Session 1: World Views
(Joshua Gailey, Chair)
Sounding a History of Faith: Psalm 136 as Musical Cultural Memory for the Abayudaya Ugandan Jews
Emilie Coakley (Yale Institute of Sacred Music)
Throughout history, religious communities have used music to articulate a collective voice and sound. For the Abayudaya Jewish Community in Uganda, musical appropriations of the Psalms are simultaneously used as a profession of their Jewish identity and a vehicle to assert their own culture, language, and experience within the realm of World Jewry. Drawing upon cultural historian Marita Sturken’s idea of community artefacts as codifying cultural memory, I will postulate that the Abayudaya’s musical setting of psalm 136 has become for them a piece of musical cultural memory, celebrating the community’s freedom from the reign of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, while at the same time connecting the community’s struggles against oppression to the Exodus narrative of the Ancient Israelites, and ultimately to a larger Judeo-Christian tradition of psalm singing. By looking at language, musical style, and instrumentation of the Abayudaya’s setting of psalm 136, I hope to show how this community of Ugandan Jews celebrates their religious and musical heritage, while developing a musical sound and style that they consider uniquely their own. Ultimately, I hope that this exploration of musical re-appropriation of psalm 136 affirms ethnomusicologist Timothy Rommen’s idea of the “ethics of style,” showing how musical decisions made by a community are often theologically informed and can have far reaching cross-cultural effect.
Competing Cosmologies: Christian and Neoplatonic Representations in Early Triadic Theory
Benjamin Dobbs (University of North Texas)
Johannes Lippius introduced the term triad [trias] into musical discourse in Disputatio musica tertia (1610) and Synopsis musicae novae (1612). Though several earlier authors had developed their own terminologies to describe triad-like structures, Lippius’s term was the first to gain significant traction. The use of the specific word trias implied a close connection with Christian cosmology. The Greek word τρίας was first used to refer to the Trinity in the second century, and Lippius portrayed the three notes of the triad in the same manner in which St. Thomas Aquinas described the triune God. Writers embraced the idea of the triad, and it quickly became ubiquitous; however, not all theorists adopted the word trias—and its Christian connotations—as an appellation for the concept.
In 1630 Heinrich Baryphonus and Heinrich Grimm incorporated the triad into the second edition of Pleiades musicae without making reference to Lippius. They rejected the word trias, opting instead for triga. Though the two words have the same denotative meaning, triga more readily connotes horse racing than it does the Trinity. Baryphonus and Grimm additionally refer to the triad as a syzygia, an astronomical term referring to an alignment of three celestial bodies. Thus rather than reflecting Lippius’s overt Christian cosmology, Pleiades musicae is rooted in Neoplatonism. This paper explores Baryphonus and Grimm’s approach to triadic theory as an alternative to that of Lippius, bringing to light divergent philosophical orientations to one of the most significant developments in early-seventeenth-century music theory.
Mrs. Sweeny Agonistes: On Misogyny, Affect, and History in Powder Her Face
Nicholas Stevens (Case Western Reserve University)
Since 1995, opera critics have reserved some of their craftiest witticisms and most colorful epithets for Powder Her Face. Precious few commentators on the chamber opera, a former succès de scandale and current canonic staple by Thomas Adès and Philip Hensher, have made it through their reviews without at least one chuckle at the piece’s notorious “fellatio aria.” Unfortunately, the din of critical tittering over nude extras, bedroom antics, and that famously muffled vocalise threatens to drown out discussion of the more pressing issues at stake in this problematic piece. As in Berg’s Lulu and scores of other modern works, a sexually liberated woman—a character based the real Duchess of Argyll—falters and fails in a hypocritical and unsympathetic world, as though by historical mandate.
In this postmodern opera, camp overrides tragedy; sleazy tangos follow devastating laments. Many reviewers, professional and amateur alike, have faulted Powder Her Face for its heartlessness. Unable to empathize with the arrogant Duchess, they blame the composer, librettist, and directors. Few have discussed the hidden history of the scenario, a tale of various Lulus and Lolitas. None have traced these generative historical precedents forward to the final product, an apparently cold and misogynistic pageant of sneering aristocrats and frivolous sex acts. Indeed, academic musicologists have barely touched this or any other opera of the past twenty years. This paper examines the music, dramaturgy, and reception of Powder Her Face, and confronts the problems of gender, sexuality, and affect inscribed throughout the score and libretto.
