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PHILHARMONICA. International Music Journal

Compositional Ellipsis as a Fundamental Principle of Editing Form-Making in the Works of Late Twentieth-Century Russian Composers

Denisova Zarina Mukhriddinovna

PhD in Art History

Deputy Director, Yekaterinburg Children School of Art No. 2

620137, Russia, Sverdlovskaya oblast', g. Ekaterinburg, ul. Sadovaya, 18

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Abstract: This study researches the editing form in a piece of music. The research subject is the music of late 20th-century Russian composers. The purpose of the article is to denote the appearance of a particular form that hasn’t been noticed in music before—an editing form—in the works of late 20th-century Russian composers and to describe its specificity. To achieve this goal, the author refers to the key provisions of V. Bobrovsky’s concept about the “compositional ellipsis,” which in its turn is based on B. Asafiev’s understanding of the process of music form-making as the switching of the functions of the associates of the “i-m-t” formula. The author uses theoretical and analytical research methods and general scientific methods within the comparative and logical analysis, including observation, generalization, and comparison, and arrives at the following conclusions: The editing method is a universal means of constructing an artistic composition space in late twentieth-century Russian musical art. In many respects, it was promoted by the spiritual and intellectual environment of the time with its striving for eclecticism, multilayered complexity, and polarity. The analysis helps identify the peculiarities of a piece of music’s editing form—a high degree of disintegration of thematic material, sudden switching of genre and thematic lines, patchiness, and the polythematic character of structures. The research’s scientific novelty lies in the author being the first to use the principle of “compositional ellipsis” (authored by V. Bobrovsky) as a fundamental principle of editing form-making, which extends the spectrum of objective scientific interpretation of music compositions.  


interrupted development, fragmentation, text, musical form, editing, musical composition, twentieth century, musical art, polytemic structures, compositional ellipsis

"There is a thing," thinks Valentin Silvestrov, "that semantically reveals itself not in a single line but as if in a multi-petalled fan. The parts of such a thing seem to begin to intertwine themselves like vines. At the same time, all of them must be self-sufficient. Only then does such a principle arise. There are no sections-transitions, songs-transitions that are necessary for the plot. They are not required. They are easily released, which is why there is no damage to the whole" [9, p. 107]. This statement from the second half of the twentieth century by the outstanding composer is important, as it reflects the artist's worldview of his time, records changes in the perception and understanding of the phenomena of reality, and also indicates an increase in the importance of associativity in creativity, encoding its content. Indeed, in the musical art of this historical period, such possibilities of human consciousness as the associativity of thinking, the aphorism of utterance, that is, the curtailment of a long process to a shorter, more concise one, reached their highest expression. The principle of "folding the material" allows you to process a huge amount of information in small spaces of the art form. Therefore, associativity becomes a characteristic feature of art. Perhaps this is why in the domestic musical art of the second half of the twentieth century, there is a surge of interest in the composers of montage, suggesting an associative means of communication. Let's look at the associative process in more detail.

The role of association in the work of artistic thinking is great. Music is no exception in this regard. Associations permeate the entire system of musical thinking. Associations are the basis for identifying genre structures, the perception of intonation gravities, rhythmic formulas, a particular timbre, texture, and harmonic solutions.

What is the mechanism of association formation? It seems to us that the most important factor influencing the formation of a stable association is its repetition. Moreover, this repetition must be repeated many times for the consciousness to get used to it. At the same time, the repetition should be conditioned by a specific life situation. As a result, the strict order of certain semantic constructions following others in a given context forms a chain of associations that create a complete content space in relation to a certain order of external influences. The formation of associations ensures the development of the system of artistic thinking, and their consolidation and preservation over a long period are of stabilizing importance.

The process of expanding the range of associative forms of communication was manifested in the montage of artistic thinking in the second half of the twentieth century. In the 1960s, the term "associative composition" appeared, introduced by the literary critic V. Bocharov. His following statement is noteworthy: "In modern prose, narrative time shifts more and more energetically, they rely more intensely on associative connections, they boldly erect plot extensions and move more freely from a neutral-imperceptible composition to a reared, upturned, outwardly disordered one" [4, p. 5]. At this time, the composition of a literary work was often built as a chain of memories, impressions of the past, and the form of the material's presentation was organized "from the end."

On the same plane is the literary critic E. Khalizev's position: "The word 'installation' has now acquired an even broader meaning. It began to fix those [similarities and contrasts, analogies and antitheses] that are not dictated by the depicted logic but directly capture the author's course of thought and association. The composition, where this aspect of the work is active, is usually called 'editing.' Internal, emotional-semantic, associative connections between characters, events, episodes, and details are more important than their external, objective, spatial-temporal, and causal connections (at the level of the world of the work)" [10, p. 178].

