Discourses in Music: Volume 5 Number 1 (Spring 2004)

How We Got Out of Analysis and How to get Back In: A Polemical Re-Appraisal of Joseph Kerman1

By Leslie Kinton

Ever since the appearance of Joseph Kerman's article "How We Got into Analysis, and How to Get Out,"2 the battle lines have been drawn between the discipline of theory, on the one hand, and that of musicology on the other. While musicology has been attempting to redefine itself ever since, often by means of raging, polemical debate, theorists, for the most part, have been curiously silent. Part of the reason for this is that they know from the inside, so to speak, what Nicholas Cook put so well in the "Preface" to Rethinking Music: "Kerman's characterizations [of analysis] were really caricatures" (vii).3 Why bother to fight something that clearly shows such a profound lack of understanding as to just what it is that musical analysis does? The proper thing to do is to ignore it, and carry on doing what you have been doing, and this is what most theorists have chosen to do. The problem with this "if-I-ignore-it-it-will-go-away" approach is that which is common to all apathy: one can find oneself rendered irrelevant by default. Internet discussion lists are peppered with postings calling for theory to be subsumed under the conceptual umbrella of musicology, thereby threatening the autonomy of the analytical enterprise. Jim Samson speculates that "analysis as a separate discipline (though not as an activity) will lose its identity in a mesh of wider critical perspectives, its tools and practices drawn into and absorbed by those wider perspectives."4 Just what is meant by the expression "those wider perspectives" is an important issue, and is central to Kerman's attack on analysis.

Kerman does describe analysis as a form of criticism, but he implicitly dichotomizes these two approaches to music (and to art in general, for that matter). The major premise behind this paper is that Kerman's (implicit) dichotomy of analysis vs. criticism is a false one and, further, that what he calls "analysis" is really nothing more than positivist "description": real analysis is, in fact, music criticism in its "purest" form (i.e., unmediated by other academic disciplines, albeit at times drawing on them).5

One of the problems in attacking Kerman's position is that his basic starting point is a valid one. Until his clarion call for music studies to be subsumed under the umbrella of "criticism," the field had been dominated by historians and bibliographers, as literature had been before the emergence of what is now known as "literary criticism." This in no way is meant to impugn these highly important and fascinating fields, but their defining of the discipline had two consequences: first, most dissertations were either bibliographical studies (in the sense of Fredson Bowers), source studies, or a "life and works"; second, after a composer had been exhaustively studied, he or she was considered to be "done" and off limits to anyone wishing to do a Ph.D thesis. A proposal, for instance, to do one's doctorate on the Beethoven piano sonatas would probably not even have been considered, and most likely would not have been approved. There was nothing more do be done with them in terms of scholarly research . . . at least according to the musicology of the day.

The idea that everything that can be done has been done with any body of artistic work may seem odd today, but again, if the field is defined by bibliography, source study and "life and works," it is not an unreasonable position to take. Kerman saw this state of affairs as intolerable, and sought to reorganize the field using criticism as its defining feature. As Nicholas Cook puts it, "Under the slogan of 'criticism,' Kerman created the vacuum that was filled by what came to be called the 'New Musicology.'"6 Nature abhors a vacuum, and the filling of it in this case was precipitated, in part, by the quest to define what was meant by the term "music criticism." In a way, the central question for the New Musicology was (and still is): "What is music criticism, and where do we find it?"

If one examines much of the literature, both current and past, the answer seems to be "anywhere but in the music itself."7 The renowned Canadian professor of English literature Northrop Frye said as much about the state of literary criticism in the 1950s: "It is clear that the absence of systematic criticism has created a power vacuum, and all the neighbouring disciplines have moved in."8 Just so in music: we have semiotic music-criticism, ideological music-criticism, feminist music-criticism, hermeneutical-music criticism . . . everything, it seems, except music music-criticism. This is perhaps an unfair caricature, but a scholarly field that imports most of its critical apparatus and procedures from other disciplines has a definite credibility problem, and encourages a kind of dilettantism that further undermines its veracity.

