Music 202: Analysis

Approaches to Tonal and Post-Tonal Music [ Section 01 (41733) ]

 Instructor:  Ben Leeds Carson — blc at ucsc dot edu 

Meetings: Music Center 245 on Wednesdays, 9:00 AM — 12:00 noon

Office hours: Music Center 148 (on the lower floor, just past Professor Paiment’s office)

— Mondays 4-5 pmand Wednesdays 12-1 pmor by appointment.

Office phone:  9-5581 (I do not check voicemail frequently!) 


Music 202 — Catalogue Description: Encompasses various forms of linear analysis, set theory, and selected topics in current analytical practice. Offered in alternate academic years.

Seminar goals:
  Whereas music theory tends to describe systems of composition (voice-leading, counterpoint), and descriptions of style (including functional harmony, set-theory), and music criticism tends to describe how music should be valued in cultural practice, the goals of music analysis can and should be at once more direct and humble. To analyze is to understand a relationship of part to whole, such that something about the whole is illuminated as a structure. The best music analyses are descriptions of what someone hears, and suggestions of what can be heard, in music.

The music analyses you complete in this course will attempt to offer insight into the parts of musical experience—not just chunks of time filled with chords and phrases, but also perceptual orientations, modes of listening—as they relate to some kind of whole piece or performance, or maybe (even/just) a whole musical affect.

1.          Clarify and distinguish aspects of harmonic and contrapuntal listening that are evident and prevalent in 19th-century European music literature, in other words, to grasp fundamental pitch-time structures on which that literature rests.
2.          Grasp the basics of Schenkerian Analysis, as a set of tools common to contemporary scholarly analysis of tonal music.
3.          Clarify and distinguish structural features of equal-tempered harmonic systems, and rhythmic systems involving metric frameworks.
4.          Grasp the basics of set-theoretic approaches to post-tonal music.

5.       Explore and challenge conventional approaches to music analysis as a means of introspection about musical experience.

Assignment format:

Except where a diagram specifically benefits from letter-orientation, please use landscape-oriented staves:

4-system sheet for drafting.

2-system sheet with double-grand-staff systems for foreground and middleground or middleground and background.

Coursework & evaluation:

Participants in the seminar are expected on a weekly basis to prepare materials for submission or quesitons for discussion, and materials for formal presentation approximately every two weeks. We will establish, impromptu, in each week, which seminarians are slated to present for discussion in the following week. Those slated for discussion are required to bring recordings, scores, and 4-5 photocopies of their graphs or written work, as visual aids to their presentation. Many of the assignments in the course are “accumulative,” that is, your success in the course depends on your ability in one assignment to respond to feedback on the last.

Analysis, in this course, consists of the use of established symbols and conventions of representation, to express a way of hearing a musical work. Your grade in the course will be a reflection of your ability to express such a way of hearing imaginatively, persuasively, and economically. Students will also submit two full analyses, one exhibiting tonal principles and the second exhibiting post-tonal principles, and will choose one of those two projects as the foundation for a more thoroughly developed final project.

1/4 of the grade will reflect your abilities in week-to-week exercises and analysis drafts

1/6 will reflect the strength and preparedness of your in-class discussion

1/3 will reflect your success in the two preliminary analyses (one tonal and one post-tonal)

1/4 will reflect the success of your final project


Seminar Calendar and Readings

Primary readings:

Cadwallader, Allen and David Gagne. Analysis of Tonal Music: A Schenkerian Approach. London: Oxford U Press, 1997.

Dahlhaus, Carl. Between Romanticism to Modernism. Translated by Mary Whitall. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

Lerdahl, Fred and Ray Jackendoff. Generative Theory of Tonal Music. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1983.

Forte, Allen and Steven E. Gilbert. Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis. New York: Norton, 1982.

Straus, Joseph. Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Nauert, Paul. Notes on PC-Set Theory. Unpublished.


WEEK 1 [January 6]

Refresher exercise (optional): —
To do well in this course, you need basic music literacy, and competency in Roman-numeral analysis, including analysis involving secondary or temporary tonics. (You may have used the term “modulation” or “tonicization” for these situations in previous study.) If you are not as confident in this as you would like to be, please seek my feedback by completing exercises D, F, and G in the free online web resource for Chapter 19 of Laitz, Stephen G. The Complete Musician: An Integrated Approach to Tonal Theory, Analysis, and Listening. (Cambridge/New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). 
Required work:
(1) Exercise: Forte & Gilbert Ch. 1 “Melodic Diminutions”. Choose two of these five: Exercises 3, 4, 6, 7, and 9 (pp 38-40). 
(2) Reading: Prepare at least one question on: London, Justin (1990). Riepel and Absatz: Poetic and Prosaic Aspects of Phrase Structure in 18th-c Theory.” In the Journal of Musiscology, Vol. 8 No. 4, pp. 505-519. 

[use UCSC Libraries’ Off Campus Access login instructions to access this article when not on eduroam or cruznet).]

WEEK 2 [January 13]

(1) Read: Cadwallader & Gagne Ch. 2 “Melody and Counterpoint” (pp 15-24)

(2) Exercise: Two additional exercises among those listed in week 1 for Forte & Gilbert Ch. 1 “Melodic Diminutions”.

 (3) Analysis: Complete a “rhythmic reduction”*, graph, and formal description of 1 Schubert or Schumann Song (see Week 3) and 1 Stephen Foster Song: Laura Lee or Beautiful Dreamer.

