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Art Music

Art Music Analysis

Medieval Convent is both Restrictive and Liberating

It is apparent that though the women were restricted from participation in the public sphere, the private avenues provided a platform for them to expose their artistic potential. Women participation and performance in private venues such as the home was not only permitted, but it was a social expectation. At the same time, women performance was restrictive because music in private spheres received fewer acknowledgements. In public venues, women were historically excluded and frequently barred from achieving the education they needed to create music typically performed in formal settings (Dunbar, 2011). Nonetheless, church was a place for separation in terms of music education and performance. However, the voices of women found its way to the public sphere when the written music becomes distributed beyond the convent.

Comparison of Music Elements

In depth analysis of Kyrie of Hildegard von Bingen and Libby Larsen’s Kyrie songs shows a difference in utilization of music elements. In the Kyrie of Hildegard, the song features beautiful melodies, transparent textures, formal simplicity and gentle timbres. However, some critics believe that Hildegard music lacks compositional complexity that warrants inclusion in the old canon. In the song Libby Larsen’s Kyrie from Missa, there are two iterations of unison melodic lines that expand to the harmonized sections (Dunbar, 2011).

Furthermore, the lyrics presentation sustains an appealing melodic and harmonic language. The music reflects on traditional penitence and features a pensive oboe solo in the brief orchestral introduction, and a slow tempo throughout the song. Hildegard music settings can be distinguished from the traditional chant both aurally and visually. The vocals extension goes beyond an octave through the utilization of extended melisma.

Sofia Gubaidulina and Hildegard Von Bingen Expression of Spirituality

Hildegard von Bingen acts as the benchmark of the early western sacred music while Sofia Gubaidulina acts as the spiritual counterpart in 20th century. Gubaidulina spent most of her life working in the Soviet regime surrounded by limitations of communism. Gubaidulina’s work developed within restricted environment that limited her deep spiritual expression in music. Gubaidulina expresses spirituality in dissonant harmonic language that is opposite of Larsen’s accessible modernism (Dunbar, 2011). In respect to Hildegard’s music work, she simply broke compositional rules because she did not have proper training.

As a result, Hildegard’s spiritual expression of many visions and revelation occurred through the music and poetry. One of such work includes the Scivas, where Hildegard presented twenty-six revelations written as a response to a divine command recording her visions. As a consequence, her spiritual works published in her name in an era, when most of the music was created by men, or where women received fewer acknowledgements as a composer or an author. Nonetheless, spirituality is a central part of human music experiences and women have always expressed their spirituality via music (Dunbar, 2011).

Spiritual Traditions Intertwined with Music

It is apparent that music and spiritual setting are interconnected. This is attributable to the restricted environment that could permit music expression only through spiritual setting. Women artistic participation was limited only to the private sphere, such as in a church and at homes. Therefore, women participated in the private sphere of music activities that permitted documentation (Dunbar, 2011). Church was only the platform that permitted women’s music work to be documented, thus leading to significance interrelationship between music and spirituality.

Gendered Roles in Art Music

Gender roles are apparent in the music and are clearly visible in the work of composers such as Sofia and Libby Larsen. There are compositional discourses associated with femininity. For instance, Gubaidulina’s work aligns with the male aesthetic in its mathematically structured form, harsh dissonance and overall complexity (Dunbar, 2011).  Furthermore, the subject matter such as ugliness, death and terror are also historically associated with masculinity. Besides, men have been assigned gender roles, and they faced criticism for delving into feminine spheres. Historically, women are required to show deep personal emotional connection in music.

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