By Witold Lutosławski
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The language and choice of analogy tend to imply that the role of the conductor and the actual physical arrangement of the players in an orchestral ensemble somehow represent a slightly insidious exercise of power. Bergeron continues the (double) analogy by asserting that scholarly ‘fields’ are ‘enclosures in very much the same sense, distinguished from one another A New Musicology? 27 principally by the nature of the conduct they foster. 4, my emphasis). However, there is a danger that this argument serves to highlight the disabling effect of an alleged exercise of ‘power’ at the expense of acknowledging the enabling effect of collaborative discipline.
Having said that, just as the physical spacing of ensemble playing may derive from a necessary and enabling ‘discipline’, so musicological canons may derive, in part, from pedagogical or institutional necessity. There is a difference between, on the one hand, challenging a canon of ‘masterworks’ that simply serves to conceal the way in which certain arbitrary and ideological value systems are maintained and transmitted as though universal and immutable and, on the other hand, recognizing that some music or some works may be more significant for, or more appropriate to, particular pedagogical or institutional requirements.
1 The Discovery or Rediscovery of Music Composed by Women This undertaking generally appropriates the traditional tools of, and operates in accordance with the traditional precepts of, historical musicology; it collates historical and biographical facts pertaining to the composition of music by women. The New Grove Dictionary of Women Composers is a good example of the kind of publication in which this type of scholarly work might result. It remains ‘non-critical’ to the extent that it satisfies itself with historical or factual description – albeit that it may be motivated by an underlying reaction to the way in which music composed by women has been suppressed as a viable object of musicological investigation.