Session/Séance 1f: MusCan Panel 1 Form and Analysis

Session/Séance 1f: MusCan Panel 1. Thursday/jeudi 25 May 2017. 10:30AM-12:30PM, EJB 217.
Form and Analysis
     Chair: JOE ARGENTINO (Memorial University of Newfoundland)


1. “Breaking Through” Schumann’s Second Symphony
     Matthew Poon, University of Toronto

Analyses of the finale to Robert Schumann’s Second Symphony (1845) have struggled with its unusual formal design, resulting from a new theme that enters halfway through the movement. Quoted from Beethoven’s song cycle An die ferne Geliebte, this theme erases the expected sonata form. Because of this, Newcomb (1984), building on Dahlhaus (1978), argues against seeing it “in any one form,” an assertion Horton (2015) echoes in describing the theme as an “expanded chorale prelude” that “engulfs” and “liquidates” sonata form. I build upon these perspectives, suggesting that the theme is an early example of the Durchbruch (breakthrough), a term Adorno (1960) used to describe Mahler’s First Symphony, and later appropriated to classify a family of sonata form deformations (Hepokoski 1993). Broadly speaking, the breakthrough is a rhetorical display of new—or seemingly new—material on the musical surface that overwrites the expected recapitulatory moment. At the same time, this thematic rupture works at a deeper level to affect the outcome of the form, correcting a misguided sonata trajectory and restoring the expected tonal resolution. In the Second Symphony, the breakthrough features a previously-unheard theme, a surface display that nonetheless has deeper consequences in recovering the home key from the symphony’s tonal ambiguity (Roesner 1989). At the same time, comparisons of Schumann’s example with later ones, such as Mahler’s First, show significant differences in both breakthrough attainment and resulting effect, differences that in fact make Schumann’s example more extreme.


2. Toward a (Re)consideration of “Form” in the First Movement of the Fantasie in C, Op.17 by Robert Schumann
     Kenneth DeLong, University of Calgary

The form of the first movement of Schumann's Fantasie in C major has interested commentators since the middle of the nineteenth century. Most commentators use the basic ideas of sonata form to discuss this work, and there is little disagreement that, in some fundamental sense, sonata-like procedures are present in the movement and indeed inform the basic elements of its structure. These ideas include the presence of multiple themes, key contrast, developmental procedures, and the presence of recapitulatory gestures. However, when viewed again the backdrop of classical sonata form, including Beethovenian models, there are unmistakable irregularities. So the question remains: what might be the most convincing way to consider the form of this movement? Despite references to the genre of the fantasie, the actual title of the piece given by Schumann, there has been very little consideration of movement as a fantasie or what the formal conventions of fantasie might be, especially as understood by Schumann in the period in which the work was written. This paper offers a view of the work as a composition based within the fantasy tradition of the early nineteenth century as exemplified in previous fantasie-titled works by Beethoven, Hummel, Moscheles, and Schubert. The thrust of this analysis is to bring into relief the elements and conventions of the keyboard fantasie during the 1800-1830 period and their relationship to the structural shaping of Schumann's fantasie. Central to this discussion will be a re-consideration of the structural function of the problematic “Im Legendenton” section, as well as the truncated recapitulation, the elements that have caused the greatest controversy.


3. Reexamining the Loosely-Knit Subordinate Theme in the Classical Style: A Phrase-Rhythmic Approach
     Joseph Chi-Sing Siu, Eastman School of Music

Building on the idea of Schoenberg and Ratz that the subordinate theme is more loosely organized than the tight-knit main theme, Caplin (1998) described many loosening techniques commonly found in the subordinate theme of classical sonatas. However, in his classification of formal units within the tight-knit/loose continuum, Caplin did not recognize rhythm and metre as one of the possible criteria to contribute to the looseness of the subordinate theme. In this paper, I propose a detailed study of the loosely-knit subordinate theme in the classical style from the perspective of phrase rhythm. Phrase rhythm, as defined by Rothstein (1989), is the musical phenomenon that embraces both hypermetre and phrase grouping. In several recent studies (Temperley 2003 and 2008, Ng 2012), theorists have suggested that phrase rhythm indeed holds an important role in the articulation of formal structures. Drawing from the analytical techniques developed by Rothstein, Temperley, and Ng, my paper will report a corpus study on all the sonata form first movements in the piano sonatas written by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven from 1760 to 1799. From my initial analyses, there are four main types of phrase rhythmic strategies that the classical masters utilized to enhance the looseness of the subordinate theme: 1) the arrival of the subordinate theme is often preceded by a recalibration of the hypermetre; 2) the use of end-accented phrases; 3) the frequent appearance of metrical reinterpretation and successive downbeat; and 4) the placement of strong hyperbeats on local dominant harmony.


4. Pitch, Form, and Time in Two Works by Henri Dutilleux
     Robert A. Baker, The Catholic University of America

Henri Dutilleux described his croissance progressive (progressive growth) technique as a process in which “thematic elements” undergo gradual development such that by the end of the work, they “reach their definitive form.” But this directional quality is questioned by some works whose main element from the beginning also appears at the end, suggesting, as Dutilleux stated, “a notion of time as circular.” In this paper, I consider two works, Ainsi la nuit (1976), and Mystère de l’instant (1989), to show a broader conceptualization of the progressive growth technique in two ways. First, I expand upon existing analyses by Potter, Monpoel and Hesketh to reveal new evidence of Dutilleux’s technique in Ainsi ... in relation to pitch material by way of tri-chord pair analysis rather than the typical unordered hexachord approach to the opening chord. Second, I argue connections between movements in both works with Boulezian conceptions of smooth and striated time, and, in this light, show temporally proportional analyses of Dutilleux’s work that reveal goal-oriented formal locations consistent-ly signified by a disruption or negation of metered subdivision and coordination. To more fully realize these implications, I draw a connection to Deleuzian theories on Chronos versus Aiôn, the undivided extended present versus a durationless instant separating past and future. In conclusion, I argue that the progressive growth technique can be understood to operate beyond conventional pitch and rhythm relationships, carrying deeper connections on levels of musical time and form.



Thursday Schedule | Programme - jeudi
(Session 1 | Séance 1)

MusCan Office

MusCan is led by a committed community of volunteers from across Canada. You can contact our secretariat by mail, phone, or email.

10 Morrow Avenue, Suite 202
Toronto, ON
M6R 2J1
office [AT]