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HETEROGLOSSIA AND TRADITIONAL VOCAL GENRES IN CHINESE–WESTERN FUSION CONCERTOS JOHN WINZENBURG Languages do not exclude each other, but rather intersect with each other in many different ways. . . . As such they encounter one another and co-exist in the consciousness of real people. . . . They struggle and evolve in an environment of social heteroglossia. —Mikhail Bakhtin 102 Perspectives of New Music INTRODUCTION EARLY A CENTURY AFTER Mikhail Bakhtin observed how languages interact in literary forms, musical languages are intersecting in a similar environment of heteroglossia on a global scale, bringing East– West cultures together in newly hybridized genres. When Bakhtin discussed the concept of heteroglossia in “Discourse in the Novel,” he recognized verbal discourse as a social phenomenon and the need to “overcome the divorce between an abstract ‘formal’ approach and an equally abstract ‘ideological’ approach” in literary analysis.1 Bakhtin was responding at that time to a newfound preference for novelistic discourse in conceiving style. Stressing that form and content are one,2 he used heteroglossia to describe the multiple layers at which discourse unfolds in the novel: they express the intentions of the author and others preceding the author via novelistic characterization. He thereby applied a linguistic metaphor to individual subjectivity and the formation of consciousness, defining heteroglossia as the process of “coming to know one’s own language as it is perceived in someone else’s language .”3 To Bakhtin, heteroglossia demonstrated how complex artistic genres like the novel create images of languages which serve authorial intent. However, it has also alluded to non-literary areas, such as music, via the hybrid construction of multiple voices interacting within a single utterance.4 As units of musical language, compositions also represent one type of utterance and are often grouped according to genre.5 Compositions thus serve as intersecting points of generic interaction and socio-historical encounters. In the musical realm, there is more recent evidence of heteroglossic potential that extends beyond previously envisaged boundaries due to wider shifts in political, economic, and cultural capital across the globe. Example 1 below demonstrates one musical manifestation of this phenomenon . The example is from Movement I of And the Moon Winks, for a duet of Chinese huqin (fiddle) soloists and Western orchestra, by Chan Hing-yan.6 In this movement, subtitled “Is the Moon Tired?,” the lower range banhu7 uses idiomatic techniques to imitate the vocal style of northwestern Chinese opera.8 It engages in an interlocking dialogue with trumpets, which are situated in the balcony, over a drone of orchestral percussion and repeated chord progressions in the piano and vibraphone. Here, according to the composer, the goal is to create multiple temporal and spatial worlds—all in different musical languages—in the orbit of the solo banhu.9 N Heteroglossia and Traditional Vocal Genres 103 EXAMPLE 1: CHAN HING YAN , AND THE MOON WINKS , MOVEMENT I, FIGURE 4, MM . 2–7 Used by Permission 104 Perspectives of New Music In this passage, a number of hybrid elements appear: Western and Chinese instruments interact on the same musical score; the solo instrument mimics the Chinese vocal technique; and the Chinese vocal style appears within the genre of a contemporary hybrid concerto for Western orchestra and Chinese solo instruments. I refer to such pieces as “Chinese–Western fusion concertos.” Within the larger repertoire of New Chinese Music, fusion concertos have rapidly developed into a recognizable subgenre.10 Whereas a very limited number were written between 1930 and 1980, they began to appear in greater number from the early 1980s, especially during China’s hyperactive growth period since 1989. I have identified over 400 such works thus far, and new compositions continue to appear every year not just in China, but throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. The Chan Hing-yan example highlights Bakhtinian generic life of overlapping compositional languages and horizons in the rapidly forming repertoire. This novelty arises via the addition of an “East-meets-West” bonding factor in generic formation. A common theme of New Chinese Music scholarship has recognized the importance over the past century of including Chinese cultural associations within compositions that might otherwise seem overwhelmingly “Western” in order to exhibit modernity and validate “Chineseness.”11 Within the literature...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2325-7180
Print ISSN
0031-6016
Pages
pp. 101-140
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-01
Open Access
No
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