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Music Theory Pedagogy 101, continued

This post is an extension of the original Music Theory Pedagogy 101.

1. Music, an artistic discipline which is already struggling socially and economically, ought not further burden itself by educating its future professionals in such a way that its adherents treat ideas as stagnant insipid a priori givens as opposed to fluid and questionable descriptions. As an educator, one of my personal mantras is to equip and encourage my students with the gall to someday perform ideological mutiny. Perpetuating traditions of what has been done while failing to inspire students to explore what can be done is not education, but indoctrination.

2. Music isn’t derived from theory anymore than weather is derived from meteorology. Both music theory and meteorology are attempts to describe and, in some cases, explain preexisting phenomena. To teach or speak as if music “follows” rules, or “adheres” to the predefined aesthetic injunctions of pencil pushers is not only patently false, but also places academics behind in the very game that they need to be ahead in: providing insightful tools for describing, understanding and ultimately enjoying the consumption and practice of music.

3. Tools should always be presented as such. For example: species counterpoint was codified by Fux as a pedagogical tool to essentially mimic the conventions he perceived as being fundamental to Palestrina’s style. Your students need to know this context. Without it, a topic such as species counterpoint appears to be an assumed set of universal and arbitrary rules for composition agreed upon by ivory towered academics. Everyday experience teaches students that the vast majority of music they encounter does not follow these rules. Do not proceed until this apparent incongruence is accounted for.

4. Multiplicities of approaches should always be offered. Specialization is what Ph.D.s are for, and even under the guise of such advanced degree programs, myopia is an ever-present danger.

5. One does not need to “learn the rules before they can break them.” This oft-repeated and markedly corrupt platitude stifles many of our discipline’s best minds. What is so painfully obvious to students, yet is easily forgotten by fusty professors, must be reinforced in the classroom: there are no rules unless we create and enforce them ourselves! This is an extension of what I stated in my original post: there are no rules, only conventions.

6. Put theory in its place; it’s made up; it’s fiction; it’s storytelling, and storytellers always have a role in choosing the kinds of stories they tell and the methods they use to tell them. Even the most essentiallizing and quasi-scientific quantitative theoretical engagements must, before musical analysis even begins, first proceed with a hypothesis. The answers you get depend upon the questions you ask.

Music theory is rarely presented as a cultural construct, incorrectly elevating the level of the discourse to one consisting of supposed facts and figures. Theory textbooks, similarly, in their implicit collusion, more closely resemble pedagogical tools in the field of mathematics than something emerging from the humanities. McClary has claimed that it is in fact this very “tendency [which] permits music to claim to be the result not of human endeavor, but of rules existing independent of humankind.” This psuedo-scientific discourse, as previously stated, contributes to the ersatz dialectical oppositions of which the moralized language of virtually any theory classroom is indicative. Acoustics, perhaps, is the only subject which could properly assume such an ostensibly objective level of discourse, and acoustics unfortunately remains one of the many arenas in which musicians are generally undereducated.

The fact that many of the concepts in music theory (triadic harmony, harmonic progression, counterpoint, structural cohesion, set theory, etc.) are not merely descriptive, but extraordinarily selective in their approach, is extremely problematic, and this is compounded by the persistent modernist streams among theorists in the twentieth century that have occasionally insisted on the primacy and ostensive objectivity of their methods. All of this wouldn’t be nearly as troublesome if it was simply addressed head-on in the classroom, but such engagement with historical ideology and the panoply of perspectives which are possible is rare, indeed. If theoretical tools and their biases were historicized and problematized for students at the outset of their training, and constantly revisited throughout their studies, then creativity and critical thinking would flourish among musicians; instead, rather unfortunately, many of the brightest students only parrot their teacher’s implied and often inherited, aesthetics, as if they were coming from the mouth of Hanslick himself.

