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26th Annual Meeting

University of Victoria

Victoria, British Columbia

April 21-23, 2017


Friday, April 21, 2017

1:00-2:00 PM

Conference registration

2:00-5:00 PM

Serialism and Indeterminacy

Jack Boss, University of Oregon, chair


“Space and Time in Ursula Mamlok’s From My Garden

Ronald Squibbs, University of Connecticut


“Ursula Mamlok’s Path to Serialism”

Barry Wiener, New York, NY


Icare obstiné: Pousseur, Serialism and the Open Work”

André Brégégère, Queensborough Community College, CUNY


“Derivation and Succession as Thematic Development and Form in Donald Martino’s Parisonatina al’Dodecafonia

Bruce Quaglia, University of Minnesota

5:00-6:00 PM


6:00 PM

Dinner (on your own)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

8:00-9:00 am

Coffee and Conference Registration

9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Film music, Jazz, Pop and Bluegrass

Russell Knight, Scripps College, chair


“Bridges to Free Composition in Thomas Newman’s Scores for Piano”

Chelsea Oden, University of Oregon


“Chord-Scale Misalignment: Towards a Contextual Definition of Dissonance in Jazz”

Joon Park, University of Arkansas


“The Beatles’ Approach to Verse-Chorus Form”

Drew Nobile, University of Oregon


“Who’s Feeling Crooked Now? ‘Progressive Bluegrass’ in the Metric Disruptions of Punch Brothers”

James Palmer, University of British Columbia

12:00-1:30 PM

Business Meeting and Lunch

1:30-2:30 PM

Keynote Speech

Harald Krebs, University of Victoria, chair


“Of Swans, Minstrels, and the Hermeneutics of Song”

Suzannah Clark, Harvard University

2:30-5:30 PM

Temporality, Flow and Form

Jack Boss, University of Oregon, chair


“Threads and Knots, Sequences and Non Sequiturs: Open Segments and Metric Flow in Monophonic Passages by Berio and Donatoni”

Antares Boyle, University of British Columbia


“Redirecting the Temporal Flow: Brief Meter Changes in German Lieder”

Wing Lau, University of Arkansas


“Music as Time, Music as Timeless”

Kristina Knowles, Arizona State University


“Reexamining the Loosely-Knit Subordinate Theme in the Classical Style: A Phrase Rhythmic Approach”

Joseph Chi-Sing Siu, Eastman School of Music

6:00 PM

Conference Dinner at Thai Lemongrass

Sunday, April 23, 2017

8:00-9:00 AM

Coffee and Conference Registration

9:00-11:30 AM

New Analytic Models

Harald Krebs, University of Victoria, chair

“Plainchant and Unicorns: What Fuzzy Set Theory Can Say about Musical Ontology”

Kristen Wallentinsen, University of Western Ontario


“The Mode of Activity: Empowering a Neglected Pattern-Type through Formalization and Demonstration”

Matthew Schullman, University of Oklahoma 


“An Analytic Framework for Metric Multivalence: Toward a Theory of Phrase Structure in Twentieth-Century Chamber Music”

Grant Sawatzky, University of British Columbia


(alphabetical by author's last name)

Threads and Knots, Sequences and Non Sequiturs: Open Segments and Metric Flow in Monophonic Passages by Berio and Donatoni

Antares Boyle, University of British Columbia


The basic objects of musical analysis are typically determined by segmentation, which is the process of locating the boundaries of significant musical entities. However, music is not experienced solely as a succession of discrete entities, but as an ongoing flow that can be shaped by directed processes, colored by recognition, or punctuated by sudden change. In continuous textures, salient gestures may not have crisp boundaries, and qualities of motion or flux become central to musical experience. My paper suggests a model for analyzing the formation of segments that is sensitive to these temporal aspects of listening.


Through an analysis of a simple monophonic passage from Donatoni’s Fili, I show how the emergence of grouping functions (beginning and ending), created by factors such as discontinuity, repetition, and intensity change, form open segments, which give the passage gestural direction and coherence but lack strong closure. This analysis also introduces some important questions about the interrelationship between grouping, accent, and meter in simple post-tonal textures. The second half of my paper explores these questions through analysis of a passage from Berio’s Sequenza IXa, in which pulsed momentum overwhelms any internal sensation of ending.


