Fourth Annual Conference

Westminster Choir College
Princeton, New Jersey

March 17-18, 2006

Downloadas .pdf file.


Dorothy Payne Award for the Best Student Paper

Mathew Boyer (Indiana University)
"Topical Pairing as Compositional Strategy in Mozart"

The surface of Classical music is heterogeneous, featuringrapid and often dramatic alterations in style.  Since the publicationof Leonard Ratner’s Classic Musicin 1980, topics have emerged asa valuable means to characterize these kaleidoscopic shifts.  Themusic of Mozart is exceptionally rich in topical variety, and topical pairscapture a unique type of stylistic change found in Mozart’s music. Topical pairing is distinct from mere succession or juxtaposition; it consistsof the varied repetition of a passage in a new topical guise.  Insuch a succession, thematic, motivic, and other salient features of a passageare retained, while other parameters are modified to effect a topical change. The resultant topical pair is heard as a whole, binding the music intoa single formal unit.  Mozart strategically manipulates these pairedthematic groups to expressively shape larger expanses of music.  Thereturn of the first half of a topical pair has implicative strength; itgenerates expectation for the return of the second half of the pair. With this expectancy comes the possibility for denial, postponement, andfulfillment, inviting a hermeneutic reading of Mozart’s treatment of pairsacross large-scale formal designs.  This presentation will draw upona number of examples, particularly from the first movement of the pianoconcerto, K. 503.

Karen Fournier (University of Michigan)
"A Structuralist View of the Growth and Development ofKnowledge in Music Scholarship"

In his reflections upon the structure of academia andthe limitations imposed by this structure upon those who seek to buildacademic careers, the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu observed, to hissurprise, that "the full implication of the fact that an author writesfor a public [has] never been completely explored.  Few social actorsdepend as much as artists, and intellectuals in general, for what theyare and for the image that they have of themselves or the image that otherpeople have of them and what they are."  (Bourdieu, "IntellectualField and Creative Project," Social Sciences Information 8/2, April 1969:95)  This observation forms the core of this work, in which he hasestablished a quasi-Marxist model of academic life that measures successin terms of the acquisition of what he calls "cultural capital," definedloosely as a set of markers that includes such things as academic affiliation,tenure and promotion, publication volume and venue, access to researchfunding, and so on. Bourdieu argues that in their quest for "cultural capital,"academics tend to orient their research towards what they perceive as theexpectations of their peer readership, upon whose approval the future ofevery academic career rests.  This paper will examine music scholarshipin this light, and will speculate upon what constitutes "cultural capital"for music theorists and, with examples drawn from recent theoretical literature,will illustrate how this capital might be secured through allegiances andto certain established research questions and methods.  But the paperwill also be critical of Bourdieu’s quasi-Marxist conception of academia,as it will demonstrate that the evolution of an academic community dependsupon the occasional introduction of revolutionary ideas and research methodsthat may not, at their outset, appear to guarantee their proponents accessto the "cultural capital" that they might need to survive within academia. This paper will address one key question that arises for music scholars: how do we square the need for our work to be accessible to our peers (aseemingly static view of academia) with the ever-changing interpretationsof musical works that characterize the scholarly literature in our fieldand that reflect our subjective engagement with musical works (a more dynamicview of academia)?

Cynthia Gonzales (Texas State University)
"A Nostalgic Farewell to Tonality:  Arnold Schoenberg'sSetting of Richard Dehmel's Poelm 'Alles'"

In September 1905, Schoenberg turned again to RichardDehmel’s Weib und Welt to set one more poem:  "Alles," Op.6, No. 2.  I will investigate "Alles" as Schoenberg’s nostalgic farewellto tonality.  "Alles" clings to the tonic-dominant axis, yet is prescientof the atonal world that Schoenberg will enter only a few years later. Structural harmonies are obscured by an overabundance of foreground chromaticculprits that ornament the diatonic framework of common-practice chordprogressions and linear intervallic patterns.  Moreover, the chromaticornaments often resolve in such unusual ways that the non-chord-tone-cum-resolutionunity is broken asunder.

Dehmel’s poem is a nostalgic lament ironically cast inhopeful language.  Schoenberg signed and dated the "Alles" manuscripton 6 September 1905, only a week before his 31st birthday.  His musicgives voice to the protagonist, a "blessed child of thirty years," eventhough Dehmel’s poem does not.  With each hopeful assurance by thenarrator, the child’s response is revealed by the melody ascending to cadenceon a dissonant apex.  The lack of hope is confirmed by the piano postlude,which descends from scale-degree 5 through flat-3 in this major-mode song. Schoenberg engages Dehmel’s poem to take a nostalgic journey, weaving contrapuntaltextures into a harmonic frame that upholds the tonic-dominant axis, whileat the same time freeing chromatic culprits toward atonal independence. 

