Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Memory Day: Ten Years Ago...

Ten years ago today was November 30, 2001. On this day in history, I completed work on my final project for my 16th Century Modal Counterpoint class, taught by the inexorable Dr. Evan Jones. Modal Counterpoint is one of the many completely useless skills that I generally omit from my resum? -- this skillset also includes an encyclopedic knowledge of the General MIDI patch numbers, troubleshooting repaint problems in Java Swing, and dancing "The Burro".

For my assignment, I used "Deck the Halls" as my melodic line, coupled with the Technical font for maximum impact:

Deck the Halls with Lamb of God (1:13 MP3)

I also turned in a paper and did a presentation in History of Music Theory class. Here is the stunning conclusion from that paper:

    At this point in the treatise, Hauptmann has managed to fit all aspects of harmony and meter into Hegelian dialectics. This in itself would be a feat, but Hauptmann's goal is to show that the whole of music is subject to higher law, not just the individual aspects that make up music. To this end, he closes his treatise with a section on metrical harmony (equivalently labeled harmonic meter), which reapplies dialectics at a more abstract level. At this level, harmony and meter represent the unity and duality stages, and the combination of the two creates a restored unity. With metrical harmony, Hauptmann is able to explain harmonic phenomena that are dependent on metrical placement, such as suspensions, seventh chords, syncopation, and strong beat dissonances.

    Moritz Hauptmann succeeded in explaining music within the bounds of Hegelian dialectics, although some of his postulations are of questionable accuracy and merit. While some explanations make sense in the context of practical music, others are purely conceptual and without musical significance (such as the continuing connections between the triad and rhythm). As shown in his tangled description of four-timed meter, Hauptmann often had difficulty fitting music into neat categories, and sometimes seemed to explain his way around a problem, rather than through it. Other times, he temporarily contradicts an earlier theory in hopes of providing better reasoning for later ones. Although these problems prevent his treatise from having a significant theoretical influence in modern practice, Die Natur der Harmonik und der Metrik, is still important for its historical perspective and its suggestion that all aspects of music are connected at a higher abstract level.

Here is the translation for the non-academics:

    This treatise was a waste of my time.

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