It is, however, nothing new for one to understand music in terms of metaphor in the western music history. For example, in the Cours complet d’ harmonie et de composition musicale (1803-05) by Jerome-Joseph Momigny, there are extensive analyses of movements by Mozart and by Haydn alternating technical description with narrative or dramatic readings. From Powers’ description on Momigny’s writing of Haydn’s symphony no.103, movement one, we can see that Momigny’s understanding of the music was no doubt governed by the metaphorical concepts he made. In fact, Powers stated, “ Momigny’s reading of Haydn Symphony 103 / I, ……the movement is read as a scene in the countryside, with a storm, villagers taking refuge in a temple, elders and grown men, women trembling for their children, and so on, with occasional fragments of text supplied to musical motives to enliven the narrative.” Clearly, Powers’ words, such as storm, temple, elders, men, women, are related to a pictorial images consisting of the weather, temple and people, which are important metaphors to structure Momigny’s thinking. But it was not a unique privilege for Momigny to read music with metaphors, many other philosophers and music critics did so in the 19th century, such as Hanslick’s use of personification to conceptualize his idea on music as a living form, which could animate beauty from the projection of sound, Schopenhauer’s view on music as a representation of human’s will, the Berlin critic Heinrich Hermann’s description on Beethoven’s symphony no. 3 as an almost Shakespearean world of magic, or the Russian critic Oulibicheff Marx’s review on the same work as a military “drama” for delineating a battle and victory of a hero, which the battle is fought for the human freedom. In the recent musicological scholarship, Susan McClary, also used the metaphor of “sexual intercourse” to explain the western tonal system and the musical phenomenon of Beethoven’s symphony no. 9. As such, music in general, and quotations in particular, can be understood in terms of metaphor. This reading is capable of creating a new way of listening, which is capable of offering different perspectives for us to muse, to recall, and to search what happened and what was there.
To be continued…..
David Leung (theorydavid)