Dissertation Index

Author: Bourne, Janet E

Title: A Theory of Analogy for Musical Sense-Making and Categorization: Understanding Musical Jabberwocky

Institution: Northwestern University

Begun: March 2014

Completed: May 2015


This dissertation argues that listeners use analogy (or relational similarity) to make sense of unexpected or unusual musical events and categorize musical patterns by connecting music to similar patterns from past experiences. Using Structure-Mapping Theory as a basis, I present an interdisciplinary framework for analogical listening: retrieval (past experiences), mapping (associating element of one structure with a corresponding element in a different structure), and evaluation (inferences based on the event mapped over in context). Humans make analogies from music to music or music to another domain (between music and language, and so on).

I use the framework to help explain how music theorists perceive musical irony and categorize thematic variations. First, I use the framework to analyze Beethoven string quartets that scholars consider ironic (op. 95/iv, op. 131/V, op. 130/I) since perceiving musical irony relies partly on a music and language analogy. Using empirical studies on ironic language along with formal function, sonata theory, and schema theory, I argue why some theorists hear these movements as ironic. Second, this dissertation argues that analogy is used to categorize musical themes; themes are relational categories and not perceptual categories. To demonstrate that a theme is a relational category, I use the analogy framework to analyze theme and variation movements by Beethoven (op. 109/III), Mozart (K 377/II), and Daube (from Musical Dilettante). This project responds partly to an “ideal listener” assumption; I consider how contexts shape perception—particularly, music theorists connecting relations of patterns and inferences.

Keywords: analogy, perception, cognition, irony, Beethoven, variations, schema theory, categorization, listening, linguistics


CHAPTER 1. \"Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas--only I don\'t exactly know what they are!\" Who is Listening and what do they Hear?

CHAPTER 2. \"We have learned to think about the relatedness of things\": Analogy, Music Theory, and Music Cognition

CHAPTER 3. \"A Knowledge about a Thing is a Knowledge of its Relations\": An Analogy Framework for Music Analysis

CHAPTER 4. \"No Interpretation could Palliate this Error of a Genius\": Using Analogy to Perceive Irony in Beethoven\'s String Quartets

CHAPTER 5. \"Appears Clothed in a New Manner\": Analogy and Hearing Thematic Variations

CHAPTER 6. \"You\'re sure to get somewhere, if you only walk long enough\": Future Research



     Return to dissertations