2017 Abstracts


2017 Annual Meeting

University of Memphis

Friday-Saturday, March 17-18, 2017




Alexander Amato (Stephen F. Austin University)


Confident Chromaticism in Satie’s Nocturnes as Determined by Hindemith’s Harmonic Fluctuation

To accommodate the elaborations of harmony and tonality that characterized many twentieth-century musical styles, Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) stated that it is not the scalar context of chord roots that initiate tonality, but rather the juxtaposition of the chords’ constituent intervals (Hindemith 1942). As part of his compositional practice, he devised a system of measuring dissonance and tonal force in harmonies, classifying them by intervallic content into six groups of graduating dissonance while discounting the scalar context of the chords’ roots. He coined the term harmonic fluctuation for varying levels of dissonance between adjacent harmonies. Recent analyses employing harmonic fluctuation (Harrison 2016) show that it can be an important component, if not the main component in the analysis of many post-tonal styles, being adaptable to many musical contexts.

Intervals also played a key role in Erik Satie’s composition of his Nocturnes (1919) for solo piano. Satie departed from his practice of parodying earlier styles and shifted to a more serious compositional style in the Nocturnes by largely abandoning functional harmony and systematically using intervals as the basis for this harmonic language. Taking into account the importance of intervals in both Hindemith’s and Satie’s construction methods, this study will trace the evolution of Satie’s use of chromaticism and obscured tonality in his Nocturnes by utilizing harmonic fluctuation.


Wesley Bradford (University of Louisiana Lafayette)

Calculating a Narrative: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Benjamin Britten’s “Bacchus” from Six Metamorphoses after Ovid


The analysis of music generally begins with the goal of attaining a clearer understanding of the music in question. Despite the common goal of clarity, musical analysis manifests in a variety of ways, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Music theory often forges interdisciplinary links between music and other subjects. Guerino Mazzola suggests four specific scientific domains that interact while describing the field of music: psychology, mathematics, semiotics, and physics. In The Topos of Music, Mazzola explores the complex interactions between these four domains. My presentation strives for the same goal of synthesis between different approaches to music theory, specifically narrative theory (which touches on both psychology and semiotics) and transformational theory (derived from mathematical principles).

This analysis of Benjamin Britten’s “Bacchus” from Six Metamorphoses after Ovid, Op. 49, applies a mathematically informed narrative to a piece that does not instantly lend itself to a narrative approach. Elements including a vague program, rondo form, and tonal ambiguity contribute to the movement’s resistance to a narrative interpretation. However, a narrative listening stance can interpret formal repetitions as temporal shifts, and can consider the vague program as an indication of a mythic archetype that is revealed through repetitions within the piece. These qualities are demonstrated through transformational tools developed from the work of authors including David Lewin, Steven Rings and Dmitri Tymoczko. Furthermore, I suggest a possible connection with a specific story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses that complements the internal musical narrative.


André Brégégère (Queensborough Community College, CUNY)


Some Thoughts on Maximally-Smooth Voice Leading among Pcsets and Set Classes


The study of voice-leading among pitch sets and pitch-class sets has been a prominent topic of music theory in the past twenty years. A variety of approaches, focused on harmonic similarity, transformational networks, or parsimonious voice-leading, have more recently been subsumed under a geometrical model based on a mapping of pitch or pc sets onto dimensional coordinates using the semitone as a metric. These developments have led to some early attempts to establish a general typology of voice-leading sets (vlset) and voice-leading classes (vlclass), as a higher-level analog to the pc set and set-class typologies.

My paper examines vlsets and vlclasses from a purposely narrowed perspective, limited to instances of Maximally-Smooth (MS) voice leading—i.e., wherein motion between pcs is limited to one semitone. I show that there exist, for each cardinality, only a relatively limited number of MS-vlsets, and an even smaller number of MS-vlclasses. Focusing initially on pcsets and set-classes of cardinality two and three (including multisets), I examine the properties MS- vlsets and vlclasses, corresponding to various types of relations (T/I, K-net isographies, constant sums), and explore the various geometrical features of the resulting voice-leading spaces. I then extend these observations to other cardinalities, and conclude with suggestions for a unified, systematic typology of MS-vlsets and vlclasses for all cardinalities.


