Joint Meeting:

Music Theory Southeast and the  South Central Society for Music Theory

Friday, February 27- Saturday, February 28

Emory University, Atlanta


From Landfill Management and Wastewater Treatment to Mozart: Using Multiple Linear Regression to Model Musical Contour

Danny Beard, Florida State University

"Contour" is often described as the outline or general form of an irregularly shaped object.  Precise measurements of both the vertical and horizontal components must be used to produce a viable model of the object.  Music theorists have used contour involving pitch and time as the vertical and horizontal dimensions, respectively, as an analytical tool for post-tonal compositions.  In their theories, precise measurements of pitch and rhythm are not used; instead, pitch is identified by sequential values from lowest to highest, disregarding actual pitch and pitch interval, and rhythm is reduced to temporal order, eliminating a pitch's actual articulation in time.  In this paper, a method is presented that incorporates both the actual pitches and the rhythm in its model of melodic contour.

The method is based on multiple linear regression, a mathematical technique used by scientists and engineers to reduce a set of numerical data into a polynomial equation that best represents that data.  In this preliminary study, multiple linear regression was used to model the first themes from the first movements of the nineteen piano sonatas composed by Mozart, generating an equation and a graph to represent each melody.  Doing so revealed that the themes could be categorized into two melody types identified as "Type MD Melodies" and "Type LB Melodies."

The regression method for modeling melodic contour is then compared to the similarity measures proposed by Elizabeth Marvin and Paul Laprade, and to the contour reduction algorithm of Robert Morris.  Opportunities for further application of the method and for future research are also described.

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About Triple Hypermeter

David Smyth, Louisiana State University

Since its coinage in 1968 by Edward T. Cone, the term "hypermeter" has gained wide acceptance.  However, analysts continue to disagree over some of its most basic attributes.  Most analysts do agree that when hypermeter occurs, it is almost invariably duple in organization.  In this presentation, I question why this should be so, and examine several cases in which organization by threes may extend far beyond the level of the notated meter.

We shall begin by revisiting the famous "Ritmo di tre battute" passage from the Scherzo of Beethoven's Ninth, and considering some alternatives to Richard Cohn's provocative 1992 analysis.  Two further examples from Beethoven (from the String Quartet, Op. 74 and the last of the Bagatelles, Op. 126) allow us to explore the possibilities of compound hypermeasures and triple groupings at numerous durational and metrical levels.

Cone opines that works of the Romantic period are perhaps most susceptible to the dangers of excessively regular hypermeter.  While I agree, I contend that some Romantic composers were aware of the problem, and discovered ways to circumvent it.  Passages using triple hypermeter occur in the Scherzo of Mahler's Fourth Symphony, and the first movement of Tchaikovsky's First Symphony provides a remarkably extended and complex application in which triple hypermeter provides a fresh and attractive alternative to duple and quadruple temporal hierarchies.

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Night Phantoms Begone! Pervasive Fluency in Wolf's "In Der Frühe"

Evan Jones, Florida State University

A central issue in the analysis of late nineteenth-century music has been whether Schenkerian theory can account for its chromatic character or whether it truly represents a "second practice," separate and apart from classical tonality. While Schenkerian theory can be shown to address much chromatic music, its diatonic bias prompts questions about its applicability to later tonal styles. A different approach is offered by neo-Riemannian theory, which formalizes the group-theoretic properties of various chordal transformations (involving minimal or "parsimonious" voice leading) in twelve-tone pitch-class space. But neo-Riemannian theory offers no meaningful hierarchical description of the music it models. As a third option, this paper introduces an analytical methodology that speaks to the intersection of diatonic and chromatic realms in nineteenth-century tonality. A detailed analysis of Hugo Wolf's 1888 song "In der Frühe," from Gedichte von Eduard Mörike, will illustrate this mode of analysis and will highlight several important issues of interpretation. In a characteristic synthesis of darkness and light, and evoking "night phantoms" at the song's midpoint, Wolf first cycles down by perfect fourths in minor keys, then up by successive minor thirds in major keys recalling ascending third cycles with similar textual associations in his earlier song "Morgenstimmung" and in "Isolde's Transfiguration" from Wagner's Tristan. Although the unique tonal design of the song resists a traditional Schenkerian reading, a new approach to voice leading in chromatic harmony makes a hierarchical interpretation possible. Wolf's song is given such an interpretation, based on a paradigm of voice leading termed "pervasive fluency," which affords a leveled interpretation of tonal structure in chromatic music.

