Musiktheorie als interdisziplinäres Fach. 8. Kongress der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie Graz 2008 pages:335-349
Musiktheorie als interdisziplinäres Fach edition:8 location:Kunstuniversität Graz date:09-12 October 2008
This article aims to shed light on the complex relationship between music analysis and performance practice, taking hypermetric analysis, in particular hypermetric ambiguity, as a case in point. In many studies dealing with metre above the bar level, one encounters a prescriptive approach to performance where analytical insights are considered to determine the range of possibilities for the musician. Even in cases of hypermetric ambiguity, analysts tend to advise the musician to decide in favour of one preferred analytical reading and, thus, to resolve ambiguity.
The present essay is organized into three parts: based on an essentially cognitive theory of metre presented in part one, the second part examines hypermetric ambiguity in the final movement of Beethoven’s »Tempest Sonata« op. 31,2. Conflicting readings of this movement and hence ambiguity largely result from fundamental differences regarding both the underlying theoretical notion of metrical accent and the importance ascribed to various factors for metric analysis. Part three deals with various problems that go hand in hand with the prescriptive approach to performance.
It is argued that analytical suggestions about how to perform a composition adequately are of relatively little value, so long as it remains unclear what a metric accent is and to what extent a metrical structure can be influenced by other types of accents (e.g., dynamic, agogic or tonal). A further difficulty is that analysts either rarely specify the means for realizing a proposed analytical
reading or simply advise the performer that certain points in time should be played louder in order to make them heard as metrically accented, thus suggesting that dynamic accents automatically coincide with metrical ones.