Indiana University Press

Musical Meaning and Interpretation

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Musical Meaning and Interpretation

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Approaches to Meaning in Music

Edited by Byron Almén and Edward Pearsall

Approaches to Meaning in Music presents a survey of the problems and issues inherent in pursuing meaning and signification in music, and attempts to rectify the conundrums that have plagued philosophers, artists, and theorists since the time of Pythagoras. This collection brings together essays that reflect a variety of diverse perspectives on approaches to musical meaning. Established music theorists and musicologists cover topics including musical aspect and temporality, collage, borrowing and association, musical symbols and creative mythopoesis, the articulation of silence, the mutual interaction of cultural and music-artistic phenomena, and the analysis of gesture.

Contributors are Byron Almén, J. Peter Burkholder, Nicholas Cook, Robert S. Hatten, Patrick McCreless, Jann Pasler, and Edward Pearsall.

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Breaking Time's Arrow

Experiment and Expression in the Music of Charles Ives

Matthew McDonald

Charles Ives (1874-1954) moved traditional compositional practice in new directions by incorporating modern and innovative techniques with nostalgic borrowings of 19th century American popular music and Protestant hymns. Matthew McDonald argues that the influence of Emerson and Thoreau on Ives's compositional style freed the composer from ordinary ideas of time and chronology, allowing him to recuperate the past as he reached for the musical unknown. McDonald links this concept of the multi-temporal in Ives’s works to Transcendentalist understandings of eternity. His approach to Ives opens new avenues for inquiry into the composer's eclectic and complex style.

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Death in Winterreise

Musico-Poetic Associations in Schubert's Song Cycle

Lauri Suurpää

Lauri Suurpää brings together two rigorous methodologies, Greimassian semiotics and Schenkerian analysis, to provide a unique perspective on the expressive power of Franz Schubert's song cycle. Focusing on the final songs, Suurpää deftly combines textual and tonal analysis to reveal death as a symbolic presence if not actual character in the musical narrative. Suurpää demonstrates the incongruities between semantic content and musical representation as it surfaces throughout the final songs. This close reading of the winter songs, coupled with creative applications of theory and a thorough history of the poetic and musical genesis of this work, brings new insights to the study of text-music relationships and the song cycle.

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Expressive Forms in Brahms's Instrumental Music

Structure and Meaning in His Werther Quartet

Peter H. Smith

"This book is a substantial and timely contribution to Brahms studies. Its strategy is to focus on a single critical work, the C-Minor Piano Quartet, analyzing and interpreting it in great detail, but also using it as a stepping-stone to connect it to other central Brahms works in order to reach a new understanding of the composer’s technical language and expressive intent. It is an original and worthy contribution on the music of a major composer." —Patrick McCreless

Expressive Forms in Brahms’s Instrumental Music integrates a wide variety of analytical methods into a broader study of theoretical approaches, using a single work by Brahms as a case study. On the basis of his findings, Smith considers how Brahms’s approach in this piano quartet informs analyses of similar works by Brahms as well as by Beethoven and Mozart.

Musical Meaning and Interpretation—Robert S. Hatten, editor

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Expressive Intersections in Brahms

Essays in Analysis and Meaning

Edited by Heather Platt and Peter H. Smith

Contributors to this exciting new volume examine the intersection of structure and meaning in Brahms's music, utilizing a wide range of approaches, from the theories of Schenker to the most recent analytical techniques. They combine various viewpoints with the semiotic-based approaches of Robert Hatten, and address many of the most important genres in which Brahms composed. The essays reveal the expressive power of a work through the comparison of specific passages in one piece to similar works and through other artistic realms such as literature and painting. The result of this intertextual re-framing is a new awareness of the meaningfulness of even Brahms's most "absolute" works.

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Il Trittico, Turandot, and Puccini's Late Style

Andrew Davis

Giacomo Puccini is one of the most frequently performed and best loved of all operatic composers. In Il Trittico, Turandot, and Puccini's Late Style, Andrew Davis takes on the subject of Puccini's last two works to better understand how the composer creates meaning through the juxtaposition of the conventional and the unfamiliar -- situating Puccini in past operatic traditions and modern European musical theater. Davis asserts that hearing Puccini's late works within the context of la solita forma allows listeners to interpret the composer's expressive strategies. He examines Puccini's compositional language, with insightful analyses of melody, orchestration, harmony, voice-leading, and rhythm and meter.

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The Italian Traditions and Puccini

Compositional Theory and Practice in Nineteenth-Century Opera

Nicholas Baragwanath

In this groundbreaking survey of the fundamentals, methods, and formulas that were taught at Italian music conservatories during the 19th century, Nicholas Baragwanath explores the compositional significance of tradition in Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Verdi, Boito, and, most importantly, Puccini. Taking account of some 400 primary sources, Baragwanath explains the varying theories and practices of the period in light of current theoretical and analytical conceptions of this music. The Italian Traditions and Puccini offers a guide to an informed interpretation and appreciation of Italian opera by underscoring the proximity of archaic traditions to the music of Puccini.

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Meaning and Interpretation of Music in Cinema

with contributions by James Buhler. David Neumeyer

By exploring the relationship between music and the moving image in film narrative, David Neumeyer shows that film music is not conceptually separate from sound or dialogue, but that all three are manipulated and continually interact in the larger acoustical world of the sound track. In a medium in which the image has traditionally trumped sound, Neumeyer turns our attention to the voice as the mechanism through which narrative (dialog, speech) and sound (sound effects, music) come together. Complemented by music examples, illustrations, and contributions by James Buhler, Meaning and Interpretation of Music in Cinema is the capstone of Neumeyer’s 25-year project in the analysis and interpretation of music in film.

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Music and Embodied Cognition

Listening, Moving, Feeling, and Thinking

Arnie Cox

Taking a cognitive approach to musical meaning, Arnie Cox explores embodied experiences of hearing music as those that move us both consciously and unconsciously. In this pioneering study that draws on neuroscience and music theory, phenomenology and cognitive science, Cox advances his theory of the "mimetic hypothesis," the notion that a large part of our experience and understanding of music involves an embodied imitation in the listener of bodily motions and exertions that are involved in producing music. Through an often unconscious imitation of action and sound, we feel the music as it moves and grows. With applications to tonal and post-tonal Western classical music, to Western vernacular music, and to non-Western music, Cox’s work stands to expand the range of phenomena that can be explained by the role of sensory, motor, and affective aspects of human experience and cognition.

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Music and the Crises of the Modern Subject

Michael L. Klein

Departing from the traditional German school of music theorists, Michael Klein injects a unique French critical theory perspective into the framework of music and meaning. Using primarily Lacanian notions of the symptom, that unnamable jouissance located in the unconscious, and the registers of subjectivity (the Imaginary, the Symbolic Order, and the Real), Klein explores how we understand music as both an artistic form created by "the subject" and an artistic expression of a culture that imposes its history on this modern subject. By creatively navigating from critical theory to music, film, fiction, and back to music, Klein distills the kinds of meaning that we have been missing when we perform, listen to, think about, and write about music without the insights of Lacan and others into formulations of modern subjectivity.

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