Session 1: Perspectives on Miminalism
Chair: Aleck Brinkman (Temple University)
Resulting Patterns, Palimpsests, and “Pointing Out” the Role of the Listener in Reich’s Drumming
Philip Duker (University of Michigan)
Experiencing a minimalist work has seldom been described as an active process. Yet, there are certain pieces that seem to imply a participatory role for the listener in virtue of their structural design. In this paper I examine Steve Reich’s Drumming, exploring how the formal plan of the work suggests a participatory listening strategy—one that is both active and creative.
Through a procedure Reich calls “pointing out,” resulting patterns are highlighted from the successive phase relationships; in effect allowing new melodies to emerge from the music in a slow crescendo, and then fade out just as gradually. Though from a listener’s perspective, even after these patterns fade they are still mentally present. These “trace melodies” are then overwritten by new resulting patterns, creating the temporal equivalent of a palimpsest.
At a certain point, the performers cease to point out these melodies, yet the sustained phase relationship suggests that the listener should take on this role. Building on the work of Cohn, Horlacher, and Rink, I demonstrate how Part I of Drumming, has a teleological formal shape, providing both a crescendo of attack points and an increasing variety of possible resultant patterns. Yet, it becomes the responsibility of the listener to mentally contribute to this composite, and without this participation the structure is anti-climactic; it is the listener who completes the formal process. After exploring how Drumming encourages the listener to take on this active role, I conclude by pointing out some of the rewards that come from engaging the piece in this way.
A Traveler’s Notes on Some Associative Landscapes in Terry Riley’s In C (1964)
Dora A. Hanninen (University of Maryland)
Terry Riley’s In C (1964) is a landmark in American minimalism. The score consists of 53 melodic figures. Each member of the ensemble traverses these in the same order, but the number of repetitions is free. Notes to the score indicate that players should try to stay within four or five figures of one other, but admit octave transposition, rhythmic alignment, and other choices.
For its stature, the piece has received remarkably little analytical attention. Existing commentary runs in two directions. Keith Potter (2000) takes the score as text, focusing on properties (like its gradually shifting modality) that are robust across performances. Cecilia Sun (2004) argues for a performance-centered approach, looking at changes in performance practice over four decades. My approach draws on both of these, but pursues a different trajectory. What most interests me as an analyst is (1) how repetition of Riley’s 53 figures forms and reforms complex musical textures; and (2) how these textures change within and between performances.
My previous work with associative sets and populations in music analysis, conjoined with ideas from landscape ecology provides a conceptual foundation. To these I add several concepts, including the associative landscape, which concerns the temporal disposition of associative sets and populations in a composition. Comparative analysis draws passages from four recordings: Columbia Masterworks (1968), 25th Anniversary (1990), Bang On A Can All-Stars (2001), and Ars Nova Copenhagen/Paul Hillier (2006). I look both at musical landscapes that unfold around a particular figure in different performances, and at patterns of stasis or change in the landscapes of a single performance. The goal is to advance a way of thinking about In C informed by the score, but attentive to the diversity of individual performances.
Session 2: Form in Romantic Music
Chair: David Weisberg (William Paterson University)
Progressive Trends in Variation Form:
Robert Schumann’s Piano Sonata in F minor, Op. 14, Quasi Variazioni
Hiu-Wah Au (Elizabethtown College)
Entitled Quasi Variazioni, the third movement of Robert Schumann’s Piano Sonata in F minor, Op. 14, displays features that are not usually associated with variation form. In a typical eighteenth- and nineteenth-century variation set, the theme is often a self-contained unit, whose form and voice leading are often preserved throughout the set. But in the case of Schumann’s Op. 14, the theme presents an unusual tripartite ABC form, its half-cadence ending evoking the tradition of continuous variation. Along with the theme’s peculiar formal plan, the variations also exhibit marked differences from the theme in form and middleground structure. The factor that contributes to these differences is the manner in which Schumann treats the theme. Instead of regarding the theme as an entity to be varied as a whole, Schumann treats the theme’s voice-leading and harmonic elements as discrete components that are developed independently of one another. By reworking and combining these elements, Schumann progressively transforms the form and middleground of the theme. Significantly, these changes serve a global purpose. Variations 1 and 2 complement and provide harmonic and melodic closure to the theme. Variations 3 and 4 are structurally more remote from the theme than Variations 1 and 2. They rework the signature motivic, harmonic, and voice-leading elements from the theme and Variations 1 and 2. Variations 3 and 4 are therefore related to the theme only indirectly, via Variations 1 and 2.
