Misc. Term Papers, WIPs, Samples of Work

Random pieces of work I’ve written in the past in no particular order.

Danger: Wolf Crossing!

This thesis is an exploration of how tuning practices can influence compositional practice, focusing on the way temperament can provide new insights to a close reading of keyboard music by Johann Jakob Froberger (1616–67), a transitional figure between a predominantly meantone-oriented musical environment of the 17th century and the well temperament of the 18th century. Many scholars have pointed to Froberger’s characteristic chromaticism and experimentation with novel keys as indicative of his desire to compose beyond the restrictions of meantone tuning and towards well temperament. In an effort to move away from this oft-cited teleological narrative from unequal to equal, my analyses attend to the ways that Froberger works with the boundaries of meantone, ultimately arguing that a meantone tuning is integral to Froberger’s musical language. Transgressions of these boundaries, as we shall soon see, involve mistunings that result in shocking discordances, a rough aural quality that Froberger exploits to craft structures of expectation in the dimension of discordance that operate independently of harmony.

Advisor: William Rothstein (CUNY)

Reclaiming Musical Inequality

This thesis analyses selected preludes from the first book of J.S. Bach’s Well-tempered Clavier, focusing on BWV 846-869 and the aesthetic issues that arise from discordance and concordance under two particular cases of well-temperament by Neidhardt. In comparing preludes on the sharp-side and flat-side of the circle of fifths, dominants were suppressed or emphasized in ways that corresponded to the degree of discordance that they projected in relation to their tonics.

Advisors: Ed Gollin (Williams College), Doris Stevenson (Williams College)

Expressive Timing and its Histories

This study examines the notion that there is – to borrow a term from Meyer (1989) – a rapid, external stylistic change in performance in the mid-twentieth century. In comparing aspects of tempo, rhythmic flexibility and the correlation between performances, this study also examines the methodological problems inherent in studying historical recordings from an empirical point of view. Finally, this paper examines how the expression of functionally ambiguous points in several of Debussy’s Préludes has changed over the course of the century.

Collaborators: Daniel Shanahan (Louisiana State University)
Conferences: South Central Society for Music Theory Conference, Hattiesburg, Mississippi (March 2018)

Program Notes

I write program notes for a variety of settings! My writing has accompanied concerts by the Williams Chamber Players (Williamstown, MA), Empath Concerts (D.C. Area), and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music (Nelson, NH).

Interview with Prof. Leo Goldmahker

Remember when I did math in undergrad? I don’t. In this interview, we talk about the importance of creativity in mathematics, his unique mathematical upbringing in the Boston Math Circle, and overcoming imposter syndrome in graduate school.