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Keynote Address: The Embodiment of Piano Phase: de Keersmaeker’s Choreography

Gretchen Horlacher, Indiana University


Playing Steve Reich’s Piano Phase is a virtuosic act: two pianists must collaborate precisely, both as they play a long continuous stream of eighth notes in exact synchrony, and also - during the actual phasing -  as they create and withstand extreme asynchrony. Both players participate in this amazing act of temporal counterpoint, for as one player speeds up ever so slowly, the other must maintain the original sixteenth-note pulsations, letting go of the urge to match the emerging stream of the other. Listening to these processes is extremely engaging, but watching the players execute this miracle of microtiming is not especially dramatic, especially since the pianists’ hands remain fixed in a central position of the keyboard.

What might a visual representation of this music look like, and how can it reveal aspects of temporality not immediately evident in the music? I will consider how music and dance relate via the 1980 landmark choreography Fase by Belgian contemporary dancer Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker. Originally trained as a flautist, de Keersmaeker’s works often feature the repetition and variation of simple movements like walking and turning across long spans of time. Drawing from videos and notebooks the choreographer published about Fase, I will focus on how music and dance together manipulate our sensations of accent and flow.

















Tonal Function as a Signifier in Schoenberg’s Atonal and Twelve-Tone Music

Jack Boss, University of Oregon


Scholarship on Schoenberg’s post-tonal music gives substantial attention to the roles that remnants of tonality play. For example, Cherlin (1993) writes about “spectres of tonality”—bits of material that imply tonal function momentarily before that implication is contradicted, and Kurth (2000) offers an insightful discussion of how certain elements at the cadence of the first movement of the Op. 37 quartet enable D minor and Bb major, key areas important in earlier parts of the piece, to coexist in conflict. Johnson (2017) has considered the roles of such tonal references as “topics” within an atonal context.

But the musical material that suggests a key, according to these scholars, often consists of a handful of notes in a single voice, surrounded by a pitch context that contradicts the tonal attribution. In some cases, their tonal ascriptions are doubtful, or at least difficult to hear. But there do exist passages in Schoenberg’s atonal and twelve-tone music where all or most of the voices in the texture direct the ear toward a single key, where we can speak more confidently of “tonal function.”

I will analyze short passages from Erwartung, Op. 17, the Little Piano Piece, Op. 19, No. 6, “O alter Duft,” No. 21 from Pierrot lunaire, and the first Satire, Op. 28.  I will also, like Johnson, consider to what topics these uses of tonal reference as signs point. It seems that what is signified changes over time, from the realization of something dreaded in Erwartung, to regret at not being able to reach back (or up) into the tonal style in Opp. 19 and 21, to satisfaction with twelve-tone music as a replacement for tonality in Op. 28. 


Sigfrid Karg-Elert on the Three-Dimensional Pitch-Space Locations and Functional Meanings of the Diminished Seventh Chord

David Byrne, University of Manitoba


The location and representation of the diminished seventh (dim7) chord in pitch space present challenges to neo-Riemannian and related theories. The dim7 chord does not contain an embedded major or minor triad, and therefore cannot be directly reduced to a consonant triadic subset. While expansion to three dimensions enables representation of dominant and half-diminished sevenths (Edward Gollin), the location of the dim7 chord remains variable. In this paper, I examine how German composer and theorist Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933) situated the dim7 chord within his three-dimensional fifth/third/seventh pitch space (1930), which was essentially new for its time, and is identical to Gollin’s except for its retention of just intonation, and therefore its infinite expanse. Karg-Elert’s pitch space contains three differently-sized minor thirds, and thus numerous possible types of dim7 chord. After rejecting three possibilities, Karg-Elert describes two different “shapes” of dim7 chord that are viable harmonies with clearly definable functional meanings. One has precedents in earlier writings by Riemann and Eitz, while the other is original to Karg-Elert, containing an interval generated by the third dimension of his pitch space. I begin by locating Karg-Elert’s dim7 chords in the space, demonstrated using 3D Tonnetze, and aural realizations in just intonation. I then discuss the functional meanings of the two viable dim7 chords (plus hybrids of both types), in different harmonic contexts. Karg-Elert’s presentation enriches our conception of the diminished seventh chord, and vividly demonstrates his prodigious exploration of three-dimensional pitch space.