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Every Love but True Love: Unstable Relationships in Cole Porter's "Love for Sale"

Michael Buchler, Florida State University

In the thirties, Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" was better known for its lyrics than for its music. This song about prostitution, with its references to soiled love and the price of paradise, was famously banned in Boston and even raised a few eyebrows on Broadway. I will demonstrate some ways in which Porter musically depicted his tawdry lyrics, coupling ambiguous and non-functional harmonic structures with disguised and incomplete contrapuntal lines. For comparison, portrayals of "true love" in two of Porter's more normative torch songs will also be considered.

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Working From 8 to 5: Interpreting the Interrupted 8-line in American Song

Edward Latham, Temple University

For most music theorists, the term "interpretation" has two principal definitions: 1) the hermeneutic process of sifting through analytical results to arrive at a unique and insightful reading or critique of a given work; 2) the process of preparing and presenting a unique and insightful performance of a given work. If analysis is the fruit of music theory, then critical and artistic interpretation are, or ought to be, the fruit of analysis. Ideally, each type of interpretation should influence the other, though music theory as a discipline often privileges the unidirectional path leading from critical interpretation to performance.

Examining five songs from the American musical theater and popular song repertoire--"Bess, You Is My Woman Now" from Gershwin's Porgy and Bess (1935), "Lonely House," from Weill's Street Scene (1946), "Somethin's Comin'," from Bernstein's West Wide Story (1956), "Green Finch and Linnet Bird," from Sondheim's Sweeney Todd (1979), and "Don't Know Why," from the Norah Jones album Come Way With Me (2002)--this paper will demonstrate the impact that one particular music-theoretical construct, the Schenkerian interrupted 8-line, can have on both types of interpretation. Bearing in mind that the target audience for a critical interpretation is the reader, while a performance is intended for the listener, the analytical results presented here will be held to the twin standards of rhetorical persuasiveness and aural salience. Brief excerpts from the five songs will be performed to suggest both possible artistic interpretations and the ways in which they, in turn, could influence future analyses.

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A Day in the Life: a Close Look at the Conclusion to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Pandel Collaros, Bethany College

Several Beatles songs feature unusual and sometimes apparently unique forms that grow out of the imaginative materials absorbed and created by them.  In the case of "A Day in the Life," both John Lennon and Paul McCartney played major but separate roles in initially what was an unwitting collaboration.  As this collaboration became conscious in their minds and in that of producer George Martin, the result evolved into a fitting coda to what might be the most significant rock album of all time.  How this is achieved in terms of the music itself is the focus of this study.

Analysis and commentary comprise the bulk of the paper and follow the song largely in a linear fashion from beginning to end.  Appropriate connections and comparisons are made among passages, motives, harmonies, rhythm, instrumentation, articulation, etc. in an effort to elucidate the complete structure.  Illustrations feature notation in full-score, conventional harmonic and formal analyses, and also a specially devised melodic analytic notation.

In addition to and contributing to the discernment of the song's form, two overarching analytic observations become apparent.  The first deals with concepts of threeness in terms of third, mediant, and ternary.  The second has to do with the song's plagal flavoring.  These observations are examined in detail.

In summary, what arises is not only a detailed formal, harmonic, and melodic analysis of the piece, but also some observations on the stylistic differences between two of the most important pop composers of the twentieth century and how their individual contributions along with those of their producer combine to form this distinctive piece of music.

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On Tonal Closure in Pop-Rock Music

Guy Capuzzo, University of North Carolina-Greensboro

Music theorists have developed powerful tools for the analysis of common practice compositions that lack tonal closure, the property of beginning and ending in the same key. Bailey's theory of directional tonality, Harrison's linking analysis, Schenker's auxiliary cadences, and articles by Agawu, Krebs, and McCreless are representative examples. But the jury's out on how to analyze pop-rock songs that lack tonal closure, since the techniques developed in the above studies do not always apply to pop-rock songs. The literature on pop-rock songs that lack tonal closure focuses almost exclusively on the "pump-up," a sudden modulation by ascending half- or whole-step at the end of a song; the work of Everett, Kaminsky, and Ricci is relevant here.

This proposal demonstrates one way that hypermeter, clock-time duration, and form can outweigh tonality in the creation of closure in pop-rock music. In "Julia," by the acclaimed Houston power trio King's X, these factors imbue the song with a firm, though different, sense of closure.

