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Bartok: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs - Quick Question (Read 4564 times)

Offline andhow04

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Bartok: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs - Quick Question
« on: July 16, 2005, 10:57:38 PM »
Hey in tnhe last one of these, it says "quasi cornemuse." I am guessing that is some kind of trumpet or brass instrument? does anyone know the answer to this one. Actually any extra info on these pieces would be Appreciated!  ;D Like are there words to the songs?
Andrew howzer
 :D ;)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Bartok: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs - Quick Question
«Reply #1 on: July 17, 2005, 12:52:53 AM »
“Quasi cornamusa” – Quasi means “almost”, and cornamusa refers to an old 16th century instrument usually identified with a bagpipe, sometimes with the crumhorn (have you ever seen one? Google it! They have a pretty weird sound :o).

In this case, it refers to bagpipes. In February 1910, Bartok heard the bagpipers in Bihar county. Later in November he heard a competition between bagpipes and swineherd’s horns in Ipolysag. And in 1913 he heard a young illiterate Romanian playing the bagpipe in Hunedoara. He recorded these experiences as high points of his ethnomusicological research and later made use of them in his compositions (in the finale of the 15 Hugarian  folksongs as you noted, but also in the final movement of his ‘Concerto for Orchestra’ which is full of references to the instrument.

The “15 Hungarian folksongs” are arrangements of actual folksongs (up to a point). Originally these are all monophonic tunes (that is, just a melody), and Bartok was fascinated by the challenge of harmonising such (folklore music was a lifelong passion). He was very careful however not to reduce the implicit harmonies into the major/minor system.

Compositionally, they sit halfway between the “Romanian Christmas Carols” (where the folksongs are clearly heard and the harmonizations are simple chords or uncomplicated counterpoint) and the Improvisations Op. 20 (where the harmonies take the centre stage and the folksongs can barely be heard, let alone recognised.). In the 15 HFS, the melodic material is clearly centre stage, but the harmonic elaboration is considerable.

The cycle is also conceived as a classical four-movement sonata, with the first our pieces (“Four Old Laments”) making up the first – moderato – movement; the fifth piece (“Scherzo”) making up the, er, scherzo or second movement; the sixth piece [“Ballade (tema con variazone)”] corresponding to the third, slow movement, and the last 9 pieces (“Old Dance Tunes“) the last movement – the quick finale.

Old laments:

No. 1 – Rubato

Lyrics: “I tie my horse to a weeping willow and bow my head toward him in grief.”

Key: D – Mode: Aeolian. Two variations, each using melody with strumming accompaniment. Traditional folksong.

No. 2 – Andante

Lyrics: “Stay, stay, you little bird. My ailing heart has long awaited you; sick I am with love, comfort, the sadness of my soul. The flower given by my love did not wither yet when he left me for another woman; alas may God punish her alas!”

Key: D – Mode: Dorian – Two variations with introduction, interlude and coda. The folksong is formed by the high notes of the several chords, and in this case it was not a traditional folksong, but one invented by Bartok (at this point in his development as a composer he had adopted the attitude of not distinguishing anymore between traditional and invented folk tunes).

No. 3 – Poco rubato

Lyrics: “Sun, oh sun, shine in all thy brightness, not in midst enshrouded. Ah, where are you going, you three orphans? We embark on a long journey to find work as servants.”

Key: F# - Mode: Phrygian – One variation.

No. 4 – Andante.

Lyrics: “If you did know, my angel, you loved me not, why did you not write me a farewell letter?”

Key: F# - Mode: Dorian – One variation, mixed time signatures.

Scherzo

No. 5 – Scherzo

Lyrics: “My wife is so clean, she washes only once a month; All amy life I’ll regret getting married!”

Key: C – Moe: Dorian – Four variations.

Ballade

No. 6 – Ballade – Andante.

The “Ballade” is the arrangement of a famous folk song: ‘Angoli Borbalia’ of Roza Okros, a tragedy of 23 verses ending up with the death of two lovers.