Joseph Brumbeloe (University of Southern Mississippi)


Dutilleux: “Sur un/le même accord”


A comparison of the compositional techniques found in two similarly-titled works by Henri Dutilleux (1916-2013): his Sur le même accord, a rhapsody for violin and orchestra that was premiered in 2002; and Sur un même accord, a piano prelude first appearing in 1973 and later incorporated into his 1997 Trois Preludes. While the piano prelude has received some attention, little has been written about the more recent violin rhapsody—and to my knowledge, no one has compared the two pieces. Certainly the similarity in titles invites comparison; however, it will be demonstrated that the relationships between these pieces run much deeper, despite the difference in genre and the 30-year distance between them. The “même accord” used in the piano prelude comprises four notes (0145), while the violin work is based on an expansion of that chord into a six-note hexatonic collection (014589). In both pieces, Dutilleux establishes a single transposition and arrangement of the chords to which he continually returns—in his notes for the violin/orchestra score, Dutilleux describes the chord as “omnipresent, an obsession.” Variations are subsequently introduced, at times through sequential transpositions of the set, frequently creating aggregates. At other times multiple linear presentations of the set create further vertical examples of the same set. Also in both pieces, form is articulated largely through these chords: the violin rhapsody alternates between slower sections dominated by the chord, while faster digressions are dominated by other sonorities. In the piano prelude, the characteristic four-note chord is used as a bounding sonority, creating a sectional form.


Colin Davis (Sam Houston State University)

Chord Superimpositions in Ferruccio Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque


The musical language of Ferruccio Busoni’s late style (ca. 1907-1924) offers an interesting challenge for the music analyst. While harmony in his later works is primarily tertian, the surface level of the music is often complicated by the migration of chromatic lines among voices, misalignments of thematic and motivic ideas with the underlying harmonic progression(s), chord misalignments, and most especially, the occasional harmonic overlap or superimposition of tertian chords. This paper considers aspects of chord superimposition in relation to voice-leading procedures and harmonic progression in Busoni’s Berceuse élégiaque (1909). Various factors that contribute to the aural perception of superimposed chords are addressed as well as the ways in which these superimpositions are manifest at the surface level of the music. Focus is given to the harmonic progressions involving these superimposed chords and how they contribute in shaping the overall structure of the work.


David Dominique (College of William & Mary)

Intertextual Recycling, Gestural Juxtaposition, and Signification in the Vocal Music of Beat Furrer


In recent vocal music by Swiss-Austrian composer Beat Furrer (b. 1954), multimodal aesthetic inquiry—through synthesis of disparate musical styles—becomes both foundation and metaphor for a process of interpretation and ambiguous signification. Furrer’s music is characterized by fusion of minimalism, post-serialism and European timbral music.

While aesthetic synthesis is a defining feature, Furrer’s fascination with inter-piece reuse of concepts and material also manifests in all parameters of his music, from motives to forms. In pieces written for soprano and instrument(s), such as Invocation VI, Aria, and Lotófagos, Furrer portrays introspection and effects metaphysical ambiguity by repeating stanzaic cells in a variety of intertextually recurring affective settings, offering multiple fragmented interpretations. In contrast to modernist forebears, Furrer regularly recycles and investigates vocal and instrumental motives across independent works, probing and expanding the limits of micro-signification through text and gesture. Moreover, Furrer repurposes identical formal inflections in distinct compositions, while maintaining the pieces’ individuality.

Furrer’s dilations of the possibilities of modernist musical languages and structures serve as material case studies of David Metzer’s broader reimagination of modernism as an extant project with multiple simultaneous modes of musical inquiry. Furrer not only probes the aesthetics of disparate contemporary music practices, but appropriates his own recent material to—in Metzer’s words in “Musical Modernism at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century”—“yield the new, not so much the shocking gesture as the different ways in which an idea. ..[can]…been treated.”


