The dual Nature of the Functioning of the Timbre in Orchestral Works: an Interpretive Aspect

Oleksandr Zharkov


The relevance of the article. It lies in the further development of understanding the timbre as an element of the musical language and its (timbre) functioning as a complex functional system. In this article, an unexplored aspect has been selected — the understanding of timbre in the process of interpreting an orchestral composition. This aspect makes it possible to clarify the nature of the timbre, which manifests itself through its antinomy and is concretized in the pair of “conditioned timbre” and “accommodation timbre”. This aspect seems to be relevant today for the theory of timbre, since in the second half of the 20th — early 21st centuries timbre very often comes to the fore as an element of the musical language and as one of the main compositional elements.

Scientific novelty. For the first time in Ukrainian musicology, the antinomy of timbre is considered in an interpretational aspect, and the dual nature of timbre is inscribed in the complex processes of understanding an orchestral composition.

The main objective of the study is to analyze the antinomy of timbre in orchestral (polytembral) compositions and to clarify the functioning of the timbre at the level of the musical language in terms of the interpretation processes of both the composer and the performer.

The methodology includes the use of systemic and functional methods, as well as the actual method of interpretation analysis (understanding the invariant-variable nature of the musical text) in understanding the process of creating an orchestral piece. Main results and conclusions.

Main results and conclusions. An analysis of the antinomy of timbre, which appears as a constant interaction of conditioned and accommodative timbre in orchestral compositions, allows one to correlate the timbre of each instrument in its variety of sound, which appears as an intonation idea about it, and timbre at the moment of a specific textured sound. The “conditioned timbre” represents the level of the musical language, and its ramified system functions as a linguistic mechanism. “Accommodation timbre” actualizes the speech level. It is interpreted by the composer at the time of the creation of the piece. Timbre as a speech phenomenon is more mobile and plastic in comparison with the conditioned one.

Timbre intonation is a fixed moment of correlation between the instrumental (vocal) design of a musical material and this material itself. The specificity of timbre intonation is manifested in the fact that in its instrumental design (through timbre under these conditions) an attitude (subjective — of both the composer and the interpreter) to the musical material (everything minus timbre) is manifested. This becomes the most important moment in the analysis of timbre signs, timbre logics and timbre semiotics in general.


timbre; intonation process; intonation; conditioned timbre; accommodation timbre


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