Session 2: Performance
(Andrew Chung, Chair)
Glenn Gould and the Montage of Interpretations
Garreth Broesche (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Glenn Gould often drew an analogy: live theater is to film as concert performance is to studio recording. How so? In his writings, Gould cites one finished “performance” created by splicing together two contrasting interpretations of a piece; through editing, the finished version somehow becomes more than the sum of its parts. Here Gould’s use of editing appears to invoke montage technique in a manner similar to one of its uses in film: contrasting images (interpretations) are juxtaposed, bequeathing responsibility to the viewer (listener) to infer meaning not explicitly present in either. To paraphrase Walter Benjamin, the use of montage technique separates filmmaking from live theater, elevating the former to an independent art form. Do the ways in which Gould employs technology support the inference that there is a similar relationship between live and studio music?
My presentation centers on a detailed audio analysis of one Gould performance, his 1981 recording of Brahms’s Ballade, Op. 10/1. Through the examination of archival documents, close listening to studio outtakes, and my own recreation of Gould’s splicing scheme, I am able to unravel the facts of Gould’s studio practices.
For all the extant literature on Gould there is little that discusses—in detail—his actual studio process. Scholars have tended to take Gould at his word, but only by placing the focus on the historical truth may we evaluate the analogy between studio recording and filmmaking. My work, therefore, provides an essential contribution not only to the body of Gould literature, but more broadly to a discussion of the relationship between music and technology.
Haydn, Bar Jokes, and Minuets: The 1792 Ball of the Gesellschaft der bildender Künstler
Joseph Fort (Harvard University)
The extent to which dance suffused social life in eighteenth-century Vienna has long been acknowledged. However, little study has so far been attempted into how the somatic experience of performing the prevalent dance types might have factored into how people engaged with the music of this time, and how we might understand it today.
Drawing on materials from the Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv, I reconstruct in detail a ball held by the Gesellschaft bildender Künstler on 25th November 1792. This ball, held in Vienna’s Imperial Palace, was attended by much of the local nobility, as well as many of the city’s most noted artists: it formed a highly significant event on the social calendar. Joseph Haydn composed the dance music, especially for the occasion. My reconstruction focuses on the sheer logistics of getting the attendees into motion—how the music (and other factors) enabled a number of people to move together, in time. Considering one particular minuet in relation to its dance steps, I demonstrate how this may reveal a joke within the music.
This paper seeks to assert the importance of an event that was of great significance in its time but has since been neglected in scholarship. Moreover, it challenges the model typically employed in recent considerations of dance–music relationships: rather than assessing musical works against a background dance culture, it positions dance in the very foreground of the study, as (I argue) it would have figured in social life in eighteenth-century Vienna.
We Eatin’: Performance and Identity through Musicians’ Cookbooks
John Klaess and Peter Selinsky (Yale University)
Popular music artists in the United States and abroad have long looked to alternative modes of presentation to construct public identities and to effectively market them. This paper examines one such phenomenon, the authoring and publication of cookbooks. Analyzed through the lens of performativity (Austin 1954, Goffman 1959, Butler 1990), an artist’s cookbook constitutes a privileged site for the performance of the self that develops, solidifies, and disseminates a creative persona. We first look at the way artists establish rapport with their fan bases and argue that artists simultaneously reinforce and manipulate their public identities through recipe directions, ingredients, and visual representations. This improves our understanding of how artist’s identities are the product of a feedback loop arising between an artist’s production and reception. We then examine interaction between various levels of performativity extant in cookbooks, including the performance of authoring and presentation, the speech-acts implicit in recipe instructions, and the performance required of the fan in executing the recipe. We find the considered works overlap with several generic conventions, including the memoir cookbook (Bardenstein 2002), cookbooks as a site for community identity construction (Eves 2005, Ferguson 2012), and cookbooks as a location of community values and practices (Gabaccia 1998, Sutton 2001, Zafar 1999). Cookbooks considered include those by Coolio, Boy George, 2CHAINZ, Ted Nugent, and Isaac Hayes. This paper seeks to contribute to a growing literature on the construction of identity in popular music and the markets that arise through and around popular cultural production.
Session 3: Form and Syntax
(Becky Perry, Chair)
Interpreting Double Syntax and Transformation in Two Mussorgsky Songs
Owen Belcher (Eastman School of Music)
While Neo-Riemannian theory is often employed to analyze brief passages from the nineteenth-century repertoire, few Neo-Riemannian analyses attempt to interpret entire pieces, and Neo-Riemannian theory and traditional analytical tools are often viewed as diametrically opposed. This paper builds on work by David Brown (2002), Steven Rings (2011) and especially the compositional scripts and concept of triadic double syntax developed by Richard Cohn (2012) to craft a possible interpretation of two complete pieces through Neo-Riemannian transformational theory.
