Hearing Schubert D779n13

Friday, October 17, 2014


I am in process of moving posts about rising gestures and cadence figures in music other than Schubert's generation or 19th century Vienna to a new blog: Ascending Cadence Gestures in Traditional Tonal Music. These are two multi-part sets: the van Eyck series and the "Kidson" series.

A few posts relating primarily to design in small compositions, and especially those concerned with William Caplin's form theory, will be moved to my blog Dance and Dance Music, 1650-1850.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ge Ho, Dobbin

This and four other "Kidson" posts have moved to my Ascending Cadence Gestures blog.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Additions to the literature on Caplin's form theory

This post expands on the previous one about William Caplin's form theory and the scholarly literature on it. 

For the present, this is simply a list of recently published articles. I hope to comment on individual items in future posts. I have not included work jointly published by or in response to Hepokoski and Darcy, Schmalfelt, and Caplin.

A special issue titled "Contemplating Caplin": Intersections: Canadian journal of music/Revue canadienne de musique XXXI/n1 (2010).

Peter Franck, "Canon and Its Effect on Tight-Knit Organization within Classical Themes." Intégral (Eastman School of Music) vol. 26 (2012).

Nathan Martin, "Formenlehre goes to the opera: Examples from Armida and elsewhere." Studia musicologica: An international journal of musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 51/ns3-4 (2010): 387-404. 

Michael Oravitz, "The use of Caplin/Schoenberg thematic prototypes in melodic dictations." Journal of music theory pedagogy 26 (2012): 101-139.

Mark Richards, "Teaching sonata expositions through their order of cadences." Journal of music theory pedagogy 26 (2012): 215-252.

Mark Richards, "Viennese classicism and the sentential idea: Broadening the sentence paradigm." Theory and practice 36 (2011): 179-224.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

William Caplin's form theory and 18th century dance

The scholarly literature making use of William Caplin's form theory is growing, if slowly. Some recent examples include Nathan Martin's "Schumann's Fragment," in Indiana Theory Review 28 (2010); Steven Vande Moortele's "Sentences, Sentence Chains, and Sentence Replication: Intra- and Interthematic Formal Functions in Liszt's Weimar Symphonic Poems," in Intégral 25 (2011); and Matthew Riley's "Haydn's Missing Middles," in Music Analysis 30 (2011).

Almost all of the work, so far as I can tell, has focused on extending the reach of the method deeper into the nineteenth century--even into the early twentieth. This tendency includes a rumored forthcoming book by Caplin himself. My interest, on the other hand, was originally in expanding the available style knowledge for the Vienna School composers by looking at their social dance repertoires. Obviously, their published work on its own is inadequate to describe the actual practice of music played for social dancing, but it is what we have. Therefore, in addition to a [website] with a summary of Caplin's terminology for themes and small forms, I worked out pages with analyses of menuets, German dances, and Laendler by Beethoven: WoO7, WoO8, WoO11, WoO14, and WoO15; and contredanses by Mozart and Beethoven (all of these are accessible from the website). This work was extended to a few contemporaries, notably Czerny, Hummel, Marschner, and Weber: [tables].

The principal results to date are that the historical narrative charting a turn from the period theme to the sentence over the course of the Vienna School heyday, or roughly 1770-1830, is incorrect. The period does become much more prevalent at one historical moment -- about 1770, when the French style of contredanse became popular in Vienna. (This was due to the fact that French contredanse music was heavily oriented to the gavotte, whose dance figures effectively required an antecedent-consequent design in the music.) But even after 1770, the period co-existed with other theme types, including the sentence and the hybrid antecedent-continuation. The latter, in fact, was far more congenial to the menuet than was the period, for the reason that the dance emphasized variety of detail, and a theme with antecedent-continuation offers more variety than any other theme type. Indeed, if the composer chooses, every 2-bar unit of this theme can be different: basic idea followed by a contrasting idea, followed by another idea (or fragmentation of a new model), followed by the generic cadence. (Its antipode is the hybrid presentation-consequent, a type so rare in the Vienna School repertoire that Caplin deletes it. It does, however, have a role to play in the Laendler repertoire, which tends to emphasize sameness within strains but contrast between strains.)

As the preceding suggests, once the influence of the French contredanse was established, I wanted to look into earlier dance repertoires. To date, this work has extended as far back as the English country dances in the Playford collections, which confirm the variety of theme types (sentences are surprisingly common, for example) but also highlight the extent to which French court dance practices tended to reduce the number of available theme types.

In the course of all this work, I have also realized that Caplin's catalogue of theme types does not work as well as one would like for some of the subtler idea and phrase length figures common in the social dance repertoire, and my goal over the next few months is to revise (or expand) his taxonomy to account for these, the goal continuing to be to acquire useful style information.

This post may also be found on my blog Dance and Dance Music, 1650-1850.