Music Theory


Music Theory Department Colloquium Series (2011–12)
Wednesdays, 3:30PM, M267

This page lists colloquium series events for the year 2011–12. See current colloquium series events here.
Spring 2012

11  January:  Chelsey Hamm (public lecture),  "'I know not what are the words': Verbal Borrowings in the Songs of Charles Ives".  Diego Cubero, (Mannes preview), "Voice-Leading and Temporal Multiplicity in Brahms's Intermezzo in A Major, Op. 118 No. 2"

18 January:  Naomi Waltham-Smith, Workshop Series 1:  "Thinking Music
with Philosophy"  Music and Ethics

The "Thinking Music With Philosophy" series of workshops aims to provide an introduction to philosophical modes of thinking that might complement, enhance or refine the ways in which we think about certain aspects of music from its internal structural relations to its social and ethical impact. The series by no means strives to be a comprehensive introduction to the philosophy of music. Rather, the workshop will address a selection of topics where I believe that musical thinking might usefully avail itself of concepts and ideas developed within the context of (largely modern) Continental philosophical thinking. Much of this philosophical thought concerns itself with ontological and ethical questions more than it does with aesthetics and a number of thinkers that we shall encounter do not even talk about music. In the sessions we shall nonetheless be exploring how some of their ideas might be especially pertinent to developing theories about music precisely because these authors sit outside the standard canon of musical aesthetics. Some of the thinkers whose ideas we shall discuss include Adorno, Agamben, Aristotle, Badiou, Derrida, Guillaume, Nancy and Plato, and the repertoire covered will span the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries.

Optional preparatory reading will be posted to the OnCourse site approximately 1-2 weeks in advance, while shorter extracts and music examples will be provided for consideration during the sessions. If you have not already done so, please contact Prof. Naomi Waltham-Smith at to gain permission to access the site.

1 February:  Naomi Waltham-Smith, Workshop Series 2:  "Thinking Music
with Philosophy"  Voice

8 February:  Michael Klein (Temple University; Indiana University):  "Music and Narrative since 1900"

15 February:  Jason Jedlicka, "A Poetic Oasis: Methods of Text Setting in Steve Reich's The Desert Music" 

22 February:  Naomi Waltham-Smith, Workshop Series 3:  "Thinking Music with Philosophy"  Listening

29 February:  Naomi Waltham-Smith, Workshop Series 4:  "Thinking Music with Philosophy"  Touching

7 March:  Guest Lecture:  L. Poundie Burstein (Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York): "V7 Dividers"

21 March:  Diego Cubero (Indiana University), PhD public lecture:  "The Fifth-Third-Root Paradigm and Its Prolongational Implications".  Juan Mesa (Indiana University), PhD public lecture:  "C.P.E. Bach and the Unsettling of Meter:  Reversing Metrical Impulses in Sonata Wq.55 n.6,I"

28 March:  Naomi Waltham-Smith, Workshop Series 5:  "Thinking Music
with Philosophy"  Time and Tense

4 April:  March Chilla (Indiana University), PhD public lecture:  "Mashup Breakdown:  Compositional Techniques in Recent Mashup Music"

11 April:  Naomi Waltham-Smith, Workshop Series 6:  "Thinking Music
with Philosophy"  Time and Labour

18 April:  Naomi Waltham-Smith, Workshop Series 4 (rescheduled):  "Thinking Music
with Philosophy"  Touching

25 April:  Guest Lecture:  Joel Lester

Fall 2011

7  December:  Nicole DiPaolo, Jason Jedlicka, and Diego Cubero.  "From Seminar Paper to Conference Paper".  The papers have been posted to an Oncourse site entitled “Theory Colloquium,” to which all of the theory faculty and majors have been added as participants. If you would like to read any or all of the papers in advance, you can download them there.