It is instructive to examine precisely how this kind of criticism usually works. First, you need to have an opinion about something in a field that means a great deal to you, for example, in philosophy, semiotics, gender studies, Marxism, and so on. Next, read this opinion into a piece of music, usually by committing the fallacy of argument by analogy. (An infamous example is Susan McClary's "analysis" of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony which analogizes the violence in the recapitulation of the first movement with that of a deranged rapist.9) Finally, focus your discussion on that which really interests you (i.e., the philosophy, semiotics, gender studies, Marxism, and so on) and put on the periphery that which does not interest you as much (i.e., the music itself). The cynical conclusion might be that this procedure has the distinct advantage of allowing the critic to sound scholarly and learned while at the same time knowing virtually nothing about music.

Again, this may be a caricature, and is in no way meant to disparage the knowledge and expertise of practitioners of this type of criticism. However, even the most erudite, knowledgeable, and perceptive critics can have an all-consuming interest and expertise in a field outside their particular specialty, and may be tempted to use any opportunity to talk or write about it, especially if they can do so using their own field as a vehicle. Many of the articles in Rethinking Music seem to be of this type. 10

It is not that this critical approach has no value. On the contrary, there is much to be said for any methodology that enriches one's experience of a particular piece or a body of repertory. However, it is a question of emphasis, and what Northrop Frye has to say about this approach to literature is on point: "There is no reason why a sociologist should not work exclusively on literary material, but if he does he should pay no attention to literary values. In his field Horatio Alger and the Elsie books may well be more important than Hawthorne or Melville, and a single issue of the Ladies' Home Journal worth all of Henry James."11 In the same way, a scholar whose interest is the sociology of music may find The Spice Girls to be more important and interesting than the complete works of Rebecca Clark; in other words, purely musical values are of secondary importance.

Incidentally, this is one area (amongst many) where Susan McClary runs into trouble. Even if one were to grant the validity of her analogy (which I do not), any number of pieces using the same kind of musical rhetoric might have served equally well to make her point; neither the greatness of the music nor its specific, non-generalized characteristics are relevant to her critical approach. Furthermore, her use of the piece as an exemplum (i.e., a universal) for her book's main area of interest (i.e., gender studies), while at the same time not engaging the work as a particular entity makes her approach genuinely reductive. One might say the same of the other critical approaches mentioned above because of their focus on broad characteristics and types, while at the same time marginalizing the specifics of the individual composition. There is a kind of delicious irony here, considering that "reductive" is one of the favourite pejorative buzzwords levelled at musical analysis, specifically as practised by Heinrich Schenker, and certainly Schenker seems to be Kerman's favourite whipping post, at least in the article cited above.

There is another article alluded to in this title of this paper, namely the "Polemical Introduction" from Anatomy of Criticism by Northrop Frye. I have already quoted from this essay, and I find it interesting that Kerman, who is apparently calling for a move from "analysis" (really, positivist description) to criticism, does not even mention Anatomy. This is unfortunate, as there is much one can learn from Frye toward developing a genuine music criticism, and by genuine, I mean a criticism that maintains its autonomy and its independence from other disciplines. Frye has actually defined what might be a starting point for criticism in all the arts:

The axioms and postulates of criticism . . . have to grow out of the art it deals with. The first thing the literary critic has to do is to read literature, to make an inductive survey of his own field and let his critical principles shape themselves solely out of his knowledge of that field. Critical principles cannot be taken over ready-made from theology, philosophy, politics, science, or any combination of these. To subordinate criticism to an externally derived critical attitude is to exaggerate the values in literature that can be related to the external source, whatever it is[italics added].12
When he says "read literature," he means one should undertake a thorough study of the field, not just read in the casual sense. In the same way, it can be argued that the first thing a prospective music critic must do is listen to and study music, not just casually, but exhaustively. Just as Frye is calling for "literary literacy," so must musical literacy be called for in music criticism, and a prerequisite for literacy is fluency in the language; in other words, a music critic (as distinct from an historian or bibliographer) must first become a musician, just as a literary critic must first become a writer (even if such writing is confined to academic prose). Again, musical literacy means that one speaks the language of music as a native; i.e., as a performer, a composer or both, at an appropriate level of expertise.

