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< Volver

Ethnomusicology on the turn

Ludwik Bielawski

Professor Anna Czekanowska belongs to a generation of ethnomusico-logists educated after WWII who became specialists in this discipline, acquiring every possible research degree and establishing a position for ethnomusicology at Polish universities. Anna Czekanowska was the first to receive a Ph.D. and certification (1958, 1968) and become a professor of ethnomusicology (1976).

Anna Czekanowska has engaged in many facets of scientific activity and organised co-operation with specialists from East and West, which has enhanced the international status of Polish musicology.

Anna Czekanowska was born in Lwów on June 25th 1929, daughter of a prominent anthropologist and ethnologist, Jan Czekanowski.

Her father, educated in Zürich, had begun a research career at the Ethnological Museum (Museum für Völkerkunde) in Berlin, from where he took part in an expedition to Central Africa. He continued his research in St Petersburg, organising the section of African Culture at the Hermitage Museum. He was then appointed a professor of anthropology at Lwów and the President of this university in 1934-1936. The mother of Anna, Elzbieta Sergijewska, was Russian; and her grandmother on her father's side, German. Such international and inter-denominational family connections and experiences shaped Anna's research work into a rare balance between Eastern and Western inspirations in humanities. Anna spent the war partly in Gluchów (Grójec district) on the family estate of Jan Czekanowski, and partly in the Kolbuszowa district and in other places where the family had to take refuge.

In 1945/6 Jan Czekanowski was working at the Catholic University in Lublin, where Anna attended a music school (the piano class of Aleksander Wielhorski). In 1946 Jan Czekanowski became Head of the anthropology department at Poznan University, at which Anna studied musicology in 1948-1952. Her mentor was Adolf Chybinski, also a pre-war professor at Lwów University and the founder of Polish musicology.

Although Anna is my age, she was already in her third year when I started my studies. The only lectures we attended together were those of Adolf Chybinski.

At that time a star among students, or rather a fully mature research worker, was another contemporary, Tadeusz Strumillo. A great hope for Polish historical musicology, unfortunately he lost his life in the Tatra Mountains in 1956, aged only 27. Nevertheless he left considerable research.

Ours was a unique class in the history of musicology, if we consider the future positions of the graduates. Zygmunt Szweykowski, music historian, the assistant of Chybinski, became the Head of the Musicological Department at the Jagiellonian University. Jan Steszewski, the ethnomusicologist, became the Head of the Musicological Department at the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan. In those years (1948-52) musical ethnography was taught by Marian Sobieski, a pre-war assistant of Lucjan Kamienski, a founder of musicology in Poznan (1922). After WWII, Jadwiga and Marian Sobieski organised field recordings of folk music, thus continuing on a much larger scale the endeavours of the 1930s (original collections in Poznan and Warszawa were almost completely lost during the war).

Anna Czekanowska from the very beginning specialised in musical ethnography. She took part in field research organised by Marian and Jadwiga Sobieski. The materials then gathered served as a basis for her M. A. and Ph.D. theses. Anna wrote her M. A. thesis about the region of Opoczynskie but she did not think of herself as a student of Sobieskis, because she herself had an everyday contact with a great authority in ethnography and was also absorbed in the research conducted by her father. Of the students of musicology, she distinguished herself because of her better preparation in ethnography. This was demonstrated in her overall ethnographic introduction to the M. A. thesis on songs of the Opoczynskie region. In her next monograph Czekanowska did not write this sort of introduction and concentrated on musicological questions. However, she was always conscious of ethnography, physical anthropology and historical linguistics and valued achievements in these fields.

An absolutely new element introduced by Anna Czekanowska into Polish ethnomusicology was the quantitative method of organising folk melodies, first in the form of Jan Czekanowski's diagram, then in the form of the taxonomy dendrite worked out by a group of mathematicians led by Hugo Steinhaus, former professor at Lwów University. Common features of these procedures is a formalisation of melodic analyses, computation of the extent of differences, and then grouping of the melodies according to their numbered similarities. This created a formal classification of folk melodies within the collections analysed. The diagram by Jan Czekanowski was used by Anna in her M. A. thesis (1952, published in 1956) but not published later, because it could arouse suspicion of "formalism," which could cause serious consequences in those times. It is a pity that in her Ph.D. dissertation (1958, published in 1961) on songs of the Bilgoraj region Anna did not publish the diagram, although it was commented upon in later theoretical contributions. Nevertheless, the adaptation of Jan Czekanowski's method into musical ethnography is her achievement.