A Cascading Canon System and Its Hyper-Hexatonic Design in Holst’s “Lovely Venus”

Dustin Chau, University of Kansas


During his brief post at Harvard University, Gustav Holst (1874–1934) began indulging in a cappella canons. Upon his return to England in 1932, he finished setting his Eight Canons for Equal Voices to some of Helen Waddell’s translations of Medieval Latin Lyrics. “Lovely Venus”—dedicated to his Harvard colleague Wallace Woodworth and the Radcliffe Choral Society—is unique in this collection not only for its construction as an “à 3” stacked canon, but additionally for its voices entering at consecutive intervals of descending major thirds. This study draws connections among ideas from post-tonal canon systems and the extended common practice to codify the interdependence between melodic intervals and their generated harmonies, and the macroharmonic byproduct that results from such a union.

Another feature of these canons consists of each voice being assigned their individual key signatures. While his friends implored him to publish these pieces absent of any key, Holst believed that they were character-defining features for each of these canons. The analytical method applied to a reduction of “Lovely Venus” reveals a background structure that navigates through a large portion of the hyper-hexatonic system while exhausting a particular cardinal region via maximally smooth voice leading. The notated triple key combination between each voice symbolizes this hexatonic region and the uncanny system that inherently results from its restrictions. A surface-level macroharmonic analysis reveals a larger symmetrical set that is atypical to associate with this composer’s repertoire, and deepens our understanding of Holst’s harmonic language during his late compositional phase.



How Schoenberg Defines Formal Functions without Tonal Harmony

Andrew Eason, University of Oregon


Schoenberg claimed that “harmony alone, while contributing essentially to unity and articulation, cannot fill these requirements, since it needs other active art-means cooperating in the same direction” (1935). However, many studies treat his harmonic relationships as singular determinants of formal structure (Boss, Haimo, Hyde, Kurth, and Mead). But Schoenberg’s non-tonal works are also made comprehensible through purely formal “art-means,” suggesting that his rethinking of tonal form extended beyond just harmony. We must ask: what musical techniques did Schoenberg think helped establish tonal music’s formal functions and how are they made manifest in Schoenberg’s own compositions? In this paper, I will show that formal functions in Schoenberg’s Op. 25, Op. 30, and Op. 33b are established through motivic, rhythmic, and dynamic processes that are described in his theoretical writings.

 If we read between the lines in Fundamentals and The Musical Idea, we see how formal functions can be achieved through other non-harmonic parameters. Furthermore, I am embracing Kurth’s suggestion of “dis-regarding twelve-tone rows” (1996) by emphasizing more salient musical features from a listener’s perspective. And if we are to believe Schoenberg that these processes were already at play in the tonal masters’ music, then this research could have ramifications for formal studies at large.


The Ballad vi Chord in Pop Rock and its Relation to Phrase Rhythm

Stanley Ralph Fink, Florida State University


Although formal sections (such as verses and choruses) in major-mode popular-style ballads begin with a variety of chords, the submediant (vi) chord frequently appears exactly halfway through the formal section. While harmonic patterns in popular music have been investigated by Moore (1992), Biamonte (2010), and de Clercq and Temperley (2011), among others, this particular phenomenon—where the submediant chord does not occur on the first downbeat of a formal section but does occur half-way through the section—has yet to receive analytical attention. I call this chord the “ballad vi chord”because most of the songs in my study’s corpus exhibit markers of pop rock ballads, such as a slow tempo, accompaniment by a solo instrument, subjectively-oriented lyrics, and a personal mode of address. Borrowing from Rothstein’s (1989) phrase rhythm theories, this paper finds that phrase expansions only happen during the second half of the formal sections analyzed. Such findings suggest that, conceptually, the ballad vi chord always resides at the midpoint of an eight-measure or sixteen-measure basic phrase. After describing the ballad vi chord’s typical contexts, I will explore several exceptional treatments. 

Working with a corpus of formal sections from over 100 songs from 1960–2018 that contain ballad vi chords, I reduce each passage of music to eight downbeats, in order to examine the harmonies that occur at structural locations within these formal sections. Despite varied approaches to harmonic syntax, the harmonic patterns at the hypermetric level of these songs exhibit many commonalities.