Clare Sher Ling Eng (Belmont University)

Reconsidering Steve Reich’s Principles of Phase Composition through an Analysis of Clapping Music (1972)

My paper reconsiders Reich’s choice of motive in Clapping Music to resolve the problem posed by Colannino, Gómez and Toussaint (2009) to the principles that Cohn (1992) suggests underlie Reich’s phase music. According to these principles, Reich seeks to maximize differentiation between consecutive phase stages, and achieve motion from minimum to maximum saturation in terms of attack frequency/density when choosing a motive and phase process. Although these goals are attainable by deep scales, and Colannino, Gómez and Toussaint show that Reich likely knew a Yoruba deep scale when he studied drumming in Ghana before composing Clapping Music, the work does not use a deep-scale motive, but one that is “almost-deep.” I contend that the measures used by Colannino, Gómez and Toussaint to defend Cohn’s principles are inconsistent with Reich’s compositional intentions, and reassess the principles by analyzing patterns created by salient rests in the work. Comparing the patterns produced by various motives, I show that Reich’s motive has better metric definition, a unique processual midpoint, and moderate use of continuous clapping that provides superior formal definition. It also has features that make learning and performing the phasing process easier and less stressful than the Yoruba deep scale. I thus suggest that Clapping Music’s motive was chosen because it best balanced the demands of listener and performer, and that the desire to provide maximum aural diversity at minimum performative cost might explain other instances in Reich’s phase music where his compositional choices do not fully accord with Cohn’s principles.


Matthew Ferrandino (University of Kansas)


Multi-centric Complexes in Rock

Recent research in the analysis of rock music has focused on reconciling harmonic idioms unique to popular music with traditional functional models. Whether through theories of modal tonalities (Clement 2013, Biamonte 2010), weak or absent tonics (Spicer 2016), or through syntactical definitions of function (Nobile 2016), such analyses achieve varying degrees of success because they are interpreted through a single overarching tonic. I instead propose to explore concurrent pitch centers that occur in rock music by modifying Guy Capuzzo’s (2009) sectional centricity, a theory that accounts for multiple non-hierarchical pitch centers within a song. While Capuzzo’s method accounts for multiple pitch centers between sections, I instead look at pieces where multiple pitch centers are suggested simultaneously within a section. Such examples I refer to as multi-centric complexes, adapted from Robert Bailey’s (1985) double-tonic complex.

Pitch centers can be determined by three dimensions of music: melody, harmony, and bass, and although bass and harmony work in tandem in most cases, each may independently suggest a different pitch center—what I call a bass-harmonic split. The most common types of multi-centric complexes are contrapuntal examples where the melody and bass suggest a different pitch center with minimal functional harmony, what I call melodic –bass split. Cases where melody and functional harmony suggest different pitch centers, I call a harmonic-melodic split.

In this paper, I explore three different cases of multi-centric complexes in pop-rock: The chorus of Michael Jackson’s “Rock With You” as an example of harmonic-melodic split, the Decemberists’s “Isn’t It A Lovely Night” as a melodic-bass split, and David Bowie’s “Cracked Actor” represents a unique case that combines harmonic-melodic split with sectional centricity. Each of these examples highlights the complexity of pop-rock music, which when considered under the lens of a multi-centric complex reveals a rich, nuanced, harmonic structure.


Michael Gardiner (University of Mississippi)

Hildegard’s Deterritorialized Mode and the Construction of the Celestem Ierusalem

The Ordo Virtutum of Hildegard von Bingen consists of eighty-seven sections (hereafter Ov 1-87, including the devil’s five speeches) which, taken together, typically last over an hour in performance. Within this temporal expanse, critical transformations unfold with regard to the following musical parameters: 1) pitch-class exclusion/inclusion; 2) registral space; 3) emphasis of non-final structural pitches (“nodes”). The paper argues that the first third of the drama presents listeners with deformations of normative modal types found in Hildegard’s compositions outside of the Ordo. These deformations correspond to the drama’s text, namely the narration of a soul (anima) who loses her way on the spiritual path. The last two-thirds of the Ordo involve the appearance of the individual virtues, who together function as a form of supplement, an ensemble of theophanies capable of mediating/translating divine processions. The presence of the virtues in Parts II and II is also therefore, an invocation of metaphysical presence involving rhetorical capacities that turn one’s focus to a figure who is absent and unknowable (apophasis); a figure who could never be present, and resides in an other-place. I argue that the music and text of Parts II and III of the Ordo not only (re) construct this place of otherness (see Or. 3: edificantes, Ov 48/86 edificatione celestis Jerusalem), a divine habitation (Or 21: excelsis habitamus) but also provides a passage or relation to that place. In this context, the modal transformations that occur over the course of the whole allow us to hear the redemption, rejuvenation, and reterritorialization of Hildegard’s musical language, paralleling Augustine’s doctrine of the incarnation and its relation to language/writing and the intervention of the Word (Verbum) as an agent of interior transformation (Colish 1983, 42).


