22 May 2015

Research Papers (Titles and Abstracts)

Titles and abstracts for the many and varied seminar papers I have authored and presented at conferences. Full texts of all listed papers are available upon request.

If you decide to cite my work in your own research, I'd love to have a copy of your paper as well!

Hearing Stylistic Lateness in the First Movement of Mozart’s Final Piano Concerto, K595


Given at Music Theory Midwest, May 8, 2015

Mozart’s Piano Concerto no. 27 in B-flat, K595, completed in January 1791, represents the composer’s final contribution to the genre. As such, it has been retrospectively designated a “swan song” or musical “farewell.” Mozart’s biographical circumstances do not support this notion; however, I argue that certain structural and expressive cues within the work itself (specifically the first movement) may serve as signifiers of musical “lateness” in a broad sense, as well as of Mozart’s own late style; and that as a result, stylistically competent listeners may perceive it as a “swan song” on purely musical grounds, without taking into account (or even being aware of) its date of composition. Furthermore, late style in the pre-Beethoven era has not been widely discussed; thus, I aim to address this gap in the literature, perhaps leading to the development of analytical models for stylistic lateness in this repertoire.
I will begin by defining stylistic lateness, both in general terms and how it manifests itself in Mozart’s music, drawing principally from Straus (2008) and King (1940). From there, I will focus my analytical attention on K595’s first movement, addressing aspects of large-scale form, phrase construction, instrumentation and orchestration, harmonic vocabulary, and topical content. My analysis endeavors to provide musically-grounded evidence that numerous possible “late-style” expressive cues are written into the first movement of K595, as a result of which listeners may choose to interpret the work as a swan song, regardless of his or her prior knowledge of Mozart’s biography.

Form and Deformation in Two Late-Romantic Italian Piano Concerti


Given at the MuGSA Annual Symposium at SUNY-Buffalo, March 3, 2013
Given at the South Central Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, March 15, 2013
Given at Music Theory Southeast, April 5, 2013
Given at the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, April 12, 2013
Given at the Biennial North American Conference on 19th-Century Music, July 12, 2013
Published online at MOSAIC: Journal of Music Research in October 2014

In their groundbreaking treatment of 18th-century sonata types, James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy discuss normative High Classical concerto designs in detail; however, they say very little about the Romantic-era concerto. They do briefly mention that through the 19th century, the concerto type (their Type 5) gradually merges with the "textbook sonata" prototype (Type 3), but they decline to elaborate upon this observation, since it involves repertoire that lies outside the stylistic boundaries of their study (Hepokoski and Darcy 435ff.). I seek to explore their claim further and, at the same time, pave the way for further scholarship on the later Romantic piano concerto literature, which has, to date, received scant analytical attention.
Since 19th-century Italian composers are sometimes categorized as musically conservative, I will turn my attention to two Italian piano concerti, my reasoning being that such "old-fashioned" repertory should, consequently, reveal more clearly which structural norms were still viable at that time. In addition, since their instrumental repertoire of this period is underrepresented in modern analytical discourse, my paper serves to address this gap. I will engage with Hepokoski and Darcy's ideas as they pertain to the first movements of two piano concerti by Giovanni Sgambati (op. 15 in G minor, 1880) and Giuseppe Martucci (op. 66 in B-flat minor, 1885). I will then compare the placement and functions of each movement's deformational features (particularly relating to issues of cadence), thereby uncovering structural commonalities that merit further inquiry.
My goals for this study are twofold: to initiate scholarly dialogue about the largely unstudied music of late 19th-century Italy, and also, more broadly, to build upon Hepokoski and Darcy's work by contributing to more specific definitions--and, in turn, a clearer understanding--of 19th-century solo concerto forms.

Echoes of Robert Schumann’s Unfinished Konzertsatz in D minor in his Introduction and Allegro for Piano and Orchestra, op. 134


Transformational Models of Narrative and Formal Design in Giovanni Sgambati’s Piano Concerto, op. 15 (2012)