O V, Where Art Thou? Notre Dame Polyphony, “Dominant” Sonorities,and a New Approach to Diatonic Set Theory

Jessica Fulkerson, Brandeis University


The paucity of medieval sonority analysis is largely due to the limitations of our current analytical approaches. Systems such as those developed by Fuller (1986) and Hartt (2010) are classificatory and become more complicated with additional voices. A labeling system like chromatic set theory works for any number of voices and indicates exact intervallic content, but may not recognize transpositions within a diatonic framework.

However, traditional diatonic set theory is also misleading because the same set can represent two sonorities that are strikingly different—aurally, functionally, or both. I propose an evolved system of mod7 notation utilizing “interval symbols” to show similarity in step-class content between sonorities while differentiating exact intervallic content. I apply this system to two tripla by Pérotin, "Alleluya Nativitas gloriose virginis" and "Alleluya Posui adiutorium."

Because a sonority’s function and stability largely depend on dissonance content, I also propose a system of “dissonance values.”

I then turn to the relationship between the “tonic” of Pérotin’s tripla and a handful of sets that act analogously to the dominant chord in Common Practice music in that they are more stable than any sound besides the home sonority and provide the main contrast to it. Factors such as intervallic content (dissonance value), metric placement, number of occurrences, and interaction with the home sonority ultimately point to one set type as the primary stable point of contrast to the home sonority: the “dominant” set type.


What Harold Saw in Italy: A Case for Narrative Agency

Ian Gerg, Chestnut College, PA


The topic of agency has enjoyed an increased presence in the music-theoretical discourse in recent years. Notable contributions include Seth Monahan’s 2013 article “Action and Agency Revisited,” which organizes agents—real and virtual—within an ontological hierarchy; Edward Klorman’s (2016) Mozart’s Music of Friends, which explores how multiple agencies interact and negotiate the virtual space in chamber works; and Robert Hatten’s (2018) A Theory of Virtual Agency for Western Art Music, a focused approach to agency that is a capstone of a research career that has articulated musical meaning within the structuralist tradition. At the foundation of this scholarship lies The Composer’s Voice by Edward T. Cone (1974). Within this slim volume, Cone makes the first notable attempt to tease apart the composer-as-historical-person from the composer-as-fictional-persona. In this pursuit, he locates agents, essentially musical characters, who are at times coterminous with individual instrumental parts but also are manifest in instrumental groupings, melodies, and other musical segmentations. 

Cone uses Berlioz as a starting point for a discussion of agency in instrumental music and hints at the observing and narrating role that a virtual agent plays in Harold in Italy. His examination of the piece is brief but illuminating, especially amid recent scholarship. In this paper, I revisit Cone’s analysis and advance it to more adequately reveal how Berlioz creates narrative agency within this symphony for solo viola. I center my analysis on the second movement, where the narrative agent—in the role of Harold—recalls actions from a lower level of the musical narrative (the diegesis) while remaining at a conceptual distance. The narrator or virtual observing agent tells us about diegetic actions without itself needing to perform these actions; this is a rare feat according to Carolyn Abbate (1991), who laments that music’s mimetic nature impedes an agent’s ability to direct attention away from itself. Harold, however, is undeterred and positions himself as a narrating agent with metric and rhythmic incongruities, instrumentation, and topical associations. 


Musical Idea and Levels of Symmetry in Roger Sessions’ 5 Pieces for Piano, #1

Laura Hibbard, University of Connecticut


There has been very little in-depth analysis of Roger Sessions’ music, and even less attention paid to the influence on Sessions of two of his closest friends, Arnold Schoenberg and Luigi Dallapiccola, the composer to whom the 5 Pieces were dedicated. In Schoenberg’s music, scholars refer to the musical idea as the process by which the Grundgestalt, the initial phrase presenting a problem, is worked out over the course of a piece. For Sessions, the musical idea is something more like a Grundgestalt: a musical impulse, generated by the demands of the ear and the imagination, that subsequently determines the structural, harmonic, and gestural aspects of a work. But it is not necessarily equivalent to the basic row in his 12-tone music. This makes it challenging to analyze Sessions’ 12-tone works. As Joseph Straus has noted, “…the row suggests possibilities and probabilities of combinations, but neither requires nor forbids any.” Indeed, while Piano Piece #1 contains only a handful of explicit row presentations, there is a complex, multi-dimensional exploration of the tetrachords that can be constructed through various combinations of dyads taken from the row. The symmetrical relationships in Piano Piece #1 similarly appear clearly on the surface of the music at times or deeply embedded in the musical fabric at others.


