Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Cone, Edward T. The Composer's Voice. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.

In examining the composition and performance of musical works, the question of persona is raised: whose persona does the music represent--that of the composer, the performer, or (in the case of vocal music) the character portrayed by the performer? With respect to musical borrowing, the relevant question is: whose voice or persona is speaking in the borrowed material, the original composer's or the borrower's? In the case of self-borrowing by a vocal composer, it is the composer's own voice, rather than that of the poet whose text he or she originally set, that speaks through the borrowed material (p. 41). In an instrumental transcription of a vocal work, the vocal melody retains its original textual associations, thereby preserving the original composer's voice despite the removal of the text (pp. 76-78). When the situation is reversed, as in a popular vocal arrangement of an instrumental classic, the original composer's persona is still felt, as is the case with arrangements of Chopin and Tchaikovsky melodies (p. 45). Concerning the transcription of an existing instrumental work for a new instrumental combination, the integrity of the transcription (its preservation of the original composer's voice) rests on its use of a restricted choice of instrumentation (p. 108). Lastly, folk-tune or anthem borrowings can seem ridiculous if they are too obvious, where the original composer's voice completely overpowers the borrower's persona, disrupting the new piece. Puccini's use of The Star-Spangled Banner in Madama Butterfly is a prime example of this (p. 162).

Works: Brahms: Chaconne in D Minor by J. S. Bach (arranged for piano left hand); Busoni: Chaconne in D Minor by J. S. Bach (arranged for piano); Liszt: Liebestraum No. 3, Sonnets of Petrarch; Puccini: Madama Butterfly ; Webern: Ricercar a 6 voci by J. S. Bach (arr. for orchestra).

Index Classifications: General, 1800s, 1900s

Contributed by: Edward D. Latham

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