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Issue 5
(Fall 2004)






Katy Romanou: The comprehension of Heptanesian urban musical culture; a satisfactory aim


This is an attempt to look at the musical life of the Ionian Islands, under the light of recent studies of Italian 19th century instrumental music, specifically orchestral music and piano transcriptions on operatic themes.

These studies reveal a culture isolated from the West behind the Alps and ignorant of the achievements therein, during the first half of the century.

Unknown are in Italy concepts such as a “work’s unity”, the value of originality; structures such as sonata form and symphonies in four movements; composers such as Beethoven and Schumann; permanent professional symphonic orchestras and attentive audiences

Public performances of solo or ensemble instrumental music were rare and the only genre of orchestral music produced in Italy up to the 1850s was the one movement sinfonia, on the model of Rossinian overtures. The structure of those pieces is hereby shown on a Sinfonia in C major by Nicolò Manzaro, a work found in manuscript in the music library of Corfù’s Philharmonic Society. Manzaro’s sinfonia is published entire in the music supplement of this volume of Polyphonia.

One movement sinfonias were gradually replaced by programmatic symphonies and the so called Italian “symphonic poem”, whose structure was applied by Dionysios Rodotheatos in his “symphonic poem” Atalia, found in a manuscript transcription for wind ensemble, in the library mentioned.

In the 1860s, the decade of Italy’s political union and the Ionian Islands’ union to Greece, the former was fully opened to the West while the latter devolved to the East. Until the end of the century, sonata form and modern orchestration were assimilated by young Italian composers, professional orchestras were established in all Italian music centers and a demanding public was introduced to the masterpieces of German culture. In the Ionian Islands music life declined, as internal migration movements towards developing new cities, mainly Athens, deprived the islands of their best musicians.

The piano was disseminated in Italy mainly through piano transcriptions of opera themes. These piano transcriptions were written in great numbers by “inconspicuous” professionals and published instantly, as they served to advertise new opera productions. The commercial success of their editions relied on the name of the opera composer and not of the transcriber. Through their piano transcriptions operas were split into music digestible by all bourgeois classes.

In Corfù, where pianos were scarce, operas were popularized through band transcriptions written by inconspicuous” professionals, usually the band’s maestros.

As an introductory note to her text, the writer expresses her belief that the new sociological tendencies in music historiography and the critical position against the search for geniuses and masterpieces are vitalizing for the research of Greek music and the music of all cultures in the margins of the West.



Thanassis Moraitis (in collaboration with Demétrios Lekkas): Modality and polyphony in prehistoric Balkans


The present paper is an attempt towards a basic integral approach to the phenomenon of Balkan and especially Epirote pentatonic polyphony.

A historical restitution, based on theoretical and archaeological data, begins by pointing out the conceivable same age of pentatonic and heptatonic tonal structures. This is followed by a separate geographical placement of former and latter in the wider western and eastern Balkans, respectively, already by say 6,000 B.C.

Then the paper presents the technical method by which five non-semitone pentatones are produced within the cycle of fifths / fourths via successive superposition. The said pentatones, which are listed, all consist of 3 tones and 2 non-successive trihemitones. Furthermore, another question is raised on the theoretical level, concerning simultaneously sounded pitches and the genesis of a harmony suitable for this particular tonal system. To this end, the paper lists all the top chords fit for it, as generated by mathematical theory.

Balkan pentatones bear witness to an advanced consciousness of the perfect intervals of fifth and fourth and of their modal products; they are governed by elements of a rearranging and recycling potential, allowing placement of the ison (drone) either above or below the main melody indiscriminately; thus they pave the way towards harmonic accompaniment and contrapuntal movement in a manner strictly congruous to rigorous mathematical analysis. Thus Epirote polyphony is indeed contrapuntal and forms exactly the chords produced in the theory and no others.

The historical dimension is completed by considerations of time (since when? – strong probability of an unknown timeless origin) and place (where? – focal areas, extension, dispersion, variations and differentiations). Through such evidence the paper can stress the historical importance of Epirote pentatonic polyphonic songs, their focal position and their uniqueness as inferred from their unparalleled degree of complexity.

A next section attempts a technical approach and analysis, making detailed reference to the different voices and contours (partìs, yiristìs, clostis, isocrates, richtis), the melodic behaviour and role of each one, in direct reference to the three musical examples found at the Appendix annexed at the end.

Concluding, the paper makes an indicative reference to intense and conspicuous linguistic residues borne by this musical idiom as carried over from antique languages, with their pronunciation and enunciation (in melodies) as well as their prosodic metric and rhythmic features (in its rhythmic patterns and in the dances accompanying it).



Panaghiotis Adam: Mode, subject and answer in renaissance polyphony


A technical article directed chiefly at those seriously interested in renaissance counterpoint. The first part clarifies fundamental features of the modes in the polyphonic music of the 16th century as regards melody, ranges of vocal parts and the nature of initial subjects. The second part presents, in association with the first, a comprehensive and systematic explanation of the mechanism and other characteristics of the initial imitation.



Anna-Maria Rentzeperi-Tsonou: M. Varvoglis, The Afternoon of Love. Factual elements and shaping of the libretto


In this study are initially presented factual elements of M. Varvoglis’ opera The Afternoon of Love and of the same–titled drama by Th. Synadinos, which served as the basis for its libretto. Specifically, reference is made to the manuscripts, the performances and recordings of the opera, as well as to the manuscripts of the drama, the literary trend, to which it belongs, and to the basic ideas put forward in it. Then a comparison is made between the drama and the libretto of the opera. In it are pointed out the differentiations, rendered by Varvoglis in the shaping of the libretto, as regards the style of the language, the structure of the text, the evolution of the plot and the outlining of the characters. Moreover, are pointed out new ideas projected in the opera.




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