Musical Topics, Musical Meaning

  • 9.6: Jeremy Orosz, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: A New Model for Sound-Alike Tunes” - explores how composers evoke familiar songs without breaching copyright law and considers the role of visual imagery, timbre, instrumentation, and melodic contour in producing sound-alike tunes

  • 8.5: Eron F.S., “Flat 2 as Hotness in Post-Millennial Pop” – shows how scale degree flat 2 became a marker for hotness/sexiness in contemporary pop music; connects this phenomenon to exoticism and cultural appropriation; suitable for introducing students at all levels to topic theory

  • 8.4: Stanley V. Kleppinger, “Appropriating Copland’s Fanfare” – argues that characteristic gestures from Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man came to symbolize Americanness in popular culture; suitable for introducing students at all levels to topic theory

  • 5.5: Matthew E. Ferrandino and Brad Osborn, “Seeing Stories, Hearing Stories in Narrative Music Video” – introduces four different kinds of relationships between visual and lyrical content in music videos ranging from “explicit narrative,” in which images and lyrics tell the same story, to “conflicting narrative,” in which the images and lyrics tell contradicting stories; makes connections between visual narrative and musical content, including harmonic progression, music production, and vocal register; ideal for engaging analysis of lyrics, musical content, and images in music video

  • 4.1: Christopher Doll, “Was it Diegetic, or Just a Dream? Music’s Paradoxical Place in the Film Inception” – explains terms “diegetic,” “nondiegetic,” and “fantastical gap” as it relates to analysis of music in Inception (2010); shows interrelations between motives drawn from diegetic content used in Hans Zimmer’s film score, which serves both diegetic and nondiegetic functions; ideal for engaging analysis of film music and meaningful motivic relations

  • 3.3: Stephen Rodgers, “Music, Poetry, and Performance in a Song by Maria Schneider” – introduces how poetic declamation and the sound of recitation might influence compositional decision and the performer’s interpretive choices; suitable for student singers and composers

  • 2.2–2.3: Steven Reale, “Variations on a Theme by a Rogue A.I.: Music, Gameplay, and Storytelling in Portal 2” (Part 1 and Part 2) – This 2-part video series could be used to teach aspects of musical meaning, music fundamentals, and musical form in video game music. The first video explores the relationship between the musical score and characterization. Teaching topics include textural analysis (arpeggiated textures versus block chords), cadences (plagal versus authentic), voice-leading (conjunct vs. disjunct), collections (hexatonic & octatonic), triadic qualities (major, minor, and augmented), triadic inversion (major chords invert to minor chords, augmented chords invert to augmented chords), and musical meaning. The second video discusses musical variation techniques and connects them to gameplay. Teaching topics include musical form & analysis, developing variations, and musical parameters which are developed within the music of this video game, such as synthesizer timbres, chord qualities, and harmonic rhythm; musical meaning could also be addressed.

  • 1.3: Edward Klorman, “Multiple Agency in Mozart’s Chamber Music” – Professor Edward Klorman emphasizes how historical sources, including musical scores, can draw our attention to the social interplay among individual performers, or “personas enacted by the individual players” (4:38–41), within string quartets. Using an excerpt from the last movement of Mozart’s String Quartet in G Major, K. 387 (1782), as an example, Klorman illustrates his concept of “multiple agency,” a perspective that “celebrates the creative role of performers” and that yields “vivid analytical interpretations that can be masked by conventional, omniscient vantage points” (4:10–28). This video is suitable for students at all levels who would like to learn more about the socio-historical and -cultural dimensions of composition and performance. Basic knowledge of musical form and tonality are welcome but not necessary. For further reading, please see the author’s monograph Mozart’s Music of Friends: Social Interplay in the Chamber Works (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and Edward T. Cone’s The Composer’s Voice (University of California Press, 1974).

 


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