Needless to say, this does not mean being a musician will be of no help in the adjunct disciplines of bibliography or history. However, both these scholarly pursuits tend to view a piece of music as an archival document. Even in the case of the historian, the actual work of art, the central element for the critic, may be of secondary importance. The musicologist Claude Palisca states this quite openly in his preface to Baroque Music: "[This book] is not a comprehensive survey of this period or a gallery of the most famous composers. Certain important figures are hardly named, while others lesser known are treated at length, and this goes also for the various categories of composition."13 In other words, a piece of music as a work of art, the central concern for the critic, is peripheral to the work of the historian qua historian; rather, the historical narrative is the central concern. There is nothing wrong with this per se, but just as the historian should have his or her autonomy, so also should the critic.

Because the principles of literary criticism have been worked out so completely (by Frye and others), and because both music and literature are forms of artistic expression, one might be tempted to apply the elements of literature to music directly, and indeed, this has been done by many people. Rebecca Leydon, for example, has drawn a parallel between the late works of Claude Debussy and early silent cinema.14 Particularity interesting is the way she shows how the devices of cinema represent a new way of ordering time and space, and how Debussy's compositional techniques mirror these devices quite precisely. The point is that she not only connects these two art forms historically and culturally, thereby enriching our experience of both; she also shows, through analysis (!), how specific pieces use analogous techniques of cut and dissolve pioneered by the early French film makers. One example she gives is that of the "Pastorale," from the Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp, mm. 1-4, which clearly exhibits a dissolve-like transition, with the melody of the viola emerging from the veiled sonority of the harp and seamlessly picking up the note of the flute (if, as Leydon says, it is "performed skilfully"15).

As insightful as her reading might be, there is a difficulty with using the techniques of one art form to explain another, namely that an artistic structure cannot be sustained by anything outside of itself, even another work of art. This is not the same kind of thing one finds in a synthesis of two or more art forms, such as is the case with opera, ballet, cinema, or melodrama (i.e., reader and music). In all these genres, the multimedia aspect is experienced as a kind of gestalt; one form is not superimposed onto another by the audience, but rather is synthesised by the artist (or artists) into an experiential whole. One could, I suppose, listen to a film score from beginning to the end on its own without benefit of the actors, dialogue, setting, or cinematography, while trying to imagine all of these elements as they should happen, but the result would lack cohesion to say the least. Even when a composer intends for such an imagining to happen (for example, in a symphonic poem) the piece ultimately has to stand or fall on its own. No amount of creative road-mapping on the part of the listener will make a coherent piece out of an incoherent one. It is not so much an attempt to construct an exoskeleton; rather, it is more like trying to have a skeleton by proxy. To take another example, Ives's Essays Before a Sonata may enrich the experience one has with the Concord Sonata, but ultimately the piece works without reference to these essays, or even to Emerson, Hawthorn, the Alcotts, or Thoreau. In the same way, music criticism must proceed from a study of the actual music; even another art form like literature cannot supply the techniques and procedures of a genuine music criticism.

If the apparatus for a criticism is to be induced from that which is being studied, there is an obvious question vis à vis music: since what we usually call criticism takes the form of academic prose, how are we to construct a critical approach using words when dealing with a non-verbal art such as music? This has always been an issue in music theory, and because most critical commentary is verbal, the finest critical insights that go beyond mere surface description more often than not resort to analogies. The problem is that even though analogies are useful teaching tools, they do not address issues directly in terms of what is being discussed. If music is to have that which is equivalent to criticism in literature, then such commentary must be primarily in musical terms, and such verbal commentary as there is should serve to clarify the critical insights articulated in some kind of musical notation. This is where the work of Heinrich Schenker comes into the picture.

Schenkerian analysis is too often portrayed in musicological literature as being a manifestation of some kind of positivist, reductive nightmare; certainly, this is the view expressed by Kerman in his article.16 Is he right? Is Schenkerian analysis a clinical dissection of a living work of art that emulates the methodology of rationalistic science?