Anna Czekanowska's Ph.D. dissertation described in detail morphological features of the Bilgoraj region's songs and showed the peculiarities of these songs in the general context of the Polish-Ukrainian musical heritage. A consideration of the East-Slavonic literature is valuable, but the most important results are the stylistic stratification of the repertoire, an attempt to put in chronological order stylistic strata, and the inclusion of musical data in a discussion on the ethnogenesis of Slavonic and Polish folk culture.

Anna Czekanowska received her Ph.D. in 1958, a year after her father published his basic work on the ethnogenesis of the Slavs. The certification work of Anna (1968, published in 1972) on narrow-range Slavonic melodies has similar ethnogenetic perspectives. This vast study was carried out with the help of mathematicians guided by Hugo Steinhaus. The tables of similarities were computed, but the graphs of the dendrites had to be drawn manually.

A geographic differentiation of styles and scarce data on music history were confronted with the history of settlements and migrations. The conclusions refer to the difficult question of how historical causes influenced contemporary differentiation of styles in musical folklore.

Before Anna Czekanowska published her monograph on Slavonic narrow-range melodies, the Ukrainian folklorist Vladimir Hoszowski published a book on the origins of Slavonic music (1971). Unlike Anna Czekanowska, who concentrated particularly on the tonal aspects of the songs, Vladimir Hoszowski, following the traditions of Ukrainian folklore studies, was looking for characteristic rhythmic features. This obviously led his analyses to other conclusions. However, this discrepancy was never resolved, either in an international forum or personally by these researchers. Boguslaw Linette (1981) reduces the problem of Polish-Ukrainian borderlands and Slavonic sources to mutual and rather recent inter-relationships of Ukrainian and Polish music. The Slovakian ethnomusicologists Jozef Kresánek (1951) and Alica Elschekova (1966, 1978) explained in another way differentiation from older styles in folk music. They singled out a stratum of melodies based on formulae with intervals of the fourth and second and defined it as the stratum connected with an agrarian culture, and then accordic melodies with the prevailing interval of the third as the stratum connected with a shepherd culture.

In the 1960s computers offered fascinating possibilities of ordering folk melodies. Bertrand Bronson in the late 1940s had already formalised a method for analysis of melodies of Anglo-American ballads and encoded his results in a computer system. Similar studies were conducted later by Oskar and Alica Elschek in Slovakia and Vladimir Hoszowski in the Ukraine and Armenia. Open databases were created for thousands of folk melodies prepared for various classifications. However, the way chosen by Anna Czekanowska differed: it consisted of a kind of closed song collection which has determined criteria for analysis. Since the 1960s ethnomusicologists have tried to code whole melodies and to build programmes for music analyses. In 1964, at the IFMC Congress in Budapest, the Hungarians presented such a method on the basis of one thousand encoded melodies. In a time of accessibility of PCs, Helmut Schaffrath in Essen developed this method. He initiated an electronic base of European folk melodies encompassing 20,000 units (5,000 of these were from Poland). After his death in 1994, Ewa Dahlig continues this original work at the Institute of Arts in Warsaw.

The method of Alan Lomax presented in his Folk Song Style and Culture (1968) is well known in the world literature. At the same time Anna Czekanowska finished her study on Slavonic melodies. The differences between both concepts are fundamental. The analyses of Lomax are based directly on recordings, not on musical (note) transcriptions, and regard ways of performance and kinds of music situations as important categories for analysis. Moreover, Lomax defined similarities between whole repertories which represent particular cultures. This way he sketched a map of music cultures of the world and investigated the relationships between the culture and its musical properties. Alan Lomax presented later a relative chronology and hypothetical evolution of the described cultures. In those years, however, methods of comparative musicology were limited and conclusions were often drawn from retrogressive historical analysis.

The most influential book in American scholarship became Alan Merriam's Anthropology of Music (1964), highly appreciated by Anna. Unfortunately, Alan Merriam, invited by Anna Czekanowska, died in the air crash near Warsaw on March 14, 1980. In the 1970s, the anthropology of music, although differently understood, became popular in Europe. John Blacking formulated a basic question for the new discipline: How Musical is Man? (1973). Zonal Theory of Time by Ludwik Bielawski (1976, in Polish) offered another solution which defined natural perspectives of musical knowledge and traditions. Wolfgang Suppan (1984) published an important anthropological monograph on historical, social and psychological studies in music.

Within the European research tradition a conflict between old and new ethnomusicology has not been so marked as in America. Ethnomusicology in Europe is more closely related to historical research into music and culture.

