Welcome to McMaster University, School of Art, Drama, and Music, M.A. in Music Criticism, WWW course, MUSIC 701 Analysis, September-December, 1997

If you are dropping in to see what we are doing, you are welcome to browse. Feel free to send comments and opinions to the instructor or to anyone enrolled in the course.

The instructor is Dr. William Renwick (renwick@mcmaster.ca) Office TSH 307 (ext 23671)

The participants are:

  • Alex Carpenter: Schenker page on Kerman Playing with Agawu Polarities
  • Jennifer de Boer The Grey Palindromes New Musicology Topics Rossini
  • Teresa Magdanz: Polarity; Polarity 2 Brahms Wegweiser Perle Rossini
  • Brian Milligan: Polarity Transdiscursive Schenker Rossini
  • Sandra Ramunno: Polarity Process in Schenker Schenker for Music Critics
  • William Renwick: Schenker Polarity Form Rossini
  • Irene Wasyliw Polarity Agawu
  • Melissa West Crumb, Black Angels Polarities Kerman Agawu Agawu again
  • Simon Wood Theory and Analysis Schenker Polarity David Lewin


  • Web-Site Structural Overview
  • Course Outline
  • Reading List
  • Repertoire List
  • HTML Primer
  • WEB Resources

    Plan of upcoming issues:

    (comments invited)

    Read up on and create web-reports on some basic resources in set-theory and related studies. The following are the assignments (don't feel that you need to cover the entire work under study, but do report some basic observations about the direction the work is proceeding and any interesting aspects. In many cases reviews are available, and some are noted on the reading list:

  • Jennifer: Forte 1973,
  • Irene: Lester 1989, chapters 5-9.
  • Teresa: Perle, 1991
  • Sandra: Rahn 1980.
  • Simon: Lewin, 1987. [NB: not in the library]
  • Brian: Guigue, Object-Oriented Analysis orParks, 1989.
  • Alex: Lewin, 1987.
  • Melissa: Morris, 1987

    Next week we should have a formal introduction to set theory, with reference to the Lyric Suite, the Debussy Prelude, and the Bartok.

  • Please post brief outlines of your term paper topic on the web.

    Current Work

    The following are tasks that students should be working on between now and October 22; results and summaries can be posted on the web for others to examine.

  • Read Carpenter 1983. and other Schoenbergian sources, to get an idea of Grundegestalt and the composing out of motivic implications.
  • Move on to the two songs that we will study, the Schubert and the Rossini, and begin to examine them from the points of view of tonal and voice-leading structure (Schenker) and motivic structure (Schoenberg), as well as with a critical eye on narrative and semiotic implications and relationships (Agawu and Ratner). Any analytical work that can be handed in for me to look at would be gratefully appreciated.
  • I would like to spend a little time reviewing some principles of motivic organization in music, with reference to Reti and Schoenberg.
  • We can continue to contemplate Schoenbergian principles as outlined in Carpenter 1983. These we can specifically apply to our two songs in particula, and also to the 20th century music.
  • Comparison of Schoenbergian and Schenkerian approraches, with reference to Barbara Hampson's thesis (available in the Graduate Student Office).
  • In view of the perceived demand for more "hands-on" technical work, I have assigned a more formal analysis of the Rossini song from the points of view of tonal structure (Schenker-Schoenberg) motivic structure (Schenker-Schoenberg) and narrative.

    (Hopefully) Completed Work

  • Prepare or revise your basic statement regarding your view of the roles of music theory and music analysis in relation to other aspects of music making. Read the New Grove articles, Kerman's introduction, etc. in order to get a basic idea of the issues.
  • Spend some time becoming familiar with the basics of Schenkerian analysis and the theory behind it.
  • Continue with a look at Kofi Agawu's work Agawu, 1991 and Agawu, 1996on semiotic and topical approaches (the Prague Symphony)
  • Read up on Reti 1962 if you are not familiar with the basics of Retian motivic analysis.
  • Ensure that you have done your part towards providing the class with the appropriate resources for our various analytical tasks.

    Outline of the course:

    1. Music theory and analysis represent a polarized framework in which discussion of musical structure and meaning can take place.

    2. The idea of this course is to trace and retrace the connections between music theory and analysis.

    3. Through this process, students should develop a good sense of how to contemplate musical stucture and meaning.

    4. As appropriate, we will make use of some of the following resources:

  • group tour of selected library resources
  • introduction to basic theory journals such as Music Theory Spectrum, Journal of Music Theory and Music Analysis.
  • review of electronic resources
  • tour of WWW resources
  • personal experiences of students
  • reviewing relevant bibliographies
  • intro to the SMT discussion group

    5. A major philosophical premise of the course will be the complementation of opposites. The principal one for the course is theory versus analysis. Among others that will be considered are inductive-deductive, abstract-concrete, static-dynamic, intuitive- intellectual, rational-emotive and so on. Levarie and Levy provides a primer on this philosophical stance. As students are discovering, the contemplation of opposites leads to the integration and intersection of opposites in more unified and comprehensive views of musical phenomena.

    6. Through the course of the semester we will develop a small corpus of about ten pieces that we will consider in some detail. Students should share with the class ideas about what should be on this "focus-list".

    7. The course begins with a definition of music theory and analysis, for which purpose students should consider the New Grove articles "Theory" and "Analysis". It continues with an overview of major theoretical and analytical approaches of the 20th century. considerable time will be devoted to the more prominent approches such as Schenkerian, Set Theory, Retian analysis, Schoenbergian methodology, and so on. The history of music theory will be considered to the extent that it sets up ideological and methodological frameworks.

    Write to the instructor, William Renwick at renwick@mcmaster.ca