Analytic Techniques: Final Project

Analytic Techniques: Final Project

Photo by Lorenzo Spoleti on Unsplash

For the last week of Analytic Techniques, we spent the entire time writing a paper analysis of Schumann’s Novelette, Op. 21, No. 1 in F major. The goal of the paper was to use all of the different techniques from the previous weeks (harmony, form/structure, melody, phrase structure & meter, ambiguity, and context) in our analysis.

Read More

Context

Context

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

Week 6 of Analytic Techniques adds the final “layer” of analysis to our tool belt: context. From the lecture material, context can mean musicological, historical, sociological, psychological, or many other “isms.” The lecture material discussed Brahms’ Fantasien, Op. 116, No. 6 as representative of his style and that of the mid-to-late-nineteenth century piano character piece. The reading in Engaging Music applied historical context to Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and we were asked to use the methods of applying historical context on a piece of our choosing for the discussion. The Application asked us to trace how Schubert developed an idea throughout his art song, "Der Doppelgänger," from Schwanengesang, D.957. Similarly, the Assignment asked us to analyze Schubert’s Daß sie hier gewesen! (That they were here!) in the vein of Carl Schachter's analysis of the first half of the song in Engaging Music.

Read More

Ambiguity

Ambiguity

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Week 5 of Analytic Techniques added the layer of ambiguity to our analysis. In this case, ambiguity refers to when an analysis of a selection of music is unclear. For example, tonal ambiguity occurs when the harmony does not imply a tonal center. The lecture material discussed tonal ambiguity in Bach’s Es ist genug from Cantata No. 60, the second movement of Mozart’s Sonata for Violin and Piano in Bb, K. 454, and Schumann’s Novelletten, Op. 21, No. 5. After reading an article on different types of musical ambiguity, the Discussion asked us to find a piece from the Classical or Romantic Eras in the Burkhart Anthology that contained a type of musical ambiguity. The Application analyzed the Prelude to Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde for tonal ambiguity, and the Assignment asked us to do the same with the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101.

Read More

Phrase Structure and Meter

Phrase Structure and Meter

Photo by Nicolas Thomas on Unsplash

Week 4’s new layer of analysis for Analytic Techniques looked at phrase structure and meter. To borrow from the introductory lecture:

The phrase structure is an interesting concept because it's articulated primarily through harmonic action in the background. But it does have a surface-level layer to it. We often see in a piece of music where the composer puts phrase markings, which may or may not line up with what is going on underneath. It's where there's a dichotomy between those two that's interesting.

We're talking about meter on a structural scale. The concept of Vierhäbichkeit (habit of fours), where we have normal groupings of four in a lot of music, where it's two measures plus two measures equals four measures, and those four measures plus another two-plus-two equals eight, and those form 16, etc. Where composers deviate from that concept and where they extend it or pull back… creates an interesting background layer of how meter works in a piece of music.

Read More

Melody

Melody

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

For Week 3 of Analytical Techniques, we added the layer of melody to our analysis. The lecture modules described this layer as the reverse of the process we did in Week 2 with Form and Structure—concentrating on the surface level rather than reducing it. We began by looking at the melody Bach used in the fourth movement of his Partita No. 1 in Bb (BWV 825). The Application looked at the fifth movement of Bach’s Cello Suite No.1 In G major, BWV 1007. For the discussion, we read an article analyzing the Presto from Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001. The Assignment was to analyze and compose a bass line for the Sarabande from Bach’s Partita in A minor for Solo Flute, BWV 1013.

Read More

Form and Structure

Form and Structure

Photo by Alain Pham on Unsplash

Week 2 of Analytical Techniques, Boston’s first graduate music theory course, uses Schenkerian analysis to look at the layers of form and structure of a piece of music. The lecture modules discussed surface design and how to look for changes within the design using musical character, texture, form, and other subtle clues. Examples from the lecture included Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor, K. 475, an excerpt from Hildegard von Bingen's Ordo Virtutum, Bach’s Prelude in C major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, the Presto from Mozart’s Violin Sonata, K. 526, and Beethoven’s Bagatelle, Op. 126, No. 1. Our discussion board post asked us specific questions about Felix Salzer’s analysis of Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor, K. 475. The Application assignment looked at the construction of Hugo Wolf’s Das verlassene Mägdlein. Finally, our assignment was to analyze the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13, "Pathétique" for structure and some Roman numeral analysis.

Read More

Harmony

Harmony

Photo by Marius Masalar on Unsplash

For Week 1 of Analytical Techniques, we reviewed analysis of harmony. Concepts covered included: types of chords occurring in tonal music, functions of chords, non-harmonic tones, expressive corrections, the Neapolitan 6th chord, augmented 6th chords, common-tone diminished 7th chords, and chromatic third relationships. On Thursday (March 21) night, we had our first optional Live Classroom in which the instructor walked us through our first application. By Friday, we had to submit a discussion board post. On Saturday, we had our second weekly optional Live Classroom answering questions about our assignment which was due Monday, March 25.

Read More

Analytical Techniques I — Graduate Music Theory at Boston University

Analytical Techniques I — Graduate Music Theory at Boston University

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

For the Spring II 2019 term of my doctoral program, I am taking MT600: Analytical Techniques, the required graduate music theory course. Prior to taking this course, students either have to (a) pass a Music Theory Proficiency Exam, or (b) take MT400: Graduate Theory Review, a remedial theory course that does not count towards the 48 required credits. The rest of this post will detail the Proficiency Exam and MT400 but mostly focus on the structure of the MT600 course.

Read More