Criteria of “Success” and “Failure” in Mahler’s Sonata Recapitulations
Seth Monahan (Yale University)
One of the most powerful concepts in James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy’s Sonata Theory is the idea that the eighteenth-century sonata is structured around a set of generic musical tasks or goals—an image that refashions the genre as kind of a paradigmatic musical plot. This plot hinges on the attainment of two special perfect authentic cadences by the sonata’s secondary theme (S): the non-tonic moment of essential expositional closure; and the correlative tonic PAC, the moment of essential structural closure, which cinches the recapitulation. The authors’ action-oriented view of the genre entails a strong hermeneutic component, since when either load-bearing cadence is not attained, they propose that we hear this as a mode of processive “failure,” typically with ramifications on what follows.
This study shows that “recapitulatory failure,” as a formal/dramatic category, has tremendous purchase in the interpretation of Mahler’s symphonic sonata movements. I show that through the Sixth Symphony, Mahler links expression and formal process with striking regularity: all of his early- or middle-period sonata movements that end affirmatively, in a major key, feature properly functioning recapitulations—those that bring non-tonic expositional material into the tonic (or a “redemptive” coda that amends a failed recapitulation). By contrast, the sonatas that end tragically, in a minor key, show themselves incapable of such tonal resolution. Just as strikingly, the pattern changes in Mahler’s late maturity: I show that from the Seventh Symphony onward, Mahler seems less inclined to dramatize the tonic/non-tonic tensions basic to eighteenth-century sonata rhetoric.
Session 3: Jazz Theory and Analysis
Chair: Christopher Doll (Rutgers University)
Chromatic Juxtaposition and Superimposition in Jazz Improvisation: Side-slipping
Eunmi Shim (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)
Side-slipping is one of the most important devices of chromatic juxtaposition and superimposition in jazz improvisation, also called side-stepping or outside playing. Recognized as an advanced concept in jazz improvisation, it is a form of temporary bitonality where chromatic harmony is superimposed over the standard harmonic progressions.
Side-slipping typically creates tension by inserting a chromatic harmony a half step away from the original chord, which causes harmonic displacement on two levels. On the horizontal level melodies outlining two different keys are juxtaposed and this, on the vertical level, creates a dissonance between the underlying harmonic movement and the surface harmonies. Jazz theorists have explained side-slipping as a tonal shift or outside playing, because the improviser is deliberately “slipping in and out of the tonality.”
This paper will examine how side-slipping is used in a recording by the jazz pianist Lennie Tristano (1919-78), titled “Line Up” (1955). Tristano played a pioneering role in his use of advanced harmony in jazz, and especially impressive is his inventiveness in combining side-slipping with other parameters of music, mainly melodic and rhythmic organization; the resulting concurrence of the harmonic rhythm with the surface rhythm and contour rhythm can be explained by the concept of concinnity.
Tristano’s solo in “Line Up” demonstrates how his use of chromatic harmony goes beyond embellishing the basic chordal structure at the local level, but rather transforms the formal structure of the model at the higher level by imposing his own superstructure on the underlying harmonic progressions.
