November 18: Jess Peritz

We are excited to welcome Music History student Jess Peritz to the workshop on Wednesday, November 18 (4:30pm in Logan 801) to present material from her dissertation proposal, The Lyric Mode of Voice: Song and Subjectivity in Italy, 1769 – 1815 (download the document here). Lester Hu will serve as respondent.

Screen Shot 2015-11-10 at 2.07.22 PM

Jess has suggested that workshop attendees focus primarily on the overview of the project (pp. 1-10); if time allows, we will also discuss the case study at the workshop, (17-27). For interested parties, Jess has also included the literature review (10-16), chapter summaries (27-33), and a brief appendix.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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October 7: Lawrence Zbikowski

We are thrilled to have Professor Lawrence Zbikowski launch this year’s workshop with his paper, “Music and the Simulation of Emotions.” The abstract appears below; download the pre-circulated paper here. Please join us for this inaugural event in Logan Terrace Room 801 from 4:30 to 6:00 pm on Wednesday, October 7.


In this paper I build on recent work on the simulation of emotions to develop an account of how musical organization shapes emotional responses. According to the model developed by Paula Niedenthal and her colleagues, emotional responses to social signals such as smiles activate psychological and physical processes that are similar to those that underlie the signal. The result is an embodied simulation of an emotional response. Such simulations may result in overt emotional displays (responding to a smile with a smile) but they may also be associated with more complex behaviors (such as those involved with responding to a feigned smile, or one used to assert dominance). Key to the shaping of such complex behavior is conceptual knowledge. Through a close reading of the Andante from J.S. Bach’s Second Sonata for Unaccompanied Violin, I illustrate how conceptual knowledge activated by sequences of musical sound can inform emotional responses. I further suggest how this approach can address problems associated with the study of emotional responses to music, and how it could be developed in experimental contexts.

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Autumn 2015

We are pleased to announce the calendar for this autumn’s Music History and Theory Workshop.

October 7         Lawrence Zbikowski, “Music and the Simulation of Emotions.”

October 21       Dry-Runs for the Society of Music Theory presenters

November 4    Dry-Runs for the American Musicological Society presenters

November 18  Jess Peritz, Dissertation Proposal Materials

December 2     Dan Wang, Dissertation Chapter Materials

The workshop will meet from 4:30 to 6:00 on these Wednesdays. On 10/7, 11/4, 11/18, and 12/2 the workshop will be held in Logan 801; on 10/21, the workshop will be held in Logan 802.


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Autumn 2015 Workshop Dates

Music History and Theory Workshop will meet on the following dates this quarter: mark your calendars now, and stay tuned for further details once the fall schedule is confirmed.

  • October 7
  • October 21
  • November 4
  • November 18
  • December 2

SMT presentation dry-runs will be held on 10/21, and AMS dry-runs will be held on 11/4. IF you have not done so already, please contact Braxton or Lindsay to reserve a spot to present at either meeting.

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June 3: Gary Tomlinson

We are beyond delighted to welcome distinguished guest, Gary Tomlinson, for our final workshop of the quarter, taking place next Wednesday, June 3rd (4:30-6:00 PM in Logan 801). Professor Tomlinson will be discussing his recently published book, A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity  (Zone Books/MIT Press, 2015), a richly woven narrative about the evolution of human musicking capacities, drawing on cognitive studies, archeology, and evolutionary theory, among other fields. For those pressed for time, he has recommended reading Chapter 1, the end of Chapter 6 (starting on page 225), and all of Chapter 7, skimming pp. 237-260.

Please join us as we crown this year’s workshop series with a lively discussion on musical beginnings!