The researcher E. Kondratiev writes about the installation (associative) composition in painting. According to him, the essence of this composition is the desire to combine heterogeneous material in its origin into one whole. At the same time, unity does not necessarily have to be achieved. "When analyzing a work," the scientist explains, "we are interested not only in the formal properties (harmony, coherence) but also in the informative content of the literary text, which, of course, cannot be divorced from the work's formal qualities. In this sense, we can talk about a pictorial work's heterogeneous information saturation and the possibility of identifying points of concentration of information in it. The combinatorial composition leads to a polysemantic reading of the figurative element" [7, p. 265].

The comprehension of these avant-garde literary principles led by Umberto Eco is committed to creating an "open work" concept firmly rooted in literary studies. The "open work" is based on the heterogeneity of ideas in art, which is manifested, in particular, in their ways of interpretation, the degree of activity of the viewer's perception, in a different understanding of space-time coordinates, which, in turn, do not represent a linear, continuous development but form a complex, multi-layered structure of simultaneous processes. "We perceive an open work as a model," writes Eco, and this means that, from our point of view, in different ways of operating, it is possible to identify a single operational trend, a tendency to create works that, from the point of view of their consumption, represent some structural similarities. Precisely because it is abstract, this model is perceived as being correlated with various works, which in other respects (at the level of ideology, the material used, the artistic genre in which the author creates, the nature of the appeal addressed to the consumer) remain very different [12, p. 11].

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari proposed the concept of understanding open structures in 1976 in developing the concept of 'Rhizome.' "The processability of being a rhizome [or a bulb] consists in the permanent generation of new versions of the organization (including linear ones), similar ones [...] transient macroscopic patterns of self-organization, which are the subject of synergetic research " [8, pp. 658–659]. It has no center or boundaries, and each thread intersects with other threads.

As a result of the analysis, it becomes obvious that the assembly (associative) composition is characterized by a violation of the narrative's usual sequence, the desire to connect contrasting individual fragments to organize them according to the logic of associations. The freedom of time and the possibility of spatial manipulation inherent in this type of composition allows the authors to express complex conceptual content in a concise, condensed way.

Assemblage in the domestic musical art of the second half of the twentieth century also acts as a universal method of constructing artistic space, reflecting composers' desire to convey the eclecticism, the multiplasticity of the modern world, its polarity, to develop new principles of formation that can encompass, contain and simultaneously reveal all aspects of the embodied. And yet, we should not forget that the origins of installation as a method of shaping go back to the beginning of the twentieth century.

The researcher V. Bobrovsky, analyzing Claude Debussy's score "Nuages" ("Clouds"), writes: "The desire to convey the beauty of an object in its movement leads to the need for frequent changes in the variations of the fixed intonation complex. There is an approximate likening of the technical principle of film to the continuous change of frames, which creates the effect of movement on the screen. So intonation is born as a frame, and the changes of frames create the illusion of movement. Here, much depends on the temporal extent of the 'motif-frame.' To convey barely noticeable changes at first that gradually lead to a significant transformation of the reproduced object, the frame itself must be brief" [1, p. 247]. "To achieve his creative goals, the composer creates special, previously unknown viewing angles, moving his position as an observer, creating different plans of the visible and audible. This breadth of the creative act's radius, combined with the finest technique of options-frames, is a new, creative discovery that distinguishes the Festivities and puts this nocturne by Claude Debussy among the significant achievements of the musical art on the facets of two centuries" [3, p.275].

The spread of editing as a formative principle of musical works in the second half of the twentieth century was facilitated by the appearance of polystylism. These phenomena converge in their desire to combine contrasting material into a single whole. Musical examples of the interaction of polystylism and editing can serve as "Toccatina-collage" from the Polyphonic Notebook, the "Third Piano Concerto," "Anna Karenina," "Musical Offering," "Echo Sonata," "Russian Photographs" by Rodion Shchedrin; "The First and Third Symphonies," "Sonata for Violin," "Concerto Grosso No. 1, 2" by Alfred Schnittke; "Collage on B-A-C-H for strings, oboe, harpsichord and piano" by Arvo Pärt; "Lyrical digressions," "Brandenburg Concerto" by Viktor Ekimovsky; "Two dialogues with an afterword," "Chopin's Moments," "Moments of Mozart" by Valentin Silvestrov; "Silhouettes for flute, percussion and two pianos" by Edison Denisov and other works.

