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academic writing

Performance Design: Repositioning Interpretation

Performance Design: Repositioning Interpretation

Interpretation is a commonly understood term among musicians, a term denoting the “stylistic representation of a creative work,” (Stevenson 2010).[1] However, interpretation is often wrongly believed to be a self-consistent and complete toolset for preparing the score for performance. Rather than merely augment the accepted definition of interpretation, I argue that a new term must be used to represent the superset of tools valuable to the performer, of which the traditional methods of interpretation are a subset. I argue for the use of the term Performance Design (PD) to indicate the totality of means and methods by which live concert performances are planned and prepared. Included in these means are tools from Neuroscience, Information Theory, and other audience-centric disciplines. 

Analysis: Bartók, Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste. Mvt. I.

Analysis: Bartók, Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste. Mvt. I.

Béla Bartók’s Music for Strings, Percussion, and Celeste highlights Bartók's mastery of orchestration, and innovation with rhythm. However, the opening movement perhaps least exemplifies these features (relative to the other movements). The first movement of the work instead showcases his mastery of counterpoint with a particularly praiseworthy example.

The Musico-Linguistics Meme: Recursion and Musical Meaning since Bernstein in Boston

The Musico-Linguistics Meme: Recursion and Musical Meaning since Bernstein in Boston

Leonard Bernstein's Norton Lecture Series of 1973 has played a critical role in helping to define a particular landscape of thought which might be best described by Bernstein’s own (admittedly nonacademic) term, "musico-linguistics". While not a formal discipline, the term characterizes and encompasses the body of thought upon which he speculates in six multi-hour lectures at Harvard. 

Early Orchestral Works by Brahms

Early Orchestral Works by Brahms

In 2006, I wrote an analysis of the early orchestral works of Brahms. I revised it in 2011.

 Johannes Brahms stands as one of the central-most figures of late 19th century German art music. Brahms was the first true successor to Beethoven in the symphonic tradition… many volumes have been devoted to cataloguing the significant melodic, harmonic, and formal features of his four symphonies. Fewer have been devoted either to the early orchestral works or to the rhythmic and metric techniques employed. 

Beethoven 3: An Analysis

Beethoven 3: An Analysis

Widely acknowledged as one of the most pivotal symphonic compositions in allof western music, the third symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven is, in substance, rarelyagreed upon. Beethoven’s semi-programmatic title, “Eroica,” the extreme size, uniqueformal organization, and developmental history of the work collectively open up toomany variables to allow a singular analytical approach to this work that is mutuallyagreed upon by the musical community plausible, as evidenced by over 200 years of serious efforts to do exactly that. This discourse seeks to give one possible analysis, thefocus being primarily upon the organization of thematic elements that give the work acyclical or “symphonic” quality.

Jordan Randall Smith is the Music Director of Symphony Number One.