Music Theory Online


The Online Journal of the Society for Music Theory

Volume 5, Number 1 January, 1999
Copyright � 1999 Society for Music Theory

New Dissertations


Bell, Vicki P. "Shaker Music Theory: The Nineteenth-Century Treatises of Isaac Newton Youngs and Russel Haskell."

AUTHOR: Bell, Vicki P.
TITLE: Shaker Music Theory: The Nineteenth-Century Treatises of Isaac Newton Youngs and Russel Haskell
INSTITUTION: University of Kentucky
BEGUN: May, 1996
COMPLETED: May, 1998
The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing is a religious, communitarian society which is still in existence in America today. The society's eighteenth-century roots can be traced to an English woman, Ann Lee. Because of the nature of their worship, which was comprised in part of a shaking or trembling of the body, the Believers were eventually called "Shakers." Music figured prominently in the life of the Shakers. In excess of eight hundred musical manuscripts were produced by the Shakers, who experimented with a notational style based on a system of letters. The most successful of these notational systems was termed "small letteral notation" by the Shakers. Two significant figures, Isaac Newton Youngs and Russel Haskell, worked tirelessly to make small letteral notation accessible to each Shaker colony. Each man produced two treatises, which were devoted to aspects of musical notation, melody, and rhythm. The purpose of this study is to display and explain the information contained in these four nineteenth-century treatises. This work provides detailed information on the aspects of notation, melody, rhythm, and meter, as set forth by Youngs and Haskell. Introductory information essential to the understanding of the development of small letteral notation is supplied, as well as a display and explication of the tools of small letteral notation. The guidelines presented by Youngs and Haskell on the transcription of tunes are included in this dissertation. The appendix to this work supplies transcriptions of selected musical examples from the four treatises of Youngs and Haskell.

Shaker music, Shaker music theory, letteral notation, character notation, American music

Chapter One: Introduction and Literature Survey
Chapter Two: Background
Chapter Three: Materials and Methods of Instruction
Chapter Four: Melody
Chapter Five: Rhythm and Meter
Chapter Six: Directions for the Writing of Music
Chapter Seven: Summary

Vicki P. Bell
171 Shakers Landing
Harrodsburg, Kentucky 40330 or
606-734-5009 (home), 606-858-3511 (Asbury College)

Back to Dissertation Menu

Kim, Jung-Jin. "A Barthesian Analysis of Britten's The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op. 35."

AUTHOR: Kim, Jung-Jin
TITLE: A Barthesian Analysis of Britten's The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op. 35
INSTITUTION: University of Wisconsin-Madison
COMPLETED: December, 1996
In this dissertation I examine the narrative of Britten's The Holy Sonnets of John Donne, Op. 35, applying the techniques of textual analysis explicated in Roland Barthes's S/Z. Of the five narrative codes in S/Z (hermeneutic, semiotic, symbolic, proairetic, and referential), I apply only two: proairetic and hermeneutic. The proairetic code is associated with action(s) that form a narrative sequence, while the hermeneutic code explicates enigmas comprising the expectation and desire for the solution of these enigmas.

Traditionally, text has been seen as a message, coded by the writer and decoded by the reader. For Barthes, it is the reader who "codes" the text and who writes it using codes. That is, according to Barthes, the reader is no longer a consumer, but a producer of text. Barthesian textual reading can be considered "atemporal" in that he uses step-by-step, moment-by-moment, lexia-by-lexia reading. In this way, the Barthesian method applies multiple  meanings of the text within each lexia. I utilize this method to analyze Donne's sonnets: however, I focus mostly on the linear narrativity of the cycle.

This linearity can best be examined using the two codes noted above. I find two actions in the proairetic code in Donne's spiritual journey as viewed by Britten: captivity and regeneration. In each lexia I find not only various combinations of these two codes but also ten hermeneutic morphemes. These ten morphemes are thematization, proposal, formulation of the enigma, promise of an answer, partial answer, snare, equivocation, jamming, suspended answer, and disclosure.

Donne's Holy Sonnets does not have an authentic ordering. In fact, Britten posits his own ordering and narrative of Donne's nine sonnets. Through his reordering of the nine sonnets in his song cycle Britten establishes a large-scale emotional pattern of spiritual process, creating a sequence from sickness and alienation to union with God and the final conquering of death.

