Tuesday, 27 January 2015

On Listening to a Wax Cylinder of a Male Hungarian Singing a Folk Song Followed by Bartok's Translation of it into Piano Music

An ancient voice which speaks of timelessness,
Almost mooing, cow-like in its tortured sadness,
Hidden in grooves and trapped forever
In what was just a passing, grieving mood
Is pouring forth a primal sorrow
Resonating, designating desolation.
It's undergone the oddest transformation,
Becoming something much more complex,
Retaining although refining, the despair
Which in its crude form, with all its yearning
Required no cerebral translation.
But still, the process by which the singing
Has metamorphosed into sad chords,
Has made a reasoned, new beginning,
A better framework, for understanding,
One step removed from all the raw pain
We sensed was springing
From the sad heart, trapped in wax.

Below are some of the wax cylinders Bartok used in his Romanian dances. The one of the Hungarian man  singing was on R3 one morning.

interestingly the Hungarian born poet George Szirtes chose a blues recording to end his ‘Private Passions on Radio 3 this lunchtime ( 9/5/2021) It struck me instantly, though he didn’t make the connection himself, that the quality of the voice and of the singing of the blues (recorded in 1931) was exactly like the voice of the Hungarian man singing on the wax cylinder, which Bartok turned into music. 

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