Structure and Spectacle: Form and Genre in the Hybrid Twentieth-Century Symphony
This book project proposes a new analytical orientation toward twentieth-century symphonic form. Adapting ideas from literary theory and Rhetorical Genre Studies, Structure and Spectacle offers a conceptual reframing of genre and form by articulating a notion of form as constitutive of genre; in other words, musical forms, though conceptually distinct from genres, create, transform, mix with, and operate like musical genres. In structuring musical works, twentieth-century composers warped the received models of large-scale form, combined conflicting formal procedures, and challenged notions of long-range coherence.
Structure and Spectacle tells the story of six transgressive symphonic compositions: Richard Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie, Amy Beach’s “Gaelic” Symphony, Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige, Ethel Smyth’s The Prison, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, and Gustav Mahler’s Eighth Symphony. The methodology centers on their generic, structural, and expressive dynamics within the dual contexts of prior compositional practice and modernist musical thought.
Areas of Interest
• Form, genre, and counterpoint in the music of the early Modernist period, especially Gustav Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Alban Berg
• Transformational and post-tonal analysis, literature, resonance, and memory in the music of Henri Dutilleux
• Deconstructing assumptions of hierarchy and standard in theories of musical form through the lens of critical race theory
• Pedagogical approaches to musical form and teacher training
• Aesthetics and Adorno’s philosophy of music
• Analysis of commercial uses of music, advertisement jingles, and borrowed music
• Memory and perception of musical organization
• Approaches to phrase form, text, and meaning in Spanish and Cuban zarzuela
Music Theory Online 28.1 (2022)
This article addresses the network of forms and genres at play in Schoenberg’s First String Quartet, op. 7, proposing a conception of the work as a representation of urban life in fin-de-siècle Vienna. I offer a summary of the emotionally volatile program and prior analyses, highlighting the central points of contention between analysts. Most especially, these include the relationship between an overall sonata form and a set of intervening cyclic movements. I then problematize Steven Vande Moortele’s notion of “two-dimensional sonata form,” drawing from theoretical investigations into narrative levels and embedded forms in literary theory. The bulk of the article revolves around a thoroughgoing analysis of the large-scale form of the Quartet, presenting a novel reading that situates the work within a complex web of interacting forms and genres. The Quartet begins as a large-scale sonata form, which is interrupted by a juxtaposed cycle of interpolated movements. Upon the arrival of the rondo finale, the sonata is complete. I demonstrate that the rondo finale may be construed as a mirror to a large-scale overarching rondo that can explain the multiple dimensions of the entire work.
Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy 34 (2020) co-authored with Dr. Alyssa Barna
Peer observation involves instructors attending each other’s classes for the primary purposes of reflection and growth. Among faculty, observation is often limited to the context of tenure and promotion. The experience of observation is even more rare between graduate instructors, who very often do not engage with their peers in a community-focused manner. This article presents a three-phase study that gathers both quantitative and qualitative data on peer observation in the field of music theory. We collected data from both faculty and graduate instructors, and a peer observation system for graduate instructors was implemented concurrently. The article concludes with results and suggestions for development and implementation of a peer observation program at your institution, highlighting the reciprocal benefits of the observational experience for music theory instructors.
Music Theory Online 22.2 (June 2016) co-authored with Dr. Richard Bass
This co-authored article examines one class of parsimonious voice-leading transformations between tetrachords in which one of the chord members is held in common while each of the other three moves by half step. We focus on aspects of these “P3,0” transformations to examine 1) their place in the broader context of neo-Riemannian voice-leading transformations; 2)…
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In the first decades of the twentieth century, a flurry of composers in the German-speaking world were engaged in an arms race of sorts, creating musical monuments of extreme size and overt philosophical circumstance. As a discipline, music theory has struggled to address the large-scale formal dimension of these “maximalist” works, despite the persistent attention paid to formal theory in recent years…
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Review of “Taken by the Devil”: The Censorship of Frank Wedekind and Alban Berg’s Lulu. By Margaret Notley
Upcoming Conference Presentations
2022 Society for Music Theory 45th Annual Conference
Spoken Paper Presentation | New Orleans, LA
2022 Pedagogy into Practice Conference
Poster Presentation | East Lansing, MI | 3 June
This presentation proposes parallel and intersecting avenues for listening to musical form in introductory aural skills. Contemporary musics offer opportunities for inclusive formal thinking centered on a sensitivity to gesture, location, and texture. Each of these parameters allows for imaginative metaphorical listening—gestures as agents, location as movement through space, texture as group membership and sonic identity.
Past Conference Presentations
2021 Society for Music Theory 44th Annual Conference
Lightning Talk | 4–7 November
This presentation deconstructs contemporary notions of musical form by reexamining two commonly held music-theoretical paradigms: that musical form is necessarily hierarchical, and that formal procedures abide by historically inscribed standards of normativity.