A friendship with John Blacking announced a new stage in Anna Czekanowska's research work: their co-operation contributed to a growth of interest in the anthropology of music in Poland. New anthropological questions consider musical concepts, folk terminology and cultural change studied in the perspective of the consciousness of traditional musicians and singers. This topic is continued by Piotr Dahlig (1993, 1998) and Slawomira Zeranska-Kominek (1989, 1997).

The issues of the anthropology of music and historical musicology are discussed by Anna Czekanowska in her monograph Polish Folk Music: Slavonic Heritage &endash; Polish Tradition &endash; Contempo-rary Trends (1990) in the series edited by John Blacking. Anna Czekanowska prepared it originally as a set of lectures at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. If we compare this synthesis with Kazimierz Moszynski's Folk Culture of Slavs (1939, in Polish), changes between now and then are evident.

In 1977 Czekanowska took part in the panel dedicated to Eastern European Folk and Art Music at the Congress of the International Musicological Society at Berkeley. From then on, the problem of "Polishness" absorbed her attention, and was a subject of her guest lectures in Mainz, Germany (1983/84). In her Studies on National Style in Polish Music (1990, in German), she approached old Polish music as a "source of identification and stylisation", then reflected on Chopin's music as a 19th-century phenomenon, described Polish music on the threshold of the 20th century and concluded with the new trends in Polish music.

Professor Anna Czekanowska has contributed enormously to the teaching of ethnomusicology in our country. After the death of Marian Sobieski (1967) she continuously held the only Chair of musical ethnography in Poland, serving simultaneously as a Director of the Musicological Institute at Warsaw University over many years. She has educated a generation of musicologists who represent ethnomusicology today. To the circle of her graduates belong Slawomira Zeranska-Kominek, Józefina Katarzyna Dadak-Kozicka, Piotr Dahlig, Ewa Dahlig, Dorota Frasunkiewicz, Zbigniew Przerembski and others.

Anna Czekanowska is the author of basic Polish textbooks of ethnomusicology: Etnografia muzyczna. Metodologia i metodyka (1971, second edition in 1988, Russian translation &emdash; 1983). This particular textbook, after the transformations of the discipline in the 1970s, was completed with a review of new trends in ethnomusicology: Glówne kierunki i orientacje etnomuzykologii wspólczesnej (1983, reprinted in 1987). Textbooks by Czekanowska's students Slawomira Zeranska-Kominek (1995) and Józefina K. Dadak-Kozicka (1996) have also been published.

The synthetic work of Anna Czekanowska on Asian music cultures (1981) will be relevant for a long time. We have nothing comparable in the Polish language.

The present anthology, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the research work of Anna Czekanowska, shows the wide-ranging interests of Professor Czekanowska and reflects trends in ethnomusicology, in particular from the last decade of the 20th century. The variety of themes is typical of the dynamic development of ethnomusicology both in Poland and world-wide. Most of the texts were already published (see bibliography), but in books usually inaccessible in Poland. The order of topics was designed by Professor Czekanowska.

The specific value of these texts can be found vividly in its depiction of issues. However, its combination of general perspectives with deep insights evolve not only from the unique personality of Anna Czekanowska, but also from her effective international struggle for Polish ethnomusicology to be recognised and for understanding of the poetic and sometimes mysterious components of Slavic heritage.