History of Jazz Theory, 1920-1950: Materials in the Library of Congress
Janna Saslaw (Loyola University)
Many jazz musicians believe that before George Russell’s influential book, The Lydian Chromatic Concept (1954), there was nothing written on the subject of jazz theory. While no earlier volumes were dedicated to jazz theory exclusively, many publications from the first half of the 20th century contain substantial discussions of matters that could be considered theoretical. A survey of materials in the Library of Congress reveals certain trends about the nature of jazz writings from the 1920s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, as illustrated by representative works by Samuel T. Daley (1920s), Frank Skinner and Teddy Wilson (1930s), Duke Ellington and Billy Taylor (1940s). Writings from the 1920s tend to focus their theoretical discussions on chord types and embellishments. In the 1930s, the sonic resources and harmonic materials of the dance bands and orchestras began to receive attention. The 1940s publications often focus on famous jazz figures and their personal styles.
Circular Thinking – A Round Table on “Blue in Green” and “Nefertiti
Steve Larson (University of Oregon)
Henry Martin (Rutgers University-Newark)
Steve Strunk (Catholic University)
Keith Waters (University of Colorado-Boulder)
Herbie Hancock described one of his mid-1960s jazz compositions by saying “it doesn’t have any cadences; it just keeps moving around in a circle.” Many such “circular tunes” emerged in the 1960s (and were particularly associated with Miles Davis). Circular tunes contain an intriguing formal overlap that both requires and camouflages the return to the top of each chorus. Musical events taking place at the end of the chorus avoid closure and link to the return at the top, which then no longer sounds like a beginning.
In our presentation, four jazz scholars examine two circular tunes: “Blue in Green” (attributed to Miles Davis, but probably composed by Bill Evans, from their seminal 1959 recording Kind of Blue) and Wayne Shorter’s “Nefertiti” (from Davis’s 1967 album Nefertiti). Our analyses of the harmonic, voice-leading, and hypermetric aspects of these tunes (and of our own transcriptions of passages drawn from these recordings) suggest that Hancock’s comment about cadence avoidance captures one important part of their structure. But we also reveal how these compositions go beyond cadence avoidance and rely on pattern completion to create circularity, and show how strategies for closure and continuity enhance formal ambiguity in jazz composition and improvisation.
Session 4: Archetype, Illusion and Ambiguity
Chair: Stephen Soderberg (Library of Congress)
The Ironic Narrative-Archetype in Tonal Music
Michael Klein (Temple University)
This paper builds on recent work that demonstrates how Northrop Frye’s theory of narrative archetypes can be useful in music analysis. The paper focuses particularly on the ironic narrative-archetype in tonal music and argues that ironic compositions function to question conventions of musical form and extra-musical meaning. The paper begins with a brief exposition of the four narrative archetypes: romance, comedy, tragedy, and irony. Each of these archetypes governs one or more expressive genres (Hatten 1994) and has an association with a modal projection. The comic archetype, for example, includes the tragic-to-triumphant expressive genre, which is characterized on a deep level by the modal projection from minor to major across the endpoints of a composition. The ironic narrative archetype crosses all expressive genres and involves a modal projection from major to minor, which is highly marked in tonal music. Ironic compositions, this paper argues, unfold an ironic defeat of an extra-musical hero, projected in the musical persona of the composition. The defeat of that hero questions the ideology of the expressive genre within which the music resides. The paper illustrates this theory of ironic narratives with analyses of two compositions: Chopin’s Nocturne in B, op. 32/1, and Brahms’s Rhapsody in Eb, op. 119/4. In each case, the conventions of a genre—nocturne (Chopin) and heroic march (Brahms)—fail to be realized in the final moments of the musical work, asking the listener to question the ideology of those conventions.
