Abstracts of issue 9 (1997)
Book Review

Diether de la Motte
Harmonielehre, Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel 1976.
Kontrapunkt, Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel 1981.
Melodie, Bärenreiter-Verlag, Kassel 1993.
Review: Markos Tsetsos
Diether de la Motte, Harmonielehre - Kontrapunkt - MelodieThe reason for presenting these three books in a single review is that they compose an educational trilogy. The known three musical fields are scrutinized with the help of a uniform methodological approach. The author – himself a composer – is convinced that the up to date way of teaching these disciplines does not meet any more the needs of a contemporary, more concrete and practically active approach of these important parameters of musical creation. For example, the instruction in harmony – according the author – abstracted from its concrete historical context, has crystallized in time as a system of rules and limitations. The origin of these rules – that could validate them in musical praxis – as well as their artistic sense and function are suppressed. As a result, the student becomes familiar with a universal harmony that is impossible to provide relevant comprehension of the – always historically determined – necessity of these same rules and limitations it dictates.
Diether de la Motte avoids this limited and inflexible methodological dogmatism. He is interested in a pliable historical and analytical approach of the fundamental parameters of the phenomenon music and achieves to provide a panorama of their historical formation that specifies the contents of the otherwise abstract concepts, like Harmony, Counterpoint and Melody.
The review reports the content of the three volumes and makes special reference to de la Mottes analytical approach, clarifying his contribution to these music-theoretical fields. It is emphasized that the broadness of the thought and the simplicity of the conception are accompanied by an unusual clarity of expression. These features provide a variety of analytical potentialities that seem to take off and to be determined by the thing itself (i.e. the work) rather than by some concrete and universally applicable analytical principle. Diether de la Motte did not reject in advance the known analytical methods by keeping a negativistic attitude. He chose the position that in his eyes corresponds better to the aesthetic and structural prerequisites of the concrete musical material, without – at the same time – introducing the limitations imposed by historical relativism. The analysis – as demonstrated by de la Mottes attitude – must clearly be based upon contemporary musical experience and perception, without submitting to the extremities of a modern methodological relativism or dogmatism.

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