This chapter considers the topical competency of late eighteenth-century amateur players and listeners. Focus is on selected string quartets by Haydn, Mozart, and Pleyel. The analytical strategy is comparative, and therefore the analyses are limited to movements governed by clearly defined topics. The troping of learned and galant elements is the focus of discussion of three minuet movements, all of which incorporate contrapuntal techniques to varying structural and expressive ends. Parametric density is the focus of discussion of four chasse movements. In both sets of examples, issues considered include topical content and syntactical function, topical dissonance, and social and cultural associations.
This essay examines how undergraduate composition teachers assess growth in their students’ work, and shows how assessment frameworks (such as rubrics) can be useful for college composition students and professors alike. The essay presents interviews with university composition faculty to establish the assessment strategies generally used in lessons. Next, it looks critically at existing frameworks and assessment philosophies, considering their strengths and shortcomings for departments whose students are growing ever more diverse in musical style and voice. Finally, it considers the composer’s task of designing an assessment framework for his or her studio, including areas of concern and possible starting points for organization.
Dance topics represent the largest and most pervasive category of late eighteenth-century topics. This chapter examines ballroom dances current in Vienna during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The repertoire is largely drawn from the Redoutentänze that Mozart composed for the imperial court balls held during Carnival season during the last three years of his life (1788–91). This rich and diverse group of works includes the most popular ballroom dances of the Classic period: minuets, contredanses, Deutsche, and Ländler. I have two objectives. The first is to provide an account of the prototypical features of each dance’s choreography and music and the correlations found between the two; the second is to introduce some cultural, social, and expressive meanings associated with these dances.
Walton M. Muyumba
“Brilliant Corners: Improvisation and Practices of Freedom” is a critique of John Edgar Wideman’s novel, Sent for You Yesterday. The chapter interrogates Wideman’s attempt to expose the limits of masculinity and racial thinking through his use of blues-idiom musical themes and jazz aesthetics in the novel. It argues that Wideman, rather than essentializing or reifying status quo conceptions of blackness and masculinity, offers through Doot, the novel’s narrator, a model of a blues idiom literary mind and body improvising within the liminal spaces of various identities, voices, and narratives. Wideman’s novel suggests that while improvisation can create various forms of freedom from shifting, dehumanizing constraints; it is also an ever-evolving, embodied practice that demands training and continual reinvention.
The brilliant style, described loosely by Leonard Ratner as rapid passages for virtuoso display, has been a mainstay of modern topic theory, often invoked in conjunction with the singing style to account for the basic contrastive mechanism of the classical style. This chapter explores some contextual bases for the topic, suggesting that eighteenth-century linguistic usage can offer useful nuance and proposing a topical home in the genre of the concerto. Illustrations relate to the concerto, aria, symphony, and quartet, and examine both keyboard and string virtuosity. At the heart of the brilliant style is a set of propensities for public and theatrical modes, tied to a sense of occasion; it can highlight tensions between composer and performer, and relates directly to our constructions of the active “persona” in a composition or performance.
This article defines cadence as a convention of musical ending realized through counterpoint. It encodes the principle of imperfect sonorities resolving to perfect sonorities. The authentic cadence is unambiguously enacted in a five-part texture, and its constituent parts can be rearranged through invertible counterpoint to create provisional endings, labeled clausulas. Analytic demonstrations of these cadences and clausulas are given in music by Bach and Telemann. The plagal cadence is defined in dualist terms as the counterpart of the authentic, while the half cadence is defined as an authentic cadence that stops at the penult. Cadences can be altered by rhetorical schemes of continuation or emphasis, and specific schemes of these kinds are named and defined.
This article examines the role of key and function as a component of Riemann's relational harmonic system. It is argued in this article that while the neo-Riemannian abstraction of Riemann's Harmonieschritte offer certain insights into the nature of chromatic relations in the nineteenth-century music, it has also resulted in a view of harmonic relations uncomfortably divorced and separated from the tonal and functional contexts in which they were conceived. In addition to examining the role of key and function as component of Riemann's relational harmonic system, and chromaticism, the article also suggests how neo-Riemannian analysis can benefit by reconnecting Riemannian harmonic relations to the functional tonal contexts in which they arose, illustrating the recovered and renewed nineteenth-century perspective with analyses of music by Beethoven, Schubert, and Wolf.
William E. Caplin
This article focuses on Riemann's theories of rhythm and meter. It specifically aims to clarify the criteria that Riemann uses in justifying his metrical analyses by examining his theories from two general perspectives. The first perspective assumes that musical events are understood to receive their metrical interpretation—that is, which events are deemed metrically accented and which are metrically unaccented—according to the mechanics of notation associated with that theory, such as time signatures and bar lines. This perspective is termed notated meter. The second perspective assumes on the contrary that the musical events themselves can express their own metrical interpretation independent of the notation. That is, the interaction of certain musical parameters (such as duration, motivic contour, duration) can engender a sense of meter in a listener who is unaware of how the music may be actually notated. This perspective is termed expressed meter. While Riemann failed to realize the full potential of his own skepticism on the status of notation, his attempt to account for the origin of accent on the basis of musical content alone remains a significant achievement in the history of metrical theory.
Jennifer D. Ryan
This chapter examines the evolution of three types of improvisation: a mode of literary composition, a method through which to advocate social change, and a theoretical practice. The theory that attempts to account for such improvisational strategies both simulates the material activity of improvisation and identifies the presence of improvisation itself as indicative of the first stage in an emerging literary genre. The chapter demonstrates the interrelated operations of these strategies through applied analyses of two texts, Mark Z. Danielewski’s experimental haunted-house novel House of Leaves (2000) and Edward P. Jones’s neo-slave narrative The Known World (2003). The argument locates improvisatory techniques in these two novels; examines the ways in which they diverge from preexisting theoretical trends in the fields of improvisation studies, postmodernist fiction, and the neo-slave narrative; and identifies these new improvisatory modes as signs of hitherto uncategorized literary forms.
This article considers the theme of inversional symmetry as it manifests itself in Riemann's theoretical writings and in late-nineteenth-century chromatic music. It examines the mathematical properties of the concepts of symmetry underlying musical systems and explores how these symmetrical properties can be brought to bear in innovative ways on musical structures. Section 1 of the article provides a historical background by examining Rameau and his proposed laws of tonal harmony which are invariant under four basic operations: reordering, octave shift, note duplication, and chromatic disposition. It also discusses Weber's Roman numeral notation which develops and fulfills Rameau's ideas. Section 2 discusses Riemann's “dualism” as an attempt to incorporate inversion into the Rameau/Weber collection of symmetries. Section 3 examines whether the “second practice” of the nineteenth-century chromaticism involves inversional symmetry. Section 4 provides a Riemannian understanding of dualism and Section 5 illustrates a contrapuntal approach by examining a Brahms intermezzo.