Editor’s Message

“They say there are strangers who threaten us:
Our immigrants and infidels.
They say there is strangeness too dangerous
In our theatres and bookstore shelves;
Those who know what’s best for us
Must rise and save us from ourselves.

Quick to judge, quick to anger, slow to understand,
Ignorance and prejudice and fear walk hand in hand.”

  – Rush, “Witch Hunt” from Moving Pictures

Dear readers,

In these turbulent times, we must do what we can to stand against ignorance, injustice, and hatred. To quote the SMT Executive Board’s “After Charlottesville: A Statement of Affirmation”:

Recent events in Charlottesville have served as a reminder that institutions of higher education can become the very stage upon which forces of hatred and violence play out. The Executive Board of the Society for Music Theory reaffirms the Society’s values of open and respectful dialogue and our commitment to ideals of justice, dignity, and equality for all peoples. The hatred that we witnessed directed against those who acted in defense of these values contradicts and threatens our core principles. We stand together for inclusivity, diversity, and the free exchange of ideas.

Many of us teach alone and do our research alone, and so it is in the domain of service that a sense of community and togetherness is strongest. Helping to foster the free exchange of ideas in Music Theory Online for the past three years has been exhilarating and illuminating, and it is a bittersweet task to write my twelfth and final Editor’s Message. Associate editor Steve Rodgers and I are passing the torch to the new editor Jeff Perry from Louisiana State University and the new associate editor Jonathan Kochavi from Swarthmore College; next year they will be joined by a second associate editor, René Rusch. It has been a pleasure to collaborate on this issue with Jeff and Jon, who bring astute intelligence, critical insight, and sharp analytical skills to the electronic pages of this journal.

In the current issue, we are pleased to present six articles and six book reviews, and a conference report on EuroMAC 9 by incoming editor Jeff Perry. Three articles focus on repertoire outside of the common practice, and two of these concern ambiguity in popular music. Trevor de Clercq analyzes verse-chorus song forms from 1980s pop-rock, demonstrating that formal ambiguities can derive from weak section differentiation, blending of section roles, and/or different hierarchical implications of bridge sections. Mark Richards identifies focal notes in the melody as a way of resolving tonal ambiguities in the “Axis” progression i–V–III–VII and its rotations in late 20th- and early 21st-century popular music. David Clarke explores the applicability of Lerdahl and Jackendoff’s A Generative Theory of Tonal Music to Hindustani (North Indian) classical music through a case study of an ālāp, assessing GTTM’s claims of universality and suggesting some modifications to its preference rules.

Three other articles examine aspects of French and German Romanticism and early Modernism. Damian Blättler offers a model of additive harmony in the Parisian modernist repertoire based on tonal function, harmonic voicing, and the distinction between anchor structures and adorning tones within a chord. James Bungert’s “A Tale of Three Schenkers” considers the performance issues raised by Schenker’s analysis and annotated score of Chopin’s Berceuse as they relate to fingering, bodily gestures, and keyboard topography. Michael Puri makes a case for interpreting Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales as modeled on Schumann’s piano cycles rather than Schubert’s waltzes.

Thanks to the efforts of our excellent reviews editors Joti Rockwell and Michael Callahan, we also present (unprecedentedly) six book reviews. Of these, two reviews evaluate monographs: Emanuel Amiot’s Discrete Fourier Transforms and Jeffrey Swinkin’s Performative Analysis. Two reviews reflect on essay collections: Rethinking Schubert, ed. Lorraine Byrne Bodley and Julian Horton, and Country Boys and Redneck Women: New Essays in Gender and Country Music, ed. Diane Pecknold and Kristine M. McCusker. Two more reviews appraise textbooks: John Franceschina’s Music Theory through Musical Theatre, and the aural-skills textbooks Comprehensive Aural Skills by Justin Merritt and David Castro, and The Moving Body in the Aural Skills Classroom: A Eurythmics-Based Approach by Diane J. Urista.

We offer sincere thanks to Brent Yorgason for his tireless work behind the scenes despite many competing demands on his time, to the members of the editorial board for their thorough and constructive reviews, and to the editorial assistants for their dedication, hard work, and attention to detail. We are, in addition, deeply indebted to the many referees who provide lengthy, detailed, and well thought-out reviews containing excellent advice for our authors. This reflects an impressive and commendable commitment to mentoring new scholarship in the discipline as well as helping to disseminate it.

We encourage new and creative submissions to MTO. Although we are especially well suited for the publication of articles that incorporate recordings, videos, and other media, we also welcome text submissions in a variety of formats, including full-length articles, shorter essays and commentaries, conference reports, and entire special volumes. Commentaries in response to this issue’s articles, as well as announcements for our job listings and dissertation index, may be submitted to the Editor for publication in the next issue. Please refer to our submission guidelines.

All MTO volumes dating back to our first issue in 1993 can be accessed from the contents page at http://www.mtosmt.org/issues/issues.html. Thank you, as always, for your support of MTO—a Journal of the Society for Music Theory.

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