Robert Komaniecki (Indiana University)

Coercing the Verse: An Analysis of Musical Relationships between Lead and Guest Rappers


The guest artist is a ubiquitous feature of contemporary rap music. In fact, each of the top ten best-selling rap albums of 2015 featured multiple appearances from guest rappers, despite each being released under the name of a solo artist. In recent years, rap music has been subjected to a steadily-increasing number of analytical inquiries, spearheaded by scholars such as Krims, Adams, Williams and Ohriner. In this presentation, I expand upon the work of these scholars—most prominently Adams’ “metrical techniques of flow”—in order to demonstrate the quantifiable impact that a lead rapper can have on his or her guest artist.

Transcriptions and analysis of three rap tracks featuring guest artists elucidate the ways in which a lead rapper’s delivery shapes that of their guest. Various aspects of flow—such as rhythm, rhyme scheme, and end-rhythm technique—are imposed upon guest rappers. In rare cases, a guest artist will not only appropriate aspects of the lead rapper’s flow, but contribute their own developments as well.

In this presentation, I demonstrate ways in which the influence of a track’s main rapper can be heard on his or her featured artists—including unity between rhyme schemes, rhythmic cells, and use of multi-syllabic rhymes. Through this analysis, we can not only get a better sense of characteristic styles of individual rappers, but also develop a deeper understanding of the collaborative nature of rap music.


Rebecca Long (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)


There’s a Map for That: Using Mind Maps to Engage Today’s Music Student


As higher education moves towards a learner-centric model incorporating flipped classrooms and peer education, educators search for new methods to help their students learn and synthesize information. This new model heavily emphasizes the use of technology, collaboration between students, and engaging students’ creativity. Mind maps respond to the highly visually-oriented culture today’s student comes from by asking students to construct an equally visual map of super- and subordinate nodes that organizes information. By allowing students to experiment with various ways of presenting information visually, mind maps involve a creative process that asks students to synthesize the larger picture from what they have learned. Far from the realm of crayons and erasure marks many instructors remember from their youth, mind maps today rely on technology for their ease of editing and collaboration. With apps available on computer, tablet, and smart phone, students and teachers can easily discuss, edit, and review virtual mind maps from the comfort of their office or dorm. Other fields, including mathematics and economics, successfully implement mind maps in their classrooms. This presentation briefly examines what a mind map is and the successes other fields have had implementing this tool in the classroom. Then, I provide examples of how an educator might implement mind maps in a variety of courses.


James MacKay (Loyola University, New Orleans)


Haydn’s Minor-Major Multi-Movement Works


During his late period, Joseph Haydn was noted for writing multi-movement works (and individual movements) that begin in the minor mode, then turn to the parallel major. Though some commentators have blithely attributed this decision to Haydn’s cheerful disposition (distinct from Beethoven’s “triumphant apotheosis”), there is a deeper rationale for such a tonal plan: to widen the array of closely-related keys that can be logically and easily presented in the unfolding of a multi-movement work. Haydn first experimented with large-scale alternation of parallel keys in 1772 (in his “Farewell” Symphony, no. 45), then in multiple works in three important genres (symphony, string quartet, piano trio) from about ca. 1780. As a result of the nearly equal exploration of parallel keys, Haydn highlights both the mediant major and the dominant major (the closest relatives of the minor and parallel major modes, respectively) at a fundamental level. Since both third-related and fifth-related secondary keys are thus foregrounded, the tonal plans of minor-major works can be much more complex and far-reaching.

