[Smt-talk] Narrative/analysis (was theory of film music)

Phillip Dineen murraydineen at uottawa.ca
Wed Jul 9 13:47:55 PDT 2014

It would be difficult to define "narrative analysis," even in music theory, without some reference to the recognized field of structuralism with its basis in Saussure's observations of language, among other sources. Again, I'm not certain whether this would qualify to fit under the rubric of empiric that I think Bob was using. Little work on the relation of classical structuralism to music is available (to my knowledge) with notable exceptions such as the writings of Charles Seeger and Ed Cone tacitly (and Michael Kline's Spectrum essay from 2004?), or a long forgotten article by Ramon Fuller, in JMT back in 1975, which doesn't go very far. (This is not to say work hasn't been done on music and poststructuralism, quite a different matter.)

If we mean by "narrative analysis" a form of pointing from music to some corresponding discrete topical idea -- such as Tarasti's suggestion, mentioned by Nicholas -- I think this has little to do with structuralism after Saussure. And Bob would be correct in his intuitions, I believe, that this is not necessarily analysis as SMT-congregated theorists have done it with the use of graphs and pitch-class collectors.

It would be uneconomical to embark upon the analysis of film music only to learn after the fact that we were undertaking something like structuralist narrative analysis (or the musical equivalent of functionalism, after Radcliffe-Brown in anthropology, or Vladimir Propp [who reminds me of McHose, or vice versa]). We may be in an uneconomical position, having embarked upon the analysis of music, to learn after the fact that we have been doing structuralism (or functionalism). Brian Kane's "Excavating Lewin's 'Phenomenology'" from Spectrum 31, no. 1, would be a lovely antidote to that thought.

Murray Dineen
University of Ottawa
murraydineen at uottawa.ca

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