[Smt-talk] the minor/major = sad/non-sad stereotype

MICHAEL MORSE mwmorse at bell.net
Fri Oct 2 13:43:21 PDT 2009

Dear Stan (if I may),

  Yessir. Text-music relations are very much a space for irony--a thousand pardons for turnip-witted locution. As you rightly suggest, however, modal quality is not the place to locate (the source of) ironic action. Modality and its expectations interact with the rhythm and sense of the text, the tempo (as several have rightly mentioned), the texture & groove, the harmonies--for heaven's sake!--and the singer's or melodist's declamations. Students and fans of Mozart's operas know how exquisitely finely such intertextual ironies can be wrought; ditto, amateurs of Haydn's instrumental music! And, since we're on the topic, a plug for my personal favourite: Thelonious Monk's sublimely hilarious version of "Tea for Two"..

MW Morse
Trent University

> Notwithstanding Michael Morse's observations already posted to this list, I
> would suggest "Lucky Ball and Chain" by They Might be Giants as an example
> of a sad text set in an up-tempo, major-mode shuffle. I _do_ hear this
> text/music juxtaposition as ironical, though I confess that I'm not sure
> that I locate the irony in a simple "major mode vs. sad text" juxtaposition
> or if there are other pop-music tropes working with (against?) the text to
> create that sense of irony.
> Stan Kleppinger, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor of Music Theory
> University of Nebraska - Lincoln
> skleppinger2 at unl.edu
> http://skleppin.googlepages.com/

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