Vernon Lee’s Psychological Aesthetics and Embodied Music Cognition (Part II)
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
5M ago
Mariusz S. Kozak […] Continuation of Part I […] In the previous post I showed that Vernon Lee’s theory of musical emotions—dramatic emotions and aesthetic emotions—was based on a sophisticated understanding of how bodies respond to the “paces and rhythms” of sonic stimuli. The language might be different, but there are striking parallels between Lee’s account of empathy and how mental processes are considered by twenty-first century embodied cognitive science. In recent work, including my own, there is a growing interest in a dynamic reciprocity between bodily actions and cognition.[i] Accordi ..read more
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Vernon Lee’s Psychological Aesthetics and Embodied Music Cognition (Part I)
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
7M ago
Mariusz S. Kozak “Musical aesthetics ought to be the clue to the study of all other branches of art” (Vernon Lee, Music and Its Lovers, p. 23) The writings of Vernon Lee—the pen name of Violet Paget[i] (1856–1935), an English Victorian novelist, art critic, philosopher, and amateur psychologist—are enjoying something of a revival in music studies.[ii] Most of her thoughts on music are scattered throughout myriad novels and essays she penned as a public intellectual, but two publications dealt with it at length: “The Riddle of Music,” an essay from 1906, and a monograph Music and Its Lovers fro ..read more
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Tuning the World: Pitch Lessons for the History of Music Theory
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
11M ago
Fanny Gribenski Last January, I published a book entitled Tuning the World: The Rise of 440 Hertz in Music, Science, and Politics (1859–1955) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press). Surprisingly—or perhaps, unsurprisingly, given the separation between my own subfield of historical musicology and music theory—I never thought of this work as a contribution to music theory. Following the invitation to contribute to this blog, however, I realized that this publication resonates with current conversations within this field, and in the history of music theory in particular. To sum it up briefly, the ..read more
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Towards an Ethics of Translation for Global History of Music Theory
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
1y ago
Anna Yu Wang [This post is the lightly adapted version of a lightening talk I presented at the 2022 Business Meeting of the History of Music Theory Interest/Study Group.] Translation will likely play a hugely important role in global projects of history of music theory. Translation can help us shorten the distance between theorists from far-flung places, rendering their ideas more accessible across language boundaries. It can also stimulate reflection around the relationship between diverse musical theoretical traditions (e.g. in deciding whether to express a concept from the source language u ..read more
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Phonetic Logograms and Zigzagged Zithers (Part III)
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
1y ago
Liam Hynes-Tawa […] Continuation of Part II […] One of the things I find most fascinating about these dynamics I identified in Japanese culture from the time of the Kojiki is that they can also be seen emerging in Japan’s modernizing efforts during the Meiji era (1868–1912 CE). During that period, the wagon, an instrument that had largely been neglected in the musical landscape for about a thousand years, came again into the spotlight as the preferred accompaniment instrument for performances of the songs in the Hoiku shōka, a collection of songs in gagaku style written and compiled for childr ..read more
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Phonetic Logograms and Zigzagged Zithers (Part II)
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
1y ago
Liam Hynes-Tawa […] Continuation of Part I […] I ended the previous post leaving open a question about the Kinkafu’s name. Let’s contemplate the first character in the title of the manuscript (Kinkafu 琴歌譜, qín + songs + notation, i.e “notation of qín songs”). The character 琴 is the same character that is used in the Kojiki to represent the instrument that Emperor Chūai is being urged to play in the quote with which I began, and which I have earlier broadly identified as a zither. This character originally indicated a specific Chinese zither with seven strings, long held to be the most refined ..read more
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Phonetic Logograms and Zigzagged Zithers (Part I)
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
1y ago
Liam Hynes-Tawa 恐。我天皇、猶阿蘓婆勢其太御琴。 自阿至勢以音。 I am afraid. My emperor, play the great honored zither now. From 阿 to 勢 in accordance with their sounds. The above utterance looks like Chinese—and in fact, most of it is. But what of the footnote in small type after the main text? It says that the characters 阿蘓婆勢 are to be read phonetically, which is to say they are not to be read for their meaning. 阿蘓婆勢 is not a Chinese word—it in fact phonetically represents the Old Japanese word asobase, quite literally “play” (in the imperative). This statement of fear, urging the emperor to play his zither (qín ..read more
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Rosa Newmarch, Musical Gossip, and Identity in Music Theory and History (Part I)
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
1y ago
Kristin M. Franseen Part I: “Isn’t it supreme!”: Newmarch and Musical Knowledge How do we glean knowledge from and about music? And how do we determine whether that knowledge is reputable? In E.M. Forster’s novel Maurice (written in 1913 but published posthumously in 1971), the titular character finds himself at a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 (commonly known as the Pathétique Symphony) as part of a half-hearted attempt at courting his sister’s friend Violet Tonks. Maurice, in denial of his homosexuality, runs into an old friend who is all too happy to explain what he sees as the ..read more
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Teaching the “Theory of ‘Sweet Sounds:’” Sarah Mary Fitton’s 1855 Conversations on Harmony as Public Music Theory
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
1y ago
Paula Maust In 1855, Sarah Mary Fitton (c.1796–1874) anonymously published a harmony book covering topics ranging from the rudiments of Western classical music theory to chromatic harmony. Structured as a series of thirty-six conversations between Mother and Edward, Conversations on Harmony was intended “to explain the rules of Harmony, in so simple a manner, as to bring their practical application within the reach of young students, and, also to increase the pleasure of mere lovers of music by enabling them to understand, in some degree, the theory of ‘sweet sounds.’”[1] The book was quite su ..read more
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What Kind of Brain? A Reply to Megan K. Long
History of Music Theory Blog
by History of Music Theory
1y ago
Stefano Mengozzi Prof. Long’s recent observations on hexachordal solmization raise several issues that cannot be fully teased out in blog format. The one overarching question I would like to pose for an initial response is the following: I have no doubt that solmization “just makes sense” as a method for singing Renaissance polyphony, and that it has changed Prof. Long’s understanding of Renaissance polyphony substantially. But why is it so, precisely? Which mechanism(s) or musical relationships does solmization trigger in the mind that wouldn’t otherwise surface? I suggest that solmization wo ..read more
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