This is a view that does not bear up well under close scrutiny. On the contrary, I see Schenker as a romantic, an artistic visionary who, by means of an inductive survey of the tonal repertory, developed a way of revealing what he viewed to be the soul of art. This is not the place to give a detailed exposition of Schenker's approach, but it is probably a good idea to give a brief review of its more salient features. Melody will be the main focus, but it must be remembered that all aspects of a composition (except perhaps orchestration) are treated in somewhat the same manner.

A melody can roughly be defined as a series of individual notes that are integrated into some kind of conceptual whole. The obvious question, of course, is how these individual notes are integrated; i.e., how is it we hear a melody, instead of a random set of isolated, discrete, unrelated pitches? There are two fundamental epistemological choices here: either there actually is something inherent within the notes that organizes them into a conceptual whole, or there is not. If the latter is true, all sense of organization is a product of the perceiver's mind and all we are doing is imposing a grid onto chaos. I will state without commentary Schenker's (and my own) unequivocal rejection of the latter choice, and proceed directly to how he views the problem.

Schenker rejected the notion that adjacency was the only means of relating notes in a melody. Even before Schenker, it was accepted that notes do not just relate to each other only if they are side by side.17 An example that comes to mind is the subject from the B-flat major fugue in Book I of Bach's Das Wohltemperierte Klavier:18

Figure 1

Because of the registeral prominence given to the notes occurring on the third beats of the first three bars, and the sense of an apparent goal on beat one of the fifth, a non-controversial reading of this subject might be to hear a more fundamental melody embedded within the whole, rising step-wise with the upper E-flat functioning as an incomplete neighbouring tone.

Figure 2

Figure 2 is a detailed foreground sketch of the subject. The two-part counterpoint with the 7-6 suspensions created by the "lower" voice is also shown.19 The notes in parentheses are implied by the context.20 Figure 3 shows the embedded line on its own.

Figure 3

It is this more fundamental line which integrates the order of notes into the conceptual whole that we call a melody.

Three of Schenker's major contributions to musical analysis are: 1) extending this approach to the span of an entire composition; 2) formulating a comprehensive theory that shows how these connections exist; and 3) developing a notational system to show these connections on paper. Such a view is "essentialist," and, in point of fact, is central to the visionary, which seeks to see the one in the many and the many in the one. Perhaps it might be helpful to think about re-instating the word "essentialist" to its former position of respectability in academic discourse. In any event, the word is "essential" to Schenker's approach, and I am going to use it without apology.

An analogy with language may be helpful here. Near the opening of Paradise Lost, in the depiction of Satan and his army being driven out of Heaven, John Milton creates what is perhaps the greatest literary plummet in English: "/ . . . Him, the Almighty Power / Hurled, headlong, flaming from the ethereal sky / With hideous ruin and combustion down / to bottomless perdition, there to dwell / In adamantine chains and penal fire, / Who durst defy th'omnipotent to arms." (1:44-49)21. This fall is so cosmic and final that it takes two whole books to reascend even to the region of heaven. Much of the effect of this passage is created by the grammatical structure of the sentence; by starting it with the abrupt objective pronoun, and following it with the rolling, large-scale rhythms of the rest, the poet creates, in the music of the language, the sense of just how catastrophic is this fall, with the word "Him" seeming to propel Satan and his legions over the precipice. The point here is that, unless one knows that the sentence is essentially, "The Almighty Power hurled him down to bottomless perdition," or even, "The Power hurled him down," the effect is totally lost.

This is an example where not only the fundamental structure of the sentence is found in the connection between non-adjacent words, but, moreover, even the standard order of the words is changed. This is also a good example of the difference between what is necessary, on the one hand, and what is essential, on the other. Despite the reduction of Milton's sentence to two simpler forms, I cannot imagine anyone who would argue that every word of the original is not necessary . . . at least, artistically. In the same way, every note of the Bach subject quoted above is necessary, even though they may not all be "essential."