Classroom teaching often proceeds in such a manner, engaging in such a biased discourse, that the student is unable to decipher between inalterable givens (properties of acoustics) and cultural constructions (scales, tonic/dominant, counterpoint, and everything else under the sun). It is the strict adherence to these cultural constructions, and the adamant unqualified prohibition of alternate perspectives which effectively generates swaths of music students and professionals who not only fail to actively engage alternative music and music making, but also unnecessarily, and sometimes arrogantly, judge them to be inferior based on outmoded premises and Adornian cultural assumptions that no longer accurately describe mass culture and aesthetic hierarchy in the twenty-first century.

Even the most benign music theory lecture (intervals anyone?) can quickly spiral into a project seemingly obsessed with identification, and “calling” things what they actually are. In this process, the identified often become confused with the identifiers, overlooking the fact that the only reason labels are attached to such things is so that we can clearly and effectively communicate to one another about them. Nothing is actual except the music itself (and what constitutes the “music itself” is a discussion which should be had in every classroom at least once). Reiterating that music theory fundamentals consist primarily of abstracted concepts provides a playing field to students that is open to creativity, interpretation, discussion, and education.

7. Suggest to your students that the elements that “don’t fit” are what generates interesting art. The “difficult” elements are what make us return to art again and again, those elements which are contentious, or foil our neat and tidy systems of categroizaion and labeling. Teaching your students about the beauty of ambiguity can free them from what, to them, may appear to be a dogmatic, rule-ridden enterprise, which, as I’ve already pointed out, is often not very far from the truth.

Although theorists themselves are sometimes fond of those issues that are difficult, and whose multi-dimensionality leaves room for reinterpretation, most theory students, rather, are likely under the impression that theorists, instead, value that which conforms; in the classroom it often appears as if what is valued are those things which are easily digested by our paradigm, and anything that doesn’t fit is, . . . well . . . “wrong”. It’s not.

8. Instead of treating music as if it were merely an embellishment of theory, a construction based on theoretical blueprints, consciously employ the habit of treating theory as a mere construction, a simplified description of music. In the western world we are often faced with the overpowering temptation to create abstractions and then treat the abstractions as more real than reality; it as if the theory itself is somehow actual, and the music is a figment, an ornamental extension of what exists in the Platonic-Pythagorean realm of theory. Turn this tendency on its head. Musical practice is real. Theory is merely an attempt to describe the shadows on the walls of our dimly lit cave.

9. In this vein (see 8), obliterate your students obsession with the actual and replace it with an informed sense of interpretation.



My favorite kind of rock is conglomerate. All sorts of stuff butted up against each other to make a unique whole. What a great aesthetic. Too much music assumes that to be of any import it must consist of a single type of rock within the conglomerate. “Can’t have too many ideas in one piece!” the tradition and its zealots shout from the rooftops. One thing that is certain about art (and science!) is that nobody possesses any authority; individuals can only possess perspectives or ideas that are more or less valuable or insightful.

“I was not influenced by composers as much as by natural objects and physical phenomena.”

—Edgard Varese

“Concepts that have proven useful in ordering things easily achieve such authority over us that we forget their earthly origins and accept them as unalterable givens. Thus they might come to be stamped as “necessities of thought,” “a priori givens,” etc. The path of scientific progress is often made impassable for a long time by such errors. Therefore it is by no means an idle game if we become practiced in analysing long-held commonplace concepts and showing the circumstances on which their justification and usefulness depend, and how they have grown up, individually, out of the givens of experience. Thus their excessive authority will be broken.”

— Alfred Einstein in an obituary for physicist and philosopher Ernst Mach, Physikalische Zeitschrift 17 (1916)

Richard Taruskin’s Wisdom

To composers imbued with a 19th-century world view, artistic traditions are transmitted ”vertically.” Nineteenth-century music historiography is an epic narrative of texts arranged in single file. It assumes that artists are primarily concerned—whether to emulate or to rebel—with the texts of their immediate precursors. These assumptions have led to an obsession with lines of stylistic influence, with stylistic pedigree, ultimately (and destructively) with stylistic purity or, worse, progress. This is the altogether anachronistic view most classical composers still imbibe in college or conservatory.

