Dissertation Index

Author: Weiss, Michael

Title: Theoretical and Analytical Reflections on the Role of Robert O. Gjerdingen\'s Galant Schemata in Nineteenth-century Composition

Institution: University of Auckland

Begun: December 2013

Completed: May 2018


Reception of nineteenth-century music has for a long time been influenced by the ideologies of German Romanticism, in both popular and scholarly domains. This has promoted a view that what it meant to compose music underwent a radical shift from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century. According to this view, the respecting of musical conventions out of an apparent need to cater to aristocratic and public tastes yielded to a greater expression of individuality and to the flouting of those conventions in the name of artistic originality. Yet if we believe too readily that ideas associated with Romanticism must be wholly reflected in music from the time, we overlook many of the more pragmatic dimensions of a composer’s creativity, and by stressing the differences between the two centuries, we lose sight of the continuities across them. This study sets out to consider whether one of those continuities may have been the use of the short phrase patterns that Robert O. Gjerdingen (Music in the Galant Style, 2007) has termed ‘galant schemata’, whose role in nineteenth-century music remains virtually unexplored.

In this dissertation, I question assumptions about the use of these schemata during that period, ranging from the idea that they would have fallen into obsolescence in the nineteenth century, to the notion that composers might have used them only semi-consciously, or, conversely, would have manipulated them in an especially individualistic fashion. Rather than offer general conclusions on an impossibly large body of works, I approach the subject from a theoretical standpoint, considering questions of how schemata may be identified in music that can otherwise differ in many ways from that of the galant. To that end, I discuss both the phrase-rhythmic properties of schemata and the issue of how schemata and musical form interact. These discussions are motivated by a perceived neglect of the former and an emerging engagement with the latter in recent literature, as well as by the particular relevance of these matters to the analysis of schemata in nineteenth-century music. I end by examining how the decline, transformation and, alternatively, the affirmation of schemata can each be identified in nineteenth-century music. Numerous musical examples from both centuries are brought into consideration.

Keywords: schemata, galant, Romanticism, convention, creativity, style change, style continuity, phrase structure, formal function


1. Introduction
2. Schemata in Pastiche, Parody and Diegetic Music
3. Phrase-Structural Properties of Schemata
4. Whole-Movement Form and Interthematic Functions
5. Intrathematic Functions
6. Schema Decline: A Prognosis for the Prinner
7. Schema Transformation: The Panorama
8. Schemata Affirmed: The Use of Repetition



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