The Creative Use of Allen Forte’s Pitch-Class Set Theory in Chinese Composer Luo ZhongRong’s String Quartets

Lei Jiang and Mutian Du, East China Normal University, Shanghai


This article will discuss the creative use of Allen Forte’s pitch-class set theory in the well-known Chinese composer Luo Zhongrong’s four String Quartets. Pitch-class set theory first appeared in  China in the 1980s, drawing great attention. As a composer, Luo blended Chinese pentatonic and Forte’s pitch-class set theory creatively, and put forward the theory of a “complementary and combined pentatonic 12-note set.” His string quartets were based on this theory. Complementary pentatonic 12-note set theory, stemming originally from the Chinese pentatonic instrument Guzheng, has two pentatonic scales (5-35) built on the relationship of a semitone or tritone, then another two notes are added to create the pentatonic 12-notes as a 5+5+2 structure. The combined pentatonic set refers to a pentatonic set based on the cardinal numbers 4 or 3 as the core, to which is combined the 12-note set avoiding the complete pentatonic (5-35). 

In Luo’s four String Quartets, the pentatonic set has a comprehensive application.. In String Quartet No. 2, he puts a non-pentatonic interval into the set 5-35 in order to avert the integrated pentatonic 12-note set. String Quartet No. 3 is based on the cardinal numbers 4 or 3, continuing to explore the combined modes of avoiding 5-35 in a 12-note set. In String Quartet No. 4, Luo further expanded the 4 or 3-note set according to maximal pentatonic possibilities. Luo’s String Quartets were heard by Allen Forte in 2010 in China, and he gave them a high evaluation. 


Metrical Dissonance and Subliminal Hypermeter in Schubert's Sonata Forms

John Hei Yeung Lai, University of British Columbia


This paper explores a particular kind of interaction between metrical dissonance and phrase rhythm in Schubert’s sonata forms. By integrating theoretical concepts derived from Harald Krebs with the model of sonata form developed by James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy, I suggest that metrical dissonance and its associated phrase rhythm, to which I refer as “subliminal hypermeter,” can be heard to shape the structure and process of Schubert’s sonatas. To demonstrate such interaction between metrical dissonance, phrase rhythm, and sonata form, this paper analyzes the first movements of three of Schubert’s instrumental works: The Piano Sonata in E minor, D. 566, the Piano Trio in E-flat Major, D. 929, and the Piano Sonata in C minor, D. 958.

The works have three strategies of metrical dissonance in common. It may articulate formal boundaries, function as a loosening technique that expands a theme, or destabilize progressions that lead to structural cadences, especially in the problematized expositional closures characteristic of Schubert. Meanwhile, I argue that the particular metrical dissonances used in these pieces proceed in tandem with the teleological trajectories of tonality characteristic of sonata form. 

In sum, this study contributes to a growing literature on temporal relationships in music of the early ninetieth century (Hyland 2016; Krebs 1999 and 2014; VonFoerster 2011). Apart from its examination of metrical dissonance, this study also seeks to fill a gap in our understanding of the relationship between phrase rhythm and sonata form in Schubert’s music, a relationship that has been substantially investigated in other repertoires (Ng 2012; Rothstein 1989; Temperley 2008).