11 November at 2:30 (please note time):  Prof. Mark Yeary, "Hearing Messiaen's special chords"

9 November at 4:00pm in Ford Hall (please note time and place):  Ray Jackendoff Guest Lecture, Parallels and Non-Parallels between Language and Music

19 October:  SMT Preview,  Prof. Kyle Adams and Prof. Blair Johnston,

Prof. Adams:  “Victoria the Progressive: The Cadential Formula as Historical Nexus.”

This paper will use Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Officium Defunctorum (1605) to illustrate some connections between prima pratica and seconda pratica styles. While the seconda pratica is characterized by its free treatment of dissonance, Victoria’s music is considered conservative, exemplifying the polyphonic style codified by Zarlino. This paper will not contradict these claims, but will show how Victoria’s cadential elaborations position his music as a link between the two styles. I will demonstrate that Victoria’s cadential formulae are typically more elaborate than those used by seventeenth-century Italian composers, and that the cadence serves as a meeting point between the more progressive side of the prima pratica and the more traditional side of the seconda pratica. This paper will explore elaborations of the “consonant fourth” cadential formula, with an aim towards a stylistic generalization: Victoria’s work, with its generally more homogeneous texture, elaborates the figure in order that its heightened expressivity might more clearly mark its cadences. Conversely, early Baroque composers use the same figure to better mark their own cadences by their lack of expressivity. Thus, the paper will define the early seventeenth-century cadence as a historical nexus, a meeting point between the most progressive features of the sixteenth century and the most conservative aspects of the seventeenth, between high Renaissance counterpoint and early Baroque harmonic tonality.

Prof. Johnston:  Semiotics Society of America Preview: Blair Johnston, "The Grotesque Climax of Richard Strauss's Salome."

5 October:  Panel Discussion, "Music Theory:  The State of the Discipline," with Prof. Samarotto, Prof. Horlacher, and Prof. Wennerstrom

21 September: Garrett Michaelsen, How "Free" is Free Jazz? Musical Interaction in Ornette Coleman's "Peace"

Abstract: Although containing many similarities with the preceding jazz style of hard bop, Ornette Coleman’s music of the late 1950s dispensed with a repeating harmonic framework, known as the “chord changes,” during improvised solos. Despite this significant change, the ensemble improvised using a largely tonal musical language containing numerous hard-bop conventions such as chromatic linear motions and descending-fifths progressions. The lack of predetermined chord changes and formal outline increased the interactional demands on the musicians as well. In this paper, I will analyze Coleman’s performance of his composition “Peace,” from the record The Shape of Jazz to Come, in light of a new theory of musical interaction in jazz improvisation. In this theory, interaction refers to the influence the improvisers have on each other’s projected futures. Beyond this moment-based interpersonal level, musicians also interact with three larger-scale temporal domains: interaction with a pre-composed tune, interaction with archetypal ensemble roles, and interaction with the musical style of a performance. The analysis will show how Coleman and his ensemble converge with and diverge from each other during their improvisations, revealing the extent to which the musicians were truly “free” from prior stylistic conventions in this early recording of “free jazz.”

7 September:  Prof. Julian Hook,  Indiana University, "Spelled Heptachords"

This paper develops a theory of spelled pitch classes (spcs) and spelled pitch-class sets (spc sets), incorporating pitch spelling into the tech­niques of pitch-class set theory. The symmetries of spc space are transposition and inversion along the line of fifths. Because of the inextricable link between pitch spelling and diatonic scales, spelled heptachords—seven-note spc sets that include each letter name exactly once—occupy a privileged position in this theory. Spelled heptachords may be regarded as inflected diatonic scales, and possess a number of structural characteristics not shared by other spc sets. The 66 equivalence classes of spelled heptachords without enharmonic doublings or voice crossings are enumerated. A diatonic musical structure together with a spelled heptachord determine an spc structure in which the notes of the diatonic structure are inflected by the corresponding accidentals from the heptachord; spc structures arising in this way show promise as powerful tools in analysis of chromatic harmony.


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