By emphasizing grouping function over segment boundaries and by being sensitive to slippage between grouping and metric functions, I embed my analysis of segment formation and repetition within the context of a complex ongoing continuity. The concepts of open segment and grouping function allow for nuanced analysis of repetitive passages that do not feature discrete musical objects, integrating theoretical approaches to rhythm, accent, and melody (Cooper and Meyer 1960, Narmour 1991, Roeder 1995, Hasty 1997) with approaches to segmentation and phrase formation (Tenney and Polansky 1980, Hasty 1984, Caplin 1998, Hanninen 2012).

Icare obstiné: Pousseur, Serialism and the Open Work

André Brégégère, Queensborough Community College, CUNY

My paper examines the challenges posed by the consideration of an "open" musical work--borrowing Umberto Eco's 

concept of the “open work”—through the consideration of Icare obstiné (1972), by the Belgian composer Henri Pousseur. Subtitled  "program de composition" ("composition program"), Icare obstiné interrogates our traditional conception 

of what constitutes a finished, complete musical work: it consists merely of a set of basic musical materials, and of detailed instructions for the realization of these materials in an actual musical composition--the instrumentation of which is not specified.  In addition, Pousseur appends an example of such a realization, in the form of a short piece for piano solo.

I will begin by briefly situating Icare within the context of Pousseur's oeuvre, characterized in the sixties and seventies by a unique blend of rigorous serial design and indeterminacy.  I will then survey the basic materials and sets of rules constituting Icare's "program": a set of forty-two chords, divided into several subsets each dedicated to a given parameter (e.g. harmonic/pitch material in the form of Pousseur's trademark interval networks, dynamics, articulation, density, etc.); a set of "development sheets," allowing for the articulation of these groups within larger sections; and, finally, a "time plan," governing the temporal succession of these sections within a complete piece.  In addition to ad hoc musical examples and excerpts from Pousseur's piano version, I will illustrate this survey with a presentation of my own complete realization of Icare, for flute solo.

Music as Time, Music as Timeless

Kristina Knowles, Arizona State University

A common assertion made by music scholars and performers alike is the ability of music to evoke a perception or experience of timelessness, a sense of “time out of time.” In scholarship by music theorists, such claims are often associated with specific moments within musical works, and are woven together along with other observations pertaining to musical structures as

part of the construction of an interpretation or argument for perception in relation to the musical passage in question. Despite the frequency with which notions of timelessness, stasis, or temporal suspension are associated with music, some scholars have pushed back against the use of these terms in relation to the sonic arts, noting that music is inherently temporal (Epstein 1981).

In this paper, I explore the tension between music as a temporal art form that exists only in and through the unfolding of time and the belief that music is capable of evoking “static temporality,” presenting a conceptual framework that incorporates perspectives from philosophy and psychology in order to map out the various origins of temporal claims pertaining to music. In doing so, I argue that many assertions regarding the relationship between time and music fall under three interacting categories, which are encapsulated in Thomas Clifton’s assertion that “there is a distinction between the time which a piece takes, and the time which a piece represents or evokes” (1983, 81; emphasis original). As this quote suggests, the notion of musical time can interact both with the objective “clock time” when considering “the time which a piece takes” as well as the ways in which an individual listener may subjectively experience time while listening to music. However, this quote by Clifton also suggests a third option, one in which a musical composition may represent time. This raises the possibility for a semantic

implication behind the musical representation of time that may be separate from the “clock time” of the composition and from the perception of time within the musical work. 


In applying the conceptual framework to existing scholarship on music and temporality, I seek to parse out ascriptions of timelessness in music that have cultural origins and are grounded in specific types of structures, such as the concept of lyric time discussed by topic theorists (Monelle 2000; Klein 2004), and those that relate to perceptual mechanisms which often result in a subjective experience interpreted as a moment of temporal stasis. By understanding the different origins of these assertions and the ways in which our interpretation of ongoing perception influences our conceptual notions of time (Reiner 2000), we can arrive at a more fine-tuned understanding of the experience of timelessness in music.

