2018 PAIG Meeting at AMS/SMT

“Since Schnabel: Pondering Hypermeter in Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas”

Presented by William Rothstein (The Graduate Center and Queens College, CUNY)

Friday, November 2, 12:30–2:00

** New Location: Lone Star B Crocket CD

Our upcoming meeting will take the form of a 45-minute presentation (see abstract below) followed by an extended analytical discussion.

For those who wish to do a bit of “pondering hypermeter” in advance of the meeting, Prof. Rothstein has generously prepared some study materials about the first movement of Beethoven’s Sonata in E-Flat, op. 33, no. 3. These materials may stimulate your thinking and serve as food for thought for the discussion. Click here to download them in PDF format

We wish to emphasize that this preparatory material is completely optional. Everyone is welcome at the meeting and in the discussion, regardless of whether they have perused the preparatory materials. A handout will be available for the talk, and it will be possible to follow without having done any preparation.

We hope to see you there!


Abstract: According to his pupil Konrad Wolff, Schnabel said that when he began to play a passage, he needed to know how far away the end was. Hence the “metrical periods,” as he called them, that he marked in his edition of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, first published in the 1920s. Unfortunately, he never defined very clearly what a “metrical period” is.

Many performing musicians have felt a need similar to Schnabel’s: how to feel, or count, Beethoven’s rhythms of medium size (3–16 measures). The terms “meter,” “metrical period,” and “hypermeter” have been used by many, but the same term often conceals different meanings, as John Paul Ito has rightly pointed out. In this talk, I consider the views of several writers since Schnabel, from Tovey to Temperley to Ito. Excerpts from most or all of the following Beethoven movements will be discussed: op. 28, i; op. 31/3, i; and op. 90, i.


Improvisation Experience Predicts How Musicians Categorize Musical Structures

by Andrew Goldman (Presidential Scholar in Society and Neuroscience at Columbia University)


This video explains a recent research project on musical improvisation published in Psychology of Music. It shows that more experienced improvisers, compared with less experienced improvisers but otherwise skilled musicians, categorize harmonies with similar functions as being more similar than those with different functions. We argue that this aids the ability to make appropriate substitutions, and shows a difference in the way improvisers structure their musical knowledge that facilitates their abilities to improvise.

For more information about this research project, please view this article in the journal Psychology of Music.

Beginning in Fall 2018, Andrew Goldman will be based at the University of Western Ontario, where he will work with Jonathan De Souza on the Music, Cognition, and the Brain Initiative.

PAIG Meeting at 2017 SMT Conference

We are looking forward to seeing you soon in Arlington! The PAIG meeting will take place on Friday, November 3, 12:15–1:45 in Studio A. Our program will comprise three short papers (chosen through a blind review process) followed by a business meeting and general discussion. Thank you to everyone who submitted proposals and/or assisted with the review process!

  • 12:15  Welcome
  • 12:20 “Using Embodiment Schema to Help Student Performers Relate to Their Theory Work” (Bonnie McAlvin, CUNY Graduate Center)
  • 12:40 “Three Case Studies In Search of Holistic Performance Research” (Jonathan Dunsby, Eastman School of Music)
  • 1:00 “Paradox of Interpretation and the Resolved(?) Dualism” (Wing Lau, University of Arkansas)
  • 1:20 Business Meeting and General Discussion
    • We hope to keep the Business Meeting very brief so as to use the remaining time for some General Discussion. Members are invited to share a bit about their current work, recent publications, or other interests so members of the PAIG community can get to know one another.

Please scroll down to the bottom of this post for abstracts for all three papers. During the general discussion,


This brief talk illustrates how embodiment schema (Lakoff and Johnson 1980) can be used to engage performance students in their music theory work, by bridging students’ analytical work to the development of their narrative imagination and mastery of grouping and expression. An important function of analysis is that of revealing potential groupings. In many cases, groupings map readily onto embodiment image schema such as UP/DOWN, CONTAINER, and BARRIER. We are able to empathize with motions UP, DOWN, IN and OUT, so groupings which map onto these schema are in turn readily anthropomorphized. An approach to a passage might ask whether a middleground reading moves UP or DOWN, and what the anthropomorphized pitch-group hopes to achieve in moving UP/DOWN? Contextualizing the slope is part of this work: is the anthropomorphized pitch-group navigating a slippery cave, battling a current, or wafting a hillside? As students master analytical tools, mappings can become sophisticated. What awaits the pitch group at the end of the PATH: a tonic chord or a betrayal? Which of the steps UP/DOWN are in the diatonic CONTAINER, and which are chromatic? Of the scale degree steps, which are part of the governing harmonic CONTAINER? How does each step relate to the various metric CONTAINERS and how does this enliven the narrative? The talk suggests some group activities that use embodiment schema mapping to prime students toward higher engagement in the intricate analytical work of harmonic, voice-leading, Schenkerian, and set class analysis.



