring the process in question. They all utilise the method suggested by Lasswell in the 30s and 40s. He noted that the structure of the process of communication has to be cleared up by the use of the questions like who informs? who transmits? who is informed? to whom is the communication addressed? what is the communication (message)? etc.* Then each of meaningful parts of the structure found in this way should be theoretically analysed. Utilising this method for a thorough analysis of the process of musical communication, one finds that, on the one hand, the process is characterised by an integrity and completeness of the cycle and a constant expansion of the process boundaries, and on the other hand, the process is characterised by the quadratic property of the basic, central structure where the gradual production, transfer and restoration of the original aesthetic meanings take place. At the same time the development of the process of musical communication at the meta-structural level, its contact with the wide socio-cultural practice, the hidden character of many channels of information that influence the process indirectly with a considerable lag in time—all that and many other peculiarities of the communicative structure in question, let *

In greater detail see: 40.


Chapter Four

alone the complexity of the aesthetic information and the spontaneous development of the musical art itself, lead us to a cautious approach to the various analytic procedures gleaned from other branches of theoretical and scientific thought, to the belief that the results gained by using such procedures should be evaluated, taking into consideration the specific character of art. Therefore, before analysing the integral structure of the process of musical communication we should give our attention to the following important considerations. The closed character of the cycle that the system possesses emerges as the result of the many feedback links and connections that work upon different structural levels and, to a great degree, account for the complexity of the system as a whole. The integrity of the system prevents the communicative area of music from being dissected into separate and sufficiently closed constructs. It proves to be impossible to stop the flow of the process or “take out” any of its parts without destroying the whole of it. Thus, the structuralistic method (according to Lasswell) as well as the questionnaire he suggested hardly work here, since in analysing musical communication one cannot separately consider the problems of transmitting, encoding and receiving information because the final results of a study within this method do not correspond to the object’s degree of complexity. Therefore we believe it would be more worthwhile to try and study the structure of musical communication in relation to the positions that are taken by the participants of the process themselves, taking into consideration at least the basic information channels, as well as the specific character of encoding and decoding of the original meanings transferred through the channels. Thus, in case one of the participants is in the position of the sender of ideas, and therefore in position to encode them, the three remaining participants (or at least one of them if we take into consideration the quadratic character of the structure) would take the position of receiving the information and decoding the original meanings. Within this logic it would be easier to define the active and passive elements of the process interacting at a given moment of time and to follow the dynamics of the basic links between the information channels. Thus, the understanding of the general structure of the system of musical communication would be more approachable. We would also like to make the following preliminary statement. In the musical process, not every communication is personified. In the remote past, in the era of syncretic art they were all practically levelled. So, the impersonalisation of certain communicative links still has its place in present day music.

The Structure of Musical Communication


We should also single out another important channel of communication that provides for the evolutionary development of music. It is the system of communication within the musical creative activity itself. Both the channel of personal, individualised transfer and the channel of impersonal transfer might be distinguished here. The former consists in the system of teaching to create, perform, record and publicise the musical art in a society and the system of preserving the art’s traditions (the musical education, the mass propaganda of music in kindergarten and school, in different clubs; lectures and discussions on the musical art and meetings with the musicians). The impersonal transfer may be said to consist of the invisible process of the spontaneous development of musical language and the form of the different expressive means (the emergence of the intonational and rhythmic formulas, cadences, different forms of the content embodiment, the typological genres, the emergence of the “intonational vocabulary” of an epoch, etc.). The development and the different types of encoding and decoding the text (the ciphered bass, melismatic, the contracted notation, diminution, improvisation, etc.) may be said to belong here, as well as the ways and means of impacting the listener, etc. For instance, the very process of folklore development is of an impersonal (or rather, personal/impersonal) nature. The figure of the composer as the individual translator of the musical ideas does not appear here; the collective creator and listener are often merged together, and the process of communication itself largely takes place in a hidden manner.

The composer’s sphere The structural analysis of musical communication should really be started from the composer’s sphere, since it is the composer who gives the whole process the initial spur, the initial impulse by creating the musical values*. The appropriate chart (see: Scheme 2 on p. 217) shows just one facet of the process related directly to the musical form. At the same time, in the *

We should note it is very difficult to define precisely the starting point of a process in a system with a closed cycle (and the process of musical communication is one of those)—since the chain reaction comes to work in such cases. So, every internal impulse of any of the previous phases under consideration may be regarded as the initial impulse. Everything depends, so to speak, on the foreshortening of the object under study and the position that the researcher himself chooses to take.


Chapter Four

theory of communication the figure of the creator of music should be regarded in a much broader fashion. The sphere should reflect the diverse factors that influence the creative activity, the various sources of the creative ideas’ accumulation and the diversity of the composer’s relations with the social institutions of the functioning and publicising of music. Only such a thorough reflection of the composer’s participation in the cultural sphere provides for the discovery of the major links and interrelationships and for finding the general regularities and tendencies of the process development. Even the most talented and independent composer would not be able to create by sheer virtue and power of his talent, without drawing on his past experience and the reality around him. He is deeply related to the social practices and the musical consciousness, his environment and the human culture as a whole. Had he even been able to create something completely new, the very fact of his controversy with the traditions of the past and the norms of the present would have been seen as an aesthetic dispute with those traditions and norms. It is characteristic that all the factors that influence an artist are at the same time the sources for the artistic ideas’ accumulation. Say, R. Shchedrin when asked of the essence of the term “the accumulation of artistic ideas” replied, “It is not only the musical ideas which I mean here; not only definite themes or sound images; I mean everything that we perceive, see, hear, inhale, sense or touch