Redirecting the Temporal Flow: Brief Meter Changes in German Lieder


Wing Lau, University of Arkansas


A brief change of meter, usually spanning less than six measures, is a commonly used compositional technique in nineteenth-century German lieder. My paper provides three archetypes of such brief meter changes in lieder by Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms. I investigate each composer’s approach to brief meter changes and show how the insertion of a new time signature redirects the temporal flow, relates to the text-meaning, and yields flexibility in performance.


The three archetypes of meter changes produce distinct effects: (1) Recitative-like metric fluctuation. Schubert and Brahms often explore this effect but in very different ways. (2) Rhetorical-lengthening, which can generate rhetorical pauses or portray textual tension. This effect is most common in Brahms’s lieder, although a few examples are found in Schumann’s lieder. (3) Change of perceived tempo at a coda or transition, usually enhanced by other surface events such as key changes and text repetitions. This effect is often used by Schumann and Brahms.


Building on Lau’s classification of meter changes, Krebs’s metric dissonances, and London's metrical perception, my study shows that among the three composers, Brahms explores more of the different facets of brief meter changes, possibly building on Schubert and Schumann’s experiments. By tracing their different approaches and providing an analytical framework for brief meter changes of these three composers, my study provides tools for further investigation of brief meter changes in other genres.

The Beatles’ Approach to Verse–Chorus Form

Drew Nobile, University of Oregon

Between 1960 and 1970, mainstream rock music shifted its preferred song form from AABA to verse–chorus. The Beatles were at the center of this trend; John Covach cites the band’s shift from AABA to verse–chorus as the primary contributor to their transition from craftsmen to artists (2006). But the Beatles’ approach to verse–chorus form differs from the mainstream standard that emerged in the late 60s and 70s. In typical verse–chorus form, the chorus is the song’s focal point with the verse playing a supporting role (Covach 2005, 2012). In the text, the chorus “sum[s] up the song’s main theme,” while the verse illustrates or elaborates upon said theme (Everett 2009, 145). In the Beatles’ verse–chorus songs, on the other hand, verse and chorus portray two contrasting narrative worlds. Instead of a single narrative arc from introductory verse to climactic chorus, it becomes the two sections’ opposition that drives the form. Verse and chorus are thus equal in status, with contrasting elements of their lyrical narrative reflected in musical parameters such as harmony, melody, and texture.

Though the Beatles had occasionally employed verse–chorus form in prior releases, their opposition-based approach solidified on their revolutionary 1967 album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. This album nearly completely avoids standard AABA form but contains nearly half verse–chorus songs. In “Penny Lane”—recorded alongside the album but released separately—the B-major verses give vignettes about the Penny Lane neighborhood of Liverpool from the perspective of an observer, while the A-major choruses shift to a first-person recounting of “subjective (‘foggy’) memories” (Everett 1999, 86). “Getting Better” sets negative descriptions of the past over the verses’ dominant pedals, while the choruses’ tonic-prolonging progressions underscore optimism about the future. “Lovely Rita” tells a single story across both its sections, shifting from the protagonist’s inner monologue in the verses to his seductive pleas in the chorus. And “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” thrusts us back into reality with its mainstream-rock chorus, “shatter[ing] the lulling spell” (MacDonald 2005, 312) cast in the surreal and chromatic verses. All of these songs exhibit a clear alternation of verses and choruses but with no hierarchical relationship between the sections; it is not the case, as John Covach puts it, that “the verse serves primarily to prepare the return of the chorus” (2005, 71).

Through these and other analyses, I demonstrate that the Beatles used verse–chorus form as a specific expressive device rather than a neutral template as did later artists. After Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles continued to compose verse–chorus forms, but it never became a default as AABA once was; rather, they adopted various formal layouts based on an individual song’s expressive needs, frequently employing novel designs. As verse–chorus forms increasingly saturated Top-40 rock tracks, the Beatles instead reserved it to represent narrative opposition, demonstrating that they viewed a song’s form as an integral part of its meaning.

Bridges to Free Composition in Thomas Newman’s Scores for Piano

Chelsea Oden, University of Oregon

Known for American Beauty (1999), Finding Nemo (2003), WALL-E (2008), and Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (2015), Thomas Newman is the most nominated living film composer yet to receive an Oscar. Extending well beyond the scope of his own films, however, Newman’s signature sound is an integral part of Hollywood film music. Newman’s compositional style is required study for up-and-coming film composers, and it has long been favored for use as temp music (Karlin and Wright, 2004).  Far from the grand, orchestral themes of John Williams and his Classical Hollywood contemporaries, perhaps Newman’s non-traditional compositional process, sparse textures, experimental electronic timbres, and transcendent harmonies have eluded the Academy and music theorists alike.  Newman’s music challenges theorists to rethink Classical approaches to theory and analysis.

