The Magic of Musical Expression « Silvana | This I Believe

In Barthes' view, Fischer-Dieskau represents the ideal model of the phenotext at work: "From the point of view of the pheno-song, Fischer-Dieskau is assuredly an artist beyond reproach: everything in the (semantic and lyrical) structure is respected. . ." One hears with Fischer-Dieskau "perfection," as Barthes says, or at near perfection, concerning the technical and formal delivery of the music. This is not to say, of course, that Fischer-Dieskau is lacking a kind of individual style. On the contrary, Barthes clarifies, "his art is inordinately expressive (the diction is dramatic, the pauses, the checkings and releases of breath, occur like shudders of passion. . ." [] In seeking more contemporary examples of pheno-song, pop singing groups like *NSync or 98 Degrees come to mind, where the vocal delivery is flawless, the technique impeccable, the melodic and harmonic shifts imperceptible, and the affect (heightened, of course, by their glamorously good looks and choreographed movements), very expressive. [] But perhaps fairer present-day comparisons for Barthes' discussion of Fisher-Dieskau would be those singers associated with what has been dubbed "popera" (a literal combining of "pop" and "opera"), such as Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli.

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An Essay on Musical Expression Avison, Charles - IMSLP

Charles Avison Author of An essay on musical expression

Kristeva defines the phenotext as that which denotes "language that serves to communicate, which linguistics describes in terms of 'competence' or 'performance.'" And further: "The phenotext is a structure. . . it obeys rules of communication and presupposes a subject of enunciation and an addressee." Thus, Barthes' extension concerning the phenotext of music, or the "pheno-song," is marked by a preoccupation with the accepted rules of singing, the codification of certain styles, the prowess of technique, etc., "-in short, everything in the performance which is in the service of communication, representation, expression, everything which it is customary to talk about. . ."

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Although coming loosely from a more operatic sensibility than Fischer-Dieskau's art song background, singers like Groban and Bocelli share with Fischer-Dieskau those key qualities that Barthes attributes to pheno-song: the "perfection" of singing in terms of technical and formal delivery, including diction and breaths, but also the "inordinate" expressivity, the drama of the diction, the "shudders of passion." [] But it becomes clear that, for Barthes, something is missing in this style of singing, something that, in a way, seems to neglect what Barthes would consider certain aspects of music-here, singing in particular-that make music what it is, so to speak. Such aspects, we can initially say, seem to roughly demonstrate, in one sense, the material/corporeal/bodily affect of music, which we have already seen with the notion of pulsion, and in another sense, the idea of a kind of liminal aesthetic reception-a reception between the nonlinguistic and linguistic, between signification and meaning, which, again, Barthes calls gesture-for which music seems to be particularly well-suited. Enter the geno-text.

Essay on musical expression charles avison
Charles avison essay on musical expression pdf..

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If there is one thing to be gotten from Barthes' preoccupation with the musical Text, it is that we are also the writers of what we read, the players of the music we hear. In his essay "Musica Practica," Barthes distinguishes between two musics, "the music one listens to, the music one plays," where, similar to his readerly/writerly distinction, what is at stake is our very engagement with music, or literature or the arts in general. This is quite in line with a certain theoretical sensibility in Barthes, and there are numerous occasions in which a certain blurring of activity and reception is shown to be so essential to Barthes' general . Is our reception passive (readerly/listening) or active (writerly/playing)? This very question might have something to do with how certain aspects of the phenomena at hand-e.g., gesture, pulsion, grain-lend themselves to a more active engagement. Thus, we ask of literature, how is this text writerly? But how might we ask a similar question with respect to music? After all, Barthes' listening/playing distinction refers neither to a choice between actually listening to or actually playing music, respectively, nor to specific music, which are said to be more suitable for listening than for playing, or vice-versa. Rather, yet again, a blurring of roles is suggested, whereby we might ask of music, "How do we, as listeners, become players of the music?" Collective improvisation comes to mind here, not so much as a preference concerning a particular music genre, but rather because of the dynamics it engenders, for both performer and listener. The ideal, at least, in this kind of music emphasizes active, spontaneous engagement, the shifting of attention, constructive meaning-creation and the blurring of individual and collective roles. But again, far from marking a preference for a particular genre, a more fruitful project seeks out the ways in which other music stimulate the kind of expanded activity and reception sought in improvisation, where we might envision an "experiencing-improvising music," which is constituted by a spectrum of, at once, playing, listening, composing, thinking, reading, etc. In his discussion of what he calls the "second Beethoven," Barthes remarks that "with respect to this music one must put oneself in the position or, better, in the activity of an operator, who knows how to displace, assemble, combine, fit together. . ." Music, in other words, compels us, collects us, to compose life.

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Do not interlard your text with transitional expressions merely because you know these devices connect ideas. They must appear, naturally, where they belong, or they'll stick like a fishbone in your reader's craw. (For that same reason, there is no point in trying to this vast list.) On the other hand, if you can read your entire essay and discover none of these transitional devices, then you must wonder what, if anything, holding your ideas together. Practice by inserting a tentative . Reread the essay later to see if these words provide the glue you needed at those points.

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So it is that only through this articulation of gesture via the body can we then trace how Barthes makes the connection between gesture and the body via music. In particular, we can more firmly contextualize some key concepts that inform Barthes' writings on music. These include: , which recurs in several writings; , which is the main theme of an important essay on the musical voice; and .