AbstractsPhilosophy & Theology

A style discussion of Afrika Hymnus I by Stefans Grové

by Herman Gerhardus Jordaan

Institution: University of Pretoria
Year: 2014
Keywords: Afrika Hymnus; South African organ works; Music from Africa; Style discussion; Registration of organ music; UCTD
Record ID: 1453416
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2263/43361


Afrika Hymnus I, the first large-scale work for solo organ by the eminent South African composer Stefans Grové, has proved to be one of his most outstanding and successful works, with three commercially-available recordings by prominent organists and frequent performances both in South Africa and abroad. Yet the work has received relatively little academic attention, with existing discussions mostly being aimed at identifying indigenous African elements that might be found in the work. The present study provides a more in-depth examination of the work’s content, by investigating it according to the phenomena of musical style, with the objective of contributing towards a better understanding of Grové’s distinctive style. To this end, each movement is discussed separately, with a focus on the following topics: structure, melodic content, vertical aspects, rhythm, texture, and registration (the last aspect being unique to organ music). The discussion yields prominent stylistic traits, such as the use of short motifs and their derivatives, specific intervals being accorded great significance, the use of non-diatonic scale formations, recurring chord structures, a reliance on an underlying additive rhythmic framework, a rich diversity of textures ranging from simple to multi-layered and inventive, and a distinctive and evocative application of registration. A brief discussion of the solo organ works that predate Afrika Hymnus I shows that evidence of some of these features can already be found in those works. The study also shows how Afrika Hymnus I achieves cohesion, both within the complex multipart structures of the outer movements and as a whole. The discussion includes rich descriptions of the prominent musical features, complemented by numerous music examples.