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May 20: Su Yin Mak

For the penultimate session of our annual series (this Wednesday, 4:30–6:00 in Logan 801), we are thoroughly honored to welcome special guest Su Yin Mak, Associate Professor of Music Theory at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Mak will present a paper on “Schillerian Aesthetic Play in Schubert’s String Quartet in A minor, D. 804” (draft downloadable here), about which she writes:

Schubert’s String Quartet in A minor, D. 804 has long been associated with memory and nostalgia, not least because of the citation in the third-movement Menuetto of the opening figure from ‘Strophe aus Schillers Die Götter Griechenlands’ (D. 677), which sets an explicitly elegiac text.  That Friedrich Schiller was an important author for Schubert is well-documented, and in my earlier work on lyricism in Schubert I have argued a close correspondence between Schubert’s paratactic style and Schiller’s paradigm of the elegy.  Currently I am working on a paper that further considers ways in which Schiller’s theory of the aesthetic imagination may also inform our understanding of Schubert’s discourse.   In notebook entries and letters written around the time of the quartet’s composition, Schubert’s remarks on the imagination’s power to transcend and beautify miserable reality suggest familiarity with, and sympathy for, Schiller’s view of the imagination in On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters.  In particular, Schiller’s notion of play-drive (Spieltrieb), which mediates between the sensuousness of intuitions and desires (Stofftrieb) and the urge to impose order on feelings and experiences (Formtrieb), finds resonance with Schubert’s constructions of subjectivity in the quartet.  For this workshop presentation, I propose a reading of the third movement that draws upon both these tropes taken from Schiller:  the dialectical opposition between ideal and actuality in his conception of the elegy, and the negotiation between materiality and form in his conception of the imagination.

Schubert spielt

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May 6: Patrick Kaufman

We are excited to welcome Patrick Kaufman to the workshop this Wednesday (4:30 p.m., Logan 801) as he presents his paper, “Alia Practica Musicae” (Another Practice of Music).  In it, Patrick considers historical and intellectual context to put forward an alternative reading of Gaffurio’s landmark Practica musicae of 1496, ultimately suggesting that its references to Roman banquet culture and Neoplatonic secret philosophy disclose previously unacknowledged music-theoretic import. Our other music-theoretically predisposed Patrick (Fitzgibbon) will serve as respondent.


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April 22: Susan Hohl

We are delighted to welcome Susan Hohl to the workshop this Wednesday (4:30–6:00 in Logan 801) as she sheds light on the coordinates of Liszt’s personae as traveler, reader, and musician. As a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, Susan draws on a broad interdisciplinary background, as is amply evident from her paper “Reading as Pilgrimage: The Stations of Liszt’s Literary Imagination and Recovering the Music in ‘Die Loreley'” (downloadable here). To even further energize and inform the conversation, Meredith Moretz will act as respondent. We look forward to what is sure to be a wide-ranging exchange!

Liszt watercolor

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April 8: Chelsea Burns

Please join us for the first workshop of the quarter this coming Wednesday (April 8th; 4:30-6:00 pm in Logan 801). Chelsea Burns will present material from her work in progress, “’Way Down South in Dixie’: Langston Hughes and Blackness in the American South as Interpreted by Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas” (accessible here). We look forward to seeing you all at what is sure to be a lively discussion!

Langston Hughes

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Spring 2015 Schedule

April 8            Chelsea Burns, PhD Candidate in Music History/Theory
                                       “Way Down South in Dixie”:
                                       Langston Hughes and Blackness in the American South
                                       as Interpreted by Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas

April 22          Susan Hohl, PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature
                                       Reading as Pilgrimage: The Stations of Liszt’s Literary Imagination 
                                       and Recovering the Muse in “Die Loreley”

May 6             Patrick Kaufman, PhD Student in Music History/Theory
                                       [Dissertation Materials on Renaissance Music Theory]

May 20           Su Yin Mak, Professor of Music at the Chinese University of Hong Kong
                                       [Lecture TBA]

June 3             Gary Tomlinson, Professor of Music and Humanities at Yale University
                                       [Forum on A Million Years of Music (MIT Press, 2015)]

All sessions held in Logan 801 on select Wednesday afternoons, 4:30–6:00.
Refreshments provided. For announcements and updates, join our Listserv. See you there!

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