COGNITIVE OR IMPRESSIONISTIC? ABOUT THE PARADIGMS IN THE CONTEMPORARY ARTISTIC ACTIVITY*
Senior research associate Lubomir Kavaldjiev
* First time publication. The text was written on the basis of a paper read out on May 8, 2003 in Plovdiv at the theoretical conference Specific of the Scientific-Research Work in the Field of Arts organized by ÀÌÒI – Plovdiv and II-Bulgarian Academy of Sciences – Sofia , in co-operation of the Union of the Bulgarian Composers.
KEY WORDS: cognitive, impressionistic, paradigm, academisation, Eurocentrism, culture, musicology, values, model, schemes, postmodernity, globalisation
After the capital work of Òhomas Kuhn (24) the paradigms have been in the center of the scholarly interest for some decades now; the paradigm concept intensively developed in the different scientific fields, and especially in the pedagogical methodology world-wide (see 1, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 33, 34, 35). The paradigm idea envisages first of all the stability of the scientific research (theoretical and historiographical) conventions, their self-development, formalisation or change (switch) to new paradigms – a dynamic, but also a dramatic change, which is very important also for the development of the Bulgarian musicology and art criticism, and for their institutionalization at the border between the 20th and the 21st centuries. Furthermore, the problem of the paradigms and their changes is topical and actively worked on world wide in the fields of the musical and art education, in the specialized cultural-artistic documentation (especially of local ethnical traditions), in advertising (22) and in the dissemination of modern artistic products, as well as in the fields of the media presentation and development of information systems for art and music. Especially undeveloped remain the processes of establishment and dynamic change of paradigms in the creative process of the authors, musicians or painters, the creators of musical versions and arrangements, the performers and the artistic-minded people of the present day. There are interesting phenomena here like: a rapid constant formalisation or modernization, ultimate aesthetic reassessments, paradoxically strong aspiration of the new artistic conventions for academisation and official institutionalization, intense competition, but also mutual influences between classical and modern, local and global, experimental and popular, artistic and non-artistic conventions, techniques and stabile value attitudes under the conditions of a rapidly changing situation directly observed also in the contemporary Bulgarian culture.
"The one-floor music – aesthetics and change of attitudes " is the subject I have been working on during the recent years. I maintain the idea that the traditional pyramidal aesthetic construction of cultural values officially dominating in Bulgaria almost up to the end of the 80-ies rapidly began to devaluate already at the end of the 20th century, as well as the paradigmatic (affirmative according to the terminology of Adorno) officially imposed knowledge. This aesthetic construction was doomed to be exchanged by a pluralistic horizontal model of a number of local and branch paradigms with a “block” structure coexisting in parallel, where the concepts of “high” and “low” were defined by their own paradigmatic criteria for each one of them (see examples in 17) complementing themselves in a mosaic way in the common picture of our modern culture and knowledge. So, the “One-floor America” as a metaphor from the book of the same name by Ilf and Petrov was transformed into a metaphor of the “one-floor music and art” of the global village gradually absorbing into its virtual field the cultures of all continents.
In this situation of information glut and global reassessment of age-old values, skills and knowledge (32), various spontaneous reactions and reorientations of the artistic world, of the scholars and pedagogues interested in it, are possible. Naturally, some may respond with a passive resistance – to hide their heads in sand, adopt an ostrich policy and pretend that nothing of the cannons they observe can lastingly be affected by the changes. Others wait the wheel to turn again in their direction – they duck down and wait the storm to go over; but the storm holds on, and have already lasted for a second decade. Both those groups live in a psychological condition of a cognitive dissonance (after L. Festinger - 21) and their reaction is quite normal and understandable in such a situation, although futureless.
The rest of us choose the active adaptation according to the new conditions. I observe, especially in music and in the other arts, two ways of overcoming this situation, which complement themselves. I call them the impressionistic and the cognitive ways. The first one I see among artists and this is a way natural to them.