Many pop-rock songs "compensate" for a lack of tonal closure through strict hypermetric regularity, but few forge a tonal path as winding as "Julia." No functional relationship exists between the E and A tonal centers; hypermetric regularity and clock-time duration foster large-scale coherence in the absence of traditional tonal closure. The song ends with a tonal question mark, but an emphatic metric and clock-time period.

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Mapping the Soundscape: Variation Form in Electronic Dance Music

Rob Keller, Florida State University

Electronic Dance Music (EDM), a musical genre left relatively unexplored in music theory, offers music theorists numerous exciting opportunities for analytical inquiry. In this paper two works, New Home by Plaid and Journey to Reedham by Squarepusher, are examined to demonstrate the presence of variation form in EDM. Variation form is evoked by EDM producers in their music through the combination of constantly reiterating material (forming a ground bass) with developing material (creating variations). In Plaid's New Home, variation form is evoked by way of a repeating bass figure containing a stepwise descent, making it reminiscent of numerous traditional passacaglias. All of the melodic material in this piece is composed from this ground bass figure. Thus, even in the absence of this bass voice, the ground remains intact since melodic material can serve as both ground and variation simultaneously. In Squarepusher's Journey to Reedham, variation form is evoked in a similar but unique fashion. The ground bass in this piece consists of two reiterating ostinati. Though the duration of one ostinato is two measures and the other is four, structurally important events in the music dictate the presence of an eight-measure ground bass. Once it is understood that the eight-measure ground bass is constructed from nested two- and four-measure ostinato figures, distinct variations can be shown to exist. The two pieces examined demonstrate how the compositional techniques of variation form are both borrowed and modified to fit with this genre of music. Analyzing the formal aspects of EDM works affords a unique perspective on what is happening in the music.

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Hearing an Old Story in a New Way: An Analysis of Loewe's "Erlkönig"

Nancy Rogers, Florida State University

Goethe's famously evocative "Erlkönig" was set dozens of times during the nineteenth century. The most acclaimed renditions were by Franz Schubert and Carl Loewe (who is relatively unknown today, but was well respected throughout Europe during his lifetime). The two composers approached the task very differently: Schubert's song is typically praised for its musical characteristics (e.g., the use of a unifying motive), whereas Loewe's song is commended for its conservative adherence to the text, including its preservation of Goethe's meter and form.

While many of Loewe's contemporaries preferred his Erlkönig to Schubert's, modern musicians tend to denigrate the work.  However, I believe that the music for Loewe's setting has been significantly mischaracterized and even misunderstood because it has not received the careful attention afforded to Schubert.  Loewe's Erlkönig depicts the drama effectively (albeit in a more restrained fashion), capturing the galloping horse, the defenseless child, and the uncanny Erlking.

It is not my intention to demonstrate the musical superiority of one Erlkönig setting, let alone to declare either Loewe or Schubert the greater composer.  Rather, it seems to me that Loewe has a different musical story to tell, and it's a story that I believe is well worth hearing.  As Loewe himself pointed out, there is more than one way to set a text.

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Prolongation of Agony: A Reductive Analysis of the Amfortas' Prayer Scene from Wagner's Parsifal

Scott Baker, University of Southern Mississippi

Despite Schenker’s well-known comments concerning the lack of tonal organization in Wagner’s music, numerous scholars have successfully applied reductive analysis to the composer’s later works to demonstrate the presence of a tonal middleground. Analyses by William Mitchell, Warren Darcy, and Patrick McCreless, for instance, have shown that much of the dense chromaticism that separates Wagner’s music from that of earlier tonal composers can be explained as foreground phenomena decorating a more traditional diatonic middleground structure.

Part One of the paper explores passages of Harmonielehre where Schenker discusses contrapuntal voice leading without a change of Stufen. In contrast to his declaration in Der freie Satz that, “Wagner was a musician lacking in background perspective!”, these passages seem to indicate that Schenker sensed the same tonal organization, at least on a more surface level, elucidated by later scholars with their respective linear reductions.

Part Two presents a reductive analysis of the Amfortas’ Prayer scene from Wagner’s Parsifal, taking as a point of departure David Lewin’s famous study of the same measures. While Lewin’s analysis focuses on formal and transformational aspects, mine reveals that the scene also prolongs D major/minor and contains a chromatic linear descent from ^5.