In this presentation, I apply Kofi Agawu’s method of generative analysis to the most iconic and intimate aspect of Thomas Newman’s compositional style – his writing for piano. Newman’s piano writing not only appears at the most important narrative moments in a film, but is also usually performed by the composer himself.  Generative analysis, which traces the path from a stylistically-informed generative module to the fully-formed musical surface, is well-suited to the improvisatory compositional process of Thomas Newman.  Behind “Brooks Was Here” from The Shawshank Redemption (1994), we will find a set of step-wise, ascending, openly-voiced triads that structures the cue’s harmony and form. In particular, we will see that the tonal ambiguity of Newman’s “modal stretching” (Newman, 2008) is the result of manipulating structural tones in key formal moments.  In “American Beauty” and “Any Other Name” from American Beauty (1999), we will see a series of three openly-voiced harmonies that illuminates formal structure in the “ambient” and “atmospheric” music underscoring the film’s famous plastic bag scene and heart-wrenching climax.

Who’s Feeling Crooked Now? “Progressive Bluegrass” in the Metric Disruptions of Punch Brothers

James Palmer, University of British Columbia

Punch Brothers, led by mandolin virtuoso and MacArthur Fellowship recipient Chris Thile, is a “progressive bluegrass” supergroup, each member with his own independent album(s) and indisputable bluegrass pedigree. Their standard bluegrass instrumentation—mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and bass—is at times their most (or indeed, only) bluegrass element. While early albums established the artistic prowess of this “virtuosic acoustic quintet” (Hill 2016), their 2012 album, “Who’s Feeling Young Now?” “shifted the emphasis…to playful storytelling” (Chinen 2012). The most conspicuous element of play found throughout this album is its “crooked” meter (Rockwell 2011). I demonstrate how one can perceive Punch Brothers’ metric indebtedness to bluegrass, while also discerning the distance of the Brooklyn-based group from the original “Crooked Road” (the Virginia Heritage Music Trail) in their progressive art rock approach to other musical aspects.

The song “New York City” is emblematic of their bluegrass-rooted “crookedness.” It sports several straightforward metric elisions or deletions, typical of bluegrass. The song also contains examples of what Joti Rockwell calls “second-level duple disruption.” Due to the ubiquity of this type of “nonperiodic character” in bluegrass music, experienced listeners are nonetheless able to construct accurate temporal expectations in such passages (Huron 2006).

“Soon or Never” raises the stakes with two metric disruptions in the same passage, both of which delay the subsequent strong half note, challenging even an experienced listener’s expectations. Such disruptions of the half-note tactus are akin to the typical bluegrass “backstep” (the well-known “Clinch Mountain Backstep” is one such example), which features, according to banjoist Tony Trischka, a “time quirk [that] harkens back to the old players who would add or delete beats.” But in “Soon or Never,” Punch Brothers take the typical bluegrass manoeuvre and build a two-fold disruption that begets further metric quirks later in the song.

“Don’t Get Married Without Me” employs both elision and delay through a progressively lengthening anacrusis. The degree of disruption increases with the singer’s anxiety about his crumbling relationship. My transcriptions and recompositions suggest different metric interpretations of the song’s delays and deletions at the quarter-note tactus and whole-note levels. These metric quirks become increasingly disruptive throughout the song as Punch Brothers supersaturates the metric structure with numerous conflicting impulses.

I conclude with a discussion of Punch Brothers’ carefully crafted text to “Don’t Get Married Without Me” as it engages with multiple metric disruptions and betrays connections to bluegrass, rock, and singer-songwriter vocal practices.

Chord-Scale Misalignment: Towards a Contextual Definition of Dissonance in Jazz 

Joon Park, University of Arkansas

Does the connotation relating to non-chord tones as “unstable” still stand in a jazz context? In this talk, I argue that while some notes are treated similarly as non-chord tones in the conventional context, the delineation between stable and unstable tendencies sometimes occurs at a chord-scale level. As a result, there are cases where an otherwise stable note in the conventional context might be considered unstable in a jazz context. Building on earlier discussions of dissonance in jazz, such as James McGowan’s work on a new jazz-specific definition of dissonance, this talk presents a model in which a concept of dissonance grows out of dynamic interactions between two layers of chord-scale hierarchy. 


