Third Annual Conference

Wilkes University
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

April 1-2, 2005

Download as .pdf file.



ABSTRACTS

Dorothy Payne Award for the Best Student Paper

Michael Baker (Indiana University)
"Transformation vs. Prolongation in Brahms’s In der Fremde"

The sharp contrast between transformational theories of tonal music and prolongational theories can be illustrated by considering the very different generative principles at play in these two theories. Specifically, neo-Riemannian transformational theories tend to focus on successive chord connections without relation to a structural "tonic" chord. In contrast, prolongational approaches to music, such as Schenkerian theory, are governed by the relationship of foreground and middleground elements with a tonic chord in the background. However, if the typical procedures and techniques associated with neo-Riemannian transformational theory were applied to a single chord, would this constitute tonic prolongation?

The purpose of this paper is to examine Johannes Brahms’s setting of In der Fremde, op. 3 no. 5. Specifically, I hope to show how aspects of both transformational theory and prolongational theory can be synthesized to reflect a significant compositional idea in this song. After a brief discussion of important aspects of each theoretical approach, I will suggest ways that these theories might be synthesized to help explain a specific musical situation, which I refer to as "common-tone prolongation." Following this discussion, I will present an analysis of In der Fremde that draws upon aspects of both transformational and prolongational theories. Finally, I will show that this musical interpretation resonates with significant aspects of the poetic text for this song.


Form and Gesture in Music After 1945
 

Stephen F. Lilly (Towson University)
"Agostino Di Scipio’s and Giuliano Mesa’s Tiresia: The Structure of Collaboration"

"Words and sound: neither pre-existed the other, as they were created along one year and a half of meetings, email exchanges, and arguments between the authors." Composer Agostino Di Scipio’s account illustrates the collaborative effort by which he and poet Giuliano Mesa translated the Tiresias myth into music. Inspired by the dualities of Tiresias (a blind seer, a man who spent seven years as a woman, etc.), the structure of Tiresia, a work for one or two readers and electroacoustic sounds, emphasizes oppositions. To this end, Mesa and Di Scipio carefully preserve the autonomy of the poems and the composed sounds, and each articulate independent dichotomies. Nevertheless, poetry and music interact according to a complex interrelationship which unifies the work. This paper will first discuss the oppositional structures through an analysis of lineation and meter in Mesa’s poetry, as well as the declamation of his reading, and an analysis of the contrasts in timbre, pitch, and rhythmic organization in the electroacoustic sounds. This will then be followed by two comparisons: one between the use of pitch and register in Mesa’s reading and the timbre and pitch content of the electroacoustic sounds, and another between the formal transformations in poetic form and the evolution of musical structure that occurs over the course of the work.


Amy Carr-Richardson (East Carolina University)
"A Study of Variation Technique and Form in Donald Grantham’s Fantasy Variations"

Donald Grantham’s Fantasy Variations (1998) for wind ensemble is based on George Gershwin’s Prelude II for Piano (1936). This paper presents an analysis of excerpts from Fantasy Variations that are appropriate for use in an undergraduate music theory class. The piece provides an effective example of the creative use of motivic development and is particularly interesting in its placement of the complete thematic statements near the end of the work, preceded by development of the prelude’s motives. The Fantasy Variations do not follow traditional linear organizations, but instead play upon the various musical characters inherent in many gestures of the prelude—even small, accompanimental details—and present them with a collage-type technique. Analysis of this prelude and set of variations offers students a rich view of the concepts of embellishment and variation form by revealing concealed motivic relationships and the organic, although not necessarily linear, relation between the source and its variations.


Benjamin R. Levy (University of Maryland)
"Ligeti’s Compositions in Timbre: 
Connections Between His Electronic and Orchestral Music"

The electronic works of György Ligeti have suffered neglect compared to his other works; while analytic literature on orchestral works such as Lontano and Atmosphères continues to grow, difficulties inherent in the analysis of electronic music have hindered the thorough investigation of his tape pieces. While many of Ligeti's analysts and biographers (including Steinitz and Toop) acknowledge that his early experiences with electronic music influenced his later compositional development, his two completed works in this medium, Glissandi (1957) and Artikulation (1958) have received little serious attention. This paper illuminates connections between the sound world of these early tape pieces and that of the orchestral pieces such as Apparitions (1958-59). 