Even though some scholars have demonstrated the application of Barthesian codes to music, to date none has touched upon twentieth-century music. This dissertation, for the first time, demonstrates the application of Barthesian codes to contemporary music.

Roland Barthes, Benjamin Britten, John Donne, Holy Sonnets, Narrativity, Narrative Code, Hermeneutic Morpheme, Lexia, Textual Analysis, Song Cycle

Chapter I: The Hermeneutic Code

Chapter II: Fear and Hope: Songs Nos. 1-2
    No.1 ("Oh my blacke Soule")
    No.2 ("Batter my Heart")

Chapter III: Self-Examination: Songs Nos. 3-5

    No.3 ("O might those Sighes and Teares")
    No.4 ("Oh, to vex me")
    No.5 ("What if this present")

Chapter IV: Seeking Grace: Songs Nos. 6-9

    No.6 ("Since she whom I loved")
    No.7 ("At the round Earth's imagined corners")
    No.8 ("Thou hast made me")
    No.9 ("Death, be not proud")

Chapter V. Conclusion


Jung-Jin Kim
#398-19 Hwagok dong, Kangseo ku
Seoul, Korea (157-018)

Back to Dissertation Menu

Konov, Yavor S. "The first treatise of harpsichord 'Les Principes du Clavecin' by Saint Lambert (Paris, M. DCCII)."

AUTHOR: Konov Yavor S.
TITLE: The first treatise of harpsichord "Les Principes du Clavecin" by Saint Lambert (Paris, M. DCCII)
INSTITUTION: State Academy of Music "Pancho Vladigerov," Sofia, Bulgaria
BEGUN: September 1994
COMPLETED: September 1997
The attainment of some authenticity (relative) in the harpsichord pieces playing is more possible if one knows the sources from this epoque. Translating in Bulgarian language De Saint Lambert's 2 treatises (Les Principes du Clavecin, Paris, M. DCCII & Nouveau Traite de l'Accompagnement du Clavecin, de l'Orgue, et des Autres Instruments, Paris, M. DCCVII) and studying thoroughly the first of them, it was found that:

Historically M. De Saint Lambert's "Les Principes du Clavecin" is the first systematical treatise, devoted to the education of playing the harpsichord. It is preceded or followed by:

The appearance of the treatise "Les Principes du Clavecin" is motivated by the development and flowering of the harpsichord in the time of Louis XIV. It responds to the increasing necessity of treatises about the harpsichord-theory, practice and method of education.

The harpsichord-method of education, presented by De Saint Lambert in "Les Principes du Clavecin":

The innovations in the treatise "Les Principes du Clavecin":

De Saint Lambert’s music terminology:

The personality of De Saint Lambert:


The De Saint Lambert’s treatise "Les Principes du Clavecin" (Paris, Ballard, 1702) is a bright witness of the 17th century harpsichord-theory and practice.

It is of big interest to the contemporary musician: theorist, clavier pedagogue and/or performer (particularly in the music of the epoch of French harpsichordism).

The De Saint Lambert’s treatise "Les Principes du Clavecin" should receive a respectable place in the Bulgarian musical literature and education.

De Saint Lambert, music (terminology, theory, practice, performance, pedagogy, education), harpsichord (terminology, theory, pedagogy, education), treatise, Bulgaria

Chapter one: About M. De Saint Lambert and his time
Chapter two: Pedagogical and practical methods in the "Les Principes du Clavecin"
Chapter three: The Saint Lambert's personal method in the teaching
Chapter four: Fundamental musical terms from the "Les Principes du Clavecin"
Chapter five: From the time distance
Deductions and conclusion

Pages: 241

Bibliography (235 items - 95 Cyrillic, 140 Latin)

Dr Yavor KONOV
23, Dospat St., 1463 Sofia, BULGARIA
phone number (+ 00 359 2) 540 943

Back to Dissertation Menu

Rubin, Anna I. "For�t Profonde: The Narrative, Sonic and Reception Design of Francis Dhomont's For�t Profonde."