This paper demonstrates that Haydn’s use of minor-major tonal plans strongly predisposes him to adopt bolder harmonic decisions, including the introduction of remote keys, especially third-related ones, both between and within movements. In monotonal works such as the “Razor” Quartet (Opus 55/2), such remote tonalities can invigorate a simple large-scale tonal plan. In others, alternating modes can make the adoption of remote third-related keys (flat VI in Symphony 80, VI in the Rider Quartet) more plausible as the slow movement’s primary key. Moreover, this group of minor-major works paved the way for Haydn’s chromatic third-related keys at deep tonal levels in other late multi-movement compositions in various genres, as well as to foreshadow the freer alternation of minor and major modes in works of Beethoven, Schubert and the early romantics.



Timothy R. Mastic (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

An Intra-Album Dialogic Approach to Adele’s 25.

Scholars have long studied how individual pop songs are in dialogue with generic norms of a larger corpus of popular music. I propose that a pop album can also establish local norms with which an individual song within the album can be in dialogue. The manner in which the individual songs conform or depart from these album-specific norms can give rise to a set of fulfilled or thwarted expectations that carry hermeneutic implications. By releasing 25 only as a complete album, thus subverting the status quo of shuffle-based streaming services, Adele created a work exceptionally qualified for discussion of intra-album norms.

I show that album-wide norms concerning melodic contour (particularly the location of each song’s melodic apex), texture and form—most strongly established in the opening song, “Hello”—are radically subverted in “Water Under the Bridge.” In this album, various musical parameters (including melodic contour and texture) generally ascend and accumulate over the course of each song. The ways in which the individual songs either conform or depart from this norm in some parameters can impact expectations about other parameters, reverberating in the formal structure and even the narrative of the song.

Shifting the scale of normativity from genre to album allows us to focus on specific song-to-song relationships, and the recalibration of expectations perhaps allows different musical features to fall into relief. While the patterns found within Adele’s 25 are album-specific, the approach of considering an album on its own terms rather than (and in addition to) its consideration against larger musical contexts can be used productively to provide insight into other albums.



Joel Mott (University of Texas at Austin)


Linearity and Compensatory Coherence in the Varied Tonalities of Prokofiev’s War Symphonies


Most Prokofiev scholars situate their analysis of his work along a spectrum between common-practice tonality and atonality. Deborah Rifkin’s work on Prokofiev’s motivic parallelisms and his use of phrase structure proves quite versatile in its ability to account for various degrees of tonal harmonic function. I build on Rifkin’s theories by examining the role of stepwise melodic lines in Prokofiev’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies. By way of identifying categories of these lines based on their surrounding harmonic contexts, I reexamine the numerous roles of tonality in Prokofiev’s music and show how his works can easily move between them.

My work with linearity borrows from Daniel Harrison’s “Hindemith-lines” (or H-lines), which are easily deciphered, surface-level phenomena. Such lines may begin and end on a particular harmony within a given key area or they may move between keys. They may allow for some embellishment between members, but they must ultimately move in only one direction.

H-lines provide a decipherable, melodic thread among varying degrees of harmonic instability within these two symphonies. I propose five categories of H-lines, based on the harmonic context surrounding their beginning and endpoints. Each category touches on Prokofiev’s quasi-tonal musical language, where his harmonies are often tertian-based but may not always be tonally syntactic. Some categories resemble the common-practice era, one shows little tonal coherence, and others reside somewhere in between.

After introducing these categories, I provide brief examples that show how all H-lines provide a similar kind of melodic coherence whose significance varies based on their surrounding harmonic stability. In moving from the most to least stable line-types, I also identify emerging patterns that result in Prokofiev’s lines becoming more obvious as audible, salient phenomena. These tendencies suggest that H-lines may function as a compensatory device for coherence as the role of tonality wanes.


Lukas Perry (University of Minnesota)


A Hallmark of Polystilism: Assessing Anton Bruckner’s Harmonic Sequences as Compositional Focal Points

Anton Bruckner’s compositional style exhibits a unique polystylism due to his dual orientation as a conservative church composer and a proponent of progressive Romantic harmonic practice. His choral works represent a convergence of common-practice forms and harmonic language, Wagnerian chromaticism and Renaissance-style counterpoint, and this polystylism poses a serious challenge to achieving a coherent analysis. A special compositional device—the harmonic sequence—permeates his mature choral works, and such sequences often stand as the expressive focal points of a piece. The purpose of this study is to assess the nature and formal function of Bruckner’s sequences in his sacred choral music as trademarks of his polystylism. This study, moreover, draws attention to his choral repertory which has arguably been overshadowed by scholarly analysis of his instrumental works.

