[Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature

Dave Headlam dheadlam at esm.rochester.edu
Tue Feb 17 18:24:45 PST 2009

Rebecca:  an interesting conundrum!  As Stephen opened up the floor, as it
were, here are some ways ( in addition to set theory and the Lewin method
Stephen mentioned ) in which S's music has been discussed - probably not all
relevant, but worth considering  -- nos 3,8,9 are personal favorites.  Of
course, add Richard Taruskin and Scott Messing on neo-classicism, as well as
Glenn E. Watkins (Soundings) on a general context and important articles by
Maureen Carr and David Smyth (sketches), Gretchen Horlacher (rhythm), Lynne
Rogers (counterpoint), [others I am forgetting], etc., and Stravinsky's
"own" writings (I am the vessel, I am a composer with intervals, I write the
songs, I am sitting in a room, etc.) and you have lots to argue about.

1.  the interval series Stephen mentions was also expounded by Richard
Chrisman, back in the early days of set theory

C major:  43 or 435 with wraparound

2.  Hindemith chords type systems, characterized by the most "stable"
intervals, stemming from the harmonic series -- see his analysis of

3.  Perle's cyclic notation:  C3-0 is C-Eb-F#-A, for instance; such
collections can be "prolonged" in middlegrounds, see the Listening Composer
and Berg's Master Array article (Rite of Spring) and Elliot Antokoletz on
Stravinsky, and my own adaptations and expansions of Perle's ideas in
"cycle+ collections" in Berg's music

4.  Arthur Berger's classic interactions between octatonic / diatonic
systems from 1962 PNM, taken up by Peter Van den Toorn, and debated by
Dmitri Tymoczko, in this respect see articles on Agon (esp. Pousseur in PNM)
-- comparing the "tonal" 0235 form of the octatonic with the "atonal" 0134
form of the octatonic

5.  Richard Cohn's transpositional combination,  see Stravinsky's String
Quartet 3rd movement for int 5/ int 4 combinations

6.  the figured bass adaptations of Alan Chapman

7.  symmetrical foundational processes as espoused by Marianne
Kielian-Gilbert (PNM)

8.  Stravinksy's music as based on earlier models:  William Benjamin in In
Theory Only, "Tonality without Fifths" (2 pt)

9.  Joseph Straus's many writings on Stravinksy, including the book
"Remaking the Past"  --

10.  Discontinuity in S's music from Edward Cone -- "progress of a method"
-- form discontinuities that match thematic and harmonic/melodic

Good luck!  Let us know the answer!

Dave Headlam

On 2/16/09 2:12 PM, "Rebecca Hyams" <rebecca.hyams at gmail.com> wrote:

>     Currently, I'm in the process of working on my MA thesis, where I'm
> looking at Stravinsky's alteration of his sources in Pulcinella. As I'm
> working, my biggest challenge is dealing with harmonies and what to call
> them. I wanted to pose my conundrum to the theory community, and though
> I realize that no single solution is perfect, I want to see what other
> ideas are out there (or if perhaps there's a way to reconcile a method
> I'm already familiar with with the realities of the music).
>     My first instinct was to call them by set class, but that has its
> limitations as well as connotations that are not necessarily applicable
> to this musical context. I know there's also an approach that attempts
> to place non-triadic sonorities into an altered triadic context. While I
> agree that there's some instances of altered triads throughout the work
> (after all, the source materials are clearly common practice) there's
> sections where the majority of material is added by Stravinsky. Some of
> those sonorities, while they clearly have some sort of root, cannot be
> explained by identifying them as some sort of triad, in part because of
> the functional implications triads have from tonal music. Of course then
> while set theory can provide a name for the sonority and a method of
> relating it to other similar sonorities, it doesn't easily lend itself
> to the centric-nature of the sonorities in question. I know there must
> be some sort of middle ground or other approach that I have yet to be
> exposed to.
>     (I have a specific section in the music that I've been milling over
> that started a whole conversation between myself and my thesis advisor.
> I would be happy to share that except of the score with anyone willing
> to take a look at it.)
> Thank you,
> Rebecca Hyams
> MA student in music theory
> Queens College- CUNY
> rebecca.hyams at gmail.com
> _______________________________________________
> Smt-talk mailing list
> Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
> http://lists.societymusictheory.org/listinfo.cgi/smt-talk-societymusictheory.o
> rg


Dave Headlam
Professor of Music Theory

Eastman School of Music
26 Gibbs St
Rochester, NY 14604
(585) 274-1568 office
dheadlam at esm.rochester.edu

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list