Over the next several weeks, the IU Department of Music Theory will welcome guest lecturer Poundie Burstein (Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center), who will give two Music Theory Colloquium talks as part of the Five Friends Master Class Series, honoring Robert Samels.
Both lectures will take place at 3:00 pm via Zoom. To request meeting credentials, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wednesday, November 18:
“Schenker, Schenkerian Analysis, and Other Strange Bedfellows”
Abstract: To a greater extent than with most music-theoretic approaches, Schenkerian analysis is associated with a methodology developed by a specific person—namely, Heinrich Schenker (1868–1935). Building upon certain long-standing theories of tonality, Schenker proposed a method for constructing hierarchic tonal models that could be used for music analysis. He established protocols for these tonal models, situating them within a detailed technical and philosophical framework. Schenker’s analytic techniques greatly influenced subsequent generations of music scholars, who were inspired by what they regarded as the rigor and power of his ideas. Schenker’s influence has been especially widespread in North America, where many music analysts have adopted numerous aspects of his approach, often selectively quoting parts of Schenker’s writings—while selectively ignoring others—in support of their own analytic readings.
Yet, although broadly referred to as “Schenkerian analysis”, the resulting conglomeration of methods that, to varying degrees, are influenced by Schenker nevertheless remain distinct from Schenker’s own outlook. These methods usually involve a modification and simplification of notions that originated with Schenker, almost invariably combined with ideas culled from other analytic approaches. Compared to Schenker’s own analytic practice, the analyses of his followers tend to be considerably more accessible and broader in scope, though admittedly often less profound than Schenker’s. Much scholarship in recent decades has been devoted to either proposing ways for expanding the methodology developed by Schenker, or else re-examining some of the subtle features of Schenker’s approach that have been underappreciated.
At the same time, almost all of his followers have deliberately tried to distance themselves from numerous troublesome features of Schenker’s ideology. Not only did Schenker profess overtly elitist, anti-democratic, and racist attitudes, but he insisted that these attitudes formed a vital part of his music-theoretic conception. Unfortunately, the ideology that Schenker articulated continues to have a greater impact on analytic approaches than is often acknowledged. Such is the case not only within Schenkerian practice, but within almost all current analytic methods, including those that make little or no use of the specific devices associated with Schenker. As I shall argue, any analytic method—Schenkerian or otherwise—that claims to reveal universal truths about features embedded in musical compositions bears the imprint of the ideology espoused by Schenker, and avoiding the implications of such an ideology requires a fuller appreciation of the extent to which music-analytic systems are based on culturally constructed metaphors and interpretations.
Wednesday, December 2:
“Containers vs. Journeys vs. Cookies: Formal Metaphors for the Early Classical Style”
Abstract: Metaphors and models serve as vital tools that allow music analysts to communicate and focus their ideas. However, they also risk creating impediments that can constrain interpretative possibilities. This is so especially so for those seemingly innocuous metaphors that are so ubiquitous in music analytic discourse as to escape notice.
Using major-key expositions composed during the Galant era as test cases, this presentation compares metaphors and models that dominate modern discussions of musical form with those that were more prevalent among theorists who flourished during the late eighteenth century. As will be argued, the eighteenth-century formal models are far more than mere historical curiosities, for they offer exciting ways to perform, analyze, and experience music from the era. Examining these metaphorical frameworks turn prompts reconsideration of the effect of metaphors in musical discussions in general.
Poundie Burstein is a Professor in the Department of Music at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center. His primary areas of interest include Schenkerian analysis, analysis of eighteenth-century music, music theory pedagogy, and form studies. In addition to his scholarly work, he has performed extensively as a pianist for comedy improvisation groups in the NYC area. He has also taught at Mannes College, Columbia University, Queens College, and held an endowed chair at University of Alabama in 2010. In 1995 he received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the New School University, and in 2008 he received the Outstanding Publication Award of the Society of Music Theory (SMT). He is a former President of the Society for Music Theory. He has recently published Journeys Through Galant Expositions, from Oxford University Press.
About the Five Friends Master Class Series
The Five Friends Master Class Series honoring the lives of five talented Jacobs School of Music students—Chris Carducci, Garth Eppley, Georgina Joshi, Zachary Novak, and Robert Samels—was established in 2012 with a gift of $1 million from the Georgina Joshi Foundation, Inc. This annual series of lectures, master classes, and residencies by a number of the world’s leading musicians and teachers focuses on areas of interest most relevant to the lives of the five friends—voice performance, choral conducting, early music, music theory, composition, and opera. The Georgina Joshi Foundation was established in 2007 as the vision of Georgina Joshi’s mother, Louise Addicott-Joshi, to provide educational and career development opportunities for young musicians and to encourage and support public performance of music. The gift to the school establishes a permanent way for the world to learn about each of the five friends, their musical talents and passions, and to encourage the development of similar talents and passions in current and future music students. The establishment of this endowment by the families is administered by the IU Foundation.
Bass-baritone and composer Robert Samels was born on June 2, 1981, and died in a plane crash on April 20, 2006. He was a doctoral student in choral conducting at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and had studied voice with Giorgio Tozzi and Costanza Cuccaro. He began his vocal studies with Alfred Anderson at the University of Akron and Andreas Poulimenos at Bowling Green State University. Samels had recently appeared as Mr. Gibbs in the world premiere of Our Town by Ned Rorem, as Marco in the collegiate premiere of William Bolcom’s A View from the Bridge, and as Joseph and Herod in the collegiate premiere of El Nino by John Adams. In September 2005, he conducted the premiere of his own opera, Pilatvs. As a member of the Wolf Trap Opera Company for 2006, he would have added three roles that summer, including Bartolo in Le Nozze di Figaro, Friar Laurence in Roméo et Juliette, and Pluto in Telemann’s Orpheus. Other opera credits included the title roles of Don Pasquale and Il Turco in Italia, as well as Leporello in Don Giovanni, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the summer of 2004, he performed Creon in the New York premiere of John Eaton’s Antigone. Samels also frequently performed in the oratorio repertoire. In the spring of 2005, he was selected as a semi-finalist in the annual competition of the Oratorio Society of New York. He was an announcer with public radio station WFIU, as well as the host and producer of its Cantabile program. A soloist with Aguavá New Music Studio, he had recently performed a concert at the Library of Congress. Samels was an associate instructor in the Jacobs School’s Music Theory Department, where was loved and admired by his students.