Saturday midday, November 7, 12–12:50 CST

Add this to your calendar

Form Poster Session

Catrina S. Kim (University of North Carolina at Greensboro), Chair

Poster sessions begin with a short presentation from each of the poster presenters. A link to this Zoom webinar is just above. Fifteen minutes after the beginning of the session, every poster presenter will enter their own breakout room and entertain comments and questions.

Felix Mendelssohn’s Dominantized Tonics

Michael Baker (University of Kentucky)

Michael Baker is associate professor of music theory at the University of Kentucky, where he teaches courses on harmony, voice leading, counterpoint, solfege and aural skills, musical form, and musical interpretation. His research focuses on text-music relationships in songs and opera, semiotic approaches to music analysis, Schenkerian studies, the music of Britten, and interdisciplinary studies related to music. His articles and book chapters appear in various music analysis journals and essay collections. He has spent the past few summers teaching for a study abroad program based in Salzburg, Austria, and recently served as faculty teaching fellow within the Paul Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence at the University of Kentucky. Aside from his work as a music theory teacher, Michael is also an avid horn player, and performs with ensembles in and around Lexington, KY.


A common use of tonicization involves altering the overall tonic harmony to momentarily sound like the applied dominant of IV. However, when this occurs directly at the outset of a composition, it immediately casts doubt upon the opening tonic’s role as the decisive signifier of tonality. A similar expressive effect occurs when the V7/IV accompanies the melodic Urlinie closure, motivating a post-cadential prolongation technique common to works featuring this device. In each case, the apparent tonicization of IV is only of passing interest when compared to the destabilizing chromatic alteration of the overall tonic harmony. Whereas numerous composers may have occasionally employed dominantized tonics in this manner, this technique occurs with a marked frequency in the songs of Felix Mendelssohn, a composer considerably less regarded for his songs than for his accomplishments in other, instrumental genres. This poster will examine four particularly important compositional uses in Mendelssohn’s songs: (1) beginning an entire song immediately on the dominantized tonic, (2) setting the first vocal entrance with the dominantized tonic following a piano introduction, (3) ending the vocal melody on the dominantized tonic prior to the final bar of a song, and (4) concluding an entire song on an altered tonic sonority, prepared with a dominantized tonic. Although one may simply regard many of these altered tonic harmonies as V7/IV and stop there, doing so ignores the extravagance of their structural and expressive effect, especially when used at the outset of a work.

Some Perfect Authentic Cadences are More Perfect than Others

Poundie L. Burstein (The Graduate Center, CUNY)

L. Poundie Burstein is Professor of Music Theory at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of CUNY. He is a former President of SMT, the outgoing Editor of SMT-V, and the author of the book Journeys Through Galant Expositions.


Modern music theory tends to class all perfect authentic cadences (PACs) within the same basic category. Eighteenth-century theorists, on the other hand, treated PACs in a far more varied and nuanced manner, in a manner that has deep implications for analysis and performance. Accordingly, these theorists differentiated (1) PACs that might serve as the formal cadence (förmliche Cadenz) that could effectively conclude an entire movement; (2) PACs that could mark the formal cadence that ends a mid-movement Periode (a large, multi-phrase section); and (3) PACs that are better suited for the conclusion of a Grundabsatz (a mid-Periode resting point over a tonic harmony that does not establish a formal cadence). Adopting this more flexible attitude toward the PAC suggests various provocative interpretations—touching on both small-scale and large-scale matters—that diverge from what is typical of many modern approaches.

Synthesizing the Tonal and Rhetorical Dramas of Franz Clement’s D-Minor Violin Concerto

Tim Cutler (Cleveland Institute of Music)

Timothy Cutler is chair of the music theory department at the Cleveland Institute of Music. His recent work includes two books, Anthology of Music for Analysis and Bending the Rules of Music Theory. He is also the creator of the Internet Music Theory Database (

Sam Bivens (Cleveland Institute of Music)


In recent years and with great enthusiasm, theorists of various analytical persuasions have aimed to understand non-normative compositional strategies within sonata-form movements. While many of these studies focus on classical music’s most renowned composers, the rise of online digital resources has provided opportunities to spotlight unusual practices in the works of lesser-known composers. Franz Clement’s Violin Concerto in D minor (c. 1810) is one such composition. Clement (1780–1842), best remembered as the commissioner, dedicatee, and first performer of Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, crafted a first-movement key scheme whose uniqueness rivals that of any sonata-form composition in the tonal literature: within the shell of a traditional Type-5 sonata in D minor, an S candidate is set in the major supertonic (E major), an EEC candidate appears in a chromatic submediant (B minor), and Clement recapitulates this music in C-sharp major. And the chromatic and tonal surprises do not end there.

