“Post scriptum” as a Mode of Composer’s Utterance


As known, postscript in the epistolary responds to author’s need to finish what was left unsaid to the addressee. In music, the semantics of “afterwording” for a number of 
reasons manifested itself in a variety of exciting ways among 20th century composers. Moreover, what and how exactly is “afterwording” can be either quite obvious to the listener, or deliberately disguised. The correct understanding of the author’s intentions, the insight on why the composer chooses this particular direction in his work depends on the interpretation of our rather heterogeneous observations. This article is devoted to their preliminary systematization. We will use the metaphor of “afterwording” when discussing from the perspective of cultural studies the following phenomena of modern music:

  • “afterwording” as a deliberate, sometimes even emphatically manifested bringing to the logical limit of a certain cultural and historical tradition (for example, the mid-20th-century structuralism can be considered as the apogee of one of the most important vectors in the development of European culture—ratio); 
  • “afterwording” as an outcome of the phenomenon of repressed culture (this concept implies periods of interrupted evolution of artistic life as a collision of the 20th century; in particular, we are talking about a forced pause between the first and second European avant-garde, as well as about the fate of Russian artists abroad forcibly torn out of the natural channel of creative development);
  • “afterwording” of the 19th century in the 20th century as a problem of the correlation between the concepts of “post-romanticism” and “neo-romanticism”, as well as a special pathos of prolonging a fading-away tradition;
  • concerning the music of the 2nd half of the 20th century, we can discuss issues such as “afterwording of one’s own” (the phenomenon of “structural twins” by I. Xenakis, P. Boulez, S. Gubaidulina) and “afterwording of someone else’s” (E. Denisov’s “afterwording” of the “Il Canto Sospeso” by L. Nono, A. Webern’s — of the Ricercar from the “Musical Offering” by J. S. Bach).

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