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Paper Session
Nov 21, 2021 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211121T1400 20211121T1450 America/Chicago Analysis through Metaphor and Narrative AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
The Eighteenth-Century Musical Work as a Mechanical Object
Individual Paper 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 20:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 20:50:00 UTC

The unique aesthetic of mid-eighteenth-century music has long recognized in scholarship. What Leonard Ratner characterized as _ars combinatoria,_ he attributed to the simplicity and symmetry that were the hallmarks of the style. Leonard Meyer has proposed that these aesthetics are rooted in the principles of the enlightenment, restricting the composer's choices to suit audience expectations and the rules of the genre. More recently, Robert Gjerdingen has extensively discussed musical _­schemata,­_ which were an invaluable resource in a period characterized by rapidly increasing demand for musical works. 

In this paper I will examine the way these aesthetics reflected a mechanist ideal that was present in contemporary writings and experiments in the realms of technology, industry and medicine. Re-examining pedagogical works by Heinrich Christoph Koch, Johann Philipp Kirnberger and Joseph Riepel, I propose four related conditions that characterized the music of the time: _Discreteness_ of the parts of a musical work, whereby those parts have clearly defined boundaries; _Detachability,_ whereby a unit can make musical sense without dependence on the material preceding or following it; _Interchangeability,_ whereby a musical unit can be transferred in between musical works; and ­_Genericness,_ whereby a musical unit can act as a "stock" ingredient in any number of places in any number of works. 

I will demonstrate how each of these conditions were present in scientific advances during the eighteenth century, from the rise of detachable replacement parts in clocks and weapons, through proposal of a generic "mechanical alphabet" by Christopher Polhem (1661-1751), to early experiments in organ transplants and prosthetics and writings such as Julien Ofray de LaMettrie's _Man Machine._ All these reflect a common mechanist attitude to "things" of all sorts, including musical works, which transcends the mere need for increases production, representing instead a deeply rooted mechanist aesthetic.

Presenters
YG
Yoel Greenberg
Bar-Ilan University
Rethinking the Metastasian Metaphor
Individual Paper 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 20:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 20:50:00 UTC

"What would an Athenian audience have said, if Oedipus and Orestes, in the very minute of the discovery, the most interesting part of the drama, had entertained them by quavering out a fine air, or repeating similes to Electra and Jocaste!" Thus does Voltaire (1748) strike a fatal blow to opera seria: whatever the merits of librettists like Pietro Metastasio, the genre's core devices-especially the metaphor aria-constitute monstrous affronts to verisimilitude. Voltaire's attacks have reigned largely unchecked to this day; critics from d'Alembert (1759) to Kivy (1988) all regard metaphor arias as drastic retreats from the immediacy of the present drama, depersonalizing the singing character by casting attention onto a distant surrogate. 

But the genre was not without its defenders. In particular, Saverio Mattei (1774) mounted a virtuosic defense of the Metastasian metaphor, anticipating recent cognitive approaches to metaphor analysis. Whereas Voltaire regarded arias as "emotional weather reports" (Taruskin 2006), communicating a static emotional state from character to audience, Mattei understands them as instead the rhetorical trace of a dynamic mental process. Characters sing metaphor arias, on his view, because they are too impassioned to think clearly, and so assume a "primitive" mode of understanding the world through analogy.

This paper develops a new interpretive paradigm for metaphor arias, wedding Mattei's historical defense to modern, cognitive approaches to metaphor (Lakoff and Johnson 1980) and theatrical rhetoric (Sherrill 2016). The paradigm consists of four interpretive pillars. 1.) Metaphor arias provide coherent linguistic structure for overwhelming experiences or emotions, stabilizing that experience for musical exploration. 2.) The operative metaphor grounds an inchoate emotion by structuring its experience in terms of something concrete and knowable. 3.) By selectively highlighting only some experiential dimensions, metaphors construct special relationships between character and circumstance, fostering new insight and motivating future actions. 4.) Finally, the metaphor aria constructs a simulated reality-a play within a play-where characters live through and mentally rehearse actions they need to execute in the future.

Cyclicity in Schumann’s _Myrthen_, op. 25: A Key to the Coherence of His Least Understood Song Cycle
Individual Paper 02:00 PM - 02:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 20:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 20:50:00 UTC

Despite containing some of his best-loved Lieder, Robert Schumann's song cycle Myrthen is rarely performed or considered as a coherent whole. Explanations for this are easy to list: its twenty-six poems are by nine different authors, and it is a challenge for a single singer to perform, for reasons both practical (length) and conceptual (the poems stem from many voices, some explicitly gendered male, some female). The rare arguments in favor of the work's cyclicity have almost invariably relied solely on biography, in light of Schumann's presentation of Myrthen to Clara Wieck as a wedding present.


I contend that an impediment towards understanding Myrthen is the assumption that a song cycle's coherence must be found between the songs, through such features as a consistent protagonist, narrative arc, tonal plan, or overriding theme. Instead of inter-song coherence, I argue for intra-song coherence, positing that what holds Myrthen together is that each song features the same essential plot. Using narratological tools, specifically the general structural model for all narratives first proposed by A.J. Greimas and developed by Mieke Bal in her comprehensive theory of narratology, I demonstrate that the central characters of all the songs aspire for the same telos. Examining the cycle through this lens helps us interpret songs that do not otherwise seem to fit with the others, especially those dealing with lost love, as well as the most anomalous outlier, "Räthsel," which is revealed to be an important clue in unlocking the cycle's meaning. This approach also allows us to fold Schumann's biography into the cycle's meaning without reducing the work to biography. Not only does this paper offer hermeneutic insights into an enigmatic and overlooked work, but it also offers a means for understanding several other Schumann song cycles, including the Eichendorff Liederkreis (op. 39) and some late multi-author collections (opp. 96, 107).

Presenters
AW
Andrew H. Weaver
The Catholic University Of America
Bar-Ilan University
The Catholic University of America
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