— Richard Taruskin, “A Sturdy Musical Bridge Into the Twenty-first Century”, New York Times, 24 August 1997. Reprinted in The Danger of Music and Other Anti-Utopian Essays.

Boccherini, Performance, and the Post-Modern Musicology

The composer achieves nothing without executants. . . for while it is pleasing to hear people say, “What a beautiful work this is!” it seems to me even more so to hear them add, “Oh, how angelically they have executed it!”

– Luigi Boccherini[1]

I know that music is made to speak to the heart of man, and this is the effect that I aim at producing, if it lies within my power. Music deprived of sentiment and of passions is meaningless, and consequently the composer achieves nothing without the performers.

-Luigi Boccherini[2]

The above statements by Boccherini may initially seem rather ordinary, or even perhaps somewhat flowery and superficial, but I begin with the above quotations written in letters to Marie-Joseph Chénier because both of these statements by the composer about his own music draw attention to something that is seemingly out of the ordinary in the history in western music. They emphasize not only the performers but also the performance of a work. In this paper I will show that not only is this out of the ordinary in the traditional historical “narrative” of music, but also that in order for one to fully appreciate the music of Boccherini they must reverse the polarity of the unfortunately still ubiquitous aesthetic of music as a score, or a “text.” In the process I hope to shed some light on both the question of why Boccherini has largely been ignored by past music scholars and why, in the philosophical and aesthetic context of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the interest in both the composer and his unique musical output has been piqued in performers and scholars alike.

Boccherini wrote at least 600 works, his most famous being the minuet from his String Quintet in E, Op. 13, No. 5. It has been rather frequently used in modern advertising and film, usually to depict or poke fun at high society. In addition to the minuet, however, he was a highly prolific and extremely inventive composer. His music is somewhat idiosyncratic and known for being highly repetitive or “cyclic” in nature and he was also extremely sensitive to subtle changes in timbre and volume. His scores are filled with specific performance instructions indicating the character, style, tempo, technique, or even the type of face that the performer is expected to make while playing the instrument.[3] He was a virtuoso cellist who frequently performed his own music and is now generally accepted to have made significant contributions to the cello repertoire and its playing technique.[4]

Despite his otherwise significant contributions to the cello repertoire, however, after the composer’s death his music slowly fell out of favor with the exception of his famous Menuet and a cello concerto that was arranged by Grützmacher at the end of the 19th century, almost one hundred years after Boccherini’s death.[5] Mendelssohn referred to a quintet of his as a “peruke,” and Spohr even went so far as to claim that “this does not deserve to be called music.”[6]

Miguel-Ángel Marín writes in an issue of Early Music dedicated to the composer that “he has occupied a relatively marginal position in music performance, writing, and scholarship throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, especially when compared to some of his contemporaries.”[7] Although the publishing of Yves Gérard’s catalogue of his complete works in 1969 has certainly helped to increase interest in the composer and his music, I believe that there are other important cultural and aesthetic issues that have been and indeed are contributing to a Boccherini revival.

Marín briefly presents a potential answer to the question of Boccherini’s decline in his editorial introduction to an issue of Early Music, suggesting that if, perhaps, Boccherini had continued his travels through Madrid and had gone on to a more noteworthy European capital he would have enjoyed a more appreciative reception after his death. This is nothing more than speculation, but it is certainly worth considering the context into which Boccherini’s music was placed after the composer was no longer alive to advertise and promote his own music through his publisher.[8]

Considering other influences which have undoubtedly had an effect on the recent interest in Boccherini, the “early music movement” which began in the late 20th century has most certainly contributed to Boccherini’s favorable re-introduction back into the musical discourse. Although much skepticism has been expressed with regard to the “early music revival”[9] perhaps one of the more obvious fruits of the movement is that works that were once forgotten and ignored (or in some cases entirely excluded from the modern repertoire!) are now reaching audiences who are willing to enthusiastically receive them. Among audiences of early music there is a palpable nostalgia for newly discovered or rarely played works, and the music of Boccherini presents no exception.