Irony and Illusion in the Second Movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Op. 101
Danny Arthurs (Indiana University)
In contrast to the pastoral first movement of Op. 101, the heroic surface of the scherzo movement is not without irony. The voice leading of the movement suggests a more complex character than the extroverted signifiers, such as the galloping dotted rhythms and pointed articulations, tend to project. Indeed, it is odd that a highly disjunctive melody, together with a chromatic descending bass line, are both used to depict a heroic march (as Beethoven calls it), rather than the somber setting suggested by the underlying voice-leading. In addition to a Schenkerian approach to the interpretation of this movement, a hermeneutic approach may help reconstruct a narrative of obstacles that a supposed protagonist must struggle to overcome. While a voice-leading sketch may not overtly indicate the pastoral qualities that are expressed by a combination of extroverted signifiers, schematic representations nevertheless reveals an amalgamation of the heroic with the mournful. In this discussion, a voice-leading sketch of the first 54 measures of the movement are examined in order to show that in spite of the overtly heroic qualities, a Schenkerian approach reveals qualities more apt for a lament setting, placing surface in opposition to structure. The reconciliation of features revealed by a semiotic approach versus observations revealed by a prolongational approach is also discussed. While the movement is titled a march, the ironic and illusive qualities ultimately reveal a darker quality not typical of the scherzo movement in the major-mode sonata cycle, representing yet another innovation of Beethoven’s late period sonatas.
Musical Ambiguity as Poetic Reflection: Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder, No. 1, “Nun will die Sonn’ so hell aufgeh’n!”
Peter Leibensperger (Temple University)
In his Literatur und Musik, Hans Mayer called Gustav Mahler a “usurper” of texts, “relinquishing any kind of musical psychology.” Several analysts have sought to rebut this allegation by studying large portions of Mahler’s work and drawing general conclusions about the symbolism in his music. However, these broad patterns cannot be applied consistently to individual works, and they provide inadequate proof of Mahler’s concern with poetic interpretation. A detailed analysis of Mahler’s “Nun will die Sonn’ so hell augeh’n!” from Kindertotenlieder reveals a consistent and intuitive musical reflection of the poetry, even at the expense of musical conventions. A Schenkerian approach illuminates several devices and anomalies, including unconventional orchestral textures, frequent modal shifting, static chromatic voice-leading, a background aberration, and hidden repetition. These anomalies are paired with aspects of the deep psychological conflict that is implied by the text, and a comprehensive analogy is established between them. In this way, underlying musical devices are linked with subtle poetic elements. While it is unlikely that Mahler intended for these musical devices to be viewed in the context of an analogy, the established parallels hold with remarkable consistency, demonstrating Mahler’s profound musical psychology and faithfulness to the text.
Session 5: Dueling Perspectives
Chair: Michael Klein (Temple University)
Revealing Another Voice:
The Bakhtinian Hybrid in Stravinsky’s Late Style
Lynne Rogers (William Paterson University)
Igor Stravinsky's later serial works –from Movements (1958-59) through The Owl and the Pussy-Cat (1966)– display highly innovative dodecaphonic techniques. At the same time, these thoroughly serial pieces host numerous events that evoke the devices, structures, and principles of tonal music. Through their frequency and prominence, these "tonal allusions" constitute a hallmark of Stravinsky's later serial repertory and demand interpretation not as isolated novelties but rather as essential features of the works.
A vehicle for such an understanding may be found in a musical adaptation of Bakhtin’s concept of the hybrid: the combining, within an utterance, of two or more linguistic consciousnesses, only one of which is literally present. Within a hybrid construction in Stravinsky's later serial works, serialism is the resident language, while a second –tonality– is suggested. A work's tonal allusions are understood as events functioning within a narrative told in the tonal voice while the serial voice recounts its own tale. Viewed in this manner, tonal allusions go beyond the momentary, obvious triggering of associations to engage in a dialogue that has significant structural and hermeneutic implications.
Through analyses of representative passages from major late works I will demonstrate how approaching this repertory through a dialogic lens reveals expressive and structural riches that would otherwise remain hidden
Ebbbb: Tovey’s Whimsy
Eric Wen (The Curtis Institute of Music)
In his commentary on Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata, Donald Francis Tovey whimsically describes a note as representing an E quadruple-flat, instead of C natural as written. Tovey explains that this unusual notation would have resulted from spelling a series of harmonic progressions literally. No sooner than he indulges in this whimsical aside, Tovey dismisses it altogether, remarking, in his characteristically understated British manner, “we will not enquire into the relation of Ebbbb to the home dominant, but will attend to serious matters.”
