Leonard Meyer
Basic Terminology of Musical Meaning
Leeman Perkins
6 levels of text-music relations
J. Peter Burkholder
Simple Model for Associative Musical Meaning
Marion Guck
Narrative curve; 2 types of metaphoric transference
Robert Hatten
Expressive Genre; Temporal Tropes
Nicholas Cook
Model of Musical Meaning (car commercial)
Michael Klein
Musical Narrative; levels, types, apotheosis
“musical meaning lies exclusively within the context of the work itself.”
“musical meanings refer to the extramusical world of concepts, actions, emotional states, and character.”
“the meaning of music lies in the perception and understanding of the musical relationships set forth in the work of art and that meaning in music is primarily intellectual”
they “would argue that these same relationships are in some sense capable of exciting feelings and emotions in the listener”
there is only one answer _ only absolutist or referentialist, not both
Three common error is psychology of music
Hedonism, Atomism, Universalism
the confusion of aesthetic experience with the sensuously pleasing — that is, the idea that musical beauty simply comes down to “liking”. “[A] Beethoven symphony,” says Meyer, “is not a kind of musical banana split, a matter of purely sensuous enjoyment.”
the tendency to try to explain music by reducing it to “a succession of separable, discrete sounds and sound complexes.”
the error of regarding music organization as “good for all times and all places”. “Western music is not universal, natural, or God-given.” (p.6) but a product of learning and experience.
Meyer’s three stages of meaning
Hypothetical, Evident, Determinant
“are those which arise during the act of expectation. … a given stimulus invariably gives rise to several alternative hypothetical meanings.” (p.37)
“are those which are attributed to the antecedent gesture [once the consequent is perceived] and when the relationship between the antecedent and consequent is perceived.” (p.37)
“are those meanings which arise out of the relationships existing between hypothetical meanings, evident meanings, and the later stages of musical development. In other words, determine meaning arises only after the experience of the work is timeless in memory … [when] these relationships to one another [are] comprehended as fully as possible.” (p.38)
Six levels of text-music relations
Declamatory, Formal, Syntactical, Rhetorical, Mimetic, Affective
text, syllabic vs. melismatic, rhythmic placement
how the poetic form connects to the musical form (ex. Couplets in parallel periods)
ordered structure, arrangement of phrases
emphasis of specific words (important words, text painting)
imitation; includes sonorous and cognitive
imitating the sound
suggesting the sound meaning
connection to emotions (often used in contrasts)
Two types of metaphoric transference
Comparative and Ascriptive
directly perceivable (arch form), more straight forward and technical
elements working for a single effect; like urgency, is more evocative, less clearly limited. (210); not the perceivable features themselves but what they allude to that is transferred; less clearly limited
Expressive genre
broad topical feel that organizes the expressive states of the work; overarching goal achieved through dramatic effect; broad; tragic to triumph (ex. apotheosis)
Temporal tropes
the complex syntheses created when composers explore unexpected relationships between the expected location of musical events and the actual location where they appear, relative to one another and to their plausible dramatic sequence.