By analyzing passages from Artikulation and Apparitions and focusing on the sonic details rather than extra-musical associations, I will show similarities in the way these pieces fashion musical gestures, which in turn make the building blocks of larger forms. To do this I draw on a growing body of theoretic literature focusing on the interrelated dimensions involved in timbre as well as the composer's own comments about many of these works. A greater understanding of the areas of confluence between these two bodies of music will in turn further the understanding of the development of Ligeti's mature style, one of the most original voices of the twentieth century.


Debussy, Ravel, and Messiaen
 

Robert T. Kelley (Florida State University)
"Evaluating Prolongation in Extended Tonality"

In my talk I shall offer strategies for deciding what is structural in extended-tonal music and provide new theoretical qualifications that allow for a conservative evaluation of prolongational analyses. Straus (1987) provides several criteria for finding post-tonal prolongation, but these can simply be reduced down to one important consideration: non-tertian music clouds the distinction between harmonic and melodic intervals. Because linear analysis depends upon this distinction, any expansion of the prolongational approach for non-tertian music must find alternative means for defining the ways in which transient tones elaborate upon structural chord tones to foster a sense of prolongation. While a true prolongational perspective cannot be extended to address most post-tonal music, it may be possible to salvage a prolongational approach in a restricted body of post-tonal music that retains some features of tonality, such as harmonic function, parsimonious voice leading, or an underlying diatonic collection. Taking into consideration Straus's theoretical proviso, we can build a model for prolongational analysis of non-tertian music by establishing how non-tertian chords may attain the status of structural harmonies. Considerations in the evaluation of chordal salience include tonal function, acoustical stability, motivic significance, and participation in a reference collection. Provided an alternative means for deciding what chords are structural in non-tertian music, contrapuntal lines passing between any two structural chords can still aid in hearing a passage as a prolongation. These criteria for establishing prolongational spans will be applied to analysis of "Ondine" from Ravel's Gaspard de la Nuit.


Martin Lee (University of Buffalo)
"Messiaen’s Birdsong Music: Birdsong Analysis and Its Musical Setting"

Beginning in the early 1960’s, studies of Messiaen’s birdsongs have adopted different perspectives and analytical approaches. The interpretation of Messiaen’s writings on birdsong through his extended compositional career, however, has been sadly neglected. Although analyses of Messiaen’s writings on birdsong have appeared in dissertations and journals more recently, they tend to focus only on performance directions rather than on analyzing the music from a perspective consistent with Messiaen’s views. As presented in this paper, Messiaen’s use of birdsongs is divided into two phases according to how he named them and to the number of birdsongs used in the music: from Quatuor pour la fin de temps (1940-41) to Livre d’orgue (1951); and from Réveil des oiseaux (1953) to Éclairs sur l’Au-Delà… (1987-91) and the posthumous work Concert à quatre (1990-92). The analyses of selected birdsong excerpts in representative works show both how Messiaen developed the technique for writing birdsongs and how he used his special color chords and les hors tempo to present specific birdsongs in the music. Relying on his Technique de mon langage musical and Traité de rythme, de couleur, et d’ornithologie, I develop an analytical approach that explores how Messiaen incorporates birdsong as a musical and artistic space.


Michael L. Klein (Temple University)
"Temporality and Apotheosis in Debussy’s Music"

This paper considers the effects that temporality and apotheosis have on the musical narratives of three works by Debussy: "L’isle joyeuse" (1904), "Reflets dans l’eau" (1905), and the "Prologue" from the Cello Sonata (1915). The paper begins with brief discussions of temporality and apotheosis before turning to their distinct functions in Debussy’s music. In 18th- and 19th-century music, temporality is bichronic: during thematic sections we have a sense of an eternal present, while during transitional sections we have a sense of temporal motion. This bichronic temporality interacts with the teleological narratives of 19th-century music, whereby progressive sections lead to exalted moments set in an extended present. Particularly in tragic-to-transcendent narratives, the progressive temporality of a development section culminates in an apotheosis that affirms a sense of heroic achievement. In Debussy’s music, however, we find that reversals of syntax, pedal tones, modes, and non-diatonic collections in order to keep temporal motion at bay. Because transitional passages show little of the progressive time common to other 19th-century music, apotheosis in Debussy signifies less a heroic achievement and more an ecstatic reaffirmation of an eternal state. Such a monochronic trajectory is common to pastoral narratives that hope to circumvent catastrophe by creating an ideal and timeless arcadia. The paper describes how "L’isle joyeuse" adheres more closely to the 19th-century narrative paradigm, while "Reflets dans l’eau" and the "Prologue" undercut that paradigm.
 