Give Me That Old-Time Cantus Firmus: An Analysis of Vocal Polyphony in the Carter Family’s Early Recordings

Brent Lawrence, University of Oregon


The Carter Family is remembered as a common progenitor for many country and folk artists. This is due, in no small part, to their signature style of vocal harmonization which relies heavily on building harmonic content around a cantus firmus, or lead vocal line. I will examine two songs from the Carters’ discography, specifically from their earliest recording sessions which took place on August 1st and 2nd, 1927. These recordings are demonstrative of the group’s aesthetic, which was carried throughout the 20th century and most certainly influenced their early period from 1927 to 1938. The repertoire recorded includes material for solo voice, duets, and three-part harmony. This analysis aims to parse out hallmarks of the Carters’ contrapuntal style, and further, consider how a given harmony part interacts with the cantus firmus. In addition to recordings, I will reference the Sacred Harp, a primary source, which is a choir treatise and tunebook the Carters would have been familiar with. Scholars have connected this book not only to bluegrass, country, and folk music, but to medieval European organum, as well. I will reference secondary sources and make additional comparisons to mainline contrapuntal technique. To date, there is not much theoretical research on the music of the Carter Family, only some rhythmic analysis. I hope that this project will begin to fill this gap and serve as a foundation for further research on the Carters and more recent artists.


Tonal Relations in Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela

Alexandre Negri, University of British Columbia


Sibelius’s treatment of harmony in the tone-poem Swan of Tuonela operates in a tonal space that is, I argue, neither truly diatonic nor fully chromatic but, instead, something ‘in-between’ sharing features of both spaces while at the same time establishing its own syntax. In this presentation, I demonstrate an analytical model designed in alignment with such a space. A typical aspect of nineteenth-century practice was the experimentation with complex harmonic relations such as those based not only on major and minor thirds but also on the semitone, whole-tone and tritone. Writers such as Harald Krebs (1980), David Kopp (2002), David Damschroder (2010), Richard Cohn (2012) and others, have often dealt with some of these (for lack of a better term) ‘non-normative’ harmonic relations from a Schenkerian and/or neo-Riemannian standpoint. However, such approaches tend not to consider harmonic ‘non-normativeness’ in a broader sense, and analyses often either disregard unusual harmonic events in favor of the whole or, conversely, focus on a local event regardless of its global significance. The harmonic structure of Sibelius’s Swan of Tuonela favors several ‘non-normative’ harmonic relations (which are particularly resistant to Schenkerian and neo-Riemannian models), namely the semitone, whole-tone and tritone relationships. Here, it is the tonic-tritone polarization, in lieu of the diatonic tonic-dominant tension, that engenders and supports the piece’s unique harmonic macro-structure.


Anti-Telos Choruses in Recent Pop

Drew Nobile, University of Oregon


Reports of the chorus’s death have been increasing in pop-critical circles. Indeed, after decades of “don’t bore us, get to the chorus,” many recent pop songs place their focus away from their choruses, subverting normative formal models and opening up space for teleological climax to occur elsewhere. One particular subversive technique pervades post-2010 pop music: after a textural buildup in a verse and prechorus, the chorus begins with a sudden and extreme drop in energy, negating any release of tension and making the chorus the song’s point of lowest energy. In this paper, I investigate the hermeneutics of these anti-telos choruses, drawing analytical examples from Top-40 hits of the current decade.

Anti-telos choruses in general serve two expressive purposes. First, they engender a sense of intimacy between song persona and listener. Drawing on Allan Moore’s concept of proxemics (2012) and Asaf Peres’s sonic functions (2016), I demonstrate that anti-telos choruses employ sonic techniques associated with closeness, such as removing reverb from the vocal line, omitting any accompaniment in the voice’s pitch range, and using a soft and quiet singing style. Second, anti-telos choruses open up space for other sections to act as a song’s energetic peak, thus threatening the chorus’s status as a climactic focal point. My discussion ultimately demonstrates how form is not just a basic template for song design but an inherently expressive feature of pop songs.


Thematic Narrative in Fanny Hensel’s Sonatas

Tyler Osborne, University of Oregon


Nineteenth-century composers’ resistance to convention renders notions of stylistic norms irrelevant. Paradigms of musical form thus become relegated to templates for frequent experimentation. However, as recent scholarship attests, just because we can label a formal procedure as “deformational” does not necessarily mean that we should. As an alternative to dialogic approaches to nineteenth-century sonatas, one might recognize that form itself becomes a conscious, creative element.