Justin Hoffman (Columbia University)
"A Probability Function for Subset Embedding and itsImplication for Abstract Pitch-Class Set Relations"

Abstract pitch-class set (pcset) relations offer waysof comparing non-equivalent pcsets with one another independently of musicalcontext.  Such relations include similarity measures, mathematicaloperations that return a numerical value representing the perceived similarityof two pcsets.  For example, John Rahn’s total mutual embedding measurecounts the number of subsets of all cardinalities mutually embedded intwo pcsets.  Rahn’s similarity measure, like most abstract pcset relations,proceeds with the assumption that all mutually embedded subsets functionequally as determinants of pcset relatedness.

This view of abstract pcset relations thus proposes thata shared instance of a trichord of set class 3-2 (013) is just as significantas a shared instance of set class 3-12 (048).  Intuition, however,suggests that a shared 3-12 trichord is more significant.  By generatinga probabilistic distribution for each trichord class, showing the likelihoodof selecting a given number of instances of the set class in question whenchoosing a larger pcset at random, we can find confirmation of this intuition. Subsets that are more salient occur far less frequently than those thatare less salient.  The relationship between this probabilistic distributionand intuition can be demonstrated using interval cycles, as the probabilityof selecting a pcset containing subsets of a particular set class is determinedby the number of cyclic adjacencies included in the set class in questionand the cardinalities of the cycles involved.  In order to demonstratehow this observation might be of use in a discussion of abstract pcsetrelations, we can construct a similarity measure that weights subset relationsbased upon such a probabilistic distribution.

Kevin Holm-Hudson (University of Kentucky)
"Emerson, Lake and Palmer's 'Toccata' and the CyborgEssence of Alberto Ginastera"

Critical response to the British progressive rock bandEmerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP) was invariably hostile.  Critics especiallytargeted the group’s penchant for deconstructing well-known classical workssuch as Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition.  Occasionallytheir "covers" (such as their version of Bartók’s Allegro Barbaro)were made without proper attribution to the original composer.

However, ELP’s version of the "Toccata" from Alberto Ginastera’sConcerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra (1961) not only properly creditedthe work’s composer and publisher, but Ginastera himself reportedly enthusedthat ELP’s version contained the "essence" of his work.  To discoverthis "essence," I present a close analysis of both Ginastera’s work andELP’s version from their 1973 recording Brain Salad Surgery. Ginastera’s piece is based on the obsessive development of a single motive,presented at the outset:  <B-flat3, E4, E-flat4, A4>.  Thismotive is clearly seen to be the union of two inversionally related [016]trichords.  Ginastera extends this motive into longer thematic linesand also stacks combinations of the [016] set type into larger sonorities. My analysis accordingly draws primarily upon Fortean set theory and elementsof transformational theory.  The structural sets of Ginastera’s workare also found in ELP’s extrapolated additions and even in the cross-modulatedsynthesizer timbres, or "split tones," that Emerson employs.  ELPalso omit largely repetitive sections from Ginastera’s work and extendsome climactic passages, thereby arguably improving the pacing of Ginastera’spiece; such alterations may also be understood to convey the "essence"of Ginastera’s composition.

Brian Hulse (Christopher Newport University)
"Repetition Theory"

Kierkegaard tells us that recollection means to standat a distance from a past that is irretrievable, but repetition is to bringwhat is past back into existence.  Thus, repetition approaches notfrom the past but from the future.  In musical discourse, the pastis generally accorded great weight in determining what constitutes thepresent:  a tendency prone to slipping into absolute notions?metaphysics?drivingan obstinate wedge between analysis and an understanding of what makesmusic musical. Kierkegaard’s recollection-repetition distinction has provena useful tool for sorting out the post-structural project.  It isalso useful for detecting the metaphysical underpinnings of musical theoriesand interpretative modes.  Beyond this, the distinction provides aclear basis for a post-structural hermeneutic approach to music based onrepetition, a repetition theory.  Repetition theory interprets theprocesses of music bringing back itself, of binding itself to itself acrossthe dimensions of pitch and rhythm on the basis of what repeats, ratherthan relying on metaphysical measures, matrixes, and other contexts tounderstand the musicality of musical expressions. 

Bruce Kelley (Shepherd University)
"Constructing 'Musical Horse Sense':  Applying Fink'sParadigms"

This paper will examine how L. Dee Fink’s CreatingSignificant Learning Experiences:  An Integrated Approach to DesigningCollege Courses (2003) can help teachers of music theory to redesigntheir courses to encourage a wide range of significant learning. Fink’s text examines Bloom’s (1956) traditional content-centered learningtaxonomy, which consists of a hierarchical sequence of educational objectives,and proposes a new taxonomy, one that describes multiple dimensions oflearning.  Content becomes just one of the six major categories ofsignificant learning.  The other categories include application, integration,human dimension, caring, and learning how to learn.  Fink’s taxonomyprovides a valuable alternative to traditional models for thinking aboutcourse design.

