Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
On-line version ISSN 2224-7912
MARELI, Stolp. Yemoja in moments: A performer's perspective. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2013, vol.53, n.2, pp. 187-204. ISSN 2224-7912.
The compositional output of South African composer Stefans Grové has, in the past, often been analysed in a context of Afrocentrism. This approach is understandable, given the political landscape of the country during the years before and directly after the end of apartheid. This article will posit a reading of Grové's oeuvre that moves beyond this Afrocentric approach, and suggests an analytic strategy that allows for new insights and interpretations of meaning in Grové's music. The ways in which musical meaning is created for the performer, composer and listener is inherently different. When performers have the possibility to meet and engage with the composer of a work, an added dimension of meaning must be negotiated: there exists a tension between composers' understanding of a composition and that of performers; performers must ultimately balance their own interpretations of compositions with those of the creator of the musical works. As a frequent performer of Grové's compositions for piano, I have been able to work with the composer in a close manner, and he has shared his own thoughts on some of the piano works with me. These encounters led to particular understandings of his compositions, further enriched by my own interpretation of the works. The contributions of the composer during my initial process of assimilating and working on the composition Yemoja: Great Mother of the Waters played an important part in my understanding of the meaning of this music; this engagement with the composer also provided the initial impetus to analyse this work from a performer's perspective. The ways in which musical meaning is engaged by music analysts differ from how this meaning is discovered by performers. The outcome of a traditional analysis of music is discursively articulated; performers' analysis of music usually becomes implicit in the way the music is performed. A central tenet of the approach followed in this article is that performers, as receivers of meaning, are uniquely positioned to analyse musical compositions with which they are performatively engaged. It will be posited here that performers' approaches to analysis are encapsulated within a matrix of different types of involvement with the musical work, and that these conditions allow for an engagement with the music which is "bodily" as well as analytical in nature. This approach suggests that meaning can be revealed through engagement with the embodied experience of music: there resides implicit musical meaning within the performing body, which can be made explicit through a self-reflexive approach to performers 'subjective experiences of meaning while performatively involved with the work. Such an analytic strategy is rooted in phenomenological musical analysis, but departs from this method in that the insider perspectives of performers serve as primary input, rather than the listening experience of analysts. The ideas put forward in this article will be explicated through a "bodily" or "somatic" analysis of Stefans Grové's Yemoja: Great Mother of the Waters for piano. Issues of form, as well as an examination of tempo as structural element will be discussed. The conclusions presented here are based on the embodied knowledge of the performer of this music, engaged with through a body-based analysis of the music.
Keywords : Music; meaning; performance; analysis; Afrocentrism; phenomenology; Stefans Grové..