While the early music movement has certainly presented the music of the composer to a larger audience I would also like to argue that a simultaneous paradigmatic shift in the musicological discourse has ultimately created an intellectual environment in which Boccherini’s unique music can flourish and be appreciated by post-modern listeners, researchers, and performers.

Before the skepticism of post-modernism crept into the mainstream musical discourse, however, musicology relied heavily on strict enlightenment ideals of objectivity and positivist assertions. In 1863 Friedrich Chrysander maintained that musicology should be considered a science in its own right, implying that it was not a discourse of subjective aesthetic critiques, but, rather, that it was an enterprise of fact-finding and procedural analysis in order to reveal the truth. With this type of methodological foundation musicology has proceeded with the underlying modernist assumption that the value of a musical work lies in the facts that may be ascertained from it.

That musicology was an enterprise initiated with an inherent Austro-German bent is a topic that has been written about widely by music scholars and critics.[10] The systematic study of music and its history was originally undertaken by those with a rationalist and positivist perspective and a vested nationalist interest. With this historical frame of reference these scholars proceeded to confront the musical past, riddled with a multiplicity of places, persons, and their associated values, and selectively write and propagate work that was centered around particular people who worked within particular places and who adhered to particular values. They essentially sought to create an intelligible historical “narrative” out of an otherwise unintelligible mass of apparent facts.[11]

The resulting narrative has for well over a century functioned as the core of  the western musical perspective, serving as a foundation for not only study, but also performance, education, and perhaps most importantly, aesthetic judgments. In an attempt to be objectively descriptive early musicologists inevitably became prescriptive, choosing (out of relative necessity, I might add) who to include and who to direct more time and attention to as they created an apparently sensible account of the past and how it led to their present. It is important to realize, however, that it is not the narrative itself that is being called into question, but, rather, it is the adoption of a particular narrative to the mutual exclusion of others that has become problematic.

Restated: the problem is not that musicology has created a historical narrative that contains a bias, the problem, rather, is that those who created this narrative and the majority of those who inherited it are not aware of this bias, and that, as a result, alternatives to the traditional Austro-Germanic narrative are regarded as not only secondary in their importance, but ultimately inferior.

Considering the positivist interests of early musicologists, their interest in supposedly objective “facts” is something that should not be ignored. The natural place to look for musical “facts,” besides the dates, names, and anecdotes about individuals, is the score itself. The score, therefore, was consciously adopted as the immutable document that could serve as the heart of any critical discourse surrounding the musical creation. The score could be engraved, printed, distributed, bought, and sold, and regardless of social or cultural context it would remain the same. By clinging to the musical artifact which was apparently the least subjective, as it was, after all, a corporeal physical object that could be easily reproduced and carefully studied, musicologists set an implied aesthetic standard from which composer’s and theorists could proceed. The score became the “text” of musical discourse.

The significance of this may not be apparent until we remind ourselves that we are discussing the art that is perceived with the ears, a fact that at this point in history may be more obvious to the layman than the musician. Yet the emphasis on the score as the “work” itself as opposed to an emphasis on the hearing of it, encouraged composers and theorists (both consciously and subconsciously) to create the score in the first place as the primary object of art.

This resulted not necessarily in scores that were “pleasing to the eye,” but in scores that contained elements that were easily perceived with the eye. Music was reduced to simple elements that could be discussed independently of one another like pitch, rhythm, and structure. It can, in fact, be argued that serialism was not only an aesthetic reaction to cultural expectations in 20th century Europe, but that total serialism was the direct result of an explicit emphasis on the score as artwork.[12] The master composer “hides up” their encrypted musical secrets in the score almost entirely for the sake of the theorist who drools at the prospect of discovering them.

This concept is certainly not only applicable to serialist works. The Austro-Germanic narrative, not surprisingly, happens to include and place great value on composers whom have cared a great deal about pitch, rhythm, and structure; the very elements that are readily apparent in the score.

