[Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature

art samplaski agsvtp at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 17 13:47:53 PST 2009

Re Rebecca Hyams' query about other ways of describing non-classical
sonorities than via pc-sets, I _definitely_ recommend reading
Simon Harris' 1989 book, _A Proposed Classification of Chords in
Early Twentieth-Century Music_, published by Garland. (Long out
of print, but CUNY certainly should have a copy.) It's a reprint
of his dissertation, and is IMO an excellent attempt to try and
get a handle on different sonority types based solely on the
copositional experience of a broad range of composers, rather than
trying to develop some theoretical system _ab initio_. To the best
of my knowledge it has been pretty much ignored, at least on this
side of The Pond--which I think is a shame. Harris looked at many,
many compositions by a large number of composers; there is a LOT
of musicality and serous thought behind it.
(In the interests of full disclosure, as they say, his was one of
four classification systems I compared in my dissertation to
listeners' actual perceptual ratings of non-tonal chord similarity;
and his schema fared no better than the others. Nonetheless, I still
have a lot of respect for its breadth and musicality.)
Art Samplaski
Ithaca, NY
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