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Russkaia mysl' o muzyke v XVII veke.

This slim volume by Vladimir Vasil'evich Protopopov, the distinguished Russian scholar who has written widely on Russian and Western music, returns to one of his most important areas of expertise: the music of seventeenth-century Muscovy. The work surveys theoretical writings produced in Russia during an important and complex period of change and, in a series of appendixes, presents extracts from a few of these works. Protopopov's approach is truly reflected in the title, that is, he discusses not the details and nuances of theory--although he gives generous acknowledgment and references to works that do explain this aspect of the writings he covers--but rather he surveys the development of musical thought and aesthetics in the context of Muscovite history and culture. This is a book that will provide a useful supplement, a cultural and intellectual background for someone familiar with the specifics of early Russian musical theory, but it is equally suited as a starting point, providing a general music-theoretical background for a student embarking on this difficult topic. Protopopov's approach is fruitful, for example, in his discussion of the origins of Aleksandr Mezenets's important work in chapter 4.

The first, all too brief, chapter presents a good example of the author's approach. Here Protopopov surveys the treatment of musical terminology in the manuscript alphabets (azbukovniki) of the period. He traces the definitions of music and the terminology describing instrumental and church practice in these sources, the most general of his survey. Although he does not pretend to offer a comprehensive survey, Protopopov shows the reader enough material to illustrate the potential of this little-explored approach. In some of the alphabets music is described as one of the seven liberal arts, an approach linking these works to the next treatise he considers, Nikolai Spafarii's Kniga ... o sedmikh svobodnykh khudohestvakh (A Book ... on the Seven Liberal Arts). This treatise and the works closely related to it, the Skazanie o sedmi svobodnykh mudrostekh (A History of the Seven Liberal Arts) and the Chetvertaia mudrost'--Musika (The Fourth Art: Music), present a complex problem in source transmission and, as Protopopov is preparing an edition of the Chetvertaia mudrost', a fuller discussion is forthcoming. In the present work the author does not discuss these issues in detail, although given his unparalleled access to and knowledge of the sources, one wishes for somewhat more depth; in general, a systematic and complete listing of surviving sources for all of the works under consideration, perhaps in an appendix, would be most helpful. Protopopov's use of the contemporary alphabets to elucidate terminology of this group of treatises shows again the value of these sources.

In the seventeenth century, Muscovite musicians were grappling with methods of more exact chant notation as well as with five-line staff notation and Protopopov includes treatises concerned with both of these issues, for example, in chapters 4 and 10. The third chapter, on the Predislovie otkudu i ot koego vremeni (An Introduction to Whence and When), illustrates the author's concern with the intellectual framework of each work he considers and shows his general approach in discussing a treatise. Here Protopopov gives the reader a brief background of previous scholarship on the Predislovie, discusses the extant sources and versions of the treatise, and then places the work in its appropriate musical context, in this case within the tradition of the great singers and masters of liturgical music in the early seventeenth century. This approach is especially useful when Protopopov is working with the many brief or thematically unified treatises of the period but is somewhat less successful when he turns to the large, rather more unwieldy works from late in the century by Ioannikii Korenev and, particularly, by Nikolai Diletskii (chapters 6 and 7). For his discussions of these works, Protopopov draws upon his own extensive writings; indeed the author's edition of one version of Diletskii's Grammatika (Grammar) is a landmark in its field for its mastery of complex archival and bibliographic sources of all kinds (Nikolai Diletskii, Idea Grammatiki Musikiiskoi, ed. V. V. Protopopov; Pamiatniki russkogo muzykal'nogo iskusstva, 7 [Moscow: Muzyka, 1979]). The limited space the author devotes to these two works, although in keeping with the format of the present volume, does not serve as well to introduce the reader to important contextual issues presented by these theorists; Diletskii's work especially is given only a very brief survey. Protopopov concludes his study by examining several other treatises that discuss the new staff notation. These works, which circulated along with Diletskii's Grammatika far into the eighteenth century, seem to have been intended for beginning musicians.

In spite of the minor lapses with Diletskii, easily remedied by turning to the author's earlier studies, the present work is a valuable addition for those considering problems of Russian theory, an excellent companion to Maksim Brazhnikov's study of the theoretical problems of the period (Drevnerusskaia teoriia muzyki [Leningrad: Muzyka, 1972]). The work confirms Protopopov's skill as an archivist and bibliographer and, in its focus on the cultural and intellectual context of music-theoretical works, gives greater depth and continuity to the material he considers.
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Author:Jensen, Claudia
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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