Heinrich Schenker[13] developed an analytical method which depends entirely on structural elements perceived in the score. Schenkerian analysis emerged simultaneously with the rise of the twelve-tone structuralist obsession as articulated by Schoenberg. Any piece of tonal music may be “reduced” down to its fundamental structure or Ursatz, ultimately revealing how the work is simply the prolongation of the tonic triad.

This method of analysis is particularly troubling to the sensitive musician who, for the first time witnesses a work of great personal meaning “reduced” and mechanically represented as a graph. With great efficiency the “surface” of the music is stripped away and the “meaning” underneath the surface, as represented by a prolongation of “structural sopranos” typically represented by a descending stepwise motion to the final cadential moment in the work.

Not only does this process tend to pull the heartstrings of those musicians of the emotional ilk, but it also conveniently sweeps away any element that is not readily apparent in the notation of the work. This necessarily limits the scope of this type of analysis to pitch, and over-arching structure. At higher levels of musical abstraction even the rhythm is ignored.

The problem is that this type of analysis is largely self-referential, and while making claim to exhibit the genius of various composers throughout history it is also fiercely exclusive by nature of its preference for music that doesn’t value the same structural coherence that is so elegantly presented by its own means. Alastair Williams summarizes this dilemma:

Schenkerian methodology, with its structural preoccupations, is intimately linked to the values built into the reception history of the Austro-German canon. In a circular process, it prizes music characterized by structural coherence, and by honing analytical tools to find these features reaffirms the prestige of the same music, placing Bach and Beethoven at the centre of its orbit. Geared to a particular repertoire, the values built into the technique not only enhance this canon, but serve to exclude musics that fail to meet these criteria, typically musics more firmly rooted in performance than text.[14]

This preference for self-referential justification has its roots in Enlightenment understanding and aesthetic ideals. Organicism, as famously articulated by Goethe, values those things which form themselves according to their own distinct set of laws.[15] Even now, musical composition students are frequently asked to justify their aesthetic decisions based on a reference to other elements within the context of the work itself. If the decision can be justified with a clear reference to some other motivic or thematic element contained within the score then the student is usually “off-the-hook.”[16] Schoenberg, looking back at the canon which preceded him, painstakingly codified his thoughts on the matter and by outlining a self-referential ideology that has reigned in music ever since: “[To reduce] music to a condition of what could be called pure structural substance, in which every element justifies its existence through its relation to a governing structural principle.” [17] Subotnik points this out in her now famous article, “Toward a Deconstruction of Structural Listening,” and goes on to emphasize that this valuing of the structure of the work is an appreciation which is intended to rely solely upon the work itself and should not rely on any culturally specific knowledge or otherwise “extra-musical” knowledge.

That music is, by its nature, performed and heard seems to be a virtue that is entirely lost in this modernist obsession (either implicit or explicit) with musical structure. The performance is practically an afterthought, a mere formality inherited by the tradition. Architecture reigns supreme. Unfortunately this tends to not bode very well for the ears of modernist audiences, as evidenced by the type of concert programming encountered in classical music institutions throughout the western world. The tonal Austro-German canon reigns supreme and tapers off beginning with works written in the early 20th century.

Even frequent concert-goers quickly tire listening to musical compositions that sound as if little or no attention was paid to how a work was going to sound. When music enters the realm of nearly pure “architecture” I cannot help but murmur that if the composer was primarily interested in architecture then perhaps they should concern themselves with designing buildings instead of music. Often the internal “system” of a work may readily be ascertained by looking at the score (or not!) but may be difficult or even impossible for the listener to hear. Alastair Williams points out that these types of “constructivist compositions are . . . afflicted by a . . . lacuna between their built-in systems and the sometimes arbitrary-sounding events perceived by the listener.”[18] I do not think that it is an over-generalization to claim that many of the difficulties listeners encounter with 20th-century music are due to structure-centered narrative of music history created over a century ago.