To be more specific, this spontaneous-artistic approach to adaptation has to be called neoimpressionistic. Just like Claude Monet repeatedly painting the Rouen Cathedral in the mornings and in the evenings according to his passing impressions and moods, many contemporary artists develop the same attitude towards the huge variety of surrounding or inherited art and aesthetics: according to their own “discourse”, moods, sketchy impressions creating a number of own visions in their rapidly changing work. Such authors transfer the same neoimpressionistic approach to the way of art teaching and to the playful way of assessing art or parodying assessments in general. This is a regular expression of the final stage, i.e. the “double reflection” (according to the GIER cultural-historical model – see in 8) of the 20th century modern paradigm; or according to the inappropriately introduced formulation, this is the epoch of the post-modern or even of the post-post-modern. Here, talent and innovation are invested in the effort of playing with and parodying the mosaic pieces of the whole history of the modern art and aesthetics making their individualistic pathos senseless and including it as incrustations into the multicolored picture created or used today by the electronic media and by the world market of unique, exotic and industrial standard products in artistic forms... Richard Hamann has already at the beginning of the 20th century (3) realized that such an attitude appeared at all final stages of the development of the artistic culture, such as Hellenism (final stage of the antique culture), Rococo (decay of the aristocratic culture) and the 19th century impressionism itself (which marks the beginning of the end of the classical European bourgeois culture, which later on Spengler talked about in his book “The Sunset of the West” widely discussed also in Bulgaria, which referred precisely to the West-European cultural tradition).
I would not further analyze the above outlined neoimpressionism as an approach in art and artistic pedagogy, because it is well known to all of us here, although not thoroughly analyzed on a theoretical level. Its advantages are its flexibility, its direct connection with the practice, its availability. In a sense, its main educational advantage and disadvantage is that it counts on the individual participation of the renowned painter, musician or artist, on its will and skill to teach and comment on his art and his preferred cultural segment, as well as on the sufficient number of followers and students prepared to listen to him and be educated personally by him. The impressionistic approach actually re-establishes the relation between craftsmen, apprentices and journeymen including it in the modern conditions, where the norms of the labor societies and the guilds cannot be observed and applied. Thus, the artistic and cultural education in the impressionistic style becomes today a question of personal choice and financial means and cannot be regulated or institutionalized in any general way.
But what shall do all those students, who do not have renowned post-modern artists at hand willing and skilled enough to teach or educate them? What shall they do at the secondary schools and the universities, where teaching art and artistic culture is generally not conducted as a main activity and is directed to young people who do not intend to become professional artists and practically speaking will not make art for living after accomplishing their education? And what shall they do at those institutions, where most of the teachers do not belong to the leading and active representatives of the present artistic culture, or if they do, they do not have the time and the pedagogical background to seriously conduct educational activities? And what shall they do at the educational institutions, where the students possess different abilities, have a different family cultural background and a different general humanitarian training, and are of a different ethnic origin?
The method was discovered long ago and, of course, was firstly spread throughout North America and the other English speaking countries.
This is first of all the cognitive approach to education and artistic training. This approach works very successfully especially where there are different ethnoses, races, interests and cultural traditions, different levels and depths in understanding and teaching of culture and art, as well as a different preparedness for memorizing and practical mastering of details of the artistic and musical culture of Europe and other countries of the world. It does not relay on exhaustingly memorizing of facts, dates, comments and assessments or of the practical mastering of “classical” samples and practices, which the European education and training are based on following a paradigm inspired by the French Enlightenment.
In Europe and in Bulgaria the person memorizing best is regarded as the most cultured and educated one. The excellent student is the one grinding the most and eagerly carrying out boring exercises in mastering the classically established material... On the contrary, the cognitivism does not count on mechanically memorizing of details, rules, dates, names and mastering of classical techniques, but rather on the internal realization and complementation of different spontaneously arisen and neutral in their values classifying schemes (synchronic or diachronic models), i.e. some equally positioned simple schemes of classifying the history of art and the present state of culture. First after mastering those basic schemes the students start an individual internally motivated process of acquiring additional facts and skills according to their wishes and needs, even after the accomplishment of the course of study. The young people educated in this way after having acquired the basic categories, the sense for order, the logic and discipline of thinking and the attractive knowledge about encyclopedic examples from different arts, peoples and epochs can further study and orientate themselves in the new phenomena, can independently produce pieces of art placing their new knowledge according to the already learned general schemes or elaborating their own more efficient classifying schemes (as everybody wanting to enrich their culture in this way do).
