Second Movement of Compartment 2, Car 7 for Vibraphone, Violin, Viola and Cello by Paweł Szymański in Light of Cognitive Musical Grammar

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Violetta Kostka


The article is composed of two parts. In the first I discuss Lawrence Zbikowski’s Foundations of Musical Grammar, published by Oxford University Press in 2017, which is one of the major musicological works inspired by the latest achievements in cognitive science. Musical grammar, sometimes called cognitive musical grammar by the author, is based mainly on two concepts: an analogy (the mapping of systematic structural relationships between a source domain and a target domain), and a dynamic process (a coherent sequence of phenomena that is distributed over time and typified by parametric modulation or change). The second part of the article is my attempt to apply Zbikowski’s theory to a piece of music. As a musical example I have chosen the second movement of Compartment 2, Car 7 for vibraphone, violin, viola and cello by Paweł Szymański. At the end I conclude that the composer created an analogy between music and a dynamic process known to us from everyday life ─ a journey by train, seen from a passenger’s perspective.


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Kostka, V. (2019). Second Movement of Compartment 2, Car 7 for Vibraphone, Violin, Viola and Cello by Paweł Szymański in Light of Cognitive Musical Grammar. Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology, (19), 147-154.
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Violetta Kostka, Faculty of Conducting, Composition and Theory of Music, The Stanislaw Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk

trained as musicologist at the University of Poznań, she received her PhD degree
and then her habilitation from the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.
Currently teaches History of Music and World’s Music Cultures at the Stanislaw Moniuszko Academy
of Music in Gdańsk. She has won scientific scholarships from the University of Cambridge, the Polish
Library in Paris and the State Committee of Scientific Research in Poland. Her scientific output
includes books: Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern. Indywidualne odmiany stylów muzycznych XX wieku
[Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern. Idioms of the twentieth-century musical styles] Poznań 2013 and Muzyka
Pawła Szymańskiego w świetle poetyki intertekstualnej postmodernizmu [Paweł Szymański’s music
in the light of intertextual poetic of postmodernism], and about 80 articles (many of which were
published in English and German languages), mainly on the music of Polish composers of the 20th
century and musical life in 18th-century Gdańsk. She has taken part in more than 50 musicological
conferences in Poland and abroad, including those held in Leipzig, Greifswald, Frankfurt (Oder),
London, Canterbury, Vilnius, Lisbon, St. Petersburg and Kiev. In April 2013 she gave lectures at
Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna. In 2016 she organised a nationwide musicological
conference titled Post-modern music from the perspective of intertextuality and in 2019 an
international one Explicitly intertextual music since 1890.


  1. Cichy, D. (2007). ‘Koncert fortepianowy’ Pawła Szymańskiego na tle filozoficznych idei postmodernizmu. [Paweł Szymański’s ‘Piano concerto’ in the context of the philosophical ideas of postmodernism.]
  2. In A. Jarzębska, J. Paja-Stach (Eds.). Idee modernizmu i postmodernizmu w poetyce kompozytorskiej i w refleksji o muzyce [The ideas of modernism and postmodernism in composers’ poetics and reflection on music] (pp. 277–296). Kraków: Musica Iagellonica.
  3. Erhardt, L. (2006). Szymański w EMI [Szymański in EMI]. Ruch Muzyczny, 24, 40.
  4. Kostka, V. (2011). Wartości muzyki Pawła Szymańskiego [The Values of Paweł Szymański’s Music]. In Krytyka muzyczna, 5, 1–11. Retrieved from:
  5. Kostka, V. (2018). Muzyka Pawła Szymańskiego w świetle poetyki intertekstualnej postmodernizmu [Paweł Szymański’s Music in the Light of Intertextual Poetics of Postmodernism]. Kraków:
  6. Musica Iagellonica.
  7. Lupa, K. (2006). [without any title]. In [booklet to CD] Paweł Szymański. Zaratustra (pp. 1–5). Warszawa: EMI (0946 3 71876 2 3).
  8. Szwarcman, D. (2006). Kompozytor surkonwencjonalny [The Surconventional Composer]. Polityka, 47, 13–16.
  9. Zbikowski, L. (2017). Foundations of Musical Grammar. New York: Oxford University Press