Above I have outlined some fundamental results of the application of structuralist and modernist philosophies to music. These philosophies slowly grew out of the obsession with rationality in the Enlightenment and found their way into aesthetic principles that came to be prized through the romantic era. Eduard Hanslick famously took the side of Brahms in the War of the Romantics emphasizing that music is expressive through its form and downplaying the significance of “extra-musical” associations. Schenker reaffirmed this aesthetic as a theorist looking at the music of the past, and Schoenberg codified the structuralist aesthetic looking to the future as a composer. It persisted to create what is known as the second Viennese school of composers and on through the second world war as total serialism; all the while both composers and musicologists staking claim to the long structuralist history of composers as their forebears.

And this is where we return to Boccherini. Recall the quotations which we opened with. Boccherini emphasizes that his musical work is a performance not a text. He clearly outlines his symbiotic relationship with the performers of his own music. It is this reversal of musicological thinking that is the aesthetic focus of Boccherini’s own work.

Boccherini’s music frequently employs repetitive ideas.[19] Repetition looks rather plain and ordinary in the score and is often used to pass the asinine judgement that the composer could not come up with anything else so he/she merely repeated the same figure to their own demise.

Boccherini’s music is filled with timbral inventiveness[20], taking full advantage of both instrumental combinations and the unique timbral characteristics of each instruments’ range. Timbral subtleties are certainly not something that are easily perceived on the page. Although the names of the instruments may be read and carefully noted, the produced effect when the score is performed is often an entirely different matter, a point of particular importance when considering that the timbral subtleties that are so often called for in Boccherini’s music are meant to be produced on the instruments from his time period.

Boccherini’s music is filled with dynamic and character markings indicating to the performer both the extreme and the subtle.[21] Dynamics are something that are often felt in addition to being heard. The “score-reader” with the keen ability to feel the dynamic markings in the music and how they create phrases and how they will ultimately affect the listener (and in Boccherini’s case, the performer!) is few and far between.

In summary, Boccherini’s music is meant to be performed and heard. An observation that, again, may appear to be more obvious to the layman than the accomplished musician. In another letter Boccherini writes that the “[performers] must feel in their hearts all that [the composer] has notated.” His is a music of sound and physical affect, an aesthetic that values the performance as opposed to the text, precisely the opposite of the kind of music that the Austro-German canon originally sought to include. Elisabeth LeGuin writes in the introduction of Boccherini’s Body, that “to put the performer always first, front and center, inverts an established order of musicological thinking.”

I regard this as a primary reason that Boccherini’s music was once almost entirely forgotten and is now experiencing a revival. Musicology is now accepting a multiplicity of discourses due to a post-modern criticism of the structuralist conception of the music-historical narrative. Boccherini adhered to an aesthetic that was not easily revealed by theorist pencil pushing or attempts at score decryption. His music is meant to be performed, and “is made to speak to the heart of man.”

How ironic it is that Boccherini’s most famous work, the Minuet, is so often used in contemporary film and advertising to depict a sort of “posh” antiquity—a pretentious return to a more civilized time, valuing the superficial elements of life— and yet it is actually a piece of music created by a composer who much more closely relates to current aesthetic trends in art and music than the old-world fineries that he is implicitly and falsely purported to represent.


Applegate, Celia, and Pamela Maxine Potter. Music and German National Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

Bergeron, Katherine, and Philip Vilas Bohlman. Disciplining Music: Musicology and Its Canons. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Chanan, Michael. Musica Practica: The Social Practice of Western Music from Gregorian Chant to Postmodernism. London: Verso, 1994.

Dell’Antonio, Andrew. Beyond Structural Listening?: Postmodern Modes of Hearing. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004.

Frisch, Walter. German Modernism: Music and the Arts. California studies in 20th-century music, 3. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.

Gérard, Yves, and Germaine de Rothschild. Thematic, Bibliographical, and Critical Catalogue of the Works of Luigi Boccherini. London: Oxford University Press, 1969.

Heartz, Daniel. “The Young Boccherini: Lucca, Vienna, and the Electoral Courts.”             Journal of Musicology 13, no. 1 (1995): 103-116.

Jerold, Beverly. “Colloquy.” Journal of the American Musicological Society 59,             no. 3 (2006): 800-804.

