Various Layers of Musical Iconographic Sources in Yugoslavia


  • Koraljka Kos



Medieval iconographic musical sources in Yugoslavia are mostly listed and discussed in works dealing separately with material from Slovenia and Croatia on the one hand and from Serbia and Macedonia on the other. Those sources, however, facilitate wider comparative research both inside individual Yugoslav regions and on an international scale. The present paper draws attention to some peculiarities of medival iconographic sources in Yugoslavia and to the differences existing within these materials, both as to their subject matter and as to the specific instruments depicted within the framework of this subject matter. The sources under scrutiny are not only culturally and historically revealing; they also offer information of organographic nature and are eloquent on the symbolism of instruments and on tje acoustic, psychological, sociological, and other aspects of music-making in the Middle Ages in a particular cultural and historical setting. As regards the subject matter there are certain similarities but also differences between material coming from Croatia and Slovenia and that coming from Serbia and Macedonia. The themes recurring in Slovenia and Croatia, belong to the Occidental cultural sphere (Concerts of Angels, Madonna Enthroned, Epiphany), while the materials originating in Serbia and Macedonia belong to the sphere of the Byzantine iconographie repertoire (The Mocking of Christ). The kinds of instruments painted in the Slovene and Croatian sources are likewise those known in the Occident; on monuments are occasionally found side by side with some typically "western" ones. The latter sources also show more numerous variants of the same instruments. The present paper is concerned in particular with the way these scenes of music-making reflect reality, e.g. the instruments used in folklore and then current performing techniques. Its subject is likewise the intertwining of several levels of meaning in the representation of a scene (The Mocking of Christ on the fresco in Stari Nagoričin, XIVth c.). Even a glimpse of the materials which abound in medieval monuments in Yugoslavia makes it evident that besides subject matter and instruments specific of the Western and Eastern regions respectively, there are in existence also transitional forms. Therefore, further comparative research seems to be needed, all the more so because some of the instruments appearing here might be interesting in the context of the history of European instuments and their migration.


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1. 12. 1981




How to Cite

Kos, K. (1981). Various Layers of Musical Iconographic Sources in Yugoslavia. Musicological Annual, 17(2), 51-60.