As an example, I present an analysis of Barry Harris’s masterclass on improvising over the Giant-Steps changes. Harris instructs the students to improvise based on the D-dominant-seventh chord over the opening B-major harmony. As a result, the E-flat/D-sharp occurring at this moment of “misalignment” poses a problem because it is a chord-tone of the underlying harmony (B major) but part of a different chord-scale collection (D dominant). Based on my analysis, I claim that in a jazz context, considering a chord-scale, rather than a chord, as a delimiting entity more closely reflects jazz performance practice where a II-V progression (and many others) is often treated as expressing a single chord-scale. This claim resonates with earlier discussions about the concept of dissonance, most notably Steve Larson's assertion that the stability of a note is “culturally shaped.”


Derivation and Succession as Thematic Development and Form in Donald Martino’s Parisonatina al’Dodecafonia


Bruce Quaglia, University of Minnesota


Donald Martino’s seminal article, “The Source Set and Its Aggregate Formations” (1961), has been cited in virtually every scholarly work on twelve-tone theory for more than half a century. Important concepts introduced there concern the generation of twelve-tone sets from smaller unordered collections, especially via “mosaics.” Martino’s article is a generalized theory directly descended from that of his teacher Milton Babbitt, but his application of this theory to his own compositional practice is distinct from the arrays employed by Babbitt, and remains under-examined. Martino’s project was to create a logical grammar for controlling set succession to produce a type of traditional thematic/motivic development. His Parisonatina al’Dodecafonia (1964) presents a concise model for considering this strategy. I will demonstrate the dynamic temporal processes that mark the surface continuity and form of the work. Hexachordal derivation from trichordal generators produces a developing network of motivic relations against which the evolving succession of hexachordal types measures the progress of the harmonic form. The surface and form of the work are thus spun from these evolving processes rather than cast by a determinative array structure.

An Analytic Framework for Metric Multivalence: Toward a Theory of Phrase Structure in Early Twentieth-Century Chamber Music 

Grant Sawatzky, University of British Columbia


If meter is defined as the simultaneous presence of two or more regular layers of pulsation, or the “anticipatory scheme that is the result of our inherent abilities to entrain to periodic stimuli” (London 2012, 12), much early twentieth-century chamber music (Bartók, Stravinsky, Copland, etc.) might be considered ametric or weakly metric since irregularities resulting from additive rhythms, mixed meters, etc., often prevent entrainment on anything deeper than the level of the basic pulse. But twentieth-century pieces such as Bartók’s Violin Sonatas exhibit a rhythmic vitality that derives from regular references to common-practice phrase structures and metric types, even if references are fleeting or multivalent. Thus, it seems counter-productive to adopt a negatively-defined framework in cases where phrase-level rhythmic activity is of primary interest. Appreciating phrase rhythm in this repertoire invites a wider definition of what it means to be “metric” (Benjamin 1984, 371–2). I propose a framework for describing and evaluating metric multivalence as an aesthetic element that uniquely contributes to the expressive potential of phrase structure and small-scale form in rhythmically complex music. 

Drawing on expanded definitions of musical meter (Benjamin 1984, Hasty 1997) I supplement existing metric theories (London 2012, Horlacher 1995, Roeder 1994) with a more robust consideration of harmonic rhythm adapted from Benjamin (1984). Brief glosses on examples reproduced from Hasty and London serve as a point of departure: I annotate Hasty’s projective analysis of a descending C-major scale, and add harmonizations to London’s “metrically malleable” melodies. I seek out similarly malleable melodies and phrases to learn how composers have harnessed their expressive potential. In my two primary examples, Mozart K. 282, and Bartók Violin Sonata no. 2, different harmonic images and thus, multivalent metric possibilities emerge depending on which elements of stepwise melodic passages are taken to be stable elements of a harmonic image, or “chord tones.”