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The Drama in the Music: A Theoretical Interpretation of Samuel Barber's A Hand of Bridge

Beth Smith, Florida State University

Prior to the mid 1950s much of opera analysis could be described as glorified synopses and motivic labeling.  In 1956, Joseph Kerman's Opera as Drama became the catalyst for numerous and ongoing investigations of how music, text, and drama interact to create meaning in opera.  Since Kerman's groundbreaking work, a variety of theoretical approaches to opera analysis have been explored to accommodate the three areas of the operatic genre.

The current study calls upon a variety of analytical tools to illuminate aspects of the plot and the individual characters of Samuel Barber's opera A Hand of Bridge that have been masked within the music of the opera.  The entire opera itself is a mere nine minutes in length.  Thus, Gian Carlo Menotti's libretto for this opera can provide only the most essential details within the text itself.  Barber's musical setting expands on the text providing for the analyst (or audience) a dramatically motivated score.  This paper examines the dramatic function of the music while providing a theoretically based interpretation of each of the opera's four characters and the underlying themes of the opera itself.  On the surface, Sally, Bill, Geraldine, and David are simply two married couples playing bridge.  A deeper, musically informed, reading of the characters and plot suggests an entirely different scenario: Four individuals longing for an unfulfilled desires, "bidding their hearts out," and hoping for love and power.

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Transpositional Parallels in Uninterrupted Sonata Types: Schubert and Beyond

Boyd Pomeroy, Georgia State University

This paper considers various aspects of the "parallel sonata form," in which the exposition's modulation is transpositionally replicated in the recapitulation, thus preserving, rather than resolving, the exposition's essential tonal duality. Three angles are relevant here: First, from a Schenkerian perspective parallel sonatas do not fit the interruption paradigm (since the recapitulation will begin off-tonic), hence must be read as uninterrupted: whether a 3-, 5-, or 8-line will depend on the exposition's tonal type (P-S relation) together with the transpositional relationship between exposition and recapitulation. Second, such structures constitute "sonata deformations" in Hepokoski's sense, as extreme departures from generic norms/defaults. Third, from a historical perspective certain parallel practices pioneered by Schubert can be viewed as prototypical, subject to creative extension and transformation by later composers.

While Schubert's penchant for one particular parallel scheme, the subdominant recapitulation, has often been remarked on, his more adventurous alternatives--such as the dominant recapitulation--have been little analyzed. Schubert's realization of the scheme's varied potential hinged on his innovation of the "late-resolving" exposition or recapitulation, illustrated here by two symphonic movements. Later nineteenth-century options included 1) the compositional "problematization" of historically familiar parallel procedures (such as the subdominant recapitulation), as justification for their continued use; and 2) further extension of Schubert's innovative procedures--in chromatic scope, range of transpositional options, or (from the "late-resolving" recapitulation) deferral of tonal resolution outside of "sonata space" altogether. These possibilities are illustrated by concerto movements of Schumann and Rachmaninov.

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Schenkerian Analysis and the Imperfect: a Case for Interruption at ^3

Michael Baker

Schenker's concept of interruption represents an important link between voice-leading structure and formal design, which is often created by the repetition of previously heard music at different points in a given composition. Schenker explains in Der freie Satz that interruption occurs only at ^2 over V. This concept of interruption is very effective in explaining the relationship between the two phrases of a parallel period in which the antecedent ends on a half cadence, the consequent on a perfect authentic cadence. Another, albeit less common, period type occurs frequently in tonal music, one in which the antecedent closes on an imperfect authentic cadence, followed by a perfect authentic cadence in the consequent.  

The purpose of this paper is to examine a specific melodic type which seems to descend from ^5 to ^1, with an interruption at ^3 rather than the more typical ^2 over V. This interruption at ^3 is caused by the close of the antecedent phrase on an imperfect cadence, followed by a return to the Kopfton ^5 in the consequent. This newer model of interruption at ^3 will be compared to Schenker's discussion of the "freer divisions" of the line from ^5, discussed in Der freie Satz. Furthermore, in many of the melodies exhibiting this type of parallel period a structurally salient scale-degree ^3 is missing in the final descent, resulting in a gap between ^4 and ^2 in the fundamental line. It will be shown that this absence of ^3 in the final descent has as much to do with parallel phrase structure and harmonic rhythm as it does with line completion, and, in a way, counterbalances the strength of the close on ^3 in the antecedent phrase.