Five types of temporal tropes
Function contradicting location, evolving theme, idea broken off or goal evaded, interruption, temporal shifting
Function contradicting location
Music placed in a location not usually expected
Evolving theme
original theme is presented at the end after presentation of development; culminating form
Idea broken off or goal evaded
temporal shift
parenthetical insertion
Temporal shifting
past to present; retrogression
Cook’s Model of musical meaning
How meaning is filtered through the interpreter
Music space
timbre, dynamics, instrumentation, the music itself
Text space
verbal descriptions or understandings
Blended space
secondary associations gained from
Generic space
the goal or final product of musical understanding
A simple model for associative musical meaning
Recognizing familiar elements, Recalling other music with those elements, Perceiving secondary associations, Noticing what is new and how familiar changed, Interpreting
Three levels of musical narrative meaning
Poietic, immanent, esthesic
composer intends a story or narrator
a story is told whether the composer intended it or not
listener applies the story themselves
Two types of narratives
Extramusical and expressive
Extramusical narrative
specific narrative
Expressive narrative
emotional narrative
a musical allusion to any other cultural artifact; any crossing of texts
Lyric Time
time it takes to tell the story (10 sec. of music)
Narrative Time
time of the story, time that has lapsed (a year of story)
a recap with unexpected alterations through which a narrative is implied
musical meaning/ interpretation
showing through imitation
telling or describing
Semiotic signs
Icon, index, symbol
actual picture, direct representation
points to something else, logical connection from presented to indicated
in place of an abstract object, dove means peace
any distinctive musical element
story; linear moments in time
borrowed from other sources; exact
refers to other work
material from different sources to achieve a specific effect
Paradigmatic plot
(paradigm is a generic viewpoint) generic idea, stock plot idea (knight kills dragon and gets girl)
Modal ethos
use of specific to give off specific emotional feelings; certain modes used for certain emotional connotations
insertion of something; gesture inserted for meaning
a style which implies specific meaning used in a different context
Promissory note
an emphasized unresolved chord or note resolved later in the music to imply meaning (Syphilis, Cone) delayed gratification
paraphrase; a literary representation of a pictorial representation; its aim is the ancient one of making the mind’s eye see, though what is seen is not reality but a picture; Kramer (Hermeneutics in Musical History)
Auxiliary cadence
A harmonic progression that contains a V-I motion but lacks an opening tonic
The deepest structural level, showing the fundamental structure of a composition.
Bass arpeggiation (Bassbrechung)
The lower voice of the Ursatz motion I-III-V-I, I-II-V-I or I-IV-V-I in the bass that spans many pieces in the background.
Composing-out (Auskomponierung)
The general term for creating musical content from a given basic progression by way of diminution and prolongation.
Contrapuntal chord
Chords formed through either passing motion or through neighboring motion (including incomplete neighbors)
The name given to the process of linear units prolonging harmonic ones
Divider (Teiler)
A note that divides a large interval into two roughly equal portions, usually in a bass progression.
Enlargement (of motive)
Prolongation of a previous motive
Evaded cadence
internal progression that appears to lead to a cadence and then backs off
The surface layer of the music
Fundamental line (Urlinie)
Descending linear progression that descends from 8, 5, or 3 that appears in the background as a part of the Ursatz.
Fundamental structure (Ursatz)
The background tonal structure of a composition, comprising an Urlinie (fundamental line) and a bass arpeggiation (Bass-brechung).
Illusory key
Modulatory key in relationship to fundamental structure
Imaginary continuo
A harmonic reduction
Implied tone (cf. substitution)
Suggested tone that does not appear directly in the music, indicated by parentheses
Intermediate (pre-dominant) harmony
Chords that connect the initial tonic with the structural dominant
Interruption (Unterbrechung)
A form of the fundamental structure in which there is a break after followed by a return to the primary tone
Linear intervallic pattern
Repeated interval pattern between two voices
Linear progression (Zug)
Diminution in which two consonant tones are connected by one or more stepwise passing notes
The variable number of layers between the background and the foreground of a piece
Melodic fluency
The melodic continuity created through stepwise motion
Recurring pattern of tones in identical or similar form
Motivic parallelism/repetition
Repeated motions portrayed through brackets
Polyphonic melody
Articulates two or more distinct voices
Prolongation (melodic and harmonic)
When a tone or chord remains active in its context though other tones or chords intervene
Prolongational span
The time in which a tone or chord remains active
Scale step (Stufe)
Bass notes, particularly between I and V of the bass arpeggiation, that are tonicised so as to give the impression of a temporary modulation
Species counterpoint
An approach to Strict counterpoint that proceeds methodically from note-against-note settings of the cantus firmus to more complex combinations of parts
Structural level (Schicht)
The layers of music successively further from the surface as revealed by Schenkerian analysis
Substitution (cf. implied tone)
The replacement of one note for another that would normally be expected in a given context, e.g. 7 replacing 2
Ursatz parallelisms
Lower-level replications of fundamental structures
Voice exchange
A technique of prolongation in which tones in a given arrangement of voices are later replicated in a different arrangement (inversion).
Voice-leading graph (Urlinie-Tafel)
The detailed foreground graph of an entire movement or composition.