MTO Dissertation Listings

Volume 3.3 1997


  1. Cramer, Alfred W. Music for the Future: Sounds of Early Twentieth-Century Psychology and Language in Works of Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, 1908 to the First World War
  2. Crownfield, Elizabeth E. The Intellectual Backgrounds of Morley's Plaine and Easie Introduction
  3. Leydon, Rebecca V. Narrative Strategies and Debussy's Late Style
  4. Link, John, F. Long-Range Polyrhythms in Elliott Carter's Recent Music

Cramer, Alfred W. Music for the Future: Sounds of Early Twentieth-Century Psychology and Language in Works of Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, 1908 to the First World War

INSTITUTION: University of Pennsylvania
COMPLETED: April 1997
Although scholars and musicians have met with some success in
explaining the structure of the Second Viennese School's early
atonal music, a comprehensive understanding of this music does
not yet exist.  This dissertation argues that this elusiveness is
an inherent part of the musics purpose.  It identifies hitherto
unnoticed relationships between the Viennese School's music and
early twentieth-century culture, technology, psychology, and
phonetics.  These account for several structural and harmonic
aspects of this music.  Statements by the Viennese School and
others imply that atonal works were not intended to convey ideas
through rational structure but through musical representations of
perception, thought, and language, whose functioning was regarded
as illogical at that time.  This illogic may explain why the
Viennese School's atonality has eluded comprehensive
rationalistic explanation or codification of its language.  Part
I positions the Viennese School within early twentieth-century
Viennese culture and identifies its motivations for overturning
the established musical order with a music that was supposedly
untainted by convention.  In retrospect, the music appears
conditioned by conventional early twentieth-century conceptions
of mind and meaning.

Part II ascertains the sounds of atonality by closely examining
the performance practice developed by the Viennese School and its
associates.  Their performances were guided not by analyses of
compositional structure but by the imperative to realize as much
as possible of the scores sonic potential.  Such performance was
expected to transcend the performers understanding, a fact
explained with reference to performance practices of the Viennese
School's day, to recent discussions about performance practice,
and to the Viennese School's belief that its music was of the

Part III, tying writings by Swedenborg, Broch, Rilke, Strindberg,
William James, Mach, and others to the Viennese School, explores
atonal representations of raw perception, mental associations,
streams of consciousness, and the sounds of language as theorized
in the early twentieth century.  As in the early
twentieth-century mind, these disparate types of cognition are
often indistinguishable when represented in the music.  Evidence
suggests that musicians and audiences expected to transcend such
mental disorder aesthetically, by experiencing its musical

meaning, phonetics, performance practice, klangfarbenmelodie,
Kolisch, Steuermann, Swedenborg, Rilke, Broch

Part  I.  Culture, Psychology, And The Viennese School at the End of a Musical 
Century	1
1.  Introduction:   On Studying the  Second Viennese School
2.  The Viennese School's Social and Political Background
3.  Music and the New Psychology

Part II.  Performance Utopia
4.  Performance in the Schoenberg Circle
5.  Performance Practices
6.  Utopia

Part III.  Constructing Meaning in Atonal Music
7.  Grasping Meaning in Empiricism
8.  Empiricist Tropes in Atonal Music
9.  Language in Atonality

Music Department, Pomona College
340 N. College Ave.
Claremont, CA   91711
fax 909/621-8645

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Crownfield, Elizabeth E. The Intellectual Backgrounds of Morley's Plaine and Easie Introduction

INSTITUTION: New York University
COMPLETED: 1999-2000
I examine three intellectual traditions that influenced this
book:  written musical theory, non-musical writing in Elizabethan
England, and the unwritten practice of teaching, learning,
composing, and performing music.  Though much of the content
derives from the European written tradition, the book's
individual features--style, organization, and manner of
presentation--reflect instead Morley's unique synthesis of his
diverse reading and experience.  Morley was interested in
portraying music as a living practice and not simply an academic
subject, so he rejected many conventions of musical writing and
instead adopted other devices designed to appeal to non-musical

Besides Morley's eclecticism in the use of non-musical material
there are two other main themes:  the tension between
improvisation and composition (both in music and elsewhere), and
Morley's aesthetic views in their Elizabethan context.

The first of these uncovers rich parallels with areas as diverse
as poetry, drama, law, and preaching, all of which had similar
debates over spontaneity, premeditation, speaking, and writing.
Morley's written dialogue form also carries the same tension, as
do many details of his treatment of teaching.

The second is particularly concerned with Morley's term
"formality" and its associated ideas.  It intersects the
improvisation/composition issue because writers often make value
judgements based on the closeness or distance to spontaneity.