The cognitive approach is the most widespread one in the above mentioned English speaking countries, but in the Internet epoch it may well become the leading one in the whole civilized world because of its universal applicability.
The cognitivism is not just an educational approach; it can be applied to the artistic activity as well, especially when it involves the use of the high technologies, as it is in the contemporary music or in the computer design. The contemporary cognitive psychology (from Latin cognitio – learn about, get acquainted with, distinguish) actively uses interdisciplinary approaches and many methods of the “exact sciences” including those of the informatics and the mathematical modeling The analysis and the reception of the artistic works begins here also with the disclosure of the spontaneously arising reasoning schemes provoked by certain culturally orientated dominating attitudes. After studying them they can be used not only for educational, but also for marketing or popularizing strategies or solutions related to the artistic culture and acting computer devices imitating or helping the creative or socializing processes.
Both the cognitivism of the information society and the impressionistic approach of the post-modernism have their actual meaning, their perspectives mutually accomplishing each other in the contemporaneity. Simultaneously, they are confronted world wide and in Bulgaria with the academic paradigms and other conservative attitudes within the artistic field and that of the cultural education. These “shadows of past epochs” often trouble the free development of the modern art and its globalisation, but what is more important, they are fully incomprehensible and alien to the mentality of the young generations grown up in the epoch of the Internet and the electronic media irrespective of their specific origin, cultural traditions, ethnos, attitudes. These norms simply do not work anymore, although they still occupy some institutional positions.
I would like briefly to mention that in the 20th century in Bulgaria there were popular at least three basic musical-theoretical paradigms of that kind implemented by several generations of musicians, each of which pretended to be universally applicable to the Bulgarian conditions:
1. the classical for the conservatories and the secondary schools paradigm implemented also in Bulgaria, i.e. the Eurocentric, or more specifically the Germanocentric musical-technologic paradigm of learning musical forms and analysis, flourished in the didactics and dogmatics of all Hugo Riemann followers including their Bulgarian students (a typical example hereto in Bulgaria was P. Hadzhiev) in the beginning and in the middle of the century,
2. the Russian-Soviet intonational paradigm of B. Assafiev (developing in the Eastern way the “energetic” direction invented by E. Kurth; it was drastically ideologised by the theories of I. Hlebarov and its “school” for development of the Bulgarian music at the Sofia State Musical Academy in the 60-ies),
3. the folkloristic theoretical paradigm of the national exceptionality was worked out by Dobri Hristov and afterwards transferred into the ideological doctrine of the constant fruitfulness and creative perspective of the “Bulgarian national style”. Later on, just like the two preceding paradigms, it manifested itself in an ultimately authoritarian way being ideologised in the direction of an almost complete musical-cultural isolationism. (This paradigm was actively disseminated and imposed as the “only right” one in the musicologist circles of the Institute for Musicology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences during the leadership of P. Stoyanov and V. Krastev).
Each one of those paradigms, which in general were fruitful in their times, tried to encompass the whole “musicologic field” around itself, and all three together have fully covered almost all “official” developmental directions of the Bulgarian musical-theoretical thought known to the broad musical public (see 6). Each of those paradigms, though coexisting with the others, pretended to offer not only a specialized (technological) explanation of facts selected from the Bulgarian and world music and restricted in terms of time and space, but also to cover the whole range of the national musical knowledge, respectively to play the role of an organizational-professional and educational mentor of the existence and development of the Bulgarian musical culturology, musical philosophy or aesthetics, as well as of the methods of the musical education.