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The Role of Non-Tonic-Key Variations in the Large-Scale Organization of Brahms's
Variations for Four Hands on a Theme Robert Schumann, Op. 23

Hiu-Wah Au, Elizabethtown College

A common feature of variation form is the preservation of key and voice-leading scheme in all variations.  Based on decoration and repetition, variation form consists of a series of discrete pieces that share one harmonic-contrapuntal plan.  The absence of voice-leading and harmonic contrast has led Schenkerians to conclude that coherence in variation form derives not from a governing Ursatz, but instead from harmonic and voice-leading similarities between the theme and each individual variation. 

To overcome the static harmonic nature of the form, nineteenth-century composers explored tonal contrasts by writing variations in keys other than the theme's tonic. While harmonic contrasts between tonic-key and non-tonic-key variations can give rise to a governing Ursatz for an entire set, such large-scale organization is possible only if the non-tonic-key variations have different background schemes. An analysis of Johannes Brahms's Variations for Four Hands on a Theme of Robert Schumann, op. 23, demonstrates the presence of an Ursatz governing the whole piece.  Each secondary-key variation in this set has a different Ursatz than the theme; the respective Kopfton of each of these variations provides consonant support for the Kopfton of the theme.  Furthermore, Brahms employs the harmonic scheme of the theme as a device for large-scale organization: both the ordering of variations and the choice of key for each variation manifest the middleground harmonic progression of the theme.

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Harmonic Refraction, Flat Primary Triads, and the Harmonic Idiom of Shostakovich and Prokofiev

Gabe Fankhauser, Appalachian State University

While the flattened borrowed chords (bIII, bVI, and bVIII) and the Neapolitan triad (bII) have provided composers with coloristic harmonic resources for centuries, the pivotal role of primary triads (I, IV, and V) makes them less subject to such alterations. Whereas chords such as the flat-submediant may be used to embellish and "darken" an underlying simple harmonic palette, alteration of primary triads potentially undermines the fundamental progression and the tonality of the music.

Richard Bass has demonstrated how Prokofiev's use of harmonic "shadow" structure allowed the composer to explore simultaneously two harmonic structures in keys one semitone apart (as C major and D-flat major). This paper shows how Shostakovich uses similar devices and proposes that such structures are not limited to semitone relations but may be extended to more remote alterations. Analysis of Shostakovich's Prelude in C-Sharp Minor, op. 34, no. 10 shows how not only flat-tonic relations (C-natural, bI) but also triply flat relations (B-flat, bbbI) operate as displaced tonics. There is no modulation in the common sense of the term; the tonal center remains but briefly skewed. Such treatment of harmonies is idiomatic of Shostakovich, Prokofiev, and other Russian composers.

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"Angefangen Cannes": Schoenberg's Unfinished 1927 Work for Violin and Piano

Stephen Peles, University of Alabama

The same month, January 1927, that Schoenberg began the Third String Quartet, op. 30, he also began writing a piece for violin and piano. Work on the latter was interrupted by a trip to London, and not resumed until the following year; the piece was ultimately left unfinished. I examine in this paper both the violin and piano work itself as well as other unrelated sketch materials from 1926 and 1927 (housed in the archives of the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna) that bear upon questions of the composer’s interests at the time of its composition. The paper closes with some reflections on the extent to which our professional reification of a single Schoenbergian “mature twelve-tone technique” predicated solely upon the use of two-part inversionally combinatorial hexachordal arrays underestimates both the individuality of the works in question and the complexity and diversity of Schoenberg’s thought more generally.

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Tonal Entropy as Rhetorical Strategy in Webern's Op. 7, No. 3

Steven Harper, Georgia State University

Timothy L. Jackson has discussed rhetorical strategies of crystallization and entropy in the music of Sibelius and other romantic and post-romantic composers.  In this paper I will show how Webern employs a tonal entropy strategy in the Piece for Violin and Piano, Op. 7, No. 3.  The piece comprises three main phrases.  In the first, A is obviously the tonal center, and it is embellished rather conventionally with neighboring tones.  In the second phrase, F is the main tone, although A retains a presence, making F feel like the submediant.  However, the means of embellishing the centric F are not easily related to Common Practice Period techniques.  Finally, in the third phrase, there is no pitch center at all; instead we have three gestures, the meanings of which are gestural-rhetorical, rather than tonal-rhetorical.  In that sense, the piece begins firmly tonal, moves away both in pc-space and in embellishment techniques (thus beginning the process of undermining the intitial tonic), then moves to a passage which is completely non-centric; tonally speaking, the piece "falls apart."

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