Editor’s Message

[1] If we co-opt the musicological conceit of the “long century,” we may be able to discern a “long twentieth century” that stretches from somewhere in Debussy’s or Mahler’s or Joplin’s first maturity till some as-yet unattained or unremarked point in this decade or the next. The unifying principle justifying such a construct might be the advent of mechanical sound reproduction and diffusion, starting with the commercially viability of the phonograph (ca. 1890) and leading through the coming of broadcast radio (1919), talking motion pictures (1927), widespread adoption of television (ca. 1948), commercial arrival of modular, voltage-controlled synthesizers (Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon, 1967, and Wendy Carlos’s Switched-On Bach, 1968), the personal computer (Apple II, 1977; IBM PC, 1980), the World Wide Web (1989), the iPhone (2007), and whichever innovation arrives within the next eighteen months to upend things once again. Or are we part way through the long 21st century, rather than near the end of the long 20th?

[2] This issue of MTO focuses on a wide variety of musical repertoires and issues drawn from the long 20th century, or (if you prefer) the long 21st. The musical genres and analytical modalities represented here cut a wide, eclectic swatch. Valentina Bertolani examines the group dynamics of the pivotal Roman improvisational collective the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, formed in 1964. Andrew Chung reconsiders musical meaning in terms of performative utterance, drawing on recent work in and beyond the field of musical scholarship in so doing. John Link examines the late music of Elliott Carter (d. 2012), while Catherine Losada focuses on the cadenza in Pierre Boulez’s Éclat (1965). David Pearson looks at the challenges inherent in the analysis of extreme hardcore punk, while Laurence Willis discusses the music of Ben Johnston, an American maverick who is hardcore in his own way.

[3] We are also delighted to host a panel of essays on Kendrick Lamar’s 2015 album To Pimp A Butterfly. A diverse group of analysts approach this landmark work from a variety of angles, from its pedagogical possibilities to questions of flow, social commentary, protest, and text/music alignment. Philip Ewell provides an introduction to essays by Robin Attas, James Bungert, Noriko Manabe, John Mattessich, and Mitch Ohriner.

[4] As we continue on through 2019, exciting things are afoot at MTO. We’ll announce changes in our editorial staff soon; for now, suffice it to say that the publication is in very good hands going forward. In addition, our implementation of OJS (Open Journal System), while still not perfect, should result in decreased delays and better communication with authors and reviewers. Thanks are due to Brian Alegant, chair of the SMT Publications Committee, and SMT President Robert Hatten, who have provided significant support for the transitions that are underway in our submissions management and staffing processes.

[5] If the content of MTO interests you, please check out our sister publication SMT-V, the newest peer-reviewed publication of the Society for Music Theory. In the current issue, Joshua Banks Mailman presents a trilogy of video essays entitled “Babbitt’s Beguiling Surfaces, Improvised Inside” that make use of the video medium to examine the legacy and work of Milton Babbitt, an essential figure in the evolution of modern composition and music theory.

[6] Last month our profession lost one of its most fearless and generous souls. Aleck Brinkman was a faculty member at the Eastman School of Music (U. of Rochester) and the Boyer School of Music (Temple U.) as well as a prime mover of SMT’s adoption of digital technology. It’s unlikely that MTO would exist in its present form without Aleck’s guidance. I was fortunate to serve as his “roadie” at one of the first SMT conferences I attended. You can tell a lot about someone by how they treat their roadies, and Aleck was one of the best I ever worked for. He leaves his wife, theorist, composer, and flautist Dr. Cynthia Folio, and a daughter, Lydia. A memorial chronicling our colleague’s life will appear in the next SMT Newsletter.

[7] Although MTO is 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, book reviews, conference reports, and entire special volumes. We encourage submissions in formats both tried and true and new and creative. Our main criterion is conversation: does your work engage in fruitful dialogue with the work and music of others? 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.

[9] 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 Music Theory Online—a Journal of the Society for Music Theory.

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