This was supported by the fact that because of the lacking institutionalized university musical-theoretical or historiographic knowledge in Bulgaria the role of leading musical professors and academics was often played by the composers functioning also as conductors, performers, editors, educators, functionaries of professional organizations, officials in cultural and state institutions occupying almost always leading positions. The pyramidal construction of the dominating academism from the very beginning of the development of our professional music, i.e. from the end of the 19th century, and the well established monopolism in the official musical life during the World War Two additionally institutionalized the centers bearing these three directions of the theoretical reflection. Fighting for an exceptional privileged position they created their seats of power in the cultural and scientific policy, they established lasting attitudes in the psychology of several generations of professional musicians and musical lovers. The aspiration for a monopolistic position was provoked by a belated “classical” normativism strangely combined with romantic concepts of the “genius” in the music, that was exceptional and competent in all fields in the face of the serious music composer members of the Union of the Bulgarian Composers, chosen by God, but also appointed by the state as an artist and arbitrator of musical matters... I underline that this was true not only for the communist period (5), but had a longer history in Bulgaria – from the very beginning of the 20th century, at least as far as the attitudes of the professionally orientated musicians and musicologists were concerned. This is the case even today having in mind the appointments for the position of minister of culture in modern Bulgaria during the last decade... This is the direct influence of the conservative paradigm in the Bulgarian specialized musical education and training, and in the cultural attitudes of the majority of the renowned musical figures having been educated in Bulgaria, having established themselves in the 20th century and having concentrated on perfecting their specialized training in the field of the “serious music” since their earliest age.
The today Bulgarian musical historians including those interested in the history of the Bulgarian musical culture will probably describe and comment in detail on how and when the gradual erosion of the above mentioned picture of the theoretical firmness began, of the intolerance and the aspiration for a monopoly position inherent up to the same degree to all three basic paradigms of the last century. In any case, since the beginning of the 60-ies of the 20th century it has been obvious that the three theoretical approaches have not been working adequately not only as theory or aesthetics, but even with regard to specific musical-technological or stylistic issues, neither according to the modern Bulgarian, nor according to the world musical conventions.
The classical musical analysis was facing difficulties not only concerning the forms of impressionism and the late romanticism, but also concerning the explanation of the structure of overtures and instrumental fragments of the “golden times” opera. The classical harmony in the “school” of P. Hadzhiev tried to explain the Debussy clusters by means of an “extended thirdly relation”; and the aesthetics of the Beethoven centrism was placing on the lowest level of the value hierarchy all musical pieces, which did not follow the schemes of the Beethoven’s symphonism, but rather preferred the playful approach, i.e. the free, improvisational variability or the potpourri principle.
The nationalistic-folkloristic paradigm of the “national style” absolutely “refused” to work even when obvious folklore phenomena were concerned, such as the wedding orchestras or the modern town instrumental and song expressions of the trivial music. It was equally inadequate when commenting on the professional works of the belated Bulgarian avant-garde representatives, like Lazar Nikolov, Konstantin Iliev or Ivan Spassov, and on the cosmopolitan, but possessing a very Bulgarian intonational-rhythmic basis, highly professional music of Milcho Leviev or Yaldaz Ibrahimova.
As far as the intonation paradigm and its consequences for the theory of the intonation crises were concerned, they reached their absolute absurd heights in Bulgaria despite some fruitful interpretations within the theory of the “socialist realism” of Ivan Hlebarov and his followers. In this version it became more and more helpless when interpreting and assessing the works of the most Bulgarian composers after World War Two (except for L. Pipkov, of course), as well as of whole genres and schools of the modern and the older music, as for example, the orthodox musical-song tradition, the entertaining music of the last two centuries (including the Bulgarian "pop music"), the rock music, the electronic, the computer and the electroacoustic music.
All three of the paradigms could not interpret the post-avant-garde (post-modern) music in Bulgaria talking about its "eclecticism " and "tastelessness ", its "non-professionalism" and "formlessness" of some of its works, although the authors and their students of the same post-modern works had been educated in the classical spirit, belonged to the old or the middle musical generation, and had proved their skills in the traditional stylistics before that.
