Music Theory


T658 Musical Meaning: Theory and Interpretation

Prof. Robert Hatten

TR, 1:00-2:15 p.m., Simon 340

This seminar will critically examine leading approaches to the interpretation of musical meaning, with special attention to semiotically and/or hermeneutically oriented approaches. Readings will be drawn from Abbate, Agawu, Allanbrook, Cumming, Hatten, L. Kramer, Lidov, Monelle, Nattiez, Newcomb, Spitzer, Tarasti, and Treitler. In addition to evaluating theoretical approaches by applying them to the interpretation of musical works, we will consider the theoretical issues underlying such concepts as stylistic competency, musical topics, agency and subjectivity, voice, gesture, musical tropes, expressive genres, narrativity, and levels of discourse.

In addition to readings, assignments will include analytical/interpretive essays and a major paper/presentation (focusing on speculative theory but supported by analytical/ interpretive evidence) that explores a defined theoretical issue and proposes either a new theory or the extension (or refinement) of some component of an existing theory.

Prerequisites: T551 and graduate standing.

Representative bibliography:

No required texts (but you are encouraged to build your personal library)

Abbate, Carolyn. Unsung Voices. Princeton, 1991.
Agawu, V. Kofi. Playing with Signs. Princeton, 1991.
Allanbrook, Wye. Rhythmic Gesture in Mozart. Chicago, 1983.
Cumming, Naomi. The Sonic Self. Indiana, 2000.
Hatten, Robert S. Musical Meaning in Beethoven. Indiana, 1994.
________. Interpreting Musical Gestures, Topics, and Tropes. Indiana, (Fall 2004).
Kramer, Lawrence. Music as Cultural Practice, 1800-1900. Berkeley, 1990.
________. Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge. Berkeley, 1995.
________. Musical Meaning: Toward a Critical History. Berkeley, 2002.
Lidov, David. Elements of Semiotics. St. Martin’s, 1999.
________. Contributions to the Semiotics of Music. Indiana, (Fall 2004).
Monelle, Raymond. The Sense of Music. Princeton, 2000.
Nattiez, Jean-Jacques. Music and Discourse. Princeton, 1990.
Robinson, Jenefer, ed. Music and Meaning. Cornell, 1997. (essays by Newcomb, Treitler)
Spitzer, Michael. Metaphor and Musical Thought. Chicago, 2004.
Tarasti, Eero. A Theory of Musical Semiotics. Indiana, 1994.
Treitler, Leo. Music and the Historical Imagination. Harvard, 1989.