In the Mozart example, sparse accompaniment, an unusual chromatic alteration (E♮5, m.7), and a cleverly re-contextualized rhythmic figure, combine to intimate a secondary pulse stream with a displaced downbeat in the Menuet. This particular multivalence—more than metric quirk—clarifies the harmonic coherence of the passage in a subtle and compelling way. Then, in the Bartók example, I present a triadic hearing of an unaccompanied violin melody revealing a harmonic underpinning whose rhythm interacts with, but remains independent from other accent patterns inherent to the line. Here, metric multivalence contributes to the sophisticated interplay among Bartók’s phrases, notably the complex inter-relationship of the violin melody and the latent notated 2/4 meter (elsewhere articulated by the piano). 

Having arrived at the Bartók analysis thusly, I understand its meter to be defined by fluid interaction of competing grouping structures that emerge unit-to-unit and phrase-to-phrase. In this view, the “meter” of a given work is a unique aspect of time organization expressed through its phrase structure and intra-opus references. From here, a theory of phrase structure in early twentieth-century chamber music begins to take shape.



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

Matthew Schullman, University of Oklahoma

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 analytic 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.

Reexamining the Loosely-Knit Subordinate Theme in the Classical Style: A Phrase Rhythmic Approach

Joseph Chi-Sing Siu, Eastman School of Music


Building on the idea of Schoenberg and Ratz that the subordinate theme is more loosely organized in comparison to the tight-knit main theme, Caplin described many loosening techniques that can be commonly found in the subordinate theme of the classical sonatas in his book Classical Form (1998). By adopting Schoenberg’s and Ratz’s view on the subordinate theme, Caplin believed that a wider variety of musical forces other than harmony and tonality could also contribute to our understanding of the contrasting nature of the subordinate theme. 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 detailed 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 structure. In several recent studies of musical form, 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. Based on Temperley’s observation, Ng (2012) argued that end-accented phrases can, therefore, be regarded as the first-level default in the closing zone of a sonata movement according to the compositional preference hierarchy in Hepokoski and Darcy’s Sonata Theory. In addition to his discussion on the closing zone, Ng also suggested how three types of phrase rhythmic pattern can inform the nine transition types in Sonata Theory.

Despite their detailed discussion on the closing theme and the transition, Temperley and Ng did not provide any systematic analysis or default levels for the subordinate theme regarding phrase rhythm. Therefore, it is my goal to investigate how hypermeter and phrase grouping interact in the subordinate theme of classical sonatas. Drawing from the analytical techniques developed by Rothstein, Temperley, and Ng, I plan to analyze all the sonata form first movements in the piano sonatas written by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven from 1760 to 1799. Through this corpus study, I aim to observe the common phrase rhythmic strategies that the classical masters utilized to enhance the looseness of the subordinate theme, and to collect the necessary data to formulate the various phrase rhythmic norms and default levels within the subordinate theme.


From my initial analyses, there are four main types of phrase rhythmic techniques that promote the looseness of the subordinate theme. First, the arrival of the hypermetrical downbeat of the subordinate theme is often preceded by a recalibration of the hypermeter. Second, the use of end-accented phrases in the subordinate theme presents a sense of instability and provides contrast to the beginning-accented main theme. Third, the frequent appearance of metrical reinterpretation and successive downbeat enhances the contrast with the tight-knit main theme often in regular hypermeter. And finally, the placement of strong hyperbeats on local dominant harmony rather than on the local tonic harmony creates metric contrast with that of the main theme.

Space and Time in Ursula Mamlok’s From My Garden

Ronald Squibbs, University of Connecticut 

Ursula Mamlok (1923-2016) occupied the unusual position of being one of the foremost female composers of her generation and one of its most prominent serialists. Mamlok began composing in a neoclassical idiom, but gradually adopted serial techniques in the 1960s and continued working with them until the end of her career. From My Garden for violin (1983) is a work from the middle of her career. With characteristic understatement, she described this composition as a “recipe,” a “game,” and a “homemade” system. Her modest description belies the sophistication of her compositional methods and the extent to which they penetrate deeply into the structural properties inherent in her chosen material.

The compositional environment of From My Garden consists of a row matrix, perhaps a metaphorical representation of the garden of the work’s title. The work’s main sections are generated by means of a series of systematic traversals of the matrix. These traversals result in the determination of the work’s pitch classes as well as the durations assigned to them. The characteristics of the various traversals of the matrix will be examined, as will their relation to the work’s large-scale formal plan. Consideration will also be given to the nature of Mamlok’s compositional practices in the context of feminist perspectives on American modernism.