At this point, it is probably obvious that the analogy I am drawing here breaks down very quickly. This has to do with the multiple uses, as Frye observes in Anatomy of Criticism, to which one can put language, the two most pertinent being, first, as a medium for the communication of ideas, and, second, as a medium for artistic expression (see pp. 71 ff.). Fortunately, this ambiguity does not exist in music as such; in spite of the analogizing of some postmodernist theorists, an element of musical structure, in and of itself, has no meaning outside an artistic context, except through an association with something outside of itself. In language, however, this can be a real problem. Because a discussion of this area is well beyond the scope of this paper, I am going to assert as a given that the use of language as a medium for art is radically different from its use as a vehicle for the communication of ideas or argument, and that here is precisely where the analogy with grammatical structure breaks down. The particles of speech do not act exclusively as components of an artistic structure, whereas the elements identified by Schenker do. Nonetheless, as a defence of essentialism as such, I think the analogy holds true.

I said earlier that Schenker's approach to analysis was that of a visionary. I said further that the analysis of a simple melody was only the beginning, and that Schenker applied his methods to all aspects of music over the entire span of a composition. What I did not say, and needs to be added here, is that by means of the inductive survey mentioned above, Schenker found certain structures to be common throughout the entire tonal repertory. If we remember that these musical structures exist not just on the surface but below what he called the "foreground" of the musical composition (the seemingly mixed metaphor is Schenker's), it becomes apparent that what Schenker did was to reveal a vocabulary of non-verbal musical archetypes, and it is here that one sees Schenker as a visionary critic. The parallel with Northrop Frye, whose major concern was with literary archetypes, is too close to ignore. In a sense, one might say that Schenker is to music criticism what Frye is to literary criticism, not so much in stature, but more in terms of their common visionary focus on artistic archetypes.

If Schenker were talking about a mere isolated collection of motifs and figures, we could not very well call this "visionary." However, this is not the way his thinking works. Each of these archetypes is interconnected with every facet of the composition, and behind (below?) each level of interconnection one finds a deeper level, until finally one comes to what Schenker calls the "background," almost like an irreducible primary, that ultimately gives meaning to every particular of the composition. It is just a small step from there to envisioning the totality of music as having this kind of interconnection, a view articulated in the motto placed at the beginning of Free Composition: "Semper idem, sed non eodem modo" ("Always the same, but not the same way").22

Perhaps the most eloquent expression of Schenker the visionary is given in his "Preface" to Counterpoint, where he addresses the issue of how performers are often aware only of a work's surface events:

Performers disregard the fact that notational symbols really hide more than they make explicit, and that, strictly speaking, even today, they are hardly more than neumes behind which another world opens wide and deep - a true beyond, like the very soul of art. They always play, to express it more clearly, only on a single surface, so to speak - merely in a planimetric way - where they should play in several dimensions, as though in a stereometric way.23
What has come to be known as Schenkerian Analysis is a critical approach whose purpose is to reveal the nature of this "true beyond," this "very soul of art," through the visionary exploration of musical archetypes. Anybody who deems this to be "positivism" is using the word in a manner that has no relationship to the definition one finds in the O.E.D.: "A system of philosophy elaborated by Auguste Comte from 1830 onwards, which recognizes only positive facts and observable phenomena, with the objective relations of these and the laws that determine them, abandoning all enquiry into causes or ultimate origins, as belonging to the theological and metaphysical stages of thought, held to be now superseded [italics added]."24

Kerman concludes his article with a section that begins as follows: "I dislike seeming to preach in the abstract, especially when I seem to be preaching against, so I shall now sketch out some conceivable alternatives to analysis. . . ."25 This is fair enough, so if I may paraphrase, I also dislike seeming to preach in the abstract, especially when I seem to be preaching for, so I shall now present an example of what may be termed "critical analysis." The piece I have chosen is the third movement from Sonata Op. 27 No. 2 by Beethoven, the so-called "Moonlight."26 This is in no way meant to be a complete exploration of the work, but only an example as to how Schenkerian criticism can work. The sketch (see Figure 4, below) is my own, so any errors are also mine.27

This sonata is called "Sonata, Almost a Fantasy" by the composer, and the question arises: a fantasy on what? Certainly, the figure of the broken triad seems to be the quick answer, at least as far as the first movement is concerned; the hauntingly hypnotic effect is created primarily by the insistent repetition of this most conventional of figures. Even the melody seems to be series of large-scale reachings for the upper "E" of the initial triplet.