*To make a rhythmic reduction of the melody, follow the methods described in Forte & Gilbert Ch. 1. The reduction should be “stems up,” so that you can then write additional noteheads (without stems) beneath the melody to express the harmonic progression. Here is a model graph & description (of Foster’s “Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”) that you may follow. Here is a sample of the score it’s based on.

WEEK 3 [January 20]

(1) Read: Cone, Edward T. “Analysis Today” In The Musical Quarterly 46/2 (Special Issue: Problems of Modern Music (Apr., 1960), pp. 172-188.)

(2) Optional exercises: Cadwallader & Gagne Ch. 3Forte & Gilbert Ch. 6 “Some Common Secondary Structural Features”

(3) A complete foreground only graph of a Schubert or Schumann Song — no later than January 22

WEEKS 4 & 5 [January 27 & February 3] 

(Due January 27) Forte & Gilbert Ch. 8 “The concept of prolongation”; revise your foreground graph due Jan 20 if necessary, and amend it with a middleground graph by January 29.

(Due February 3) Excerpts from Carl Dahlhaus’s “Issues in Composition” in Between Romanticism to Modernism. Translated by Mary Whitall. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.

To read the Dahlhaus effectively, please listen to, and read, examples from the literature discussed within the text. Bring to seminar (to turn in) a 1-2 paragraph description of harmonic or thematic issues you find in at least one work relevant to Dahlhaus’ argument. This is an open-ended assignment, but you should attempt to describe a passage of music in order to clarify, or dispute, a claim that Dahlhaus makes.

Sample Scores for Week 4-5 Project (Final graph due February 10): Brahms, Wolf, Strauss, and Mahler

WEEK 6 [February 10]

Nauert notes pp. 1-13

Straus Ch. 2 “Pitch-class Sets”

Although there is overlap between these two readings, complete them both. After reading the Nauert, make sure you have grasped the concept of “Tn prime form” as applied to 4-5 common pitch sets, including some chords with which you’re familiar from tonal or vernacular traditions. Consider finding your own words for the distinction between “Tn” and “TnI” prime form, and come to class with at least a preliminary, intuitive understanding of how the terms relate to one another.

When reading the Straus, note that he uses the term “Prime form” in place of Nauert’s (more precise) term “TnI prime form.” (Nauert’s tutorial presumes that in some cases “Tn” set classes—smaller classes of sets transpositionally but not inversionally related—are a relevant distinction in the structure of a work.)  

Complete the Straus exercises on pp 44-45.

WEEK 7 & 8 [February 17 & 24]

Nauert notes pp. 14-26

Richard Bass (1991), “Sets, Scales, and Symmetries: The Pitch-Structural Basis of George Crumb’s “Makrokosmos” I and II,” in Music Theory Spectrum  Vol. 13, No. 1

Assignment [due February 24]: Listen attentively to several songs from these two collections (scores are linked to the cycle titles; recordings following):

 Arnold Schoenberg’s Op. 15 (1908/9) “Das Buch der Hängenden Gärten,” (here’s a strong live performance by Elizabeth Smith & Josef Jungen at Eastman; there are others on youtube)

 and Anton Webern’s 6 Lieder Op. 14 (1917-22) settings of poems by (Gedichte von) Georg Trakl (recording by  Heather Harper; Pierre Boulez cond.).


Choose one song, and after more careful listening, identify 3-5 pc sets that you consider salient as a group. The group should not only be connected perceptually somehow, but perceptually distinct, in at least one way, from any events that you don’t include.

Identify each group as a pc set (using the “normal form” label), as a Tn set class, and as a TnI set class.

For each pc set, write all 11 transpositions, and all 11 indices of its inversion.

Write all of the pitch classes in the work—tedius, but it will start to go quickly once momentum sets in. (You can either label the score with clear ink, or simply write the pc-intergers on a blank sheet, in spatial arrangements resembling the score, so that you can easily connect the two.

Scanning your pc-set description of the piece, identify any occurrences of transformation or variation of the original 3-5 sets that you identified. Come to class prepared to discuss either the invariance, or variation, of pc-sets in the work.

WEEK 9 [March 2]

Presentation previews (optional — you may choose to present a portion of your work in advance, in order to “prepare” the seminar with listening, or questions and problems to consider. Some analytical claims are better made to an audience familiar with fundamental claims, and that familiarity is easier to establish when a presentation is split between meetings a week apart.)

1. Nauert notes pp. 27-32

2. J. Daniel Jenkins (2009), “After the Harvest: Carter’s Fifth String Quartet and the Late Late Style,” in Music Theory Online Volume 16, Number 3.

3. Straus Ch. 5 “Basic Twelve-tone Operations”

WEEK 10 [March 9]

Presentations + Joseph Straus’ “Analytical Misreadings” (Ch. 2 of Remaking the Past)

Optional reading: Carson, Ben Leeds. [zip file 2.3 MB] “Schoenberg’s Ambivalent Thought: subjectivity in ‘Du lehnest wider eine Silberweide…” In Cox, Biro, Takesugi, & Sigman, eds., The Second Century of New Music. New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 2011.

FINALS WEEK MEETING [Thursday, March 17 — 7:30 - 10:30 PM]

[Note: this meeting is not optional; attendance is required.]

Presentations +

Kofi Agawu, “How We Got out of Analysis, and How to Get Back in Again,” in Music Analysis, Vol. 23, No. 2/3 (Jul. - Oct., 2004), pp. 267-286.