If we take the specific musical-applied production inspired by the electronic media (background music, signals, sound-musical ads), the theatre and film music with a non-traditional sound and creation technology, the multimedia computer musical applications, we will be confronted with a complete helplessness of our traditional musicology to analyze these modern non-standard musical phenomena. The genetic insufficiency of the three leading academic paradigms and of all their symbioses becomes apparent when trying to study or to say something substantial and non-trivial about this new music.
Of course, if we follow the principle of contradictability (falsification) of Karl Popper (28), there would not have been anything abnormal in the disability of the musical-theoretical paradigms dominating in Bulgaria in the 20th century to explain some phenomena they regarded as non-standard. This would have been normal, if they had been able at that time to define strictly and to verbalize their scope of implementation: the field of application of the first paradigm, as opposed to the fields of the neighboring paradigms; the field, where the second or the third paradigm would begin to function; and with respect to the unstudied thematic fields, where the three paradigms were helpless, respectively, where there was no theory applicable and where a history has not yet been written.
This would have been possible for a meta-theory generally acknowledging the need for a new scientific and educational style, creating a new style and apparatus, and respecting the pluralism in opinions and solutions. But such meta-theoretical tendencies were not perceived as valuable in our musical circles. There was the even greater problem of, which basis this meta-theory could have been established on… Could for example the Bulgarian school have followed the development of the systematic musicology of the German speaking countries, or could it have followed the French direction marked by the information theory of culture of Abraham Moles, or would it have chosen a non-European integrative approach (compare in 6, 7) and style, which could have opened the door to the global picture of the musical “production” and the spontaneous music making of the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries by means of a principally globalistic political, psychological and culturological key? (I have to say that the preconditions for this globalistic approach were in place in the 60-ies in Europe as internal self-criticism of the Eurocentrism, but found a favorable environment for their development in some North American universities (for example at the Stanford University), where there was no extreme admiration for the classical and romantic traditions, and for the accompanying modern musical dogmas of the European 20th century.)
I chose this third integrative, cognitive and globalistic approach long ago (already at the end of the 70-ies of the 20th century - 4). Today, I can see that this intuitive choice of mine has been correct. In the epoch of information and establishing new world order the cognitivism will be more often preferred by the young people as a way out of the value confusion and the incomprehensible diversity and contradiction of the modern artistic life. It is not only the effective weapon against the dogmatism of the different conservative academic traditions, but is also a powerful constructive instrument (more specifically in 8) for a logically clear classification of the material in the artistic and any other cultural activity. It is the only way with regard to their computerization and global dissemination.
1. Andersen, Benedict. The Imagined Communities. IÊ “Critique and Humanism”, 1998.
2. Draganova R. Ìð3 or about the Changing Attitudes of the Music Making and Listening – a Non-specific Example, Bulgarian Musicology magazine, 2001, book 2, p. 111-117
3. Ãàìàí Ð. Èìïðåññîíèçì â èñêóññòâå è æèçíè, Ìîñêâà, 1935.
4. Êavaldjiev, L. Theory of the Musical Culture – Structure and Functions, -Bulgarian Musicology, ¹ 3, 1983
5. Êavaldjiev, L. Totalitarianism and Culture.(About the Eastern Degradation of the Ideas of the Enlightenment). - Bulgarian Musicology, ¹ 4, 1991
6. Êavaldjiev, L. General Theory of the Musical Culture in the Epoch of the Scientific Technical Revolution (in Bulgaria in the 80-ies and 90-ies). - Bulgarian Musicology, N 3, 1993 p.26-29
7. Êavaldjiev, L. Bulgarian Musical Culture in Transition to the Information Society. Bulgarian Musicology, - 3, 2000, p. 90-124
8. Êavaldjiev, L. The Third Wave and the Popular Music (Four Cognitive Models of the Development of the Musical Culture), - Bulgarian Musicology, book 2/2001, p. 19-45
9. Verres, Karl. The Change of Paradigms. Science, Education, Management, Sofia: ÌGU “St. Ivan Rilski”, 1997 ã.
10. Danto, Artur. Three Decades After the End of Art. – in: Post-Histories of Art (compiler I. Genova). Sofia: Sfragida, 2001, p. 29-48.