My presentation considers devices Fanny Hensel employs in pursuit of thematic narrative in her three piano sonatas and piano trio. I examine how Hensel’s formal experimentation stems from transformations in her primary and secondary themes, which I argue function less as dialogic processes, and more as interdependent narrative agents on sonata form’s stage. Similar thematic strategies are found throughout her sonatas, such as primary themes that evolve beyond purely initiating functions, and secondary themes that consistently defer closure to other thematic ideas. After initial appearances in the exposition, we find that Hensel exploits these traits further in her recapitulations, resulting in features including beginning on tonic inversions, delaying harmonic arrival to the secondary theme, and expanding the thematic rotation, all of which create a more vivid thematic narrative. 

Hensel’s sonatas demonstrate a treatment of formal archetypes that amplify the sonata process as an expressive tool through thematic transformations. Her attention to developing thematic narrative allows us to study how form as an expressive process evolves in nineteenth-century sonatas, and subsequently assumes a deeper role in the music itself.


Escaping the Duple Default: Two Examples of Phrase-Rhythmic 'Zehntaktigkeit'

Grant Sawatzky, University of British Columbia


Dahlhaus disagrees with Lerdahl & Jackendoff on the question of how—or whether—the ten-measure, and eight-measure phrases in Schubert’s A-minor Valse sentimentale are “irregular”: L&J (1985) understand its three ten-measure phrases as “irregular” groupings which are best appreciated via their asynchrony with an underlying regularity of a quadruple hypermeter; while Dahlhaus (1987) describes the piece’s lone eight-measure phrase as “forming an exception to the norm of ten-measuredness [Zehntaktigkeit].” These analytical positions take opposing views on whether meter and phrase-rhythmic norms are extrinsic, or intrinsic structures, and on whether the idea of a phrase-rhythmic “norm” ought to be defined on an intra- or inter-opus basis. In this paper I position Zehntaktigkeit as a property of phrase-rhythmic structure that need not be described as a “deformation” of an underlying quadruple (or octuple) regularity. I begin by presenting a gloss on L&D’s analysis of the Valse along with the Schachter analysis on which it is based (1980). I then contrast those readings with the Zehntaktigkeitinterpretation to which Dahlhaus refers in his review of GTTM and introduce a more flexible analytical approach to phrase rhythm that builds upon pre‑GTTM metric theories (drawing on Berry (1976), Benjamin 1984, Westergaard 1962, 1976) to describe emerging intra-opus temporal structures of phrases without appealing to an extrinsic duple default. To conclude, I demonstrate this approach to phrase-rhythmic structure with an analysis of Luther’s chorale tune "Nun freut euch, lieben Christen gmein"—another instance of phrase-rhythmic Zehntaktigkeit.


Form and the Jam: Defining Improvisation in the Music of Dave Matthews Band 
Micheal Sebulsky, University of Oregon

Current rock-oriented methodologies privilege studio-recorded song forms as the definitive Urtext. However, rock musicians often modify studio-recorded song forms during live performance. By infusing into their songs inherently fluid, heavily improvised sections, known as “jams,” performers create a paradox; the time-honored rock tradition of recreating the Urtext in live performance stands opposed to the in-the-moment newness of jamming.      


In this presentation I define three jam types—the Section jam, the Extension jam, and the Interpolation jam—and also provide a demonstration of each in the music of Dave Matthews Band. The group’s music makes for an ideal case study, as their concerts frequently feature the combination of studio-recorded song forms and improvisatory jams. With roots in jazz improvisation, the Section jam provides a medium for extended soloing through open-ended sectional repetition, while also maintaining large-scale formal boundaries. The Extension jam adds improvised motives within established sections, resulting in elongated forms. Interpolation jams create hybrid forms combining previously established motives from other songs alongside the expected form of the in-the-moment performance. 

To take one example of many, the band’s April 20, 2002 performance of “#41” is a thirty-two-minute profusion of all three jam types. A section jam featuring saxophonist LeRoi Moore precedes an Extension jam led by drummer Carter Beauford. Next, an Interpolation jam fuses “Sojourn of Arjuna”—a song composed by the evening’s special guests, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones—with the song’s established verse/chorus section, before an impromptu Extension jam by vocalist/guitarist Dave Matthews concludes the performance. 