Does this figure have anything to do with the way we experience the violent surging in the emotionally volcanic finale? If one asks the obvious follow-up question, "Surging towards what?", the beginning of an answer starts to emerge.

It does not take a sophisticated grasp of musical structure to hear how the tumultuous arpeggios at the beginning rush towards explosive chords that begin on G-sharp, stop for a moment on C-sharp, and finally arrive on E, thereby articulating the broken triad figure of the first movement, only on a much larger scale, and with the added drama, excitement and passion of the breakneck speed and extended tonal range. Whether this figure is consciously heard or not is beside the point; one can experience something without being consciously aware of it.

In the recapitulation, however, something startling happens: after rising from the G-sharp to the C-sharp, instead of ascending to the E, as it does in the exposition, he goes back to the G-sharp, and into the second group. The effect of this is immediate and startling: there is a strong sense of an unfulfilled goal, which is made all the more telling by the ubiquitous G-sharp which seems to be hanging on for dear life throughout the recapitulation.

How is this apparent conflict resolved? The answer is found in the Coda. As the sketch below clearly shows, the attainment of the recapitulatory arpeggiation is delayed until the cadenza in the Coda, and this delay is a primary reason why this movement has such a sense of epic scope. The delay also helps to make clear why the tempo is marked presto agitato: only a near break-neck speed is sufficient to create the drive and energy needed for this astonishing conceit to work.28

Figure 4A - 'Moonlight' foreground (click to zoom)
Figure 4B - 'Moonlight' middleground (click to zoom)

Whether or not one agrees with the foregoing, I submit that it is an example of music criticism in the way Kerman seeks to define it.

This is not the time or place to fully engage Kerman in terms of his blatant mischaracterization of Schenkerian analysis. However, I cannot let pass his use of an example from Free Composition as an attempt to illustrate what Schenkerian analysis is supposedly all about.29 Free Composition is the treatise in which Schenker presents his theories for the first time in a somewhat coherent form, and the examples throughout are tied to specific parts of the written text; they are designed primarily to illustrate what he is talking about and are not meant to be stand-alone analyses of a particular work. In fact, even though they admirably illustrate what he may be talking about at a particular time, many of them, as actual analyses, are plainly wrong, and none of them are complete. For example, the sketch Kerman cites, that of "Aus meinen Thränen" by Schumann (from Schenker 1979, Supplement: Musical Examples, Fig. 21b), shows clearly a particular application of the principle of interruption that is discussed on page 36 of the text, but in no way pretends to be a complete analysis of the song. It is therefore impermissible to use it as an example of what Schenkerian analysis is supposedly about, and Kerman's use of it, rather than something like the sketch of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony30 or any of the Five Graphic Analyses (Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln)31, is at best careless and at worst, disingenuous.32

It would be nice if music had a term that is equivalent to "criticism" in literature, but unfortunately it does not. Again, if music is to develop a criticism, the principles and methodology of the criticism need to come from that which is being studied. As was stated earlier, there is nothing wrong per se with importing an apparatus from another discipline, but in order for music criticism to maintain its own autonomy, its apparatus must be induced from the actual study of music.

Kerman is correct when he says analysis is a form of criticism. However, his caricature of it in no way describes what real analysis is about, and therefore contributes nothing to what should be an ongoing discourse as to its nature.

Leslie Kinton is a pianist and is on the faculty of the Glenn Gould School of Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music. He recently completed an MA in music theory at the University of Toronto, and in September 2004 will begin a PhD in theory at the U of T.

Works Cited

Agawu, Kofi. "The Challenge of Semiotics." Rethinking Music, eds. Nicholas Cook, Mark Everist. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. 138-61.

Bach, J.S. "Fugue 21, B-flat Major." The Well-Tempered Clavier Books I and II, Complete. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1983. 76-7.