Key: F – Mode: Dorian. Ten variations.

[to be continued…]
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Bartok: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs - Quick Question
«Reply #2 on: July 17, 2005, 12:59:14 AM »
[…continued from previous post]

Old dance tunes

Nos. 7 - 15 – the individual songs are actually variations of each other.

No. 7 – Allegro

Lyrics: “Come, follow where I go; you will soon know where I live: By the hedge of hawthorn, come, my love, unto my arms.”

Key: C – Mode: Dorian. Four variations.

No. 8 – Allegretto.

Lyrics: “Climbing the plum tree, I tore my breeches; ah well, my little girl will mend them.”

Key: G – Mode: Dorian.- Two variations.

No. 9 – allegretto

Lyrics: “You were good and sweet at night; you lay down and slept after coming home drenched and kissing me warmly. The  girls spin the flax, they keep saying among themselves: “Oh mother, the spinning is hard, the waiting is hard.”

Key: D – Mode: Dorian. – Four variations

No. 10 – L’istesso tempo

Lyrics: “The grasshopper in the green forest would mate with the fly.”

Key: B – Mode: Dorina – Two variations.

No. 11 – Assai moderato.

Lyrics: “Fade away rose, you do not belong to me; if you did, you would blossom far better. You are no woman; you do not dare to kiss me; perhaps you think I cannot return it.”

Key: A – Mode: Dorian – three variations. The direction “A 3 battute” means that three bars are to be grouped as one bar with three beats.

No. 12 – Allegretto

Lyrics: “By the Danube there’s a mill that grinds worries to shreds, hey ha! I have many worries, so I’ll take them there and have them ground, Hey ha! Sick woman, tired lad; play a song for me you Gipsy lad, hey ha! Wait a little while I eat my fill, then I will play a lively dance, hey ha!

Key: A – Mode: Aeolian – the cadential chords at bars 5 and 10 correspond to the “hey ha” (and later in similar places). Three variations (2+1) divided by the next piece, which functions as a trio in ABA form.

No. 13 – Poco piu vivo

Lyrics: “ I bought my fine horse Sari only yesterday from Szolnok; nevertheless I will sell him today for wine and a beautiful woman.”

Key: D – Mode: Aeolian – One variation.

No. 14 – Allegro.

Lyrics: “ The girls of Izsap kneaded dumplings, ho-hum, hey ha.

Key: C# - Mode: Phrygian – Four variations modulating to no. 15.

No. 15 – Allegro.

No lyrics. This is Hungarian bagpipe music which Bartok took unaltered from a phonograph record and provided the accompaniment.

Key: Bb – Modes: Myxolydian and Ionian. As explained in the post above, cornemuse is a generic term for bagpipes.

Although some suggest that the cycle should be performed in its entirety (to follow the sonata structure), Bartok himself never recorded the work in its entirety. Therefore the decision to which pieces to perform and which order is left to the preference of the performer, but keep in mind that pieces not separated by a double bar should be performed as a set. The work was composed in 1914 – 1918 and published in 1920.

The original lyrics (in Hungarian – plus the complete translations) can be found here:

Bela Bartok:”The Hungarian folksong” (State University of New York Press)

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.






The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline bernhard

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Re: Bartok: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs - Quick Question
«Reply #3 on: July 17, 2005, 01:02:05 AM »
Some of these lyrics make great pickup lines:

"You are no woman; you do not dare to kiss me; perhaps you think I cannot return it.”

"My wife is so clean, she washes only once a month"

 ;D

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline andhow04

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Re: Bartok: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs - Quick Question
«Reply #4 on: July 17, 2005, 01:05:01 AM »
I definitely have to thank you for typing all of that information !!! you answered my question and then some. A true teacher!

andrew howzer
 :D

Offline bernhard

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Re: Bartok: 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs - Quick Question
«Reply #5 on: July 17, 2005, 01:16:01 AM »
You are definitely welcome ;)
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)