11. Agmon, E. Music Theory as Cognitive Science: Some Conceptual and Methodological Issues. -Music Perception, Vol. 7, No. 3, spring 1990, p. 285-308
12. Coenen, Alcedo. Stockhausen's Paradigm: A Survey of his Theories In : Perspectives of New Music, vol. 32, no. 2, 1995, p. 200-225
13. Ayres, Robert U. Information, Entropy, and Progress: A New Evolutionary Paradigm. New York: AIP Press, 1994
14. Barker, J. A. Paradigms. The Business of Discovering the Future, New York: Harper Business, 1992
15. Bayertz, Kurt. Wissenschaftstheorie und Paradigmabegriff, Stuttgart: Metzler, 1981
16. Bloom, Harold. The Westem Canon, New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1994
17. Born, Georgina. Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez, and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-Garde (an anthropological study of IRCAM), Berkeley, Cal. (UCal Press), 1995
18. Dahlhaus, Carl. Die Idee der absoluten Musik. Kassel: Barenreiter Verlag, 1978.
19. Detels, Claire. Soft Boundaries : Re-Visioning the Arts and Aesthetics in American Education, Westport Conn.; London: Bergin&Garvey, 1999
20. Fellman, P. V Constructing a Philosophical Paradigm for Music Education Journal of Aesthetic Education, v14 n3 p37-50 Jul 1980.
21. Festinger, Leon. Theory of Cognitive Dissonance. Stanford (Stanford UP), 1957
22. Huron, David. Music in Advertising: An Analytic Paradigm.
Musical Quarterly, Vol. 73, No. 4 (1989)
23. Kavaldziev, L. Entwurf eines theoretischen Funktionsmodells an Beispielen der Rock-und Popmusik. - Beitrage zur Musikwissenschaft, Heft 3/4, 1985, S. 303-309
24. Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962
25. Lamszus, Hellmut Zum Paradigmenwechsel in der Berufs- und Wirtschaftspädagogik, Hamburg : [s.n.], 1985
26. Loevenich, Friedhelm Paradigmenwechsel: Ueber die Dialektik der Aufklaerung in der revidierten Kritischen Theorie, Wuezburg: Koenigshausen u. Neumann, 1990
27. Margolis, Howard. Paradigms & barriers: how habits of mind govern scientific beliefs, Chicago et al. : Univ. Of Chicago Press, 1993
28. Popper, Karl R. Logik der Forschung, 8. Aufl., Tuebingen: Mohr, 1989
29. Prince, W. F. A Paradigm for Research on Music Listening Journal of Research in Music Education, 20. W. 1972.
30. Scharnberg, Max.The myth of paradigm-shift, or how to lie with methodology, Stockholm: Almqvist&Wiksell, 1984
31. Tagg, Philip. From refrain to rave: The decline of figure and the rise of ground. Popular Music, (Cambridge University Press) 13/2. 1994, p. 209-222
32. Toffler A. The Future Shock, N.Y., 1970. (Bulgarian edition: Òîôëúð À., Øîê îò áúäåùåòî. Ñîôèÿ, 1992)
33. Tyson, Katherine. New Foundations for Scientific Social and Behavioral Research: The Heuristic Paradigm, Boston Mass.. London: Alyn and Bacon, 1995
34. Western Music and Its Others (ed. G. Born and D. Hesmondhalgh). Los Angeles: University of California Press. 2000.
35. Harley, Maria Anna. Notes On Music Ecology: As A New Research Paradigm. University of Southern California, Los Angeles.1996 http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/WFAE/readings/notesonmusic.html