I offer three short case studies:

1) a critical aspect of microtiming studies, specifically Llorens’ recent article researching onset asynchrony in Brahms performance, with a minimum perceptibility threshold of 100 ms;

2) Gould’s ‘prelude’ to Webern’s Op. 27i, which to my knowledge has not been studied theoretically before, despite the wealth of recent performance research on the Piano Variations; and

3) another look at Schenker’s graphic analysis of Chopin’s Fourth Prelude and  Schachter’s durational reduction, in light of actual ‘readings’ old and new (for example here, Pollini’s and Trifonov’s).

I briefly air my position that what typically appears in theoretically-informed performance studies is a disassembled practice, the investigation of only those elements of a performance that can be measured, assessed, or manipulated, always in danger of being called ivory-tower rather than real-life. Equally, the concentration on surface analysis, on the results of the application of what followers of Lewin call the ‘technology’ of music theory, may be considered to have evaded a concrete engagement between interpretive practice and musical meaning in its deepest, inclusive senses.

In the first two case studies we see Kerman’s ‘positivism,’ through, first, excusable, totalizing assertion of perceptual pertinence, and, secondly, the understandable exclusion of obscure but intriguing creative evidence. The second two cases show how an engagement with precompositional materials, or structurally remote features of the ‘inner’ form, can be part of interpreters’ volitional agency and affect all parameters of the sounding score.


The paradox of interpretation, the belief that performance serves the work and the composer but the performer’s subjective contribution is inevitable, has a long history in performance discourse (Rosen 2002 and Cook 2013). The attempt to reconcile such paradox, the notion “to play as if from the soul of the composer” represents an early Romantic subjectivity (Hunter 2005), a resolved dualism that still influences the classical music culture today.

In this paper, I suggest that the attempt to reconcile such paradox, the resolved dualism, is paradoxical in and of itself. I illustrate discrepancies between the recordings of Artur Schnabel, a pianist who strives to reach the “same free spiritual height” as the composer, and his interpretative rationales documented by his students in Wolff 1979. In addition to the dissonance between his rationales and the interpretive choice documented in his recordings, I demonstrate the dissonance between his rationales and his perceived intention of the composer. I ask, can one be truly immersed in the soul of another? Can we not argue that the composer’s supposed intention is actually Schnabel’s own subjectivity masked behind authenticity, consciously or not? As this paper shows, the performers’ subjectivity and their perceived intention of the composer could be hard to distinguish, and that the resolved dualism could be more apparent than real. Recognizing this paradox sharpens our sensitivity towards performers with the authentic reputation and help us better understand the epistemology of the faithful performance.

Call for Papers

The Performance and Analysis Interest Group (PAIG) invites proposals for short presentations to be delivered at its meeting during the 2017 SMT conference. Papers will be 15 minutes, with 5 minutes of Q&A to follow. We welcome proposals pertaining to any aspect of musical performances or performers that engage analytical perspectives.
Papers will be selected through a blind review process. Please note that accepted papers are not an official part of the SMT program and will not be listed in the SMT program book. Papers that are accepted for the SMT program are not eligible.
Proposal guidelines are as follows:
  • Proposal Format: PDF file listing the paper title, proposal (up to 500 words), and up to two pages of supplemental material (examples, bibliography, etc.). The author’s name should not be included in the body or metadata of the file.
  • Submission Deadline: Sunday, May 28, 2017 at midnight (ET)
  • Submission Email: Email your proposal as an attachment to Edward [dot] Klorman [at] McGill [dot] ca. Use subject line “PAIG Proposal.” In the body of the email, please list the author’s name, affiliation, email, and the title of the paper.
Questions about the proposal process may be directed to Edward Klorman.
Andy Friedman and Edward Klorman
Co-Chairs, Performance and Analysis Interest Group

SMT 2016 Preview

by Edward Klorman (McGill University)

Time was, sessions and papers on musical performance were relatively rare within SMT conference programs. But recent decades have seen a burgeoning interest, as the 2016 conference program attests.

