Author (Your Name)

Whitney Simmonds, Colby College

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Music Dept.


Steven R. Nuss


The old song goes "you always hurt the one you love", Harold Bloom's The Anxiety of Influence takes that idea a step further: for Bloom, artistic creation is born from an anxiety that compels artists to rebel against the influences of their predecessors, their artistic fathers: one has to metaphorically kill the thing one loves in order to escape its shadow. I realize that in order to do an honors thesis, I have to do a bit of good natured killing of my own - or at least do some sharp elbow jabbing - if only for a moment, to force myself to the front of a line of music - theoretical thinkers for whom I have great respect. So using as my touchstone Joseph's Strauss's musical variation on Bloom's work as exemplified in his "Remaking the past', my goal here today is to begin by outlining for you a trend in recent music theory that places and hears music of all types in new conceptual spaces : spaces where the rules that we all learned in diatonic and chromatic harmony classes no longer apply, or are not very effective. Specifically, the first stage of my paper will highlight points on a recent arc of music-theoretical thinking that attempts to explain how full-blown post-tonal music developed from late 19th century chromatic music : what the discipline refers to as "triadic post-tonality" -"music that is triadic, but not altogether tonally unified. I will outline briefly, but hopefully effectively, the basics of four musico-spatial approaches to analysis developed by four successive theoretical fathers - David Lewin, formerly of Harvard University, now deceased; Brian Hyer, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison; Richard Cohn, from the University ofChicago, and Michael Siciliano, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In my second stage, I take cues from an American ives scholar and a French philosopher and outline the beginnings of a remaking of my music theory predecessors, what I believe to be an extension and strengthening of their arc of theoretical thought that I illustrate with my view of passages from Schoenberg's op. II.


Schoenberg, Arnold, 1874-1951 -- Criticism and interpretation, Music theory -- 20th century, Music--20th century -- History and criticism, Riemann, Hugo, 1849-1919 -- Criticism and interpretation

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