Dissertation Index



Author: Doll, Christopher

Title: Listening to Rock Harmony

Institution: Columbia University

Begun: August 2006

Completed: May 2007

Abstract:

This dissertation seeks to verbalize some of the rich harmonic effects that are idiomaticand, in some cases, uniqueto rock music (with rock construed broadly). Chapter 1 presents the basic tenets of a harmonic-function theory, one built around chordal effects of stability, hierarchy, and prediction. Armed with this new theory, the dissertation proceeds in the following two chapters to tackle two major stumbling blocks of rock--music analysis-ambiguity and transformationby exploring the ways in which these two concepts can represent hearings of music, as opposed to, say, rationalizations of how music might be organized. Chapter 2 theorizes two subtypes of harmonic ambiguity-centric and functional ambiguity-and investigates the various types of experiential information that can lead to these ambiguous effects. Chapter 3 frames chord substitution and chord addition/subtraction as descriptions of transformational effects, and explores three common types of transformed harmonic structures: norms, precedents, and (in)complete structures. The dissertations ideas on function, ambiguity, and transformation culminate in Chapter 3s synchronic, diachronic, and hermeneutic discussion of a structure I call the rogue riff, an up-down gesture that composes out a seventh chords (perfect) fifth and (minor) seventh. Overall, the dissertation cites (and offers audio excerpts of) more than two hundred songs in its exploration of styles ranging from Afro-Cuban jazz and country-western to heavy metal and hip-hop.


Keywords: metatheory, listening, rock, harmony, function, ambiguity, transformation

TOC:

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 1: FUNCTION
Part I: Tonic, Dominant, and Subdominant
Introduction
Tonic Function and Tonal Center
Predictive Functions
Part II: Functional Chains
Roman Numerals
Pre-Pretonic Functions
Non-Predictive Functions
Part III: Progression
Schemata
Retrogression

CHAPTER 2: AMBIGUITY
Part I: Introduction
Modality
Musical Ambiguity
Part II: Information
Making a List
Variations on a Theme: Types 1-9
Types 10-12
Part III: Centric Ambiguity
Local Levels
Global Levels
Other Cases
Part IV: Functional Ambiguity
Chord-Hierarchical Ambiguity
V-IV-I
IV-I-V
bVII-IV-I

CHAPTER 3: TRANSFORMATION
Part I: Transformational Types
Introduction
Substitution
Addition and Subtraction
Part II: Transformees
Normality
Precedence
Completeness
Part III: The Rogue Riff
Explaining bVII-IV-I
From Chord to Succession, and Back Again
Other Harmonizations
The Boogie Riff
The Palindrome
An Archetypal American Musical Icon

CONCLUSION


Contact:

Christopher Doll
Assistant Professor
Department of Music
Mason Gross School of the Arts
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
81 George St.
New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1411
dollchristopher@yahoo.com


Date Listed: 07/15/2008


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