2021 International Conference on Musical Form
Virtual Conference | 21–23 June 2021
In this paper, I present a corpus analysis of rondo- and sonata-like movements in Gustav Mahler’s symphonic works. Clear form-functional tendencies in his earlier symphonies differentiate sonata formal functions from related events in his rondo forms. I summarize these differences and demonstrate their mediation in the late symphonic repertoire: Das Lied von der Erde, and the Ninth and Tenth Symphonies. The second half of the presentation examines the third movement of his Ninth Symphony, the “Rondo-Burleske.” I balance formal function and Sonata Theory, while foregrounding genre and the theories of Mikhail Bakhtin in an account of the movement as a unique formal hybrid distinct from standard sonata-rondo prototypes.
2021 Music Theory Society of New York State
Virtual Conference | 15 June–15 September 2021
In this paper, I interpret the Alpensinfonie as an unstaged music drama, involving a dramatis personae and, following Hatten (2018), a virtual narrative conflict between nature and the hiker. After an overarching examination of the large-scale structure, I isolate three moments of interest to the dramatic arc of the movement: the arrival at the summit, the initiation of the descent, and the sonata recapitulation in the epilogue.
2021 Music Theory Midwest 32nd Annual Conference
Virtual Conference | 10–13 June 2021
In this paper, I chart a lineage from Messiaen (and Debussy) to Grisey by way of Dutilleux, demonstrating how the latter theorized harmonic resonance and sonic materiality and offering a novel linkage between the antithetical French schools of music represented by Messiaen and the spectralists.
2020 Society for Music Theory 43rd Annual Conference
Virtual Conference | November 2020
2020 Music Theory Southeast 29th Annual Conference
Virtual Conference | August/September 2020
Winner: Irna Priore Prize for Graduate Research
Titles speak volumes. For Eric Drott (2013, 4), titles serve “a ‘rhetorical’ or communicative function, in addition to a taxonomic one.” Gustav Mahler’s label for the third movement of his Ninth Symphony, “Rondo-Burleske,” establishes the work’s semantic and interpretive context, prompting the analyst to evaluate whether the movement is a rondo at all. Its title summons generic and formal expectations; yet, Mahler’s Rondo-Burleske is unlike any rondo before it…
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2020 Society for American Music 46th Annual Conference
Virtual | 18 July 2020 | 3:45pm Central Time Session title: “Popular Music and Commercial Recording” | Session Chair: Paula Bishop
A functional, multimedia approach to commercial jingles must account for many intersecting parameters. Roland Barthes provides a useful perspective for such analysis in “Rhetoric of the Image” (1964)—a complementary relationship between text and image…
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2019 Pedagogy into Practice
Co-Presented with Alyssa Barna
Santa-Barbara, California | 25 May 2019 | 1:30pm Session title: “Expanding our Approach” | Session Chair: Crystal Peebles
Peer observation is a valuable mechanism for faculty development. It helps teachers to be more self-reflective (Peel 2005) and can serve the purposes of both professional development and judgment regarding advancement. Additionally, reciprocal observation is effective for observer and instructor alike (Cosh 1998) and helps “foster colleagueship and community” among peers (Edgerton 1996, 17). Our review of the field finds that scholarship is available at the faculty level but virtually nonexistent for graduate instructors…
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2019 Music Theory Midwest
Cincinnati, Ohio | 10 May 2019 | 9:30am Session title: “Historical Readings” | Session Chair: Jonathan Guez
Many of Theodor Adorno’s essays on music constitute a blend of criticism and analysis; in truth, the author links them as forms immanent to the artwork itself. In this paper, Adorno’s analytical vignette for the first movement of…
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2018 Society for Music Theory 41st Annual Conference
San Antonio, Texas | 4 November 2018 |9:00am Session title: “Wagner and Mahler” | Session Chair: Matthew Bribitzer-Stull
The problematic status of sonata form in Mahler’s late symphonies has been well documented. Monahan (2015) argues that neither the opening movements of the Ninth nor the Tenth “feels much like a sonata” (29). All six outer movements of the late symphonies project varying degrees of dialogue with sonata form, and they do so by…
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2017 European Music Analysis Conference (EuroMAC IX)
Strasbourg, France | 28 June 2017 |2:00pm Session title: “Leading Figures of Modernity (I): Messiaen, Dutilleux, and Kurtág” | Session Chair: Yves Balmer
2017 Music Theory Society of New York State 46th Annual Meeting
Geneva, New York | 1 April 2017 | 1:30pm Session title: “Collections and Recollections” | Session Chair: Deborah Rifkin
In conversation with Roger Nichols, Henri Dutilleux described the method of composition that produced his lone string quartet, Ainsi la nuit: ‘There are small cells which develop bit by bit. This may perhaps show the influence of literature, of Proust and his notions about memory’ (Nichols 1994, 89)…
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