Cook, Nicholas and Everist, Mark, eds. Rethinking Music. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Cook, Nicholas. "Preface." Rethinking Music, eds. Nicholas Cook, Mark Everist. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. v-xii.

Fink, Robert. "Going Flat: Post-Hierarchical Music Theory and the Musical Surface." Rethinking Music, eds. Nicholas Cook, Mark Everist. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. 102-37.

Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973.

Kerman, Joseph. Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1985.

____________. "How We Got into Analysis, and How to Get Out." Write All These Down: Essays on Music. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. Reprinted from Critical Inquiry 7 (1980): 311-31.

Leydon, Rebecca. "Debussy's Late Style and the Devices of the Early Silent Cinema." Music Theory Spectrum, 23/2, Fall 2001. 217-241.

McClary, Susan. Feminine Endings: Music, Gender and Sexuality. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost, ed. Scott Elledge. New York: Norton, 1975.

Niedt, Friederich Erhardt. The Musical Guide, trans. Pamela L. Poulin and Irmgard C. Taylor. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.

Oster, Ernst. "The Fantaisie-Impromptu: A Tribute to Beethoven." Aspects of Schenkerian Theory, ed. David Beach. New Haven: Yale University Press,1983.189-207.

Palisca, Claude. Baroque Music. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1968.

Samson, Jim. "Analysis in Context." Rethinking Music, eds. Nicholas Cook, Mark Everist. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001. 34-54.

Schachter, Carl. "Bach's Fugue in B-flat Major, Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, No. 21." Unfoldings: Essays in Schenkerian Theory and Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. 239-59.

Schenker, Heinrich. "Beethovens dritte Sinfonie zum Erstenmal in ihrem wahren Inhalt dargestellt." Das Meisterwerk in der Musik III. Munich: Drei Masken Verlag, 1930. 29-101.

____________. Counterpoint, trans. John Rothgeb, Jürgen Thym. Ed. John Rothgeb. New York, Schirmer Books, 1987.

____________. Free Composition (Der freie Satz), trans. and ed. Ernst Oster. New York: Longman, 1979.

____________. Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln. New York: David Mannes Music School, 1933.

The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.


1. This paper was submitted for credit in Research Methods II taught by John Mayo at the University of Toronto in April 2003. For this present article, there have been some minor revisions to the text and some major revisions to the analyses.

2. Joseph Kerman, "How We Got into Analysis, and How to Get Out," Write All These Down: Essays on Music, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. Reprinted from Critical Inquiry 7 (1980): 311-31.

3. Rethinking Music, Nicholas Cook and Mark Everist, eds.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

4. Jim Samson, "Analysis in Context," Cook and Everist, 53.

5. Given the equivocal nature of the word "criticism," I should point out that the word, as used here, is not meant in the sense of evaluative journalism, but more in the sense of literary criticism. It is essential to keep this distinction clear, and certainly, this latter usage is what Kerman means by the term.

6. Cook and Everist, viii.

7. I am fully cognizant of the post-modernist objections to the expression "the music itself," and its use here is not an attempt to tweak the nose of the academic establishment. However, since Schenkerian analysis, the focus of much of this paper, has its origins more in musical performance than in the halls of academe, and since most performers spend their entire professional lives trying to understand "the music itself," I have no hesitation using the phrase in this article.

8. Northrop Frye, "Polemical Introduction," Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973. 12.

9. Susan McClary, Feminine Endings: Music, Gender and Sexuality. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991, 128.

10. One interesting example is Kofi Agawu's "The Challenge of Semiotics." Cook and Everist, 138-161.

11. Frye, 19.

12. Frye, 6-7.

13. Claude Palisca, "Preface," Baroque Music. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1968.

14. Rebecca Leydon, "Debussy's Late Style and the Devices of the Early Silent Cinema," Music Theory Spectrum, 23/2, Fall 2001, 217-241. I am treating cinema as a branch of literary studies, specifically drama.

