These are projects I have contemplated less well than those above, and/or projects I am not currently pursuing. I wrote about them here to inspire others, and to encourage you to contact me if you’re writing about something similar.
Cadence in Sibelius
For the “Cadence” seminar with William Caplin.
- I suggested the cadences in Sibelius’ repertoire fall into three broad categories:
- traditional (i.e., they follow Classical-period expectations)
- syntactically-modified (i.e., melody, harmony, and metre are non-Classical)
- rhetorically-modified (i.e., timbre, dynamics, articulation, rhythm texture, and other)
Perhaps surprisingly, I found rhetorically-modified cadential situations are rarely not also syntactically modified.
I no longer prefer those categorizations, since the syntactic-versus-rhetoric distinction is used hierarchically in other work, establishing a mindset that I believe runs contrary to the listening experiences of most people.
I would also add that, in addition to cadence-like moments, there are many long passages and formal units without any cadence-like moments. I would like to research these passages in the future, to learn how phrase-endings are handled and tonal centres established.
The Problematic Bruckner
For the “Historiography of Music” seminar with David Brackett.
- I confronted “the Bruckner problem,” which is a quirk in writing about that composer—a set of discursive strategies. The result is a set of apologetic supporters and unreasonably negative detractors. I tried to seek the roots of the situation.
- I learned a lot by writing this paper, but it’s a project I do not wish to revisit for now.
III: The History of an Unfortunate Chord
For the “History of Music Theory” seminar with David Cohen.
- Inspired partly by Riemann, who called III an “unfortunate chord,” any my teaching experiences in the undergraduate theory classes at McGill, I sought the history of thinking about chords people have labelled “III” throughout the 20th century.
- I found the differences in thinking about what is and is not a “III chord” stem from the differences in thinking about what counts as a “chord” at all. Through the 20th century, I was able to find an increasingly common evidence of Schenker-influenced thinking about chords—which does not match that theorist’s writings in Harmonie.
- This is a project I hope to revisit in the future, but I have more important work for now.
On Merging the Listener, Performer, and Analyst
For the “Analysis and Performance” seminar with René Rusch.
- I chose three excerpts from Bruckner’s eighth symphony, performed a music theoretic analysis, decided how I would like to hear the passage played, and proposed physical gestures I would use as a conductor to request these of an orchestra. Then I observed three audio-visual recrordings of those excerpts, and compared the recordings based on how closely they followed how I predicted I would like to hear the passage, how closely they followed how I proposed conducting the passage, and how much I actually enjoyed the performance.
- I chose the eighth symphony because I hadn’t listened in several years but I owned many recordings and was quite familiar with the piece. This meant I would certainly be able to imagine how a moment would sound by consulting a score, but I wouldn’t likely have a specific recording in mind any more.
- The three passsages I chose are notable excerpts for my instrument, the tuba. This assured an additional level of familiarity.
- This project was ridiculous, but I very much enjoyed it. I think it should be moved to the domain of music perception research, where it is the work of a doctoral thesis.
Hypothetical Prognostications on Listener-Based Theories of Desktop Synthesis Music and Their Implications for Music Scholars of all Stripes: an Investigative Approach
For the “Proseminar in Music Theory” with René Rusch.
- I asked questions about how to form a theory of what I call “desktop synthesis music,” which is any music synthesized (at least primarily) by personal computing devices.
- I was inspired by Derrida’s Glas, where he wrote two apparently-unrelated documents on the same physical object (look it up). It was just the “two things at a time” that inspired me, and I posed a series of questions and answered them both positively and negatively, in columns.
- In the end, I only convinced myself that there are at least two useful resolutions to each of my questions.