Eclecticism, the mosaic perception of artists, dialogue with past epochs embodied in a complex musical text gives rise to a special artistic space for installation works in the interweaving of several dramatic lines. Each of them has its own genre solution, resides in its own time-space, and, together with the others, forms a polychronotopic structure. In the context of thematic multilayering, reflecting on figurative-semantic and spatial-temporal polyphony, the main formative mechanisms of installation works are in the sudden switching of plans, genre-stylistic thematic lines, and their contrapuntal overlays. These switches are based on the principle of composition ellipsis [2, p.181]. V. Bobrovsky introduced this term in the book On the Variability of the Functions of Musical Form.

Based on Asafiev's understanding, with the musical form formation process as the switching of functions of the joints of the formula i-m-t [2], Bobrovsky distinguishes two types of thematic comparison: based on switching and time separation of functions. The latter is carried out at the break in the development of thematism, "skipping the necessary links and switching off the functions to the newly emerging process of form formation on a new thematism" [2, p.181]. Bobrovsky calls such work with thematic material a compositional ellipsis.

Compositional ellipsis becomes one of the main mechanisms of form formation in the works of Russian composers in the second half of the twentieth century. Numerous genre-themed laughs and the interrupted, "dotted" development of figurative-thematic lines are carried out on its basis. We will call montage the formation based on the interrupted, dispersed, "dotted" development of figurative-intonation lines and the elliptical disconnect of the thematism of one line and the inclusion of the thematic material of the other.

This specified "extensive" [6, p. 157] or "synthesizing" method of thinking [6, p.147] uses the form's architectonic possibilities in a peculiar way: it is dominated by contrast-composite type constructions. As a result, the musical score is a composition with a characteristic kaleidoscope, a mosaic of contrasting episodes. At the same time, their alternation is carried out according to the principle of contrast "from the outside," which implies "incoherent succession and figurative-thematic independence" [11, p.12]. "In a narrow sense," writes V. Zuckerman, "it is necessary to keep in mind the lack of gradualness when changing parts of transitions, preparations. The preceding part is structurally separate and usually has completeness" [11, p. 14].

The action of the above-mentioned mechanism of shaping leads to the dismemberment, fragmentation of the material, internal independence, autonomy of each episode. There are usually no connecting, transitional sections between them. Most often, they are separated from each other by a harmonic closure and completeness. The latter is also enhanced by the rhythmic factor: the presence of fermata, pauses, sustained consonances, and orchestral pedals.

However, such a construction in a work's composition does not mean that there is no conflict. The conflict here is embedded in the polarity of the spheres being compared. The drama is built not based on its procedural identification but through sharp montage comparisons of sound images that reach the song's associative density. Thus, one of the main qualities of the composers' thinking of this time is formed-aphorism.

The art space in installation compositions has its own characteristics. Most often, this space is subjective. The external world's objects enter sequentially and only in so far as they are felt and perceived by the subject. Various metamorphoses can occur with space: it can be distorted, compressed, expanded, curved, there are repetitions and reversals, movement in a circle and a spiral, and even the reduction of the entire composition to a single point. In this sense, I recall G. Gachev's statement about poetry, "Any and the smallest word will be held as a whole by the very fact that, by the will of the author, it has found boundaries, carved in the stream of being. After all, the entire poem is a passage of genesis" [5, p. 175]. Indeed, there is a situation where the passage can represent the whole model in a montage composition. With the help of editing, the composer indicates the main thing – the beginning and end of the action – everything else he leaves to the listener's imagination.

When considering the specifics of assemblage shaping, it should be noted that installation as a principle may not affect it holistically. In the musical art of the second half of the twentieth century, we often find examples where the traditional structure of a work is preserved, but the montage present in the background forms a different spatial-temporal solution in the composition and generates thematic fragmentation, sharp contrasting comparisons. Such examples include the "Frescoes of Dionysius," Schedrin's "Musical Offering," as well as the "Concerto for Violin and Orchestra," the Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Symphonies of Ya. Ryaetsa and others.

The analysis revealed the composers' desire to organize the artistic space of musical works in a new way in the late twentieth century. This desire is associated with the search for a meaningful and extensive form that can embody the composers' conceptual views. This form has become an assemblage form. Note its characteristic features:

- high degree of fragmentation, fragmentation of the material;

- sudden switching of genre-thematic lines based on the consistently conducted principle of compositional ellipsis and their contrapuntal vertical combinations;

- the interrupted development of genre-themed lines;

- a special "extensive," "synthesizing" method of thematic work, forming "multi-link," multi-component, "collective" (montage) images. As a consequence of the dominance in the form of exposition functions. The dynamics of a holistic construction arises based on contrasts from the outside, rather than the development of musical material and its elimination;

- mosaics, polythematics of structures, in the organization of which many compositional units are involved, linked according to the principle of contrast and, in general, tend to contrast composite forms;

- a special role in the compositional organization of the beginning and the end.

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