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The Symphonic Works of Leoš Janáček

From Folk Concepts to Original Style


John K. Novak

This book investigates the spectrum of meaning inherent in six orchestral works by Leoš Janáček. It codifies his compositional style, first through a thorough examination of its origins in folk music and speech-melody, then in discussions of the features of its melody and motivic techniques. His harmonic style and multiple organizations of tonality are examined in rich detail. The analysis section consists of the examination of each musical work’s musical elements, its affective and programmatic associations, as well as four narrative codes through which the listener discovers further meaning in the work: the hermeneutic code (which governs enigmas), the semic code of musical motives, the proairetic (formal) code, and the referential code (which draws on analogous passages from other pieces of music).
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6. Music and Narrative


Chapter 6

Music and Narrative

Theories of Affect, Program and Narrative

The nineteenth-century debate between the advocates of absolute music and those of program music is one of the most famous controversies in musical history. However, modern historians have emphasized that the principals in the conflict did not necessarily see their argument in such black and white terms as abridged tours of music history may suggest.1 In fact, the germ of reconciliation is found in Hanslick himself, who conceded that music could represent the dynamic properties of feelings.2 By this, he admits that affective properties can be found even in absolute music, i.e., music without a program.

Although discussions of affect or emotion in music were far from foreign to music theory in the first half of the twentieth century, important studies by Leonard Meyer (1956) and Donald Ferguson (1960) were the first in the second half of the century rigorously to investigate music’s ability to elicit or imitate emotion.3 They cited various factors that contribute to the perception of emotion, the most important being expectation, arresting of tendency, and tension and release. Works such as these served to re-validate the study of emotion in music.

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