The analysis utilizes the concept of triadic double syntax as an interpretative device to elucidating a harmonic conflict in the first two songs of Modest Mussorgsky’s cycle Sunless, and to how Mussorgsky’s harmonic choices structure the songs and represent salient aspects of the texts. Both songs engender a conflict between Neo-Riemannian transformations and fifth-related harmonies. In “Within Four Walls,” the opening phrase mixes Neo-Riemannian transformations and fifth-related harmonies to “walls-in” the harmonic space of the song in an allusion to the title. Pessimistic lines of text are set to such “mixed” harmonies, while positive lines of texts are accompanied by harmonies that are either purely fifth-related or purely common-tone preserving. In “You Did Not Recognize Me in the Crowd,” Mussorgsky privileges fifth-related harmonies over common-tone preserving operations and repeatedly reinterprets a “Chord X” at the beginning of each section of the piece. I conclude that triadic double syntax can function as a powerful analytical concept, capable of unifying seemingly disparate modes of analysis.
On the Genealogy of Webern’s Lyrical Physiognomy
Sebastian Wedler (Oxford University)
Webern has long been considered to be a “musical lyricist.” Adorno, for instance, argued that Webern had been generally guided by the idea of “absolute lyricism.” Drawing on Karol Berger’s A Theory of Art, my paper takes “musical lyricism” to be a concept of temporality, a temporality of the decisive moment or “Augenblick” in which—as opposed to “narrative” or “dramatic-dialectical” orientations of musical form (for which middle-period Beethoven is something of the epitome)—the individual musical part rests in itself. That is, rather than contributing to an irreversible succession of musical events and in so doing establishing a hypotactical formal design, the individual musical parts in “musical lyricism” operate paratactically and are thus interchangeable, ultimately evoking the image of the virtual contemporaneity of musical events.
This paper takes the perspective that throughout his compositional output, Webern was concerned with these “lyrical” notions of temporality, and that it is this that arguably fundamentally distinguishes Webern’s aesthetics from that of Schoenberg or Berg. While these “lyrical notions” have only been addressed in Webern’s aphoristic and dodecaphonic works, this paper explores the genealogy of Webern’s “lyrical attitude” by an in-depth analysis of his first instrumental tonal works, which still form something of a terra incognita in Webern scholarship: Two Pieces (1899), Im Sommerwind (1904), Slow Movement (1905), and the Segantini Quartet (1905). It is in particular the shift from the seemingly improvised formal designs of Two Pieces and Im Sommerwind (products of Webern’s early auto-didactic period) towards a rather rigorous schematic large-scale architecture intertwined with the principle of developing variation as is evident in the 1905 string quartets (composed during Webern’s time studying composition with Schoenberg) that piques my interest. My paper suggests that underneath the string quartet’s (post-)Brahmsian surface, a remarkable resistance to treat musical form as a teleological or narrative development is evident. In so doing, this paper provides the foundations of a theory of “Webern’s lyrical physiognomy.”
“Work Bitch”: Hybrid Forms in Top 40/EDM Songs
Jeffrey Ensign (University of North Texas)
While electronic dance music (EDM) has been around for almost a generation, only recently has its influence been so pervasive in mainstream/Top 40 songs. To date, however, only two studies have addressed EDM from a theoretical-analytical perspective. Mark Butler argued that formal organization is modular and open-ended, stating that repeating entities function as building blocks, which can be combined with flexibility. Devin Iler catalogued specific techniques used to create these building blocks of “breakdown,” “buildup,” and “anthem” sections in house and trance music. These terms point to the nature of this music, which creates a sense of energy, expectation, and arrival. How these building blocks are arranged and interact with popular song forms has yet to be explored. Through an investigation of “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)” performed by Kelly Clarkson, “Firework” performed by Katy Perry, “We Found Love” performed by Rihanna and Calvin Harris, “Party Rock Anthem” performed by LMFAO, and “Work Bitch” performed by Britney Spears, my paper will demonstrate that the breakdown–buildup–anthem devices work both with and against traditional popular song forms, creating hybrid forms where the sense of energy and the expectations of listeners and dancers are manipulated.
