Editor’s Message

Fellow theorists and dear readers!

[1] I write to report that the managing editor, the editorial assistants, and the editorial board—in a bid to make Santa’s “nice” list—have been hard at work bringing you the most wonderful music theory scholarship available in Volume 27, issue 4 of Music Theory Online.

[2] At a time when travel abroad is still a dicey proposition, this issue invites readers to tour the music of Europe of centuries past. Peter Schubert applies Kofi Agawu’s method of analyzing texted music, originally directed at nineteenth-century Lieder, to Adrian Willaert’s Amor mi fa morire, in an article that would serve as an excellent counterpoint (!) to those, like myself, who already teach modal counterpoint from his textbook. Taking a more computational turn, Aaron Carter-Ényì and Gilad Rabinovitch introduce methods for melodic feature reduction that can identify elaborated statements of fugue subjects, galant schemata, and the like, extending attempts to formalize the analytical methods of Heinrich Schenker, Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, and Robert O. Gjerdingen. Diego Cubero examines what became of the period formal type in the nineteenth century, showing how Romantic composers blurred the boundary of the antecedent and consequent found in the received classical tradition. Finally, staying in the Romantic era, Ana Llorens expands the literature on performance nuance by drawing articulation into interrogations of how performers create, convey, and express structure.

[3] Llorens’s focus on performance is by no means alone in this issue. Three other articles bring performance and analysis into conversation while considering music of the last 35 years. Two of these center the perspective of the performing musician. Benjamin Duinker brings to bear insights as both an analyst of performance and percussionist in an exploration of Xannis Xenakis’s Rebonds, detailing a wide array of strategies employed by performers of this “immensely difficult” piece. Jocelyn Ho analyzes and reflects on her own performances of Tōru Takemitsu’s Rain Tree Sketch II, integrating approaches from embodied cognition, phenomenology, and dance theory, along with visualizations that would make Edward Tufte jealous. Finally in this grouping, Olivia R. Lucas details the creative practice of lighting designer Edvard Hansson for the light shows of Meshuggah, an extreme metal band band well-known for the complexity of their rhythm. Lucas shows how these lighting designs merge performance and analysis, creating what she calls “coercive synethesia.”

[4] We also present two articles that add to the ever burgeoning literature on harmony and form in popular music. David S. Carter shows how the then-receding AABA form remained pivotal—and provided a source of irony and authenticity—in the Rolling Stones’s music in the 1960s. And should you find your holiday party conversation going quiet, you can recount Trevor de Clercq’s advocacy for six-based minor in popular music analysis and watch the sparks fly. I’ve been won over, and, like Scrooge, hand in hand with the Ghost of Christmas Past, I regret the many times I rolled my eyes at undergraduates suggesting the same thing.

[5] Finally, our reviews editors, David Heetderks and Bryan Parkhurst, present two reviews of recent books. Gregory Barnett reviews Megan Kaes Long’s Hearing Homophony: Tonal Expectation at the Turn of the Seventeenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2020), the most recent recipient of the Wallace Berry Award, and Peter Smucker reviews Laura Emmery’s Compositional Process in Elliott Carter’s String Quartets: A Study in Sketches (Routledge, 2020).

[6] As the last issue of Volume 27, now is also the time to thank those who have contributed to the journal in past years and are now rotating off. David Heetderks has concluded his term as Reviews Editor and will be replaced by Jeffrey Swinkin. We also bid farewell to three members of the Editorial Board: Janet Bourne, John Covach, and Michael Gallope. Each has contributed numerous reviews to the journal in the past three years, and their expertise and mentorship of authors are deeply appreciated. They are replaced by a bumper crop of new editorial board members that includes Richard Beaudoin, Christine E. Boone, Diego Cubero, Catrina Kim, Olga Sánchez Kisielewska, Nancy Murphy, and Loretta Terrigno. The breadth and depth of expertise in this group of seven scholars is formidable.

[7] All MTO volumes dating back to our first issue in 1993 can be accessed from our contents page. It continues to be my pleasure to serve as editor, and I wish all of you a new year filled with health, reading, and scholarship.


Mitch Ohriner
University of Denver