Our poster demonstrates that Clement’s unusual tonal plan pushes mainstream analytical approaches—namely Sonata Theory and Schenkerian analysis—to their limits. While Clement’s radical tonal maneuvers present different challenges to both systems of analysis, our two-pronged approach yields the same conclusions: (1) the first movement produces friction between its surface rhetoric, tonal rhetoric, and tonal structure; and (2) the first movement forms a compelling narrative that is represented on multiple levels of musical structure.

Phrase-Rhythmic Norms in Classical Expositions: A Corpus Study of Haydn’s and Mozart’s Piano Sonatas

Joseph Chi-Sing Siu (University of Maryland Baltimore County)

Joseph Siu is the Undergraduate Program Director and Lecturer in Music Theory at the Music Department of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, where he teaches courses on music theory, keyboard skills, and music cognition and perception. Joseph received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Music Theory from the Eastman School of Music, and his B.Mus. in Piano Performance from the University of Western Ontario. At Eastman, Joseph was awarded the Teaching Assistant Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and his doctoral dissertation on phrase rhythm and sonata form was supported by the Doctoral Fellowship Award from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Joseph’s research interests include phrase rhythm and musical form in 18th- and early 19th- century music, music cognition and perception, and music theory pedagogy. Joseph has presented his music theory and music cognition research at numerous international, national, and regional conferences. Joseph was the recipient of the SOCAN Foundation/George Proctor Prize at the 2017 conference of the Canadian University Music Society, and also the recipient of the Best Student Paper Award at the 2014 conference of the South Central Society for Music Theory. Recently, Joseph was awarded the UMBC CAHSS Dean’s Research Fund Award for his research project on absolute pitch, tone languages, and the tritone paradox. Joseph’s writings can be found in the journal Psychology of Music (2019), the Proceedings of the Ninth European Music Analysis Conference (2017), the cross-disciplinary SciArt Magazine (2017), and the book From Sea to Sea: Perspectives on Music Education in Canada (2007).

Joseph serves as the Treasurer for the Music Theory Society Mid-Atlantic and has been on MTSMA’s Executive Board since 2018. He also served on MTSMA’s program committee for the 2018 and 2020 conferences and hosted MTSMA’s 2019 conference at UMBC.


Recent research in phrase rhythm and hypermeter have found that some phrase-rhythmic patterns, such as the end-accented “closing-theme schema,” appear regularly in certain parts of the Classical sonata exposition. These phrase-rhythmic norms can, therefore, be regarded as the first-level defaults according to the compositional preference hierarchy in Sonata Theory. However, besides the closing-theme schema, there has been no systematic study to examine the phrase-rhythmic norms in the other locations of the sonata exposition. Therefore, this study aims to fill that research gap by conducting a corpus analysis of phrase-rhythmic usage in all the first-movement expositions of piano sonatas composed by Haydn and Mozart. This corpus study can then inform our understanding of phrase-rhythmic default levels in Classical sonata form as well as any individual differences in the compositional styles of Haydn and Mozart.

In Haydn’s and Mozart’s piano sonatas, phrase rhythm in the primary themes are generally regular, while the secondary themes are mostly irregular. However, in the transitions, Haydn and Mozart have different first-level defaults: regular phrase rhythm occurs more often in Haydn’s sonatas, whereas irregular phrase rhythm is the norm in Mozart. When irregular phrase rhythms do occur, Haydn’s sonatas demonstrate a strong preference to focus on a single loosening device, non-quadruple hypermeasures, while Mozart’s sonatas tend to also include the use of metrical reinterpretations and end-accented phrases. This study also reports on the phrase-rhythmic norms at the boundaries of the sonata formal sections and the hypermetric placements for the MCs, the dominant-locks, and the EECs.

The Medial Subphrase in the Eighteenth-Century Spanish Style: Characteristics, Function, and Variants

Bryan Stevens (University of North Texas)


Although the presentation+continuation model (Caplin 1998) describes many sentences in Viennese classicism, it is not universally employed by all eighteenth-century composers. In particular, this sentence model is rare to absent in late eighteenth-century Spanish keyboard music. Instead, Spanish themes either contain an independent medial subphrase that does not function as continuation, or otherwise these themes exclude medial function altogether and proceed directly from presentation to cadence. I argue that Spanish composers employ thematic types that differ from their Austro-Germanic counterparts, types that include among other distinctive features an optional medial subphrase characterized neither by fragmentation nor by harmonic acceleration or sequential activity. To this end, I propose revised thematic types, provide thematic data for Sebastian Albero (1722–1756), Manuel Blasco de Nebra (1750–1784), and Joaquin Montero (1740–1815) to show the prevalence of these types, and explicate these thematic types with specific examples.