Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

6. Requiem by Karl Jenkins. an Analytical Approach to the Interweaving of Various Traditions in Music

Academic journal article Review of Artistic Education

6. Requiem by Karl Jenkins. an Analytical Approach to the Interweaving of Various Traditions in Music

Article excerpt


The discussion on the universalist musician Karl Jenkins, a clear supporter of the famous contemporary direction World Music, first of all entails some clarifications regarding the classification of a personality of many talents in the generous and meandered Postmodern space, in order to be able to offer some answers to the meanings of the sacred universe from the perspective of the contemporary artist. What is clear, though, is that, among the many facets of musical Postmodernism, Karl Jenkins opts "against intellectual complexity in sound art" (Nyman, 1993, p. 207; Amblard, 2013, p. 1389), a line drawn since the late 80s, creatively valued and theorized by the contemporary composer Michael Nyman. In the latter's opinion, and not only, the refusal of Modernism draws possible connections between classical, traditional and entertainment music from the European and extra-European area - in other words, it resorts to the controversial and yet highly acclaimed world music16 style.

2. The context of Postmodern British music

The research conducted showed that Karl Jenkins is one of the Welsh creators who stepped in an individual manner in the direction of current British music. In one of the reference Romanian studies, i.e. Fenomene muzicale ale mntemporaneitäfii: muzica británica §i frnlandezä (2004) [Contemporary Musical Phenomena: British and Finnish Music] published in the volume Radicalizare §i guerilla [Radicalisation and Guerilla], the composer and musicologist Dan Dediu argues that, while the predominant musical culture in the 1960s was the Polish one, and the French and the German spectral music enjoyed supremacy a decade later, the 90s stood for promoting the creation of two other cultures: the British and the Finnish (Dediu, 2004, p. 168).

By synthesising some of the relevant ideas of this research, we recall the so-called Modern-moderate creators, Peter Maxwell Davis, Paul Patterson, Alexander Goehr, Harrison Birtwistle, who capitalize on the neoclassical orientation. Another group is that of the radical modernists, who resort to innovative orchestration techniques or notation systems, which includes Brian Ferneyhough, Michael Finissy, James Dillon and Jonathan Harvey. Another generation targets British nonconformist composers: George Benjamin, Oliver Knussen, Mark Anthony Turnage, James MacMillan, James Clarke, Benedict Mason, Thomas Adés.

So where does Karl Jenkins fit in the context of contemporary British music? Somewhere between Jonathan Harvey - who is considered to be "exotic, visionary, inventive, mystic" (Dediu, 2004, p. 171), a musician who synthesizes various sources (European, Indian), author of unique timbre combinations, who resorts to minimalist music techniques - and Mark Anthony Turnage, who proposes a link between various sonorities of contemporary academic music and jazz (cool combinations mixed with polyrhythmic moments, with blues) - there is Karl Jenkins, a surprising musician, another supporter of openness to various sounds (backgrounds and styles), especially affiliated to the direction traced by James MacMillan, to English choral religious music, specific to the motet.

3. Means of refusing Modernity from the perspective of language

Refusing Modernity, a reaction voluntarily assumed by Karl Jenkins, applied in works subsumed to the religious genre (which will be dwelt on in what follows) can be explained by referring to the relationship between American Minimalism and Postmodernism. This is a context in which we are confronted with the recovery of late Romanticism from 1970-1980, when composers returned to the functional system, either through minimalism (a manner of organizing sonority in the tonal space), or through neo-romanticism (taking over creative landmarks from the 19 th century). The return to tradition can occur, on the one hand, radically (as in the case of neo-romanticism or of Arvo Päert's sonority of an extreme simplicity), and on the other hand, by tracing a route that includes New Simplicity minimalism and synthesis intonations from musical antecedence, into a possible harmonization with modernity (Sandu-Dediu, 2010, pp. …

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