Stravinsky and Webern
 

Paul M. Lombardi (University of New Mexico)
"Symmetrical Properties of Rotational Arrays in Stravinsky’s Late Music"

This presentation examines symmetry based on the occurrences of pitch classes in hexachordal rotational arrays. The symmetry directly corresponds to the interval vector of the generating hexachord. Rotational arrays are examined using algebraic equations and a representation of concentric circles. Stravinsky projects this symmetry in the following two excerpts:  Requiem Canticles, Exaudi mm. 76-80 and A Sermon, A Narrative, and A Prayer, mm. 75-85. In these excerpts, the symmetry is emphasized by duration or orchestration.


Lawrence B. Shuster (CUNY-Graduate Center)
"Transformational Harmony and Voice-Leading in the Canonic Writing of Stravinsky and Webern"

The development of compositional systems capable of achieving a functional integration between the vertical and linear dimensions of musical structure in the absence of a unifying tonal center was perhaps the most significant compositional challenge encountered by the early serialists. A diverse array of compositional strategies emerged as the result of the quest for a ‘unified space.’ Stravinsky and Webern each developed unique and novel systems for generating harmonic structures and establishing reciprocal correspondences between them. These various systems of harmonic generation have been recognized by contemporary theory for some time now. Yet comparatively little research has been conducted that examines the explicit behavior of vertical and linear sets on the musical surface and how these sets interact to generate unified spaces.

This paper explores harmony and voice-leading in the canonic writing of Stravinsky and Webern. It adapts recent transformational theories including Klumpenhouwer Networks (K-nets) to illustrate some ways in which these composers were able to produce a functional integration between the vertical and linear dimensions of musical structure. K-nets are employed to generate network models of linear/vertical structure that characterize isographic relations expressed between sets on the musical surface and between graphs at higher levels of recursion. A set of categories is established to define the various forms of ‘diagonal’ correspondence expressed between the linear and vertical networks. Analytical examples will be drawn from Stravinsky’s Canticum Sacrum and Double Canon; and Webern’s String Quartet, op. 28/2, Symphonie, op. 21/2, and Quartet, op. 22/1.


Carolyn Mullin (University of Oregon)  
"'How one thing leads to another;': 
The Notion of Process as Unity in Webern’s Atonal Music"

In a 1932 lecture, Anton Webern said, "Unity is surely the indispensable thing if meaning is to exist. Unity…is the establishment of the utmost relatedness between all component parts. So in music, as in all other human utterance, the aim is to make as clear as possible the relationships between the parts of the unity; in short, to show how one thing leads to another." If we are to have a greater understanding of unity, we must necessarily examine the relationships within and between movements of a work and the process or processes that contribute to coherence of the whole. My paper takes Webern’s notion of process as a starting point to examine the processes and relationships that contribute to coherence in Webern’s Three Short Pieces, op. 11. There is an overarching process that I call ‘focusing’ that can be demonstrated through a network of subsets and supersets around 6-Z19 (013478) and 6-Z44 (012569). This network is suggested in the first movement, realized in the second movement, and then is condensed to its bare essentials in the third movement. The analytic tools employed here all serve to demonstrate intricate networks of relationships, which in turn form processes that operate to provide global coherence in each movement as well as large-scale coherence over the entire work. Few scholars have attempted to trace such processes within movements and across entire works of Webern’s atonal music. By examining the processes that contribute to global coherence in Three Short Pieces op. 11, we cannot only provide a thorough picture of how Webern creates unifying structures across an entire work but better understand Webern’s own notions about unity as process.

Return to top of page

© 2005 MTSMA; All Rights Reserved
 
 

Return to 2005 Meeting page

Return to main MTSMA page