Editor’s Message

Ideally, what should be said to every child, repeatedly, throughout his or her school life is something like this: “You are in the process of being indoctrinated. We have not yet evolved a system of education that is not a system of indoctrination. We are sorry, but it is the best we can do. What you are being taught here is an amalgam of current prejudice and the choices of this particular culture. The slightest look at history will show how impermanent these must be. You are being taught by people who have been able to accommodate themselves to a regime of thought laid down by their predecessors. It is a self-perpetuating system. Those of you who are more robust and individual than others will be encouraged to leave and find ways of educating yourself—educating your own judgements. Those that stay must remember, always, and all the time, that they are being moulded and patterned to fit into the narrow and particular needs of this particular society.”

  – Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook

Dear readers,

We are pleased and proud to present the June 2017 issue of Music Theory Online (23.2), a substantive issue featuring eight articles, including five essays on feminist music theory that help to question the moulds and patterns of our system of indoctrination, as well as two conference reports and two book reviews. Matthew Boyle provides a parallel translation with commentary for Johann Georg Sulzer’s article on recitative, the longest entry in his Allgemeine Theorie der schönen Künste (1771–74), which documents different compositional traditions in Berlin and Hamburg, as well as Sulzer’s rules for composing recitative. Mark Spicer considers rock songs with “fragile” tonics that are only weakly defined, “emergent” tonics that are initially absent but arrive later in the song (usually at the beginning of the chorus), and “absent” tonics that never materialize. Anna Zayaruznaya examines medieval polytextual motets, asserting that our perception of multiple simultaneous texts as unintelligible is a modern one deriving from contemporary performance and recording practices. The clarity of motet texts is undermined by a preference for uniformly blended vocal timbres in which individual voices do not stand out, a tradition of performing this music in highly reverberant spaces and imitating such spaces in recording production, and our habits of listening to recorded rather than live performances.

The five articles on feminist music theory were submitted in response to a call for papers put forth by MTO in conjunction with the Committee for the Status of Women. The idea for this special half-issue was inspired by the articles in Perspectives of New Music 32/1 (1994), particularly those by Suzanne Cusick, Marion Guck, Marianne Kielian-Gilbert, and Fred Maus. Vivian Luong’s article “Rethinking Music Loving,” while not intentionally written as an introduction to the group of essays, works well in this role. Drawing on the work of the aforementioned scholars and others, she calls for us to rethink the ways in which we engage with music theory and analysis, judge the works of others, and relate to other disciplines. Lori Burns and Marc Lafrance present a model for examining themes, spatial and temporal dimensions, relationality, and gestures in the lyrical, musical, and visual domains of music video. They interpret videos for “Try” by Pink and “We Found Love” by Rihanna as commentaries on the liquid nature of heterosexual love in late modernity. Maeve Sterbenz invokes feminist and queer theories in a close reading of the interactions between performed human movements and music, and the role of these interactions in identity construction, in the video for “Yonkers” by Tyler, the Creator. Marc Hannaford explores self-positioning and agency through the lens of trust in the music of five female jazz improvisers and their ensembles. Rachel Lumsden focuses on the gendered and stylistic aspects of Ruth Crawford’s mentoring of Vivian Fine and analyzes Fine’s unpublished Little Suite for Violin and Piano, for which we are delighted to present the premiere recording, commissioned for this article.

In addition, this issue includes two reports on conferences held at the beginning of June. I summarize the keynote presentations and the theory and analysis papers at an interdisciplinary symposium commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Beatles’ album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, organized by Walter Everett at the University of Michigan. Greg McCandless surveys the highlights of the “Pedagogy into Practice” conference held in Cleveland, TN and sponsored by the Gail Boyd de Stwolinski Center for Music Theory Pedagogy and the editorial boards of the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy and the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy Online.

Thanks to the efforts of our excellent reviews editors Michael Callahan and Joti Rockwell, we also present two book reviews of recent monographs: Brett Clement comments on Brad Osborn’s Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead, and Roger Graybill assesses Edward Klorman’s Mozart’s Music of Friends: Social Interplay in the Chamber Works.

MTO readers may also be interested in a new issue of our sister journal, Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie (ZGMTH ), published by the German music theory society. ZGMTH 13/2, scheduled to be published at the same time as this issue, is dedicated to the digitalization of music theory, including large-scale data analysis, e-learning and web-based resources, and electronic publications.

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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