This paper will examine the development section of Beethoven’s “Appassionata” Sonata in light of Tovey’s curious enharmonic perspective. Although intended to point out the absurdity of interpreting harmonic progressions literally, Tovey’s whimsical fantasy into the world of multiple sharps and flats reveals a clear understanding of the tonal implications of this passage. In contrast to Tovey’s fanciful reading, the well-known analysis by Heinrich Schenker, the “other” leading theorist of the 20th century, represents a more austere, distant perspective. Schenker shows the large-scale unity of the details in the development to the background structure, and reveals motivic connections through detailed voice-leading graphs.
Although the merging of ideas by Tovey and Schenker would appear to be incongruous, it is the claim of this paper that both viewpoints are not mutually exclusive. In fact, adopting their widely different perspectives helps contribute towards an understanding the tonal meaning of this passage. Although this paper will offer a different analytic interpretation from Tovey and Schenker, it will also reconcile the two different vantage points by these two influential analysts. Furthermore, this paper will address the expressive meaning of the tonal organization within the dramatic character of the movement as a whole.
Session 6: Faure and Ravel
Chair: Anton Vishio (New York University)
Whole Tone Saturation and Tonality in Ravel’s Trio, first movement
Jenny Beavers (The University of Texas at Austin)
There is considerable debate about the nature of Ravel’s harmonic language throughout his entire oeuvre. Simply put, is it tonal? I will attempt to answer this question with regard to the first movement of his 1914 Piano Trio, a composition that gravitates between the extended whole-tonicity of his early works on the one hand, and the more traditional harmonic syntax of his later works, on the other.
My discussion will explore the explicit and implicit role of the whole tone within the diatonic framework of A minor/C major, and relate these findings to the sonata design of the first movement. A linear analysis reveals how Ravel manipulates harmonic and formal expectations by allowing the whole tone to permeate and, to a significant extent, direct the activity of each structural level: from foreground representations in the opening melody to middleground sequences, the whole tone traverses from the background melodic line to the harmonic scaffolding of the bass. This whole-tone unification at the structural level encapsulates Ravel’s increasing interest in combining non-tonal elements within a decidedly tonal idiom, a harmonic technique prominently featured within the Trio.
Fauré and the Art of the Sequence in La Chanson d’Ève
Clare Sher Ling Eng (Yale University)
Recent scholarship on the sequence has focused on two areas: (1) the history of its use and theory, and (2) its classification. While there has been disagreement over definition, terminology, and whether it should be regarded as a harmonic or melodic phenomenon, the literature has consistently affirmed that the ‘life cycle’ of the sequence extended from the 17th to the late-19th century, between Corelli and Wagner. We are told that sequences ceased to be used when musical aesthetics came to disfavor repetition. Fauré’s La Chanson d’Ève, op. 95, however, compels one to question whether the sequence saw its apotheosis in Wagner, and challenge the aesthetic judgement that there was no ‘good’ use of it after Wagner. Fauré relies extensively upon sequencing and repetition, yet this song cycle is neither monotonous nor expressively impoverished—the primary aesthetic reasons given for discouraging their use.
I analyse Fauré’s use of repetition and sequencing to demonstrate the multiplicity of roles repetition and sequences can perform within a song. Three aspects are discussed in particular: (1) their relationship to text, (2) structural voice leading, and (3) their contribution to harmonic rhythm. I suggest that, contrary to popular belief, there were tonal compositions that successfully used repetition and sequencing after Wagner. More generally, I urge a reassessment of our current view of turn-of-the-century musical aesthetics, and a consideration of whether we should allow a handful of didactic texts to speak to what can be beautiful in music instead of actual compositions.