References Cited

  • Bielawski, Ludwik 1976 Strefowa teoria czasu i jej znaczenie dla antropologii muzyki [Zonal Theory of Time and its Significance for the Anthropology of Music]. Kraków: Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne.
  • Blacking, John 1973 How Musical is Man? Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  • Czekanowska, Anna 1956 "Piesn ludowa Opoczynskiego na tle problematyki etnograficznej "[Folk Song of Opoczynskie Region in Ethnographic Context]. In: Studia Muzykologiczne, vol. 5. Kraków: Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne, pp. 344-453.
    • ----------------1961 "Piesni bilgorajskie. Przyczynek do interpretacji polskiego pogranicza poludniowo-wschodniego" [Songs of Bilgoraj Region. Contribution to Interpretation of Polish South-Eastern Border Territory]. In: Prace i Materialy Etnograficzne, vol. 18, part 2. Wroclaw: Polskie Towarzystwo Ludoznawcze.
    • ----------------1971 Etnografia muzyczna. Metodologia i metodyka [Musical Ethnography. Methodology and Methodics]. Warszawa: Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe. Second edition: 1988 Bydgoszcz: Pomorze. Russian translation: 1983 edit. E. Alekseev, Moskva: Sovetskij Kompozitor.
    • ----------------1972 Ludowe melodie waskiego zakresu w krajach slowianskich. Przeglad dokumentacji sródlowych, próba klasyfikacji metoda taksonomii wroclawskiej [Narrow-Range Folk Melodies in Slavic Countries: Survey of Source Documentation and Classification Applying the WrocΩaw Method of Taxonomy]. Kraków: Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne.
    • ----------------1981 Kultury muzyczne Azji [Musical Cultures of Asia]. Kraków: PWM.
    • ----------------1983 Glówne kierunki i orientacje etnomuzykologii wspólczesnej. Refleksje metodologiczne [Main Trends and Orientations of Contemporary Ethnomusicology. Methodological Reflections]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego. Second edition: Etnomuzykologia wspólczesna [Contemporary Ethnomusicology] 1987 Bydgoszcz: Pomorze.
    • ----------------1990a "Studien zum Nationalstil der polnischen Musik." In: Kölner Beiträge zur Musikforschung, vol. 163. Regensburg: Gustav Bosse Verlag.
    • ---------------1990b Polish Folk Music: Slavonic Heritage &emdash; Polish Tradition &emdash; Contemporary Trends. Cambridge: University Press.
  • Czekanowski, Jan 1957 Wstep do historii Slowian [The Introduction to History of Slavs]. Poznan.
  • Dadak-Kozicka, Józefina K.1996 Folklor sztuka zycia. U sródel antropologii muzyki [Folklore as an Art of Life. On Origins of Anthropology of Music]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Instytutu Sztuki PAN.
  • Dahlig, Piotr1993 Ludowa praktyka muzyczna [Folk Music Practice]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Instytutu Sztuki PAN.
    • --------1998 Tradycje muzyczne a ich przemiany. Miedzy kultura ludowa, popularna i elitarna Polski miedzywojennej [Musical Traditions and their Transformations. Between the Folk, Popular and Elitarian Culture of Poland in 1918-1939]. Warszawa: IS PAN.
  • Elschek, Alica1966 "Strukturelle Frühformen slawischer Volksmusik." In: Anfänge der slawischen Musik. Symposia I. Bratislava.
    • --------1978 "Stilbegriff und Stilschichten in der slovakischen Volksmusik." In: Studia Musicologica, Budapest, vol. 20, pp. 263-303.
  • Hoszowski, Wladimir 1971 U istokow narodnoj muzyki Slawian. Oczerki po muzykalnomu slowianowiedieniju. Moskwa; (Czech translation. Praha 1977).
  • Kresánek, Jozef 1951 Slovenská ludová piesen so stanoviska hudobného. Bratislava.
  • Linette, Boguslaw 1981 Obrzadowe piesni weselne w Rzeszowskiem: Typologia watków muzycznych jako kryterium wyznaczania regionu etnograficznego [Ritual Wedding Songs in Rzeszowskie Region. A Typology of Threads as a Criterium for Delimitation of Ethnographical Region].Rzeszów: Muzeum Okragowe.
  • Lomax, Alan 1968 Folk Song Style and Culture. Washington, D.C.
  • Merriam, Alan 1964 Anthropology of Music. Evanston.
  • Moszynski, Kazimierz 1939 Kultura ludowa Slowian [Folk Culture of Slavs]. Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejetnosci.
  • Suppan, Wolfgang 1984 Der musizierende Mensch. Eine Anthropologie der Musik. Mainz, London, New York, Tokyo: Schott.
  • Zeranska-Kominek, Slawomira 1989 "Muzyka w przemianach tradycji etnicznej"Litwinów w Polsce [Music in Transformations of Ethnic Tradition of Lithuanians in Poland]. In: Kultura muzyczna mniejszosci narodowych w Polsce. Litwini, Bialorusini, Ukraincy [Musical Culture of National Minorities in Poland. Lithuanians, Belorussians, Ukrainians]. Warszawa: Instytut Gospodarki Przestrzennej Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego.
    • ---------1995 Muzyka w kulturze. Wprowadzenie do etnomuzykologii [Music in Culture. An Introduction to Ethnomusicology]. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego.
    • ---------1997 (with Arnold Lebeuf) The Tale of Crazy Harman. The Musician and the Concept of Music in the Türkmen Epic Tale, Harman Däli. Warszawa: Academic Publications Dialog. Polish version. Kraków 1998: Nomos.

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