Oxford Seminar in Music Theory & Analysis

The new 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 and histories of theory, but also new interdisciplinary approaches that engage with cultural studies, ethnomusicology, aesthetics and philosophy, psychology, performance studies, popular music studies, and so on. Speakers will include distinguished local, national and international scholars.

These seminars are open to all, including the general public. Sessions will last 90 minutes, refreshments are served, and lively discussion is encouraged. They take place on Wednesday afternoons, beginning at 16.30, in the Committee Room of the Music Faculty.

Regular updates will appear on these pages. You can also follow OSiMTA on Twitter.

For further information email Jonathan.Cross@music.ox.ac.uk or Sebastian.Wedler@music.ox.ac.uk


Next seminar: Thursday 2 May 2019 (please note change of day) at 16.30

Dai Griffiths (Oxford Brookes University)

‘So-called classical virtues in a so-called popular song: does analysing Lorraine Feather, “The girl with the lazy eye” (Ages, 2010) tell us if it’s any good?’

‘The girl with the lazy eye’ is a recording of a song made up of words by Lorraine Feather (also its singer) and music by Russell Ferrante (also its pianist), and issued on Feather’s record Ages, on the independent label Jazzed Media in 2010. In this talk, I attend in turn to Ferrante’s music, Lorraine Feather’s words, and briefly the recording. Elements of so-called classical and so-called popular music co-exist in various respects. My conclusion celebrates wit as a critical category, albeit in an ambiguous context, while I at least claim to bridge taste (I happen to like this song) and value (this song is demonstrably good).

Dai Griffiths is Senior Lecturer in Music at Oxford Brookes University. He has contributed to the academic study of popular music for over thirty years. His first published article was on Bruce Springsteen’s ‘The River’, his latest on Lorraine Feather’s ‘The girl with the lazy eye’. Songs have been at the heart of this labour, their words increasingly so: published in 2003, the essay ‘From lyric to anti-lyric: analysing the words in popular song’ prompted many avenues of attention. Two books were published: on Radiohead’s album OK Computer, and on Elvis Costello. He has taught popular-music related topics to undergraduates and postgraduates at Oxford Brookes since 1990. Doctoral students covered topics as varied as jazz history, film music, newspaper journalism, the cross-disciplinary art work, and the travails of genre appellation. For the journal Music Analysis he gave two state-of-the-nation addresses: ‘The high analysis of low music’ and ‘After relativism’. Elsewhere, papers on Welsh popular music, including one on John Cale. He is currently book reviews editor for the journal Popular Music.


Programme 2018–19

17 October 2018: Peter H. Smith (University of Notre Dame), ‘The “Type-2” Sonata Form in the Nineteenth Century: A Case Study from Mendelssohn’s Octet’

7 November 2018: Leah Broad (Christ Church, Oxford), ‘Purely incidental? Analysing theatre music’

21 November 2018: Richard Widdess (SOAS), ‘Analysis in real time: listeners’ perceptions of Indian music’

13 February 2019: Julian Horton (Durham University), ‘Rethinking sonata failure: structure and process in Mendelssohn’s Overture Die schöne Melusine

27 February 2019: Emily Tan (Merton College, Oxford), ‘Objective autonomy in Richard Strauss’s Oboe Concerto (TrV 292, 1945)’

Thursday 2 May 2019 (please note change of day): Dai Griffiths (Oxford Brookes University), ‘So-called classical virtues in a so-called popular song: does analysing Lorraine Feather, “The girl with the lazy eye” (Ages, 2010) tell us if it’s any good?’

22 May 2019: David Bretherton (Southampton University) on queer music theory