Morley, descant, composition, improvisation, aesthetics,
teaching, education, treatise, dialogue, formality

261 Manktown Rd.
Waldoboro, ME 04572
Phone (207) 832-7618
Fax (work) (207) 845-2404

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Leydon, Rebecca V. Narrative Strategies and Debussy's Late Style

INSTITUTION: McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
BEGUN: September, 1994
COMPLETED: December 1996
Many music scholars share a belief in the deep-seated connection
between music and language.  This belief underlies the exploration of
homologies between musical and linguistic structures that have been an
important area of study within our field.  In recent years, however, a
number of scholars have been considering larger units of musical
structure, taking as their model not the syntactic structure of the
sentence, but rather the organizational structure of whole narrative
texts.  One goal of narratology is to investigate the ways that events
experienced separately are comprehended as a unified whole.  Because
of its attention to the interplay of schema-driven and data-driven
perception, narrative theory is suggestive of an approach to the study
of the early post-tonal repertoire, music that involves both tonal
configurations and atonal, "intra-opus" processes.

Debussy's late works, which include the Etudes and the three
Sonatas, exhibit a distinct style which combines elements of late
nineteenth-century chromaticism with atonal features, innovative
formal structures and new pitch resources.  This study begins with the
assumption that the large-scale tonal structure of most
nineteenth-century instrumental music is analogous to the "plot" of a
classical narrative text; in contrast, Debussy's quasi-tonal
structures represent alternatives to that calssical narrative syntax.
I view Debussy's innovative musical language as a departure from a
prevailing "narrative code," which is embodied in works of composers
like Wagner, and dominated by notions of tension and resolution,
departure and return, and monumental formal structures.  In contrast
to this tonal idiom, Debussy's late works exhibit other modes of
organization which can be more accurately modeled using alternative
story-types.  The alternative narrative models I invoke come out of
two main research areas: studies on the development of story-telling
ability in children, and studies of the spatial and temporal
relationships exhibited in the early silent cinema.  Throughout this
study I attempt to contextualize the array of narrative strategies
manifested in Debussy's music within the general cultural
reorientations of the early twentieth century that we identify as

Debussy, Etudes, Sonata for Flute Viola and Harp, Cello Sonata, Violin
Sonata, Cinema, Film, Narrative, Children's Narrative

Chapter 1. Introduction
Chapter 2. Theories of Narrative
Chapter 3. Musical Narrativity: Kinds of Stories in Debussy's Late
Chapter 4.  Debussy's Late Style and the Devices aof the Early Silent
Chapter 5. A Narrative Approach to the Analysis of the "Serenade" from
  the Cello Sonata.
Chapter 6. Summary and Conclusion.

R. Leydon
#8 Presidents Drive, Apt. 2B
Port Jefferson, New York 11777
phone: (516) 632-7324
fax:   (516) 632-7404

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Link, John, F. Long-Range Polyrhythms in Elliott Carter's Recent Music

INSTITUTION: City University of New York
BEGUN: January, 1992
COMPLETED: January, 1994
Although Elliott Carter (b. 1908) is recognized around the world as
one of the foremost composers of the late twentieth century, the music
he composed in the 1980s--one of the most productive periods of his
career--has received very little scholarly attention. During that time
Carter developed a clear and expressive rhythmic language, based on
long-range polyrhythms, that imparts a new sense of global
organization to his recent works, and has significant implications for
the more general theoretical issue of rhythm in post-tonal music. This
dissertation is a study of long-range polyrhythms in Carter's music
from Night Fantasies (1980) to Anniversary (1989). Chapter 1 considers
the abstract properties of long-range polyrhythms. Chapter 2 examines
the types of polyrhythms Carter has favored in his recent works and
his decisions regarding their notation. In chapter 3 questions about
the musical palpability of long-range polyrhythms are addressed from
the point of view of the listener/analyst, and numerous examples are
given of how long-range polyrhythms can enrich our hearing of Carter's
recent music.

Elliott Carter, rhythm, polyrhythm, 20th-century music, music theory,
music analysis

Abbreviations of Terms Defined in the Text 
List of Figures
List of Examples
Chapter 1 - The Abstract Properties of Long-range Polyrhythms
Chapter 2 - Carter's Polyrhythmic Choices
Chapter 3 - Analytical and Perceptual Issues  
List of Works Cited

John F. Link
Music Dept.
William Paterson College
300 Pompton Rd.
Wayne, NJ 07470
ph. (201) 595-2340
fax (201) 595-2217

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