AUTHOR: Rubin, Anna, I.
TITLE: For�t Profonde: The Narrative, Sonic and Reception Design of Francis Dhomont's For�t Profonde
INSTITUTION: Princeton University
BEGUN: January 1998
COMPLETED: January 1999
Master acousmatic composer Francis Dhomont has created an epic electro-acoustic work, For�t Profonde, of nearly sixty minutes length, combining text, ambient sound of various sorts, sampled quotations from Schumann's Kinderszenen and composed electro-acoustic music. The piece embodies a dialectical balance between a number of polarities - speech vs. music, gesture vs. texture (D. Smalley), linear vs. multiply-directed time (J. Kramer) as well as male/female representations. In addition, the composer maintains a play of polarities with regard to contrapuntal structures, spectral content (R. Cogan), and 'instrumentation.' L. Meyer's notions of implication/deflection, although geared toward tonal music, are seen to effectively operate in Dhomont's more complex noise/atonal/tonally-inflected musical language in forms built up by the accretion of fragment.

The author analyses the various narrative elements (including fairy tale fragments, commentary, reportage, etc.) through the personae of the pieces' 'characters', employing concepts from theatre, film music, and gender studies. In the discussion of sonic design, each of the thirteen sections of the work is closely analysed with regards to the polarities cited above. Formal sectionalizing of the piece is rendered ambiguous by a complex 'quilt' of associated elements and repetitions.

In exploring the listening strategy required by the work, the author draws on concepts of reception from the visual arts (M. Smith) as well as electro-acoustic music (K. Norman, D. Smalley, B. Truax). W. Benjamin's notion of 'aura' as applied to the unique art object is extended to the reproduced object as well as to the complex nature of listening. In For�t Profonde, Dhomont achieves the musical representation of the unconscious, explores the nature of humankind, and a unified melding of disparate elements into an aesthetic whole.

Electro-acoustic music, acousmatic music, French-Canadian music


Anna Rubin, Department of Composition
Conservatory of Music
Oberlin College
Oberlin, OH 44074-1588
(440) 774-3281

Back to Dissertation Menu

AUTHOR: Santa, Matthew, S
TITLE: "Studies in Post-Tonal Diatonicism: A Mod7 Perspective"
INSTITUTION: The Graduate School and University Center - CUNY
BEGUN: February, 1998
COMPLETED: May, 1999
There is a substantial body of music written in the twentieth century in which the notes of a diatonic scale predominate, but which often lacks one or more of the other basic requirements necessary to be considered tonal. Such music, by the likes of Barber, Copland, Prokofiev, and Stravinsky, has always posed a problem for music theorists, since neither traditional tonal analysis nor pc-set analysis yields satisfying analytic results. This dissertation argues
that the problems inherent in analyzing post-tonal diatonic music can be solved by a careful application of set theory modulo 7, in interaction with the more familiar mod12 set theory. The first chapter outlines a system of mod7 set theory designed specifically for the analysis of post-tonal diatonic music. The next two chapters apply that system to a range of works in order to demonstrate its validity; Chapter 2 focuses on motivic structures while Chapter 3 focuses on harmonic structures. Chapter 4 explores how mod7 and mod12 partitionings of the octave interact with mod5 (pentatonic), mod6 (whole-tone), and mod8 (octatonic) partitionings in much music of the 20th century, and addresses the analytic problem posed by such interactions. The final chapter deals with structural levels in post-tonal diatonic music.

post-tonal music, mod7, centricity, 20th-century music, set theory, Bartok, Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Copland, Barber

Chapter 1: Set Theory, Mod7
Chapter 2: Motivic Analysis, Mod7
Chapter 3: Chordal Tone Centers
Chapter 4: Modular Transformations
Chapter 5: Structural Levels

Matthew Santa
120 W. 44th St., Apt. 914
New York, NY 10036
(212) 921-2074

Sundin, Nils-Goran. "Aesthetic Criteria for Musical Interpretation: A Study of the Contemporary Performance of Western Notated Instrumental Music after 1750."

AUTHOR: Sundin, Nils-Goran
TITLE: Aesthetoc Criteria for Musical Interpretation: A Study of the Contemporary Performance of Western Notated Instrumental Music after 1750
INSTITUTION: University of Jyvaskyla, Finland
COMPLETED: August 8, 1994
The purpose of this study is to illuminate performers' and theorists' patterns of aesthetic thinking within musical
interpretation in performance. The study examines in particular the cognitive processes and logic(s) of implementation of interpretational ideals based on phenomenology, hermeneutics, semiotics, formalism, and Schenkerian Vortragslehre.