“A Rarefied Evocation of Delicate Beauty”:
Gabriel Fauré’s “Je me poserai sur ton Coeur”
Adam Ricci (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
The rhythmic and textural homogeneity of Gabriel Fauré’s late songs, in combination with their harmonic complexity, have made them elusive to analyst and performer alike. As Robert Gartside puts it, this “is fragile music that, if poorly performed, will be bland and without flavor.” This paper will suggest some ways into this music, both from the perspective of the listener and the performer, focusing in particular on “Je me poserai sur ton coeur” from Le Jardin clos (op. 106). Fauré selected the song texts for the cycle from the collection Entrevisions by Charles van Lerberghe, a Belgian Symbolist poet. In poetry by the Belgian Symbolists, according to Donald Friedman, “exterior landscape serves as the designation of the interior,” and “Je me poserai sur ton coeur” serves as a perfect example: the text links the image of the open sea to the lover’s heart. Robert Orledge calls Fauré’s setting “a rarefied evocation of delicate beauty.” Chief among the features of the song is rhythmic complexity, including surface syncopation, irregular phrase lengths, and hemiola. The pitch dimension includes a cyclic large-scale progression, a tetrachordal motive that undergoes significant transformations, and tonicized areas that are symmetrically disposed about the tonic. My analysis will focus on the interaction between these various elements and on how Fauré’s setting serves as a particular interpretation of the poetry.
Session 7: Re-conceptualizing Musical Forces and Dimensions
Chair: Nancy Rao (Rutgers University)
Upward Bound: Some Thoughts on Agency and Musical Forces
Matt BaileyShea (University of Rochester)
In recent years we have seen the rise in what might best be described as a ‘second school’ of energetics. Decades after the groundbreaking work of Kurth, Schenker, Halm, and Zuckerkandl, there has been a marked resurgence of interest in the idea of musical forces. Much of this comes from the field of cognitive psychology, especially the work of scholars such as George Lakoff (1987), Mark Johnson (1987), and Rudolph Arnheim (1984). Their ideas concerning metaphor, image schemata, and embodied meaning have influenced a wide range of recent music theoretical concerns, including performance (Urista 2001), history of theory (Saslaw 1997), cognition (Larson 2005, 2004, 2002), musical narrative (Brower 2000), popular music (Larson 2002), and the emerging field of disability studies (Straus 2006).
Building on the work of Maus (1988) and Brower (2000), this paper explores various connections between agency and musical forces, focusing specifically on Larson’s concept of gravity and the ways it might be implemented by composers as the primary source of dramatic conflict. I begin by situating these ideas within recent research and conclude with a brief analysis of Chopin’s famous Preludes in E minor and E major, Op. 28, Nos. 4 and 9. The result is an analysis that blends cognitive and perceptual concerns with suggestive, hermeneutic interpretation.
Crystals of Time: Hasty, Deleuze, and the Dimensions of the Present
Brian Hulse (College of William and Mary)
In his book Meter as Rhythm, Christopher Hasty embraces a radical form of empiricism similar to the Post-Structuralist philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, particularly in their conceptions of time and temporal experience. Both thinkers conceive of the present as a complex multiplicity, where past and future are constituted as dimensions of “now.” In unpacking Deleuze’s “three syntheses of time” (which he also calls the “crystal-image” of time), a great deal of accord is discovered between it and Hasty’s theory of temporal projection. The first synthesis constitutes time, but a time which cannot be held fast. The second synthesis invokes the participation of an instantaneous and intuitive memory which gathers and retains what passes in the present, creating the possibility for duration to be perceived. The third synthesis re-deploys the images of the second synthesis as potential events which may be actualized. Time, and the objects formed in it (such as duration) constitute “virtual objects” which form simultaneously in the second and third syntheses (past and future) of time. This scheme can be mapped onto the operations of Hasty’s analytic technique, shedding light on the potential for an analytic conception of musical process.
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