First, this study weighs classification schemes for harmonic sequences to determine their suitability to Bruckner’s style. Following is a corpus-based overview of harmonic sequences in Bruckner’s choral music, revealing the consistency with which Bruckner utilizes certain tonal and real sequence types. The second part of this study comprises five analyses of compositions. Each analysis investigates how a sequence’s harmonic, formal and contrapuntal properties cohere to render it a structural and expressive focal point of the composition. The analyses show how Bruckner’s polystylism manifests itself throughout these sequences, shedding light more generally on how harmonic sequences can serve as formally significant (rather than traditionally transitional or prolongational) structures.


Matthew Schullman (University of Oklahoma)


The Mode of Activity: Empowering a Neglected Pattern Type Through Formalization and Demonstration

When liner-note writers, critics, and members of the popular press discuss twentieth-century music, they often highlight perceptually salient gestalts—patterns like “pointillistic staccato figures” (Rosen 1997) and “loud sustained chordal tremolos” (Flynn 1975). Through such phenomena, non-academic writers speak to diverse audiences. They also produce intuitively satisfying analyses.

In academia, similar patterns are occasionally featured (e.g., MacKay, 2009), but they are typically cast aside in favor of crisper, less accessible patterns—set classes, for instance. This likely occurs for two reasons (supposing biases against perceptual immediacy are absent). First, the analytical potential of such patterns has not been amply demonstrated in scholarship; little thus encourages their engagement. Second, these readily perceptible patterns have not been generally formalized; as such, they are poorly suited to rigorous discourse.

If perceptually conspicuous phenomena of the sort mentioned here were more frequently engaged, exciting analyses could emerge; yet, convincing discourse will never grow around these patterns until their general nature is clarified, they are coupled with better discursive means, and their analytic powers are revealed. In this paper, I therefore highlight the patterns, formalize them as instances of a pattern type that I call the “Mode of Activity,” supply them with improved definitional methods, and emphasize their potential through considerations of Luciano Berio’s Sequenza V.


Peter Silberman (Ithaca College)


Teaching Musical Borrowing in the Music Theory Classroom

This presentation describes a theory course on musical borrowing (incorporating material from an earlier composition into a newer composition) I taught to first-year music majors that was designed to answer three questions: 1. How does borrowed material interact with new material to form a work’s structure? 2. How is the borrowed material altered in order to fit into its new environment? 3. How does the use of borrowed material convey meaning to the listener? Investigating these questions enabled us to learn about such staples of theory instruction as form, motives, and harmony in a way that engaged students who had little theory knowledge beyond fundamentals. We were able to explore a wide variety of musical repertoire, from Handel to Lady Gaga, and styles ranging from Baroque to rap. Along the way we touched on topics such as how music conveys meaning, and how listeners perceive various musical parameters.

My presentation will begin with an overview of this course, discussing goals and objectives. I then will describe two sample analyses (songs of Ives and Jason Derulo), showing how an investigation of borrowing can introduce concepts of motivic connections and musical form. I then will discuss the approach I took to explaining musical meaning and will introduce the concept of a meaning chain, a series of interrelated meanings that connect borrowed material to the work in which it appears. I will conclude by showing samples of student final projects (a composition that employed borrowing) and student reactions as evidenced by course evaluations.


Joseph Chi-Sing Siu (Eastman School of Music)


The Loosely-Knit Subordinate Theme in the Classical Style: A Phrase Rhythmic Perspective

Building on the idea of Schoenberg and Ratz that the subordinate theme is more loosely organized then the tight-knit main theme. Caplin (1998) described many loosening techniques that are commonly found in the subordinate theme of the classical sonatas. However, in his classification of formal units within the tight-knit/loose continuum, Caplin did not recognize rhythm and meter as one of the possible criteria to contribute to the looseness of the subordinate theme. In this paper, I propose a study of the loosely-knit subordinate theme in the classical style from the perspective of phrase rhythm.

