Saturday midday, November 7, 1–1:50 CST

Add this to your calendar

Musical Experience in Time and Space

Aaron Harcus (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Chair

Conceptualizing Musical Narrative Space: A “Phenomenological” Journey through Chopin’s Nocturne in F-sharp Minor, op. 48/2

Dorian A. Mueller (University of Michigan)

Dorian Mueller is a doctoral candidate in music theory at the University of Michigan. She holds an M.A. in Music Theory from Penn State University and a B.A. in Mathematics from Rutgers University. Her research interests include musical narrativity, film music theory, nineteenth-century music, musical form, and musical phenomenology and aesthetics. She is currently writing her dissertation, under the direction of Prof René Rusch, which explores connections between musical narrative and perspectives in literary theory and film theory. In particular, she is interested in examining music through the constructs of narrative space, diegetic space, and story/discourse in light of how these notions are conceptualized in both literature and film. Dorian has presented her work at national and international conferences, including Music and the Moving Image, New York (2016, 2019); the Biennial International Conference on ​Music Theory and Analysis, Belgrade (2019); and London Film and Media (2014). She currently serves as the technical/layout editor for Music & Politics, and is a copy-editing Assistant for Music Theory Online.


In light of the assertion that “narrative comprehension closely correlates with an understanding of the spatial organization of the storyworld” (Alber 2016), scholars in contemporary literary theory consider narrative space to be a vital component of narrativity. While studies in music and narrative have focused extensively on the features of plot, action, agency, narration, and temporality (e.g. Almén 2008; Cone 1974; Hatten 1991, 2018; Maus 1991; Newcomb 1992; Klein 2004), the construct of narrative space has yet to be comprehensively theorized.

This paper begins to fill this gap by proposing a theoretical model of musical narrative space, one that draws parallels to how readers conceptualize fictional worlds in literature through “spatial frames,” “story spaces,” “narrative (story) worlds,” and “lived spaces” (Ryan 2009; Alber 2016). I engage with these constructs alongside an adaption of David Lewin’s (1986) p-model––a tool that captures the “phenomenological” experience of listening through a mapping of musical events perceived within multiple temporal contexts––to model the path of “musical spatial frames” encountered in Chopin’s Nocturne in F-sharp Minor, op. 48/2. Through the construct of “narrative (story) worlds,” I then conceptualize the latent musical worlds activated by a listener in the course of tracing this path. As I suggest, the process of constructing musical narrative space is largely determined by salient moments in the music that draw a listener’s attention to the “here” and “now” of listening, and it is through experiencing shifting spatial perspectives that these spaces become narrativized.

Music Phenomenology in the Princeton School

Scott Gleason (Columbia University)

Scott Gleason teaches at Columbia and New York universities, having received the PhD in music theory from Columbia. He edits for Grove Music Online, The Open Space Magazine, Perspectives of New Music, and formerly for Current Musicology. His writings appear in those publications and in Filigrane: Musique, Esthétique, Sciences, Société; Journal of the Musical Arts in Africa; Notes: The Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association; Philosophy and the Public Realm; Tacet: Experimental Music Review; and Theoria: Historical Aspects of Music Theory. He has presented his research in Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States. His research treats the history of music theory and the intersection of music and philosophy, and he writes analyses of new music. His first book project historicizes the Princeton School of composer-theorists, and his second presents experimental and improvised analyses of new musics.


The oral history of music phenomenology in the United States tells us that it emerged in the early 1980s with writings by Judith Lochhead, Thomas Clifton, and, crucially, David Lewin’s oft-cited 1986 article. Seemingly lost are the late 1960s and 1970s precedents for Lochhead, Clifton, and Lewin’s work at Princeton University and published in the pages of Perspectives of New Music. This talk will uncover the style of writing, attention to listening and description, and the possibilities made available to music phenomenologists by the Princeton composer-theorists.

Recoverable from the Princeton School’s phenomenological writings is the point that through description one comes to understand how the experiencing subject changes the objects of investigation; this is a feature of Benjamin Boretz’s writings. Through analysis one creates theory, but theory as the mindset or set of ideas through which one hears a span of music, a notion articulated by Joseph Dubiel. The result is an investigation into musical experience, but also musical “cognition” and even musical time. Hearing “in the moment” requires musical time to decelerate; hence in 1976 Boretz, for one, writes his piano piece, “(‘…my chart shines where the blue milks upset…’),” in order that he may undergo the experiences he has composed, an idea noted by J. K. Randall. Phenomenological method, however, was downplayed as these musical thinkers moved away from musical discourse as a science.

As music phenomenology becomes a growing area of scholarship, a major fount of its discourse in North America requires re-examination.


Music Analysis as Esoteric Activity: Viktor Zuckerkandl at Eranos

Daphne Tan (University of Toronto)

Daphne Tan is Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Toronto and a specialist in the history of Western music theory and music cognition. She has published articles on the ideas of Ernst Kurth in relation to embodied listening, processual form, and harmonic theory (Music Theory Spectrum, the Journal of Music Theory, and Theoria), and has completed a translation of Kurth’s Musikpsychologie for Routledge. Her current project investigates the interplay of (public) music theory and Western esotericism in the writings of Viktor Zuckerkandl. Daphne has also conducted music cognition research on a range of topics, including diatonic modes, form, emotion, and expressive performance (Music Perception, Psychology of Music, Musicae Scientiae, and the Journal of Interdisciplinary Music Studies).


This paper examines two lectures delivered by theorist-philosopher Viktor Zuckerkandl (1896–1965) at the Eranos conferences. Established in 1933 under the influence of Carl Jung, Eranos has long been a site of esoteric thinking: scholars of religion and mythology, natural scientists, psychologists, philosophers, and members of the general public gather annually to discuss themes related to mysticism, the occult, and the irrational. I focus on Zuckerkandl’s adaptation of specialist music-theoretical approaches for this multidisciplinary audience.

In “Die Tongestalt” (1960), Zuckerkandl seeks an understanding of music-as-Gestaltung (creation, design), illustrating how time unfolds at multiple hierarchical levels in Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. Drawing on unpublished correspondence between Zuckerkandl and Eranos founder Olga Fröbe-Kapetyn, I show that Zuckerkandl viewed the Tongestalt as the source of human self-awareness (Selbsterkenntnis) and Heinrich Schenker’s theory as the key to unlocking it. The presence of Schenker is surprising given Zuckerkandl’s audience. It also points to an alternative reception of Schenker’s ideas that has received scant attention, one in which problematic aspects are sanitized through a wash of metaphysics.

In the second lecture, “The Truth of the Dream and the Dream of Truth” (1963), Zuckerkandl suggests that musicians have ready access to a “third space” that resides between physical and mental worlds. Demonstrating with analyses of the WTC again, and with reference to Jung, Zuckerkandl attempts to bring his audience into this realm. I show how this is motivated by Zuckerkandl’s overarching belief in a generally accessible “musical thinking” that exists in a separate realm from “mere logical thinking.”