15. Leydon, 224.

16. Kerman does not specifically call analysis "positivist" in this article, but this is essentially what he is saying when he says its methods are "straightforward," its results "automatic," its conclusions "easily tested." His accusation of positivism is more specific in Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1985. See especially "Analysis, Theory, and New Music." On p. 73, he writes: "The appeal of systematic analysis was that it provided for a positivistic approach to art, for a criticism that could draw on precisely defined, seemingly objective operations and shun subjective criteria (and that would usually not even call itself criticism)."

17. For a systematic exposition on this topic of melodic diminution by a contemporary of Bach's, see Friederich Erhardt Niedt, The Musical Guide, trans. Pamela L. Poulin and Irmgard C. Taylor, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989.

18. "Fugue 21, B-flat Major," The Well-Tempered Clavier Books I and II, Complete, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1983, 76.

19. That Bach's single-line melodies always have contrapuntal implications is familiar to anyone who has studied the works for solo flute, solo violin and solo cello.

20. For another view of this subject, see Carl Schachter, "Bach's Fugue in B-flat Major, Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I, No. 21," Unfoldings: Essays in Schenkerian Theory and Analysis. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999, 243-4. As elegant as his reading is, I cannot agree with it. He reads the goal d2 as happening in measure four, not measure five, which does not make any sense to me. As well, he sees the f1 in measure two as the beginning of a 5-progression down to b-flat, rather than as part of a diminution of the a2; this distorts the meaning of the second 7-6 suspension.

21. John Milton, Paradise Lost, ed. Scott Elledge, New York: Norton, 1975, 7.

22. Heinrich Schenker, Free Composition (Der Freie Satz), Ernst Oster trans. and ed., Longman: Hew York, 1979. Title page.

23. Heinrich Schenker, Counterpoint Vol 1, trans. John Rothgeb, New York: Schirmer Books, 1987. xvii-xviii.

24. The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, Vol. ii, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981, 2248.

25. Kerman, 1994, 23.

26. At the time I originally wrote this paper, I had not read Ernst Oster's "The Fantaisie-Impromptu: A Tribute to Beethoven" (Aspects of Schenkerian Theory, ed. David Beach, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983, 189-207) in which he begins the article with a marvellous verbal analysis of the "Moonlight," along with some beautifully insightful middleground sketches. In the text, he makes many of the points I make below, only much more eloquently than I do, and it is certainly one of the most beautiful pieces of Schenkerian criticism in the literature.

27. The starting point of the sketch is one by Schenker in Free Composition (Schenker 1979, Supplement: Musical Examples, Fig. 40, 4) which, nonetheless, only shows the overall structure with no foreground detail at all, so the sketch for this paper, as I said, is my own work. However, both Edward Laufer and John Rothgeb gave me invaluable suggestions in its preparation, for which I extend my most sincere gratitude.

28. The re-attaining of the upper E in the coda is also clearly shown in both Schenker's and Oster's sketches.

29. Kerman 1994, 23 ff.

30. Heinrich Schenker, "Beethovens dritte Sinfonie zum Erstenmal in ihrem wahren Inhalt dargestellt," Das Meisterwerk in der Musik III, Munich: Drei Masken Verlag, 1930, 29-101.

31. Heinrich Schenker, Fünf Urlinie-Tafeln, New York: David Mannes Music School, 1933.

32. To make matters worse, Kerman does not even read the sketch correctly. On page 25, he says that "in bars 4 and 8 [Schenker] counted the voice's half-cadences as primary. . . ." In a personal email addressed to me on January 24, 2004, John Rothgeb has pointed out that, on the contrary, "the slurs [in the sketch] in both cases extend to the final a1. Even though the voice stops poignantly on ^2 in each case, the overall effect is not one of a half-cadence for listeners who hear more than just the melody as given by the vocal part. Of the two competing effects, the authentic cadence prevails [italics added]." By the way, this seems to be standard operating procedure for many of Schenker's detractors: state something that is totally untenable, falsely attribute it to Schenker, and then attack him on that basis. For another example of this approach, see Robert Fink, "Going Flat: Post-Hierarchical Music Theory and the Musical Surface" in Cook Rethinking Music, 2001, 102-37.