Melbourne Conservatorium of Music - Theses

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    Analytical and aesthetic concepts in the work of Leonard B. Meyer
    Cumming, Naomi Helen ( 1987)
    This thesis argues that Meyer’s analytical and aesthetic thought are interdependent. Essential terms used in developing the theory of Emotion and Meaning in Music belong to the realm of private language. It is through the correlation of these terms with specific musical structures that the theory becomes accessible to verification. In his later analyses, put forward in The Rhythmic Structure of Music and Explaining Music, Meyer eliminates specific references to perceptual events. Instead he locates qualities produced by perception (for example ‘motion’ or ‘incompleteness’) in their intentional object, a musical structure. Aesthetic presuppositions remain in effect though descriptive language takes on the appearance of objectivity. Significant evidence of this is found in Meyer’s rejection of organicism and reappraisal of melody. An exposition of Meyer’s theories of rhythmic grouping and linear structure is included in the thesis for the purpose of clarifying his analytical methodology and use of graphic symbols. His concept of linear structure is distinguished from that of Heinrich Schenker. A comparison of their analyses of two works clearly demonstrates the consequences of Meyer’s aesthetic ideas, in that the ‘intentional object’ of his analyses is quite distinct from Schenker’s organically-unified structure. A final chapter discusses the ramifications of Meyer’s work for further discussions of the interrelationship between aesthetic ideas and analytical practices.