Volume 10, Number 1, February 2004
Copyright © 2004 Society for Music Theory

New Dissertations


Kievman, Carson. "Ockeghem and Ligeti: The Music of Transcendence." Princeton University, June 2003.

AUTHOR: Kievman, Carson

TITLE: Ockeghem and Ligeti: The Music of Transcendence

INSTITUTION: Princeton University

COMPLETED: June 2003

ABSTRACT: If we suspend disbelief for a moment and imagine that five centuries of "musical development" never existed, we find that music from the 14th & 15th centuries connects unequivocally to the most radical and forward thinking musical creations in the late 20th century. This dissertation specifically examines and compares the music of 20-21st century composer György Ligeti and 15th century composer Johannes Ockeghem. These two composers, who lived five centuries apart, have in common the creation of music built upon a sophisticated, albeit largely imperceptible, framework upon which they constructed undifferentiated progressions of massive counterpoint. Notably, both composers avoid “traditional” means of closure via cadence and the sublimation of linear sequencing. The result of their efforts stands in stark contrast to the “classical” musical ideals that have held dominion over musical culture from the 16th century until the 20th.

The Introduction sets forth the intentions of this dissertation and briefly outlines how early music, and Ockeghem in particular, may have directly, or indirectly, influenced new music and the development of Ligeti’s style. Chapter One looks at György Ligeti’s life and closely examines his Requiem. By analyzing musical techniques that have become synonymous with Ligeti, and looking careful at his references to early music composers, such as Ockeghem and Guillaume de Machaut, as well as some 20th century masters, this chapter attempts to determine the extent to which Ligeti earned his stature by creating an entirely new musical form, or how he may have utilized existing ideas to develop a hybrid (albeit an ingenious one). Chapter Two looks at Johannes Ockeghem and examines his Intemerata Dei mater. Rather than try to understand the mindset of a 15th century composer, this chapter looks at this ancient music as a 20th century artifact and seeks to comprehend the music’s power to influence and inspire modern composers and listeners. The Summary touches on the transcendent (or spiritual) aspects of Ockeghem and Ligeti’s musical intent through a discussion and appraisal of the work of Manfred Bukofzer in his book Studies in Medieval & Renaissance Music.

Chapter 1: György Ligeti
Chapter 2: Johannes Ockeghem
Summary (Ramifications)

Dr. Carson Kievman
68 Westerly Road
Princeton, NJ 08540

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Steenstra, Sytze G. "We Are The Noise Between Stations: A philosophical exploration of the work of David Byrne, at the crossroads of popular media, conceptual art, and performance theatre." Maastricht University, The Netherlands, June 2003.

AUTHOR: Steenstra, Sytze G.

TITLE: We Are The Noise Between Stations: A philosophical exploration of the work of David Byrne, at the crossroads of popular media, conceptual art, and performance theatre

INSTITUTION: Maastricht University, The Netherlands

COMPLETED: June 2003

ABSTRACT: "We Are The Noise Between Stations" first of all offers an overview of the work of New York-based artist David Byrne (1952), emphasizing its conceptual and theoretical underpinnings. Byrne has produced an extensive and truly heterogeneous oeuvre. In the 1970's and 80's he gathered worldwide fame as singer and artistic leader of the pop group Talking Heads. Next to that, he collaborated with leading artists such as theatre maker Robert Wilson, visual artist Joseph Kosuth, theatre groups Mabou Mines and the Wooster Group, composer/producer Brian Eno, and many others. Apart from his popular music Byrne directed feature films as well as an anthropological documentary, collaborated in theatrical projects, showed photography in galleries and museums, makes books, and manages his own record label Luaka Bop, which presents the worldwide diversity of contemporary pop music. Characteristic for all these media is that Byrne does not approach them as a means for individual expression, but as miniature 'Gesamtkunstwerke,' as meeting ground for different forms of artistic mimesis. Byrne's work functions in the popular mass media, where every product, whether a film script, a clip, or a song, has to comply with strict formal standards of unity and direct recognition. Nevertheless, it successfully applies within these formats the methods that were developed in conceptual art and in performance theatre: methods of experimenting with accepted mimetic standards, and of developing a reflexive perspective on these standards.

