Emerging in the Process: Alternative Musical Thinking Recalling Archaic (Female) Existence
There has already been a long debate concerning the inhibited role of women regarding the development of Western music tradition. While men are usually being granted for creating the great opuses, grounding the basic rules as well as reasoning theoretical fundaments of the art of sounds, female musical practices are often confined to accessory role, i.e., accompanying other activities (e.g., as an element of courteous manner, a part of a ritual or exhilarating a process of work.). This specific area is, however, worth of special attention and is undeservedly left in the periphery of many researchers construing the framework of music history. Notwithstanding, uncovering the so far obscure field may reveal alternative approaches from both extrinsic (socio-cultural context) as well as intrinsic (structural aspects of music) perspectives.
This particular domain may be represented by numerous archaic musical practices throughout the different cultures (Balkan, Slavic, Ainu, Baltic, etc.) which mainly served as accompanying activities to the female daily works. A unique manifestation (among others) may also be detected in the archaic Lithuanian folk genre called sutartinės integrating features of particular activity through many different levels. The monotonous character based on canonical repetition of narrow musical formulas, polyphonic intertwining between two voices resulting in constant recurrence of a second interval, a specific tuning inducing a psycho-acoustic effect of maximum roughness (also called Schwebungsdiaphonie) as well as onomatopoeic nature of meaningless—all these elements somehow reflect the overall nature of the activities women were commonly engaged in (processing linen, cutting rye, grinding grain, etc.). Paradoxically, these ancient forms of musical practice are somehow recalled in the most recent manifestations of music. Some Lithuanian female composers (such as Justė Janulytė, Ugnė Giedraitytė, Justina Repečkaitė) convey the features of monotonous processes into their own musical material, thus distancing themselves from the established standards of a Western musical work-opus. In this paper-presentation, this paradoxical link is inquired while analysing and comparing aspects of musical development, rhythmic and pitch structure, sound effects as well as references beyond the musical domain in both archaic and contemporary instances. The significance of female contribution into the Western musical tradition is exposed which can find its revitalisation in nowadays composing arena.
Aistė Vaitkevičiūtė is a Lithuanian composer and a researcher of a young generation. She got her master degree in composition and music pedagogy at the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre and she is working on her doctoral thesis at the moment there. The focus of her research is timbre and its function in compositional practice of the second half of the 20th–21st centuries. She is also one of the coordinators of the annual conference Principles of Music Composing (2018–2020, Vilnius) as well as an assistant co-editor of the peer-reviewed journal following the conference (2016–2020). Aistė Vaitkevičiūtė’s interests encompass such fields as cultural and mentality studies or philosophy in relation to musical field. She also got a bachelor’s degree in Cultural History and Anthropology at Vilnius University.