KeeleMAC 2015

  • Rebecca Day (Speaker)

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventParticipation in conference


Rethinking Musical Organicism: Deformation and dialogue with convention in the Andante Comodo of Mahler's Ninth Symphony

Discussion concerning Schenker's musical organicism - a central part of aesthetic debate around the 1980s through to the early 2000s - may now seem exhausted, but has left us with the idea that twentieth-century works, if not subsumable into the concept of the nineteenth-century whole, do not contain unity or coherence recognisable within existing systems of analysis. Whilst this concept has not been left unchallenged, Schenkerian analysis is invariably dismissed as inapplicable to post-common-practice works, resulting in limited methods with which to understand the formal and tonal narratives offered by works at the turn of the twentieth-century.
The Andante Comodo of Mahler's Ninth Symphony (1908-1090) rejects a number of principles that would usually contribute to narratives of organicism - it does not conform to traditional formal progression, tonality or structure and presents the conventions of linearity and teleology as arbitrary - yet a strong sense of unity and coherence is still maintained. This paper argues that it is precisely this self-conscious dialogue with convention that defines twentieth-century 'unity', and considers the capacity of 'traditional' methods of analysis to adequately represent this. Through an extended analysis of the Andante Comodo, the links between Schenker's ideas and Sonata Theory are explored; the dialogic characteristics of deformations within the form are transferred to a Schenkerian reading of the movement to offer a multidirectional redrawing of the Ersatz that seeks to incorporate this awareness of convention in order to understand the type of coherence offered by material outside of the existing 'traditional' repertoire for both systems of analysis.
Period9 Jul 2015
Event typeConference
LocationKeele, United KingdomShow on map