Friday, June 27, 2008

Research Paper Topics

In keeping with the music theme this week, I want to present a few of my topic proposals for a research project I'm doing with my grad work.

The Evolution of Modulatory Techniques through Mozart, Haydn, & Beethoven

The technique of traveling through tonal areas in music has been one that has undergone an evolution over time. This paper focuses on the short time span around the turn of the 19th century that concerns itself with the compositional years of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven. These three composers form a sort of chain in through which various compositional techniques have been transferred. It is interesting to note through the harmonic analysis of various works throughout this period how these modulatory conventions contributed to the large-scale transition from the Classical to the Romantic periods.

The Culmination of Beethoven’s Compositional Style: The Late String Quartets

Beethoven’s music generally conjures up thoughts of its inter-period qualities that seem to, by and large, form the bridge from Classical to Romantic periods. Exhibiting characteristics of both periods, his works seem to emulate a sort of unfolding journey, the culmination of which comes in his final works, most notably his late string quartets. Here he expands the boundaries of form, harmony, and melody. A brief overview and discussion of these string quartets examines them in light of their various novel aspects as well as their role as the embodiment of Beethoven’s final compositional style.

The Seeds of Change: The Op. 10 Piano Sonatas

The three piano sonatas that form the set in Op. 10 are of particularly contrasting styles. The first exhibits the famous c minor mood, which imparts distinctive characteristics to many of Beethoven’s works, including his Fifth Symphony. The second sonata takes on a very whimsical character, playing with the formalities and harmonic conventions of the evolving sonata-allegro form. The last, in D Major, sort of displays Beethoven’s propensity to take small motives and expand them to form entire movements, indeed even entire symphonies and sonatas! It is in this set of sonatas, this precursor to the famous Op. 13, Pathétique, that we begin to see Beethoven as the mischievous, rule-scorning youth (and later, as the thoughtful and candid innovator) who sows the seeds of change for the coming era.

-Taylor

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