Music Theory Online

Articles from Vol. 22, No. 3, September

Capturing the Ineffable: Three Transcriptions of a Jazz Solo by Sonny Rollins
[1.1] Despite the important role that transcription plays in jazz theory, analysis, and pedagogy, very little has been written on the subject by music theorists.(1) In part, this is because the details of the transcription process tend to be private...
Cohn's Platonic Model and the Regular Irregularities of Recent Popular Multimedia
I. A Stylistic Generalization[1.1] Cohn's recent article (2016) explores the phenomenon whereby a series of triple durations--like a succession of dotted quarter notes, or an iterated pattern of three eighth notes--unfolds over, and then reconciles with,...
Listening to Performers' Writings and Recordings: An Analysis of Debussy's "Colloque Sentimental"
[1] This essay is based on a simple premise: performers' written commentaries on music, in conjunction with their recorded interpretations, have much to contribute to an analysis of significant elements of musical structure. My analysis focuses on the...
Measuring a Measure: Absolute Time as a Factor for Determining Bar Lengths and Meter in Pop/Rock Music
Example 1. Three readings of meter and bar lengths for "Norwegian Wood" (The Beatles, 1965)(click to enlarge and listen)Example 2. Kick and snare configuration for a standard rock drum beat[1.1] When analyzing a pop/rock song, how much music constitutes...
Orchestration Strategies in Simon Steen-Andersen's Double Up
[1.1] Simon Steen-Andersen's Double Up (2010) is written for sampler and orchestra, using the sampler not as an addition to the orchestra but rather as a kind of soloist. It is, however, by no means an ordinary concerto; there are no concertante elements...
Perceiving Irony in Music: The Problem in Beethoven's String Quartets
[1.1] In a letter to Sir George Smart, Beethoven mentions his imagined audience for op. 95, the String Quartet in F minor: "NB. The Quartett is written for a small circle of connoisseurs and is never to be performed in public" (Anderson 1961, 2: Letter...
Playing with Beats and Playing with Cats: Meow the Jewels, Remixes, and Reinterpretations
In a remix, I take the pool, I keep the swimmer . . . but I change the water in the pool to a different color. It's like cooking. You change one ingredient, and the whole track sounds entirely different. (Manabe 2009, 309)[1.1] In the quote above, DJ...
Rethinking Interaction in Jazz Improvisation
[1] In the wake of Paul Berliner's and Ingrid Monson's landmark interview-based research of the mid-1990s, the notion that "good jazz improvisation is sociable and interactive just like a conversation" (Monson 1996, 84) has become near-conventional wisdom...
Review of L. Poundie Burstein and Joseph N. Straus, Concise Introduction to Tonal Harmony (W. W. Norton, 2016)
[1] The past ten years have seen a proliferation of undergraduate music theory textbooks--most of which are revisions of earlier editions--that fall into two categories: those that integrate written work, listening, and ear training, such as The Complete...
Review of Matthew McDonald, Breaking Time's Arrow: Experiment and Expression in the Music of Charles Ives (Indiana University Press, 2014)
[1] Breaking Time's Arrow: Experiment and Expression in the Music of Charles Ives is Matthew McDonald's 2014 contribution to the Indiana University Press series Musical Meaning and Interpretation, edited by Robert S. Hatten. Like other titles in the...
Talking Back: Performer-Audience Interaction in Roscoe Mitchell's "Nonaah"
Willisau[1] Roscoe Mitchell was minding his own business. He and his bandmates in the Art Ensemble of Chicago were one month into a long tour of Europe, and as August 1976 came to a close, they were enjoying a rare weekend off (Janssens and de Craen...
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