The Dramatization of an “Irrationally Functional” Harmonic Space: Thomas Adès’s Powder Her Face

Kyle Shaw, California State University, Bakersfield


While various scholars have identified Thomas Adès’s primary means of generating pitch material—various patterns of expanding intervals both linearly and vertically—there remains a void in scholarly commentary on how his distinct musical voice interacts with the unique demands of articulating a coherent musico-dramatic form. Thus, in largely neglecting Adès’s 1995 opera Powder Her Face, scholars neglect the most sizable window into not only his early musical language, but also how the constituent aspects of that language work in tandem with the libretto to advance the operatic narrative.

Drawing primarily on the insights of John Roeder, Philip Stoecker, and Felix Wörner, I show the intersections between Adès’s pitch-generative patterns and triadic harmony, including one particular configuration of four aligned interval cycles unique to Powder Her Face. I demonstrate how every possible permutation of this configuration yields the same family of set-classes, including a handful of triads and seventh chords. Adès, by shifting the alignment of the four interval cycles, shifts from one harmonic space to another. I argue that his choices as to which harmonic spaces to use are based in part on recognizable transformations of the triadic portions of each space, and that these transformations reflect and coincide with the dramatic developments of the work. Thus, in his quest for what he has called an “irrationally functional harmony,” Thomas Adès has tapped into a wellspring of expressive potential for the opera stage of the 21st-century.



Finding the Salsa Beat from the Positional Listening Perspective of the Dancing Salsero/a

Rebecca Simpson-Litke, University of Manitoba


In their 2007 study, Phillips-Silver/Trainor demonstrated how physical movement has the power to shape aural perception of meter, showing that it was not enough to observe physical movement; in order for participants to hear an aural stimulus in the meter of a given movement pattern, they had to embody it themselves. Following other recent attempts to broaden how music theorists approach analysis, this paper investigates ways in which a dancer’s unique listening perspective provides insights into the musical structure of salsa songs—insights that would not be made without such an embodied experience. To illustrate this approach, we will examine the song “Yaye Boy” in some detail. The initial lack of percussion in Cuban group Orquesta Aragón’s arrangement highlights the metric ambiguity of the opening melodic line, making the interpretive job of the dancer particularly difficult as none of the musical accents align with the entry points of the possible basic footwork patterns. While NY/Senegalese group Africando’s arrangement clarifies the location of the downbeat, supporting the ambiguous melodic line with the interlocking percussion patterns typical of salsa, this arrangement soon highlights a larger-scale hypermetric irregularity in the song’s phrase lengths. Because the footwork pattern is a hypermetric cycle spanning two measures of music, dancers are acutely aware of and affected by disruptions in the phrase structure. Through their physical interactions with such frequently occurring moments of disorientation in salsa, dancers may either increase the tension of or help to reconcile metric conflicts, adding exciting interpretive layers to the art form.


Hemiolas in Non-Isochronous Meters

Jay Smith, Texas Women’s University


A provocative title such as “Hemiolas in Non-Isochronous Meters” likely arouses skepticism. Indeed, non-isochronous meters are incompatible with Richard Cohn’s conception of hemiolas: “any successive or simultaneous conflict between a bisection and trisection of a single time-span.” Cohn recognizes the limitations of his methodology, a limitation addressed by Zachary Cairns, who posited “shared-cardinality grouping dissonances” that occur in non-isochronous meters. Although Cairns’s methodology illustrates occurrences of grouping dissonance involving non-isochronous pulses, it does not illuminate relative level of dissonance as Cohn does. Cohn addresses level of dissonance by expounding simple, double, and complex hemiolas, the latter defined as 2:3 conflict occurring at three or more metrical levels. This paper brings together Cairns’s discussions of shared-cardinality grouping dissonance and Cohn’s hemiolas by modifying Cohn’s metric states and metric space visuals to allow for non-isochronous pulses. These modifications illuminate metrical conflict in a variety of repertoires, including Holst’s “Mars”from The Planets, Gabriel Pierné’s Piano Quintet, no. 41, and Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Próle do Bébé, no. 2.


