Federico Andreoni, University of Toronto
“Music Gestures: Projecting Present into Future”
This paper studies the relationship between clock time, perceived time, and enlargement technique in light of Arthur Prior’s tense logic and, in particular, of the notions of tensed event and instant. Tensed events are events whose position on the time continuum is specified. They are described by propositions such as “Event A occurred/is occurring now/will occur.” For Prior, time-ness is an integral component of tensed events, and not an external characteristic. Therefore, instants and the relationships between them are conceptual constructs generated by tensed events.
First, I will explore the applicability of tensed events and instants, as defined by Prior, to enlargement technique. In particular, I will argue that enlarged objects preserve all features of their originating objects. This implies that enlarged objects, like their originating objects, are tensed, as they contain time-ness at every instant in which they occur. Furthermore, since enlargement operates on objects when they come into existence, that is, in their present, enlarged objects are characterized by constant present-ness.
I will then argue that the discrepancy between the regular flow of clock time, and the frozen present-ness of the piece’s constituent enlarged objects, is crucial to our understanding of phenomena such as the perception of lengthening and/or compression of time in music. I will analyze this phenomenon though the application of Brian Alegant and Don McLean’s theory of tokens, which explains how enlarged objects can subserve multiple harmonic and melodic functions, and how they unfold in time to generate the large-scale design of pieces.
My research contextualizes the relationship between music analysis and time perception within Prior’s achievements in tense logic. My hope is that this will help foster stronger connections between music analysis and a broad spectrum of philosophical theories of time.
Maria Hu, California State University, Long Beach
“The Tenth Muse: Sappho Operas Lost in Time”
Just the mention of Sappho’s name brings erotic passions to mind. However, there is more to it associated with the name. In her lifetime, Sappho enjoyed a great reputation as a poetess and musician, whom Plato proudly called the “Tenth Muse.” Although today there are only about 200 surviving fragments of her work, Sappho’s poems remain powerful in their expression and imagery, influencing scholars, poets, writers, and musicians from her time to the present. Her legendary story of exile to a community of women has inspired opera composers Pacini and Gounod, as well as twentieth-century composer Peggy Glanville-Hicks; inspired by her timeless, expressive poems, all wrote operas about the Greek poetess. Although well-known opera composers, neither Pacini’s nor Gounod’s Sappho operas had successful revivals throughout the years. Glanville-Hicks’s Sappho was commissioned by the San Francisco Opera Company in 1963 with the anticipation of Maria Callas performing the title role, but was never produced. I believe there are a number of factors that may have contributed to each opera’s failure to remain or reach international repertory today. In this paper, I will present evidence of the various issues that may have affected the reception of each Sappho opera and specific reasons as to why the production of Glanville-Hicks’ Sappho was halted. The social-cultural context behind each work will be addressed and how this affected the gendered conception of the poetess as well as the performance of Sappho operas. Moreover, this reception study will bring a revived awareness of each composer’s Sappho inspired work.
Ben Negley, University of California, Santa Cruz
“Felix Mendelssohn and the Politics of Religious Identity”
The religious identity of Felix Mendelssohn has been a source of much debate since the composer’s death in 1847. Though he was raised in a Lutheran household and was baptized at the age of seven, both anti- and philo-Semitic commentators have portrayed Mendelssohn as a composer who personally identified with his familial Jewish heritage. In the service of his own German nationalist leanings, Richard Wagner looked to Mendelssohn’s religious identity as justification for his perceived musical shortcomings. Wagner was not the first to call Mendelssohn’s music unoriginal or uninspired, but he was cunningly able to combine this aesthetic criticism of Mendelssohn with the anti-Semitism felt by many Germans. Building on Wagner’s writings on anti-Semitism and ‘Jewish music,’ the Nazis attempted, both literally and figuratively, to erase Mendelssohn from German musical consciousness.
The German interpretations of Felix Mendelssohn’s religious identity sought to reinforce German racial pride and in the cases of Wagner and the Nazis, Mendelssohn’s Jewish heritage was shaped in the service of anti-Semitism. It is somewhat ironic, then that a similar disservice has been perpetrated by Mendelssohn commentators after the Holocaust. These writers have looked to Mendelssohn as a source of Jewish pride; in reclaiming him as a Jewish hero, writers like Eric Werner and Michael Marissen have attempted to lionize Mendelssohn as a Jewish character who fought against German anti-Semitism. Werner’s 1963 biography was the first to draw extensively on primary documents, but in overemphasizing, and on at least one occasion, fabricating anti-Semitic incidents in Mendelssohn’s life, Werner failed to give a faithful account of Mendelssohn’s religious identity. Similarly, in a 1993 Musical Quarterly article, Michael Marissen built a faulty case for the philo-Semitic nature of Mendelssohn’s version of the Bach St. Matthew Passion.
Building on the extant scholarship, this paper traces Mendelssohn reception and the ways in which commentators have both vilified and celebrated the composer for what they perceived as his Jewish identity.
Hang Nguyen, Texas Tech University
“Contemporary Popular Reception of Chopin in the Mass Media”
In a list of television advertisements that implement Chopin’s pieces as background music in the mass media, one is reminded that advertiser’s seek to combine the connotations of a given piece with the interpretation of a contemporary pop culture audience in America in the commercial. However, the message of the advertisement may or may not conform to the conventional associations from the piece selection. Sometimes, the advertisement will project a sense of mockery, irony, or a general contradiction or misappropriation of the advertiser’s objective in conjunction with that of the music.
