Silence and Slow Time: Studies in Musical Narrative

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Time is of the essence in music because the ear can only perceive sequentially-one thing at a time-unlike the eye, which is capable of panoramic view. Silence and Slow Time proposes a way of thinking about music that is faithful to the experience of playing or listening during a real performance. Boykan argues against the common assumption that thematic relationships automatically insure musical coherence, because the repetition or the transformation of a theme is only meaningful if we consider when it occurs. This argument is developed through a close reading of passages from the full range of Western music. Analyses of dramatic narratives in Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Chopin reveal a richness that can only be captured if thematic or voice-leading relationships are placed within a temporal context. Other kinds of narrative are explored in a Renaissance motet, and in the music of Wolf and Debussy at the end of the 19th Century. The book devotes several chapters to the great innovators of the 20th Century, and concludes with a detailed study of the Schoenberg Trio that traces its thematic and harmonic process to suggest a somewhat oblique relation to the apocalyptic moment when it was composed.

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Editorial Reviews

Robert P. Morgan
Martin Boykan has written a beautiful book that will appeal to all those who care passionately about music and believe that it warrants thinking about it seriously. Elegantly written, it clearly reflects the mind of a composer, though one writing almost exclusively about the music of others. The payoff is very high indeed.
Eric Chafe
This work reflects the mind of one of the country's most outstanding musicians whose training is all too rare nowadays, as a pianist/performer, composer, and expert in analysis. Martin Boykan has drawn on his training with some of the century's greatest musicians (including Steuermann, Hindemith, Piston and Szell) to produce profound and insightful musical analyses without the wearying analytical apparatus that is too often a crutch for others. His book speaks to the musical, as his teaching always has. Anyone who seriously listens and loves to think about listening will find it a treasure trove. Generations of composition students can attest to his brilliant teaching of composition and analysis. Now he can reach a wider audience.
Piano Professional
Composer Boykan has written a collection of essays looking at analysis from a temporal viewpoint. Understanding harmonic language and motivic repetition is only part of the equation, he argues; using visual imagery or literary narrative to explain music can result in distortion, as music has its own dimension. 'Time counts for everything in music', yet 'time in music is very different from the time in which we ordinarily live our lives'. Boykan produces some intriguing insights into music, which are directly related to the experience of performance.
The Beethoven Journal
Analyses of the tonal, melodic, or rhythmic relationships of musical structures commonly discuss these relationships in a manner that ignores the context of time. Composer Martin Boykan reconsiders works in the canon of Western music, from the Renaissance to the twentieth century, within the framework of the actual listening or performing experience. How events flow in the unfolding of the work in the musical narrative is essential to its meaning.
Music Reference Services Quarterly
I found this book immensely interesting...As a musicologist, I enjoyed reading a book on musical theory that wasn't overly analytical or Schenkerian in its discussion or detail, but truly examined music as a creative result of a composer's artistic expression.
Lewis Lockwood
Martin Boykan's keen insights into music past and present will be of great value to readers with widely different backgrounds.
Notes: Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association, JUNE 2005 - vol. 61
...insightful and excellent introduction...
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810847514
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/23/2004
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin Boykan is the Irving G. Fine Professor of Music at Brandeis University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
Part I The Voyage and the Map 5
1 Prologue: Words and Music 7
2 Words about Music: The Visual Fallacy 23
3 Reconceiving Schenker 47
4 Inventing Tonality--And a Backward Look 79
Part II The Twentieth Century 99
5 The Path to the Twentieth Century 101
6 Schoenberg and Webern 129
7 Stravinsky and Musical Stasis 157
8 Reconceiving Twelve-Tone Theory 173
9 The Tradition at an Apocalyptic Moment: The Schoenberg Trio 197
10 On the Threshold of the New Century 237
Index 247
About the Author 255
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