OSiMTA: Danuta Mirka (Northwestern University)

Oxford Seminar in Music Theory & Analysis: Danuta Mirka (Northwestern University)
‘Harmonic schemata and hypermetre’

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Please download here Professor Mirka's handout in advance of the seminar

The concept of hypermetre implies that perception of metre extends upon metrical levels not reflected in notation. This concept is thus predicated on similarities between metre and hypermetre, yet perception of hypermetre is conditioned by several factors not involved in perception of metre proper. According to Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, metre above the bar level is increasingly supplanted by grouping which, at higher levels, is equivalent to phrase structure. The eminent roles played by phrase structure and harmonic rhythm in perception of hypermetre were dubbed by William Rothstein, respectively, the ‘rule of congruence’ and the ‘rule of harmonic rhythm’. The ‘rule of texture’ was added by Eric McKee and the ‘rule of parallelism’ reformulated by David Temperley. I will posit another preference factor for hypermetre: the hypermetrical profile of harmonic schemata. By contrast to other preference factors, which work ‘bottom-up’ and cue single events as strong, this factor allows for ‘top-down’ processing of hypermetre by mapping the hypermetrical profile of a given schema upon a span of time including several events which can be either strong or weak. I will concentrate on the cadential schema and illustrate its effect upon hypermetre with examples from Haydn’s and Mozart’s string quartets.

Danuta Mirka is Harry N. and Ruth F. Wyatt Professor of Music Theory at the Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University. Her main research interests include theory and analysis of metre and rhythm, and study of musical communication in the late eighteenth century. She is the co-editor, with Kofi Agawu, of Communication in Eighteenth-Century Music and the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Topic Theory, which received the Citation of Special Merit from the Society for Music Theory in 2015. Her books include The Sonoristic Structuralism of Krzysztof Penderecki and Metric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart, which won the 2011 Wallace Berry Award of the Society for Music Theory. Her article ‘The Mystery of the Cadential Six-Four’ received the 2017 Roland Jackson Award from the American Musicological Society and her most recent book, Hypermetric Manipulations in Haydn and Mozart, was published last year by OUP.

About the series:

The Oxford Seminar in Music Theory & Analysis (OSiMTA) meets two or three times a term. Its convenors are Professor Jonathan Cross and Dr Sebastian Wedler.

Our conception of theory and analysis is critical, plural and interdisciplinary. In shaping the seminars, we aim to reflect the broad range of activity taking place under the heading of theory and analysis today, as well as to challenge boundaries, embracing not only ‘conventional’ practices, histories of theory and repertoires, but also new interdisciplinary approaches that engage with cultural studies, ethnomusicology, aesthetics and philosophy, psychology, politics, performance studies, popular music studies, and so on. Speakers include distinguished local, national and international scholars.

Seminars are open to all, including the general public. Sessions will last 90 minutes and lively discussion is encouraged. They take place on Wednesday afternoons, beginning at 16.30 UK time (currently via Zoom only).

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