Elements of Melodic Diction in the Children's Songs of Kogoj

  • Borut Loparnik


No research has yet been carried out into the musical diction in Kogoj's works. The article deals with the children's songs (17 altogether, 13 composed 1922-1923; 4 later, most probably before 1932), which, although being the smallest, are the most rounded-off and complete part of the composer's legacy since they were created in almost one stroke and are thus, for the most part, stylistically uniform. This allows a detailed analysis of the main features of the melodic expression; of course, one must consider the restrictions which arise from the modest thematics of the texts, from a child's experiencing the world and nature and from the compositional needs of young singers. The source of Kogoj's inspiration, and so of his musical thought, is always the text. However, the music itself deepens the mood and widens the expressiveness of the mostly modest metaphors to such an extent that they surpass the literary basis. The psychological persuasiveness of the compositions, which draws strength from the poetic text but yet which is at the same time musically independent, should be considered only as a symbiosis, equally of the descriptive and the purely musical, as a complete equilibrium of content and musical substance which grows spontaneously and naturally. The melodic diction, therefore, as a matter of course becomes fused in the formal, mainly melodic structure (because of the aim of the compositions), which is based on unconventional diatonic harmony. Symmetric clauses and periods are as meaningful as are asymmetric clauses and periods within each whole; the movement within one key and the diatonically nearest keys is natural to the same extent as are the shifts into more distant harmonic regions, which emphasize the formal scheme of the songs; and the metrical regularity is as justified as the rhythmical agitation and the free formal schemes as justified as simple binary and ternary structural patterns. The attention with which the composer follows the form and content of the text is the main direction of musical development: the essence of this development is above all musical, although it reflects every detail of the text. Of decisive importance is the musical essence of the work, born of the text, comprehended by the genius of the composer's intuition and realized by his sensitive, unique inspiration, unbound and free, yet always logical. This equilibrium of the free and the fixed is the core of Kogoj's melodic diction. His idiom is exemplary and is unrivalled in the otherwise rich Slovene literature of youth choral works between the two wars; his style is early expressionism: late romantic compositional elements used in new fields of expression. The main feature of this expressiveness is melodic diction – lyrical, extremely introvert and in its feeling purely Slovene.


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How to Cite
LoparnikB. (1969). Elements of Melodic Diction in the Children’s Songs of Kogoj. Musicological Annual, 5(1), 54-82. https://doi.org/10.4312/mz.5.1.54-82