The Italian pianist and composer Giovanni Sgambati (1841-1914), whose oeuvre is almost entirely dedicated to instrumental music, was something of an anomaly in the opera-centric environment of late 19th-century Italy. Perhaps as a result, his compositions, among them the Piano Concerto in g minor, op. 15 (1878-80), have been almost completely ignored in modern analytical circles. Sgambati’s three-movement concerto makes generous use of chromatic modulation techniques that may be readily mapped onto a variety of Neo-Riemannian spatial models, which, in turn, shed light on some unique aspects of each movement's tonal and formal organization. I contend that the Tonnetz model substantiates the idea of harmonic dislocation and alienation as a defining feature of both the second and third movements (albeit in quite different guises); for example, in the finale, such a model reveals that a seemingly extraneous restatement of the S theme actually plays a critical role in redirecting the tonal pathway back toward the original tonic node after the recapitulation proper had been forced to unfold over the "wrong tonic."
The goals of my discussion are twofold. Firstly, I aim to demonstrate that the Tonnetz model may be put to fruitful use in addressing an array of analytical issues, not only those relating to harmonic motion but also extending to questions concerning large-scale formal logic, potential narrative trajectories, and other parameters that might inform our hearing and interpretation of a particular work. Secondly, I endeavor to set a precedent for further analysis, discussion, and enjoyment of Giovanni Sgambati's heretofore understudied compositions.

"6" as a Marker of Alienation and Instability in Brahms's 'Wie rafft' ich mich auf in der Nacht,'" op. 32, no. 1


Given at the joint meeting of the Rocky Mountain Society for Music Theory and the Rocky Mountain chapter of the American Musicological Society, March 30, 2012
Given at the Dutch-Flemish Society of Music Theory annual meeting in Antwerp, Belgium, April 28, 2012

Throughout his compositional career, Johannes Brahms harbored a well-documented fascination with the 5-6 exchange as a motivic and harmonic device. This motive permeates the musical landscape of his early song "Wie rafft' ich mich auf in der Nacht," op. 32 no. 1 (1864), but Brahms does not employ 5-6 exchanges merely for their own sake: he exploits the expressive potential of the vacillation between 5 and 6 and calls upon it as an important symbolic and text-painting tool. Over the course of the song, various permutations of 5-6 and 6-5 exchanges embody the narrator's sentiments of anxiety and restlessness, while also symbolizing his inability to reclaim past time that he believes himself to have squandered. In my paper, I will trace Brahms's transformations of the 5-6 idea and the manner in which it fulfills the dual function of highlighting key points in the text (on a local level) and capturing the narrator's emotional instability (on a deeper level).

Unorthodox Modal Treatments in the Early Keyboard Works of Giovanni Gabrieli


Given at the Music Symposium at SUNY-Buffalo, March 3, 2012
Given at Music Theory Midwest, Ann Arbor, MI, May 18, 2012
Given at the Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music, July 13, 2012

The music of Giovanni Gabrieli (c. 1557-1612) reflects a transitional time in the history of Western art music: whereas Renaissance modal systems had dominated in the sixteenth century, the early seventeenth century saw them beginning to lose their grip in favor of functional tonality. Though Gabrieli is best known for his polychoral and basso continuo works that employ emergent tonal hierarchies, he also composed a number of keyboard pieces extemporizing on the twelve modes; however, discussions of Gabrieli's modal writing are largely absent from analytical discourse. In this paper, I will examine two of Gabrieli's solo keyboard works, the Fuga on the 9th Tone and the Ricercar on the 8th Tone (1595) --both of which partially or completely "break the rules" of Glarean and Zarlino--with the aim of situating their modal irregularities within the musical fabric of each piece as well as within the changing musical climate of Gabrieli's time.

A Glimpse of Heaven: Complex Emotions in the First Movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata no. 31, op. 110


Given at the Gesellschaft fur Musiktheorie annual meeting, Bern, Switzerland, Dec. 3, 2011
Pending publication in the 2011 volume of the GMTH Annual Conference Proceedings

As students and practitioners of music, many of us routinely take for granted music's ability to express and elicit emotion; however, we are just beginning to understand the compositional and cognitive processes that allow for the communication of emotional states through music. While straightforward emotions like happiness, sadness, and agitation can be depicted easily, cognitively complex emotions--for example, resignation, transcendence, or triumph--are more difficult to express, as they must emerge from a carefully crafted sequence of simpler emotions embedded within the music. As a result, many questions arise: what musical devices can a composer use in order to express a certain complex emotion? How does he ensure that listeners will perceive that particular emotion? What mechanisms underlie our perceptions, as listeners, of complex emotions in music?

I will address these questions via a nuanced discussion of the first movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano Sonata, op. 110 (1821), a product of the mature Beethoven's ongoing quest for expressive intimacy and emotional transparency in his late works. This work exemplifies the late Beethoven style in that it vividly communicates a personal, complex, compelling trajectory of emotional expression via purely musical and structural means. My analysis will draw on several theories of emotional expression, cognition and perception; most notably, I will engage with Robert Hatten's theories of composed expressive trajectories and of virtual agency and Jenefer Robinson's idea of the musical persona. I will also draw on Isabelle Peretz's work on the neurobiological underpinnings of musical emotions, David Huron's models of expectation and musical "thrills" (and, along those lines, Meyerian ideas on expectation), and Peter Kivy's theories of emotional gesture and contour, as appropriate.

Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum: Metrical Irregularity in Rachmaninoff's "March" Etude-Tableau in D, op. 39 no. 9


Given at the Florida State University Music Theory Forum, Tallahassee, FL, Jan. 15, 2011
Given at the Michigan Interdisciplinary Music Society Graduate Conference, Ann Arbor, MI, Feb. 5, 2011
Given at the Indiana University Graduate Theory Association Symposium, Bloomington, IN, Feb. 18, 2011
Given at the West Coast Conference of Music Theory and Analysis, Santa Barbara, CA, April 9, 2011
Given at the First Biennial Music Colloquium at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA, May 21, 2011

Sergei Rachmaninoff conceived his Etude-Tableau in D, op. 39 no. 9 (1917), the final work in the second volume of the Etudes-Tableaux, as a musical depiction of a heroic Oriental march. Such a designation inevitably brings to mind some of the musical characteristics that have come to be popularly associated with the march: a prominent and straightforward rhythmic identity, metrical regularity, four-square hypermeter and a fixed tempo are but a few of these. In Rachmaninoff's Etude-Tableau, however, these rhythmic and metrical conventions are almost immediately, and at times persistently, undermined. My analysis examines how various musical parameters within the etude act and interact, resulting in a piece whose metric profile often deviates significantly from that of the aforementioned "march" prototype, giving rise to a more malleable, abstract musical depiction, or tableau, of a march.

Although I include the entire piece in my discussion, my investigation centers upon the central B section, whose particularly unusual treatment of meter raises several questions: Why did Rachmaninoff choose to notate the barlines as they appear? Would a more normative, unaltered 4/4 barring scheme make musical sense when superimposed on the passage? Are there harmonic, group-related or other pitch events in the passage that mandate an irregular barring pattern? In order to address these questions, I draw on a variety of methodologies, including (but not limited to) the preference rules of Lerdahl and Jackendoff; William Rothstein's system of tracking hypermeter; and Schenkerian reductive analysis.

Variations as Thematic and Structural Analysis: A Closer Look at Mozart's K331


Published in Volume 4, issue 1 of the Malaysian Music Journal (Spring 2015)

In many discussions of Classic-era variation-form compositions, including those considered to be widely known and studied, analytical attention is showered upon the theme, while its variations are nearly, even completely, neglected. This practice can prove detrimental to the understanding of the theme: in situations in which various aspects of the theme, such as its fundamental structure, seem ambiguous or are subject to debate, careful study of the variations can reveal which features of the theme the composer found essential and, thus, worthy of preservation across the variations. The first movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Piano Sonata in A, K331, is a paradigmatic example of this analytical issue, and its variations serve as the focus of my analysis.

Analysts have long debated over various facets of Mozart's theme, most notably its Urlinie, whose identity is seemingly obscured by the unusual metric placement of scale degrees 3 and 5 in the upper voices. My investigation aims to demonstrate, among other ideas, that considering the behavior of the Urlinie in the variations and the coda may inform our perception, and guide us toward the composer's conception, of the generating theme's background structure. With these ideas in mind, I then undertake a detailed analysis of Mozart's variations and the procedures he employs in elaborating upon their shared Urlinie.

Accidentals on Purpose: The Use of Explicit Chromatic Alterations as Text-Painting in Selected Vocal Works of Dufay


From Codettas to Codas: The Changing Role of the Conclusion in Three Beethoven Piano Works


A Composition-Based Approach to Undergraduate Music Theory Pedagogy


Seminar Courses Taken:

Topics in Music Cognition (Spring 2015 - audit)
Tonal Systems in Early Music (Spring 2013 - audit)
Approaches to Sonata Form (Spring 2013)
Analysis of Post-Romantic Music (Fall 2012)
Musical Spaces and Transformations (Spring 2012)
Brahms's Harmony (Fall 2011)
Visualizing Music (Spring 2011)
Music and Emotion (Fall 2010)
Theories of Rhythm and Meter (Spring 2010)
Classical Variations (Fall 2009)
Advanced Schenkerian Analysis (Fall 2009 - indep. study)

Music History Seminars Taken:

Survey of Classical Literature (Summer 2012)
Robert & Clara Schumann (Spring 2012)
Mozart's Operas (Spring 2011)
Survey of Operatic Literature (Fall 2010)
Symphonic Literature (Spring 2010)
History of the Motet (Fall 2008)



Simon Finlow
22 May 2015
This is a huge range of subject material, Nicole. Very impressive. Can you give me access to your latest paper on K.595? Thanks.

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