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Mon, 15 Feb 2010 12:11:51 EST by admin, 113905 views
University of Arizona
Music/Folklore paper by Cain, Jonathan (all papers)
Instrumental Technique in Béla Bartók’s Rhapsody No. 1: Reconciling the Composer, Modern Performance, and Field Recordings
As an American cellist seeking to perform Béla Bartók’s Rhapsody No. 1, I found that Hungarian folk music was not an extensive part of my musical vocabulary. There is an inherent difficulty in assimilating three seemingly autonomous sources with the intent of performance: The published composition that was crafted by Bartók, the recordings of modern artists like Bartók, Szigeti, and Starker, and the field recordings of Hungarian, Rumanian, and Gypsy folk music. It is the intent of this string-performer’s guide to explicate performance of four techniques through these sources: bow articulation, rubato, vibrato, and glissandi.
Beginning with a discussion of Bartók’s written word (essays, letters, etc.), I consider his view of the bowed strings with respect to folk instruments, Western art instruments, the voice, and performance. I then analyze his compositional processes for incorporating six folk melodies into Rhapsody No. 1 and offer a map of folkloric techniques such as pizzicato and imitation of bagpipes, placing special emphasis on the four techniques mentioned above. After analyzing the published composition, I discuss the major keystone recordings spanning 75 years and apply the methodology of László Somfai to decipher the discrepancies between notation and sound. Also presented within this section is an examination of the field recordings of the six incorporated folk melodies. Next, I discuss how the sound of the folk instrumentalist influenced performance by modern artists. I conclude by offering the violoncellist a technical “how-to” for performing Bartók’s Rhapsody No. 1 with the character and zest of a native Hungarian.
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