Life-World and Musical Form – Concepts, Models, and Analogies

26 to 27 March 2021, 14:00 to ca. 18:00

Online (Webex meeting link; password: XwHJbay3Q399)


Paris Lodron University Salzburg

“It is by no means certain what form in music is, and any attempt to formulate rules would provoke nothing but derision”. Despite Dahlhaus’ habitually pessimistic insight, music scholars and musicians have developed manifold concepts of form that were usually applied to more than one musical work. In doing so, they were influenced by life-world [lebensweltlich] concepts, models and analogies: in the musical rhetorical tradition, Mattheson understood musical form as the sequence of sentences (principal and subordinate clauses). Marx established an architectural model encoding the individual modules with letters. Around the turn of the 20th century Schenker and Kurth implicitly drew on evolutionary theory and theories from the field of thermodynamics for their models of musical form. In the late 20th century, after the scholarly community had come to terms with the hyper-individuality of contemporary and especially avant-garde music, Caplin initiated a new trend in musical-form analysis, which shifted the priority from the composition’s wholeness to its elements. While his approach was functional and taxonomic, Hepokoski and Darcy proposed the established dichotomy between ‘general/normative’ vs. ‘particular/deviant/innovative’ to musical form. Most recently, Greenberg, Diergarten and Neuwirth described form of the classical era as an effect of the type case or toy block principle according to which the composers combined modules more or less freely. In sum, the history of music theory points to the constitutive role that life-world experiences, visualizations and metaphors have played in the development of diverse concepts of musical form.

This workshop aims to better understand musical form in light of current theories and models by focussing on two aspects:

  1. It will reconstruct the life-world models, tropes and theories that have stimulated music theorists and musicians since the late 20th century.
  2. It will bring together scholars who have recently developed new approaches to musical form. In particular, it will analyze the theories with respect to their specificity and differentiation from earlier models and, as in 1., reconstruct the analogies, models and methods that have inspired them.

beateruth.kutschke – at –


Abstracts (PDF)

Programme (PDF)

The presentation of Soh Young Choi (27 March, 14:00) is available as recording for download. Please watch the recording before the workshop starts.

All coffee breaks will take place in Wonderme:

26 March 2021

14:00-14:20 Welcome

14:20-15:20 Organicism and Teleology

Giselle Lee (Durham University)
„Immanuel Kant and César Franck’s Cyclic Form“

Kelvin Lee (Leuven University)
„Teleology, Tonality and Syntax in Fin-de-Siècle Viennese Symphonic Form“

     – Intermission (Chat rooms) –

16:00-17:30 (Socio-)religious Concepts

Matthew Arndt (University of Iowa)
„A Schoenbergian-Trinitarian Critique of a Trinitarian Critique of Schoenberg“

Martin Rötting (University of Salzburg)
„Spiritual identity in light of individuality and community“

Hazel Rowland (Durham University)
„Individual and Communal Expression in Mendelssohn’s String Quartet in E-flat, Op. 44/3“

     – Chat rooms –

27 March 2021

14:00-15:40 Networks and Fabric II

Soh Young Choi (University of Cincinnati)
„A New Formal Approach to Alfred Schnittke’s Concerto Grosso No. 6“ (presentation, script)

Helmut Mayer (University of Salzburg)
„Artificial Neural Networks – Principles and Applications“

Karl Braunschweig (Wayne State University)
„Poetic Language and Dynamic Networks: Musical Form Between Work and

Sigrun Heinzelmann (University Mozarteum Salzburg)
„Ravel’s Formal Networks“

     – Intermission (Chat rooms) –

16:25-17:25 Universals and Schemes

Lorena Mihelač/Leon Stefanija (University of Ljubljana)
„Musical Universals: the History of an Idea“

Beate Kutschke (University of Salzburg)
„Form as Layers“

17:30-18:00 Final discussion

     – Chat rooms –