Kerman, Joseph. Contemplating Music: Challenges to Musicology. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1985.

Korsyn, Kevin Ernest. Decentering Music: A Critique of Contemporary Musical Research. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Kramer, Lawrence. Music As Cultural Practice, 1800-1900. California studies in 19th century music, 8. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

Kramer, Lawrence. Classical Music and Postmodern Knowledge. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

Le Guin, Elisabeth. Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

Le Guin, Elisabeth. “’One Says That One Weeps, but One Does Not Weep’: Sensible, Grotesque, and Mechanical embodiments in Boccherini’s Chamber Music.” Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 55, No. 2 (2002): 207-254.

Lyotard, Jean François. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Theory and history of literature, v. 10. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.

Marín, Miguel-Ángel. “Luigi Boccherini, two centuries on.” Early Music 33, no. 2  (2005): 163-164.

Rothschild, Germaine de. Luigi Boccherini; His Life and Work. London: Oxford University Press, 1965.

Sarup, Madan. An Introductory Guide to Post-Structuralism and Postmodernism. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993.

Speck, Christian. “Boccherini as cellist and his music for cello.” Early Music 33, no. 2 (2005): 191-210

Subotnik, Rose Rosengard. Developing Variations: Style and Ideology in Western Music. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.

Subotnik, Rose Rosengard. Deconstructive Variations: Music and Reason in Western Society. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Taruskin, Richard. Text and Act: Essays on Music and Performance. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Williams, Alastair. Constructing Musicology. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.


[1] Le Guin, Elisabeth Boccherini’s Body: An Essay in Carnal Musicology. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.

[2] Rothschild, Germaine de. Luigi Boccherini; His Life and Work. London: Oxford University Press, 1965.

[3] Le Guin, Elisabeth. “’One Says That One Weeps, but One Does Not Weep’: Sensible, Grotesque, and Mechanical embodiments in Boccherini’s Chamber Music.” Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 55, No. 2 (2002): 207-254.

[4] Speck, Christian. “Boccherini as cellist and his music for cello.” Early Music 33, no. 2 (2005): 191-210

[5] Marín, p. 163

[6] Rothchild, p. 89

[7] Marín, Miguel-Ángel. “Luigi Boccherini, two centuries on.” Early Music 33, no. 2 (2005): 163-164.

[8] The complete correspondance of Boccherini with his publisher, Pleyel, is published as an appendix in Rothchild’s biography of the compsoser.

[9] See Richard Taruskin’s thorough analysis of this topic and it’s relation to “authentic” performance practice in Text and Act.

[10] Vincent Duckles, et al. “Musicology.” In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed January 30, 2010).
Also Williams, Alastair. Constructing Musicology. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.

[11] See Lyotard’s work in “The Postmodern Condition” for how the concept of a “narrative” is used here and how he places it under intense scrutiny.

[12] Griffiths, Paul. “Serialism.” In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, (accessed January 30, 2010).

[13] Although Schenker’s work is typically applied to “tonal” works it may be argued that Allan Forte’s work may serve a similar analytical function to post-tonal and serialist music.

[14] Williams, Alastair. Constructing Musicology. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.

[15] Suhrkamp ed., vol 12, p. 121; trans. Douglas Miller, Scientific Studies

[16] This is based entirely on my own observations and experiences while studying music within academic institutions. My own experiences have been corroborated with other students who have studied at a wide variety of musical institutions. It is worth noting that this desire to justify each element within the score is a methodology that runs across stylistic boundaries and is ever-present in even the most avant-garde circles. It would be a fascinating and insightful quantitative study to analyze how these tendencies towards organicism, and particularly structural cohesion in musical elements are valued across cultural boundaries, and particularly in societies whose aesthetic trends have developed wholly independent of the Austro-German musical canon.

[17] Subotnik, Rose Rosengard. Deconstructive Variations: Music and Reason in Western Society. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

[18] Williams, Alastair. Constructing Musicology. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2001.

[19] Rothschild, p. 39

[20] LeGuin, p. 2

[21] ibid, p. 2