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Matt BaileyShea (University of Rochester), Chair

Was ist: Satz

Matthew Arndt (University of Iowa)

bio for Matthew Arndt

Matthew Arndt, Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of Iowa, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studies musical poetics, three-voiced chant from the Republic of Georgia, and other instances of spirituality in music. He is the author of The Musical Thought and Spiritual Lives of Heinrich Schenker and Arnold Schoenberg (Routledge, 2018). His articles appear in the Journal of Music Theory, the Journal of Schenkerian Studies, Music Theory and Analysis, Music Theory Spectrum, the Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on Traditional Polyphony, Theoria, Theory and Practice, and Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie.


This paper is concerned with a metaphorical kind of musical speech, which for centuries has been figured with linguistic terms like phrase and Satz. The term Satz, translated as “sentence,” has come to designate only a particular design for a theme. Yet Schoenberg states that the term Satz, “is best used only in the grammatical sense.” Neglect of the grammatical sense of Satz has led to a proliferation of redundant and misleading terms for Sätze and their parts when they appear in different designs.

In linguistic speech, every turn of phrase, every rotation of the words from highlighting one aspect of a scene to another, fulfills one or more functions in coordinating the senses of the words according to certain tropes, most basically certain image schemas. So, too, in musical speech, every rotation of the Gestalten fulfills one or more functions according to certain tropes or formative principles. From a certain perspective, these principles are rotation itself, and the polarity of expansion and contraction along the pole or axis of rotation. Drawing on comparative analysis of Western art music and chant from the Republic of Georgia (which is emically understood as being comprised of mukhlebi, literally Sätze), I argue that rotation and polarity give form to musical speech, differentiating sentences (Sätze), clauses (Teilsätze), and phrases in the same way in terms of function. This elucidation of sentences, clauses, and phrases makes it relatively easy to understand the countless Sätze in musical speech, regardless of their style, formal position, or complications.

The Trouble with Line 3: Richard Strauss’s Sentential Settings of Four-Line Stanzas

Joshua Tanis (University of Michigan)


Several recent publications on texted music highlight how certain poetic forms lend themselves naturally to settings as musical sentences (BaileyShea 2019, 2004, and 2003; Rodgers 2014; Callahan 2013; Martin 2010). BaileyShea (2019) identifies early appearances of musical sentences in seventeenth-century British ballads, where the poetic structure of limericks aligns astonishingly well with the structure of musical sentences. Rodgers (2014) argues that Schubert’s musical sentences “often go hand in hand with poems that begin with rhyming couplets” (italics mine).

However, the quatrain generally opposes the construction and rhetorical nature of the musical sentence. Whereas quatrains are evenly divided structures, usually AABB or ABAB (where A and B indicate end-rhymes, but are equivalent in poetic meter), musical sentences exhibit an uneven profile, such as AAB or AA′B (with a 1:1:2 ratio). In Richard Strauss’s musical settings of quatrains, lines 1 and 2 of the poem comprise the presentation phrase, and lines 3 and 4 comprise the continuation phrase. Invariably, Strauss treats the end of line 3 with great care to mask the division point in the poetry and maintain an uninterrupted continuation phrase. Through analyses of several songs, I examine Strauss’s two main strategies for setting quatrains as musical sentences: (1) to fill in the gap between lines 3 and 4 with melodic-motivic fragments derived from the basic idea, or (2) to position certain harmonies (usually structural pre-dominants) at the end of line 3, creating harmonic and voice-leading threads that conceal the poetic juncture and thrust the continuation phrase toward its cadence.

Supplementary Material(s)

“Everything’s Coming up Roses”: Momma Rose’s Unfettered Optimism in Gypsy and her Problems with (Musical) Boundaries

Michael Buchler (Florida State University)

bio for Michael Buchler

Michael Buchler is Professor of Music Theory at Florida State University. He recently published articles on “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” in SMT-V and on ornamentation in atonal music in Music Theory Spectrum. He is President-Elect of SMT and will take office as President the day before he gives this talk.


Momma Rose, the lead character in Gypsy (Styne and Sondheim 1959), was a manipulative stage mother and a larger-than-life character whose destructive personality could not be constrained by prevailing music-theatrical conventions for foursquare hypermeter and regular sentential phrase lengths. Her songs employ extraordinary and sometimes novel phrase expansions, and the repetitiveness of those extensions often reflect her obsessiveness. My talk will principally focus on Rose’s problems with (musical) boundaries in “Everything’s Coming Up Roses,” and will also explore portions of two of her other songs: “Some People” and “Rose’s Turn.”