Dissertation Index

Author: Dogantan, Mine

Title: Mathis Lussy's Theory of Rhythm as a Basis for a Theory of Expressive Performance

Institution: Columbia University, New York

Begun: September 1995

Completed: May 1997


The purpose of this dissertation is to reconstruct and interpret Mthis Lussy's theory of rhythm and expressive performance. During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the theory of rhythm was part of the theory of composition, and the musical phrase was studied in its capacity to create large-scale forms. The second part of the 19th century witnessed a shift of focus towards a systematic investigation into the internal organization of the individual phrase in connection with performance practice. Because of the convergence of the theories of rhythm and performance methodology, the generating causes of expression in performance were thus sought in the structure of the musical phrase rather than in the inspired soul of the performing artist. In his Traite de l'expression musicale of 1874, Swiss theorist Mathis Lussy offered the first theory of rhythm as a foundation for a theory of expressive performance. His theory, along with the works of Spencer and Hanslick, has been cited as one of the most important contributions to 19th-century music psychology and psychological aesthetics. Lussy's thesis that the source of expression lies in unexpected metric, rhythmic, and tonal events has decidedly modern overtones. His argument that the structural features that generate musical expression are also responsible for the listener's affective response to music constitutes the first attempt to bring together music theory and affective psychology. Lussy's theory of rhythm, which is built on the principle of action-repose, has directly influenced the theories of Jaques-Dalcroze and the scholars of Solemnes. In this dissertation, the ideas of predecessors eho prepared the grounds for Lussy's theories are traced, and connections with recent theories of rhythm and of the psychology of expressive performance are considered.

Keywords: rhythm, expressive performance, timing, tonal attractions, kinesthesis, models of musical rhythm, intelligibility in music, passions.


Chapter 1:Historical Background For Lussy'S Theory Of Musical Expression
Chapter 2: Foundations Of Lussy'S Theory Of Rhythm And Expression
Chapter 3: Lussy's Theory Of Rhythm And Meter As A Foundation For Performance

1. The origin of rhythm and meter. the model of respiration
2. The nature of musical meter
The beat and the measure
The metric accent
3. The nature of musical rhythm
Rhythm as grouping
The grouping hierarchy
Rhythmic accent: The ictus
Rhythmic categories
4. Notation of rhythmic units: The theory of Bonne Mesure

Chapter 4: The Elements Of Expressive Performance

1. Variations in dynamic intensity
2. Variations in tempo
Structural timing
Impassioned timing

Chapter 5: Connections Between Lussy, His Successors And Recent Developments In Theories Of Rhythm And Expression


Bagdat Cad. 384/3
Suadiye, Istanbul
81070, TURKEY

Yeditepe University
School of Arts and Sciences

Phone: (216) 355-2702
Fax: (216) 368-5035
email: drdogantanm@superonline.com

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