Below is a list of SMT sessions and individual papers that examine some aspect of performance. This list was compiled on the basis of session and paper titles, since abstracts are not available at the time of this writing. (AMS papers and concerts were not included in this list, although many of them will certainly be of interest to PAIG members.) If you are aware of papers that should be added to the list below, please let us know.

Many are by performer–scholars who bring their first-hand “know-how” to their scholarship. As Daphne Leong (2016) has recently noted, knowledge about music can take many forms: knowing that (wissen), knowing how to (können), and knowing as in knowing a person (kennen). Contributions from performer–scholars suggest a growing interest in the intersections between these forms of knowledge and opportunities to examine what performance and analytical perspectives can each offer the other.

Extending Topic Theory (Thursday, 4:15 p. m.)

  • Daniel J. Thompson (Florida State University), “A Topical Exploration of the Jazz Messengers’ 1963 Recording ‘One by One’”

Performing Babbitt and Morris (Thursday, 3:30–5:00 p. m.)

  • Zachary Bernstein (Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester), “Babbitt’s Gestural Dialectics”
  • Brian Alegant (Oberlin College & Conservatory), “Once More with Feeling: Analyzing and Performing Robert Morris’s Scraps”

Positional Listening/Positional Analysis (Thursday, 3:30–5:00 p. m.)

  • John Covach (University of Rochester), “A View from Guitar Land: Shifting Positional Listening in Complex Textures”
  • Kevin Holm-Hudson (University of Kentucky), “Stratified Keyboard Harmony in the Music of Todd Rundgren”
  • Brad Osborn (University of Kansas), “Metric Levels from Behind the Kit (and Elsewhere)”
  • Gregory R. McCandless (Appalachian State University), “Attentional Cost and Positional Analysis: A Bassist’s Perspective”
  • Elizabeth Marvin (Eastman School of Music), Respondent

Musical Performers, Musical Works (Thursday, 8:00–11:00 p. m.)
Sponsored by the SMT Performance and Analysis Interest Group

  • Patrick Boyle (University of Victoria), “The Jazz Process: Negotiating Error in Practice and Performance”
  • John Lutterman (University of Alaska, Anchorage), “Werktreue vs. Praxistreue: On the Problems of Representing Historical Performing Practices in the Modern Concert Hall”
  • Charles Neidich (The Juilliard School/Queens College, CUNY), “Knowledge and Imagination: On Performing Elliott Carter’s Gra for B-Flat Clarinet”
  • Eric Clarke (University of Oxford), Respondent: “Knowing and Doing”

Agency in Instrumental Music of the Long Eighteenth Century (Friday, 2:00–5:00 p. m.)

  • Edward Klorman (McGill University), “Koch and Momigny: Theorists of Agency in Mozart’s Quartets?” (Friday 2:00 p. m.)
  • Mary Hunter (Bowdoin College), “The Agency of the Performer in Mozart’s C-minor Fantasia K. 475 (3:30 p. m.)

Encounters with the Music of Milton Babbitt: A Centennial Celebration (Friday, 2:00–5:00 p. m.; second paper on the panel, exact time not specified)

  • Daphne Leong (University of Colorado, Boulder), “Simple Ways of Hearing, Playing, and Teaching Babbitt’s Semi-Simple Variations”

Performance and Analysis (Friday, 9:30–11:00 p. m.)

  • Andrew M. Friedman (Harvard University), “Reimagining (Motivic) Analysis in Light of Performance”
  • Su Yin Mak (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), “Communications about Musical Structure in Professional String Quartet Rehearsal”

Melodic Motivations (Saturday, 9:00 a. m.)

  • Christopher Gupta (Princeton University), “A Theoretical Account of Cueing Systems in Collective Improvisation”

Performing Meter (Saturday, 9:00–10:30 a. m.)

  • Richard Beaudoin (Brandeis University and The Royal Academy of Music, London), “Creaking Chairs and Metric Clarity: Microtiming Glenn Gould Recording Schoenberg op. 19/1”
  • Galen DeGraf (Columbia University), “Types of Temporal Knowledge beyond the Mode of Attending”

PAIG’s Listserv Is Moving!

SMT has kindly offered to host a listserv for PAIG. This listserv will useful for allowing the PAIG community to communicate about the group’s plans and projects. (It replaces the PAIG Google Group, which will be discontinued). This PAIG WordPress site will continue to serve as the group’s public face.

If you wish to subscribe to the listserv, you may do so at this link: