A Theory of Musical Narrative

A Theory of Musical Narrative

Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/26/2008
Format: Hardback 44 music exx.
ISBN: 978-0-253-35238-5
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Byron Almén proposes an original synthesis of approaches to musical narrative from literary criticism, semiotics, historiography, musicology, and music theory, resulting in a significant critical reorientation of the field. This volume includes an extensive survey of traditional approaches to musical narrative illustrated by a wide variety of musical examples that highlight the range and applicability of the theoretical apparatus. Almén provides a careful delineation of the essential elements and preconditions of musical narrative organization, an eclectic analytical model applicable to a wide range of musical styles and repertoires, a classification scheme of narrative types and subtypes reflecting conceptually distinct narrative strategies, a wide array of interpretive categories, and a sensitivity to the dependence of narrative interpretation on the cultural milieu of the work, its various audiences, and the analyst. A Theory of Musical Narrative provides both an excellent introduction to an increasingly important conceptual domain and a complex reassessment of its possibilities and characteristics.

Author Bio

Byron Almén is Associate Professor of Music Theory at The University of Texas at Austin. He is editor (with Edward Pearsall) of Approaches to Meaning in Music and author (with Stefan Kostka and Dorothy Payne) of Tonal Harmony.


“Almén's work is far reaching both for music theory and musicology and will make a substantial and timely contribution to the study of musical narrative.”
 —  Michael Klein, Associate Professor of Music Theory, Temple University

“In this pathbreaking study, Byron Almén convincingly demonstrates that a piece of music can convey a narrative that is intrinsically musical, not added by a program or text. ”
 — J. Peter Burkholder, Distinguished Professor of Musicology, Indiana University

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Table of Contents


Part 1. A Theory of Musical Narrative
1. An Introduction to Narrative Analysis: Chopin's Prelude in G Major, Op. 28, No. 3
2. Perspectives and Critiques
3. A Theory of Musical Narrative: Conceptual Considerations
4. A Theory of Musical Narrative: Analytical Considerations
5. Narrative and Topic
Part 2. Archetypal Narratives and Phases
6. Romance Narratives and Micznik's Degrees of Narrativity
7. Tragic Narratives: An Extended Analysis of Schubert, Piano Sonata in B<FLAT> Major, D. 960, First Movement
8. Ironic Narratives: Subtypes and Phases
9. Comic Narratives and Discursive Strategies
10. Summary and Conclusion