Plainchant and Unicorns: What Fuzzy Set Theory Can Say about Musical Ontology

Kristen Wallentinsen, University of Western Ontario


Medieval plainchant in the Carolingian era was pressured to become a uniform practice across Europe. However, its origin as an oral tradition has resulted in differences in practice between local communities. Such differences have yielded many chant variants that complicate both the desires of the Carolingians as well as our modern understanding of plainchant’s ontology. These variants challenge one’s sense of melodic identity.

This multiplicity reflects larger discussions regarding musical ontology, which rely on human interpretation to understand the complicated nature of the musical object (Popper 1977, Ingarden 1989, Treitler 1993, Cook 2013). Treitler likens the musical work to “that of a unicorn” (1993, 483): the unicorn’s existence relies on individual interpretations, resulting in many depictions that obscure the “ideal image” of the unicorn. The multiplicity in the representations of both unicorns and plainchant therefore precludes the possibility of a single ideal form. In other words, the musical idea itself is fuzzy.

This paper examines how fuzzy set theory (Zadeh, 1965) contributes to understanding of musical ontology. The theory admits partial members into a family of related objects, and quantifies gradations of membership based on shared characteristics. Using a fuzzy model of contour transformation, I determine a contour’s degree of familial membership by calculating the probability that each move in the contour’s pathway is shared by other family members. Using fuzzy contour membership to quantify convergences and divergences between the notated variants of a chant, one can gain a more thorough understanding of the fuzziness within the musical idea itself.

Ursula Mamlok’s Path to Serialism  

Barry Wiener, New York, NY

Recent discussions of Ursula Mamlok’s music have focused on her use of serial matrices, pc invariants and tonal references in works of the 1980s (Straus 2009; Straus 2016; Shanley 2016), theorizing these techniques as normative in her music. In this paper, I discuss Mamlok’s gradual adoption of serial procedures in the 1960s and 70s, drawing on her private papers (now housed at the Akademie der Künste in Berlin). I provide an overview of her techniques and development, discussing selected works in detail together with associated sketches. My investigation helps to elucidate the nature of Mamlok’s unique synthesis of serial techniques and its relationship to her earlier non-serial twelve-tone compositions, written during her studies with Stefan Wolpe and Ralph Shapey in 1960–64.

Paradoxically, the non-serial aggregate-based techniques of Wolpe and Shapey heavily influenced Mamlok’s methods of serial pitch organization. In addition, Mamlok learned about serialism by studying briefly with Gunther Schuller (1961) and Benjamin Boretz (1968). Particularly in the case of works written between 1960–80, Mamlok’s use of diatonic and whole-tone segments within a series stemmed from Wolpe’s belief that consonances should no longer be presumed to generate tonal associations (Wolpe 2002). Mamlok also established temporary pc centers in her music, employing Wolpe’s concept of the speed of chromatic circulation and his technique of creating “focal points” (Wolpe 2002; Wolpe 1996). For example, in the ninth variation of Variations for Flute (1961), she symmetrically surrounds a pc from above and below.

Mamlok’s meticulously annotated manuscripts reveal that she sometimes employed non-serial twelve-tone methods. While she uses a twelve-tone series in the second movement of Designs (1962), the first movement is not serial. Rather, she employs unordered hexachords in Shapey’s manner. Mamlok’s increasing assurance in the handling of serial techniques culminated in her first use of a serial matrix during the composition of Stray Birds for Soprano, Flute and Cello (1963). In movement II, Mamlok spirals inward through the matrix, while in movement V, she spirals outwards. In movement V, this technique produces many whole-tone segments, in contrast to the chromaticism of movements I–IV.

In the Capriccios for Oboe and Piano (1968), II, Mamlok employed combinatoriality for the first time. When she composed the Sextet (1977), Mamlok extended her control to the parameter of rhythm and created several series permutations as well. My exploration of Mamlok’s evolution sheds light both on her artistry (clarifying her use of techniques that have been misrepresented) and on trends in American twelve-tone music that are often overlooked in the music-historical and music-theoretic literature. 

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