KEYWORDS: popular music, reflexivity, mimesis, performance theory, conceptual art, Gesamtkunstwerk, anthropology, poetics, philosophy

1 Introduction

Part I: Conceptual work in the mass media
2 Music as a mimetic arena
3 Film and performance theatre
4 Anthropology and music
5 Photography and books

Part II: Theories of performance
6 Exploring the foundations of performance
7 Performance theory in the theatre
8 The anthropology of performance

Part III: A poetics of reflexivity
9 Towards a philosophy of mimesis
10 The model of early Romanticism
11 Benjamin and Adorno on the myths in modernity
12 The Gesamtkunstwerk as laboratory

dr S.G. Steenstra
Faculty of Arts and Culture, Universiteit Maastricht
P. O. Box 616
6200 MD Maastricht
phone: [00]32-43-3882525

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Wright, James K. "Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle: Epistemological Meta-Themes in Harmonic Theory, Aesthetics, and Logical Positivism." McGill University, February 2002.

AUTHOR: Wright, James K.

TITLE: Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, and the Vienna Circle: Epistemological Meta-Themes in Harmonic Theory, Aesthetics, and Logical Positivism

INSTITUTION: McGill University

BEGUN: 09/1999

COMPLETED: 02/2002

ABSTRACT: This study examines the relativistic aspects of Arnold Schoenberg's harmonic and aesthetic theories in the light of a framework of ideas presented in the early writings of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the logician, philosopher of language, and Schoenberg's contemporary and Austrian compatriot. The author has identified correspondences between the writings of Schoenberg, the early Wittgenstein (the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, in particular), and the Vienna Circle of philosophers, on a wide range of topics and themes. Issues discussed include the nature and limits of language, musical universals, theoretical conventionalism, word-to-world correspondence in language, the need for a fact- and comparison-based approach to art criticism, and the nature of music-theoretical formalism and mathematical modeling. Schoenberg and Wittgenstein are shown to have shared a vision that is remarkable for its uniformity and balance, one that points toward the reconciliation of the positivist-relativist dualism that has dominated recent discourse in music theory. Contrary to earlier accounts of Schoenberg's harmonic and
aesthetic relativism, this study identifies a solid epistemological core underlying his thought, a view that was very much in step with Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle, and thereby with the most vigorous and forward-looking stream in early twentieth century intellectual history.

KEYWORDS: Schoenberg, Wittgenstein, Vienna Circle, Formalism, Positivism, Conventionalism, Relativism, Empiricism, Universals, Harmony, Aesthetics

Chapter 1:  Introduction
    Decline of the Quest for Universals in Twentieth-Century Music Theory
    Schoenberg and Wittgenstein

Chapter 2:  Universalism and Relativism in Schoenberg's Harmonic Theory
    Relativism in Schoenberg's Harmonic and Aesthetic Theories
    The Problem of Universals
    The Epistemological Foundations of Harmonic Theory: Four Propositional Categories
    Schoenberg's Universalism: The Icarus Principle
    Schoenberg's Relativism and Conventionalism: The Schenker/Schoenberg Controversy

Chapter 3:  Schoenberg and Wittgenstein: Positivism and the Limits of Language
    Language and Knowledge: Analytic Philosophy and the Vienna Circle
    Wittgenstein's Tractatus
    Wittgenstein's "Stop": The Is/Ought Dichotomy and the Limits of Language
    Schoenberg's "Stop": Facts versus Values in Harmonic Theory
    The Proper Role of Art Theory and Aesthetics: Pointing to Facts and Making Comparisons
    "Important Nonsense": Showing the Value of Values
    Equating Ethics and Aesthetics: Emphasis on Praxis over Theory
    Schoenberg on the Limits of Language: "O Word, Thou Word that I Lack"
    Wittgenstein, Schoenberg, and Schopenhauer: The Art Object Sub Specie Aeternitatis
    Rejecting "Heart and Brain" Dualism

Chapter 4: Problems of Formalism
    Vienna-Circle Conventionalism: The Autonomy of Language and Logic
    The Autonomy of Musical Languages: Creating Worlds of Our Own Making
    Radical Formalism in Twentieth-Century Harmonic Theory
    Was Schoenberg a Radical Formalist?
    Wittgenstein's Grundgedanke: The Autonomy of Logic and Mathematics
    Music-Theoretical Formalism and the Problem of Tautology
    Wittgenstein's Rejection of Set Theory: Chasing Cantor and Hilbert from Paradise
    Logical and Mathematical Formalism as "Scaffolding"
    The Proper Role of Mathematical Modeling: Wittgenstein's Constructivist Viewpoint
    Things versus Facts and "States of Affairs": A Theory of Chords Versus a Theory of Harmony

Chapter 5: Summary and Conclusions


James K. Wright
1226 Erie Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA
K1V 6G6

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Updated 11 February 2004 by Eric Isaacson, co-editor