Session 4: Musical Narratives
(Jonathan Guez, Chair)
Making Music Speak: Instrumental Recitative and Affective Eloquence in Three Eighteenth-Century Concerto Movements
Etha Williams (University Minnesota)
The eighteenth century’s preoccupation with the relationship between music and language was decidedly ambivalent and double-sided, caught between Enlightenment values of universal rationality and non-universal sensibility. On the one hand, analogies between the musical and grammatical structures helped ground music’s rationality: just as rhetoricians combined wellbalanced sentences and paragraphs, all revolving around a central point, so a composer was to construct his musical Sätze and Perioden within a well-ordered form. At the same time, however, the metaphor of oration also emphasized music’s role as a tool of affectively eloquent persuasion, through which composers could bypass listeners’ rationality and access their sensibility directly. These paradoxes manifest themselves particularly forcefully in the special case of instrumental recitative, which occupied a prominent position in the later-eighteenth-century’s empfindsamer Stil.
Contemporary writers were acutely aware of the paradoxes embedded in instrumental recitative; given that recitative’s express purpose is to match the cadences of spoken language, what should one make of recitative without words? In my paper, I first draw on Batteux’s widely disseminated theory of artistic imitation in order to argue that eighteenth-century instrumental recitative mediated tensions between music and language and between rationality and sensibility precisely through its deliberate divergence from vocal recitative. I then briefly analyze concerto movements by C.P.E. Bach, Mozart, and Haydn to demonstrate how their individual uses of instrumental recitative negotiated these tensions. Throughout, I contest the conception of the Classical era as a time of undisturbed rationality, foregrounding the unstable undercurrents present within its musical thought and musical sounds.
Antihero Worship: The Emergence of the “Byronic Hero” Archetype in the Nineteenth Century
Cora Palfy (Northwestern University)
The works of Lord Byron were a nineteenth-century tour de force that cemented Byron as one of the most highly influential authors of his time (Forster, 1991:81). Through his extensive and varied publications, Byron introduced what is referred to today as the “Byronic Hero.” This dark heroic archetype twisted standard behavior and defied the victorious plot outcomes associated with common Enlightenment conceptions of the “hero” by instead depicting a lovelorn, noble, but ultimately failed protagonist. The profound effect of this revolutionary hero-type inspired a new standard character that appeared in literature throughout Europe (Thorslev, 1962). However, Byron’s influence stretched beyond the literary into nineteenth-century art and musical works. Composers such as Berlioz, Brahms, Schumann, Liszt, Verdi, Tchaikovsky, and Strauss also incorporated Byronic plots and characters into their musical works (Pascall, 1988; Carpenter, 2002; Rutherford, 2010).
If the Byronic Hero was initially a manipulation of standard literary plot expectations and character types, how did composers adapt stock patterns and manipulate formal expectations in order to communicate a musical Byronic Hero? Analyses of Robert Schumann’s Manfred Overture, Op. 115/I, Hector Berlioz’s Harold en Italie, Op. 19/I, and Tchaikovsky’s Manfred Symphony, Op. 58/I, reveal that composers of the nineteenth century produced the Byronic Hero by troping (Hatten, 1994) the thematic, key, and formal expectations associated with A. B. Marx’s Beethovenian “Ideal Hero” (Burnham, 2000). My analyses demonstrate that the Byronic Hero archetype emerges from the complex layering of heroic, military, and ombre topics, thematic clustering, and formal deformation (Hepokoski and Darcy, 2011).
Competing Interests: Form, Programme, and Leitmotifs in Pelleas und Melisande
Scott Hanenberg (University of Toronto)
In Style and Idea, Arnold Schoenberg espouses his belief that musical form can be dialogic, comparing it to a house: “if one has more to say on the subject, one can assume of any listener that he has an ever-present image of a house.… Music must operate by putting together complexes whose familiarity is taken for granted” (Schoenberg 1951). This belief is fundamental to the organization of the composer’s symphonic poem Pelleas und Melisande, which combines large-scale form, leitmotifs, and programmatic narrative; crucially, when one method of organization is absent, the others carry the logic of the work forward. I argue that, through this cooperation among methods, formal features carry their own narrative implications in two scenes towards the end of the piece.
My analysis draws upon a number of texts, each of which focuses on only one or two of the many organizational aspects (e.g. Puffett 1995, Cherlin 2007, Vande Moortele 2009). Vande Moortele examines Schoenberg’s “two-dimensional” navigation of a four-movement symphony within an overarching sonata allegro movement in Pelleas. The two scenes I investigate pose a problem insofar as they are both “exocyclic” and “interpolated”—i.e., they take part in neither of Vande Moortele’s two dimensions. Because these scenes treat Melisande’s death and her earlier contemplation thereof in the narrative, I interpret their exit from Schoenberg’s established formal space as a dramatic reflection of Melisande’s dissociation from the world of the living.