By means of phenomenological analysis, the study discusses the philosophical, scientific, and musicological grounds for a methodology of interpretation analysis and proposes a theory of interpretation concerned with the relational network of intentional interpretive acts. The objective of this theory is to secure the grounds for description and evaluation of interpretational quality in musical performance. The presented model of interpretation-analysis demonstrates a possibility of founding interpretive decisions on rational argument.

The study identifies three degrees of cognitive decisional abstraction concerned with concreteshaping on different levels: the interpretive (correctness of execution; details of motivic design), the interpretative (apprehensible 'gestalting' of unities), and the interpretational (coherent wholeness in the manifestation of the work's identity in performance). Conscious acts of interpretation allow an interpreting direction either from (expretive) or to (impretive) the subject or the object of the encounter, entailing a election and displacement of the interpreted content.

The application of this scheme in a series of critical analyses of conductors (Celibidache, Ansermet, Furtwangler, Dorati, Blomstedt, Sacher), pianists (Schnabel, Gieseking, Leygraf, Harry), and string players (Menuhin, Lorcovic, Casals) explains how aesthetic positions are implemented via interpretational procedures in concrete performance styles.

Performance Aesthetics in Conducting, Philosophy of music, Interpretation, Music Theory and Analysis, Methods and Models in Criticism, Cognitive Analysis and Generative Ideas, Interpretive Styles, Conductors, Pianists, String players

1 Synopsis of Project (MIR) & Aims of Investigation
2 A Concise Theory of Fundamental Relations of Musical Interpretation in Performance
3 The Problem of Science Philosophy: Feyerabend and Phenomenology of  Husserl

1 The Critical Debate on Interpretation within Aesthetics and Analytical Philosophy
2 A Philosophy of Interpretation in Performance: History of Ideas. Ontology of Reproduction versus Interpretation.
Phenomenology versus Hermeneutics
3 A Phenomenology of Musical Aesthetics
4 The Semiotic Approach and the Logic of Notation
5 Formalism: Modern 'Schools' of Theory on Form and Performance
6 Aesthetic Ideas on Musical Interpretation in Performance
7 The 'Classical' Interpretation Theory: Vortragslehre

1 Historicity & Actuality
2 Authenticity & Expressivity
3 Identity & Difference
4 Objectivity & Subjectivity

1 Composers: Sch�nberg, Stravinsky, Hindemith, Sessions
2 Conductors: (2:1) Ansermet, (2:2) Furtw�ngler
3 Pianists: Gieseking, Brendel, Fischer, Gould
4 String Players: Violinists and Cellists
5 Critics

1 Introductory Remarks and Discussion on Methods (MIR I-V)
2 Interpretation Analysis
3 Interviews
4 Special Studies
5 Critics
6 Three Aesthetical Positions (Leinsdorf, Sacher; Dorati, Blomstedt;

VI CONCLUSION (final theoretical results and suggestions)
1 Summary
2 Conclusions
3 Discussion

1 References
2 Abbreviations and Definitions
3 List of Works Related to MIR (Musical Interpretation Research)--
project and series of publications (MIR vols I-II)
4 Tape-Recordings
5 General Index of Artists (MIR vols I-VI; includes unpublished
6 Bibliography

Dr. Nils-Goran Sundin, (docent) associate professor
Radmansgatan 3
S-11425 Stockholm
Tel/FAX +46 8 108052

Back to Dissertation Menu


[1] Music Theory Online (MTO) as a whole is Copyright � 1999, all rights reserved, by the Society for Music Theory, which is the owner of the journal. Copyrights for individual items published in MTO are held by their authors. Items appearing in MTO may be saved and stored in electronic or paper form, and may be shared among individuals for purposes of scholarly research or discussion, but may not be republished in any form, electronic or print, without prior, written permission from the author(s), and advance notification of the editors of MTO.

[2] Any redistributed form of items published in MTO must include the following information in a form appropriate to the medium in which the items are to appear:

This item appeared in Music Theory Online in [VOLUME #, ISSUE #] on [DAY/MONTH/YEAR]. It was authored by [FULL NAME, EMAIL ADDRESS], with whose written permission it is reprinted here.

[3] Libraries may archive issues of MTO in electronic or paper form for public access so long as each issue is stored in its entirety, and no access fee is charged. Exceptions to these requirements must be approved in writing by the editors of MTO, who will act in accordance with the decisions of the Society for Music Theory.

Prepared by
Eric Isaacson
14 January 1999