This paper will:  (1) explain briefly the foundationof Fink’s theories and his taxonomy of significant learning; (2) examinehow I have incorporated Fink’s taxonomy into a specific course, MUSC 303(Forms and Analysis); (3) explore the strengths and weaknesses of my applicationof this new taxonomy; and (4) critique the strengths and weaknesses ofFink’s theories when applied generally to the field of music theory. Fink’s taxonomy provides a foundation from which we can design classesto give our students significant learning experiences—a thorough soakingin the sonorous nature of our art.

Martin Lee (University of Buffalo)
"Emancipation of Dissonance:  Music, Text and Gesturein Schoenberg's Second String Quartet, 'Entrückung'"

Schoenberg declared that "the transition from compositionwhich still emphasized key (while always containing many dissonances) toone where there is no longer any key, any tonic, any consonances, happenedgradually, in accordance not with any wish or will, but with a vision,an inspiration; it happened perhaps instinctively."  This processcan be designed radically within a single composition but not necessarilywithin a compositional period.

Composed in 1907-08, the Second String Quartet is oneof the earliest works which demonstrates this notion.  This presentationdiscusses the compositional method of the movement in order to reveal theconflicts between tonality and "atonality," thematic and athematic, continuityand discontinuity.  On one hand the music seems to be non-tonal anddissonant, on the other the music will contain tonal references. In the second part, the author argues Schoenberg’s choice of Stefan George’spoem, which is not only coherent to the music and enhances presenting thenew musical style explicitly with text as tone-painting, but also becomesan autobiography of Schoenberg himself.  The third part is the discussionof Schoenberg’s ideas of consonance and dissonance through his writingsand how they are reflected in the music.

In conclusion, although Schoenberg brings in a new wayof presenting musical ideas and a riot-deconstruction of the genre by introducingvoice into the piece, the preservations of traditional characteristicsand tonal reminiscences are clear in the last movement, "Entrückung." They are internalized with the new musical style and serve as a point ofdeparture for his emancipation of dissonance.

Thomas Robinson (The Graduate Center, City Universityof New York)
"Core Components of Jimmy Webb's 'Didn't We'"

Many analysts of popular song first employ a single recordingas a text for study.  This text is often compared to other recordingsor versions of the song for analysis.  It is my assertion, however,that both cover and original are also referential to a single abstractstructure, made of the song’s core components, of which any recording orversion (including sheet music, transcription, or score) is merely a reflection,a representation, or an interpretation.  This formation, itself possiblydevoid of meaning, is traceable because although many structural elementsare changed in a cover version, a certain few necessarily are retainedin order to preserve the song’s identity.

This paper focuses on Jimmy Webb’s "Didn’t We" as recordedby several artists from Gene Ammons to Stan Kenton to Barbra Streisand. Its task is not to showcase meaning inherent in the differences but, conversely,to look at the few related elements and to construct a contour notationto represent the melody’s definitive features.  The formation comesmore into focus with each additional version studied, just as a person’scharacter becomes clearer after multiple subjections to different situationsor environments.  The abstract structure emerges as the song’s unchangeablecore or "soul" that no interpreter would do without, while the ancillarycontributions of performers, producers, and arrangers—refracting the corethrough their own prisms—contribute richer meaning.

John White (Ithaca College)
"Asymmetric Meter Pedagogy for the 21st Century:  Classification, Iconography, Solfège, and Musical Examples"

Today, it is commonplace for musicians to perform musicin some type of asymmetric meter.  Accordingly, musicianship trainingmust accommodate the challenges posed by these designs.  Unfortunately,in many ways current pedagogical thinking about asymmetric meter remainsnebulous and inexact.

This presentation offers a clear and practical classificationof the various types of asymmetric meter design commonly found in contemporaryconcert music, jazz, and select popular styles.  This classificationis based fundamentally on asymmetric meter as perceived rather thanas notated, an approach that fosters clear definitions and effective skillspedagogy.  I distinguish between two principal types of asymmetricmeter:  (1) TYPE 1, which features asymmetry with respect to the numberof beats in a measure, the total not divisible by 2 or 3, with the beatsall being the same duration; (2) TYPE 2, which features asymmetry withrespect to unequal beat lengths within one measure, with the value of thebeat division remaining constant (most often beats within this type ofmeter consist of either two or three division pulses).  In addition,I demonstrate practical ways of using conventional iconography to aid thepedagogy of asymmetric meter in the aural skills classroom.

I demonstrate effective pedagogical approaches using theTakadimi system of rhythm solfŹge.  Because of its flexibilityand comprehensiveness Takadimi solfège is ideally suited to addressperformance and pedagogical challenges presented by asymmetric meter designs. In addition, taken from well-known concert repertoire and CD recordings,representative music examples are provided that demonstrate each type ofasymmetric meter discussed.

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