Drawing upon five commercials, this paper demonstrates the recurrent trope of “destruction,” as presented externally, which may conform to or contradict the given Chopin work’s prior connotations. Interestingly, two of the samples contain superficial mockery of the presented trope itself, thus not conforming to the mood of the music. This study will suggest in such cases, contemporary American advertising practices ‘play with’ the presumed audience’s associations with Chopin’s music, conforming to or contradicting them for purposes of strengthening the marketing message. The discussion of Chopin’s music in contemporary American popular culture reveals an area for musicological investigation of Romantic music’s subjective and layered connotations.
Laura Emmery, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Elliott Carter and Marcel Proust: The Multiplicity of Time”
The most integral aspects of Elliott Carter’s highly intricate rhythmic, metric, harmonic, and formal ideas in his First String Quartet (1951) derived from literary sources. Carter often spoke of the profound influence Marcel Proust’s novel, Remembrance of Things Past, had in shaping him as a composer. This monumental oeuvre inspired Carter to compose music that would embody the human understanding of time. Proust achieved this by treating time as a strong and vivid entity, a critical notion Carter emulated in the 1951 Quartet. The particulars of this topic remain largely unexplored. By way of a close reading of the novel, I account for the key Proustian ideas that Carter adapted to his quartet: memory, continuity, circularity, simultaneity, and the transformation of characters.
For instance, Proust’s view on simultaneity transpires from the human experience of time. The Narrator recounts his life by venturing into the past and reliving episodes through memory. Time is no longer perceived as a chronological unfolding of actual events; rather, it is defined by the order in which memories enact. This fragmentation gives rise to the juxtaposition of synchronic and diachronic temporalities: the Self of each individual is fractured into multiple present- and past existences. Intrigued by the phenomenon of the multiplicity of time, Carter developed a sophisticated idiom to present this paradox. Using a complex language—distinguished by the simultaneous integration of opposing rhythms, meters, and tempi—the quartet dramatizes the contrast between the special time of the Quartet, and the general time that surrounds it.
In this paper I explore Carter’s First Quartet from a new angle. Drawing parallels between literature and composition, I will show how Proust’s techniques in Remembrance of Things Past influenced the development of Carter’s distinct musical language.
Joel Hunt, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Metrical Dissonance in the Music of Steve Reich”
In his Fantasy Pieces: Metrical Dissonance in the Music of Robert Schumann (1999) Harald Krebs forms a model of temporality based on the superimposition of periodic pulse layers. Though many of his contemporaries embraced a similar concept, Krebs’ theory is unique in that rhythm and meter are considered a composite phenomenon. By distancing himself from theories that regard rhythmic motion as a separate entity, acting independently against an unchanging hierarchically organized metrical grid, Krebs is able to quantify any metrical state. The identification, description, and criteria for the establishment of a metrical state, be it consonant or dissonant, is the focus of his work.
Krebs proposes a labeling system in which relationships between multiple layers of motion are represented numerically. The open-ended nature of his system, free from the burden of notated meter and bar lines, allows for a more inclusive application with fewer analytical restraints. The concepts and tools set forth can be applied to the music of any composer writing from within any musical language in which periodicity plays a role. For instance, the music of Steve Reich, a minimalist primarily concerned with the exploitation of temporal possibilities, can be understood through Krebs’ theory. In particular, Reich’s concept of “phasing,” a process by which repeating rhythmic and or melodic cells of equal length gradually shift out of metric alignment, is closely related to Krebs’ idea of displacement dissonance: a variety of metrical dissonance that results from the misalignment of congruent layers of motion. In the following paper, the opening of Reich’s Eight Lines (1983) will be examined in light of Krebs’ theory to demonstrate the universality of the model and it’s specific value in the analysis Reich’s music. Furthermore, taking Piano Phase (1967) into consideration, displacement dissonance will be explored in detail to expose possible shortcomings of the theory.
Breena Loraine, San Diego State University
“Architectural Acoustics and Music: Reverberation Time as Inspiration for Today’s Composers”
Composers throughout history have been influenced by the architectural acoustics of the venue for which they were writing. Site-specificity, composing for a particular space, has especially influenced sacred music composed for cathedrals and chapels in Western Europe, such as Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, and Thomaskirche in Leipzig. While many studies have examined the works of historical composers, compositions of living artists have remained relatively overlooked. King’s College Chapel, known for its resonant and reverberant acoustics, commissions a choral piece for its Nine Lessons and Carols service each year. Commissioned in 1987, John Rutter (b. 1945) stated, “the sound of King’s might be a subconscious influence on all my choral writing,” and Gabriel Jackson (b. 1962), commissioned in 2009, claimed, “while writing the piece [I considered]…the acoustic of the building, and the unique sound of the King’s choir in that building.” This study examines how the effects of reverberation time have inspired Rutter’s and Jackson’s creation process for these commissioned compositions. Musical analysis of Rutter’s “What Sweeter Music” and Jackson’s “The Christ Child” highlights the influence of reverberation time on harmonic progression, rhythmic variation, and the use of dynamics in composing for this space. This study, supplemented by statements by the composers, reveals the relationship between the acoustics of the chapel and elements of their compositions. This research will contribute to extant literature in the field, since it will continue the efforts of scholars, such as Leo Beranek and Michael Forsyth, and prove that, as historical composers essential in the development of Western music were influenced by architectural acoustics, so are living composers. Like the historical composers, these living composers are determining the development of music based on features of space, especially the effects of reverberation time.