Phrase rhythm, as defined by Rothstein (1989), is the musical phenomenon that embraces both hypermeter and phrase grouping. In several recent studies, theorists have suggested that phrase rhythm indeed holds an important role in the articulation of formal structures. Temperley (2003) discovered that the end-accented phrase is especially common in closing themes, and Ng (2012) described how several types of phrase rhythmic patterns can inform the nine transition types in Sonata Theory.

Drawing from the analytical techniques developed by Rothstein, Temperley, and Ng, my paper will report a corpus study on all the sonata-form first movements in the piano sonatas of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, written from 1760 to 1799. From my initial analyses, there are four main types of phrase rhythmic strategies that the classical masters utilized to enhance the looseness of the subordinate theme: 1.) the use of non-duple hypermeter; 2.) the insertion of some extra measures as anacrusis; 3.) the use of end-accented phrases; and 4.) the placement of strong hyperbeats on the local dominant harmony.


Jay Smith (University of North Texas)


Asymmetrical Dissonances in Ligeti’s Hungarian Rock (Chaconne)

György Ligeti composed Hungarian Rock (Chaconne) for harpsichord in 1978 as a flippant response to his students’ growing interest in American and British pop music. Regardless of his intentions, Ligeti masterfully organized rhythmic and metric dissonances in Hungarian Rock, which are manifest in contrasts between larger metrical patterns and smaller groups of 2s and 3s. Previous authors have explored musical passages in which rhythmic groups of 2 and 3 participate in grouping dissonances. Harald Krebs, Richard Cohn, Maury Yeston, and others propose effective methodologies for approaching persistently recurring grouping dissonances (i.e., those that occur over multiple tacti, measures, or formal segments). Zachary Cairns discusses grouping dissonances in the context of asymmetrical meters of a shared cardinality (i.e., 5/4 grouped as 2+3 vs. 3+2). John Roeder ventures beyond grouping dissonances, exploring non-hierarchical pulse streams in the context of asymmetry and differing metrical cardinalities. These methodologies overlook significant rhythmic states of consonance and dissonance that arise from the coincidence and non-coincidence of beat attack points in music with meters and groupings of varying cardinalities. This paper presents a methodology that shows these states of consonance and dissonance in the context of asymmetry and differing metric cardinalities in Hungarian Rock. I illustrate these features by using what I call Composite Beat Attack Point (CBAP) visuals, which show both concurrent and conflicting attack points in a single musical line and reveal states of consonance and dissonance that emerge and are used motivically in varying surface contexts.


Christopher White (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)


Some Interdependencies between Harmonic Function, Accent and Meter

This paper identifies some interdependencies between accent, meter, and harmonic function–relationships undertheorized in music scholarship. Specifically, I will present research showing that moments that introduce relatively high numbers of new pitch classes into a texture are heard as accented; I relate this phenomenon to (Neo-) Riemannian notions of harmonic function in which one generally changes more pitch classes to move between functions than to prolong a function. Certainly, all changes in a function do not necessitate a metrical accent. However, using evidence from music theory, music cognition, and corpus analyses, I argue that it is specifically the minimal overlap of pitch classes between harmonic functions that accounts for the intertwining of accent and function. First, I present the findings of a music cognition study that tests listener’s assessment of the relative beat strength of chords that introduce different amounts of pc change. I then relate these findings to corpus statistics, showing that stronger pulses overlap less with consecutive pulses of the same strength than do weaker pulses.

To connect these findings to harmonic function, I review Neo-Riemannian function theory in which the tonic, dominant and subdominant functions group diatonic triads into zones with minimal pc overlap: intra-function triadic transformations involve fewer pc changes, while inter-function changes involve a greater pc changes. Moves between functions, then, are more likely to accrue an accent. By deploying more new pcs, functional changes cause listeners to hear a moment as accented, while prolonging a function yields less accent: these accents can either support or contradict a meter. I end by applying my findings to several analyses, including Schubert’s Sonata D. 960, his “Du bist die Ruh,” and Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face.”