MarwaBlues: The Indian Topic in the Music of George Harrison

Emily Vanchella, University of California, Santa Barbara


What does it mean when the sitar, a classical North Indian (Hindustani) instrument, appears on a Beatles song? And what does it mean when the musician responsible, George Harrison, places India and the West on a collision course throughout his musical career? Topic theory may provide insight into these questions. Adopting Danuta Mirka’s definition of a musical topic as a musical object out of context, and William Echard’s characteristics of the “Indian topic” in psychedelic popular music, I demonstrate how Harrison utilizes and, differently from his contemporaries, expands upon the Indian topic (Echard 2017; Mirka 2014; Leng 2006; Scott 1998; Dowlding 1989; Reck 1985). Transferring the concept of the continuum of exotic borrowings to my research (Momii 2015), I argue that Harrison’s use of actual Hindustani musical structures as organizational elements is crucial to his construction of the Indian topic. In particular, I highlight three primary characteristics Harrison chooses to signify India: instrumentation, drone, and raga. I use analysis of musical topics and Hindustani raga theory, selecting three songs from different moments in Harrison’s career as case studies (Echard 2017; Mirka 2014; Rao et. al. 2002; Jairazbhoy 1995). As a result of his understanding of Hindustani performance and theory, Harrison pushed the Indian topic well beyond surface instances such as imitation and timbral effects (Echard 2017). Harrison’s instances of the Indian topic are examples of the “sympathy and rare understanding” he brought to Western and Indian musical fusion (Echard 2017; Leng 2006).


“Repeat and Repeat Again”: A Reexamination of Fuzzy Contour in Steve Reich’s The Desert Music

Kristen Wallentinsen, Albuquerque, New Mexico


Steve Reich’s The Desert Music employs a key aspect of Reich’s compositional philosophy: melodic phasing. The phasing process places the theme against itself at various levels of metric displacement (Cohn 1992, Roeder 2003), creating regions of multilinear melodies that challenge listeners to understand melody in different ways. Contour plays a significant role in the perception of these melodic processes. Ian Quinn’s (1997) analysis of fuzzy contour relations in The Desert Music provides quantitative evidence regarding the contour similarity of Reich’s melodies, but does not address the complexity with which this melodic similarity is experienced in the context of Reich’s phased musical fabric. 

This paper expands upon Quinn’s analysis, using a new model of fuzzy familial contour membership to analyze complex multilinear melodies that result from Reich’s phasing technique. I model the emergent melodic possibilities within the multilinear pattern by mapping the contour motions (ascent, descent, or plateau) of each melody in each passage onto a Contour Adjacency Grid that is framed on the total number of attack points in the passage. The resulting composite representation captures the probability of divergent contours as they occur throughout the passage, allowing for exploration of experiential possibilities afforded by the musical fabric. These affordances suggest further connections with phenomenological and cognitive theories of multistability (Idhe 2012, Karpinski 2012). By examining relationships between melodies in terms of these multistable possibilities, I offer a more sensitive account of the contour relations listeners may perceive within the music, providing a better understanding of Reich’s minimalist process.


Analyzing Mode in Huangmei Opera using a Dialogical Framework

Anna Wang, Harvard University


When analyzing the music of an unfamiliar culture, the manner in which the analyst handles her preconceived musical values and categories can profoundly influence the products of her analyses. A tolerance for cross-examination whereby the ‘musical other’ is allowed to interrogate the musical conventions held by the analyst (rather than purely vice versa) can unearth deeper facets of cross-cultural musical diversity than otherwise possible. Such two-way examination is an essential aspect of ‘dialogical performance’ as promoted by the ethnographer Dwight Conquergood (who in turn draws on Mikhail Bakhtin). I seek to bring this framework to bear on the analysis of Huangmei opera.  

The theoretical issue this paper calls into dialogical examination is the phenomenological and theoretical status of the sol-mode. In Huangmei opera, melodies which end on sol seem often to have structural primacy over those ending on do—an arrangement that is incongruous with the intuitions of a Western-trained theorist, who conceives of sol as subordinate to do. Rather than taking these opposed interpretations of sol merely as they are, I show that holding them up to each other’s scrutiny can illuminate a further set of theoretical divergences across the two musical cultures. In this case, differing aesthetic valuations of musical space come to light. Such associations are valuable for uncovering the implicit constructs which underpin unique musical systems, but their emergence relies on a dialogical mode of analysis in which the both the musically unfamiliar and the musically familiar are simultaneously held up as objects of study.