The Oxford Handbook of Critical Concepts in Music Theory

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Alexander Rehding, Steven Rings
Oxford University Press, 2019 - Music - 848 pages
Music Theory has a lot of ground to cover. Especially in introductory classes a whole range of fundamental concepts are introduced at fast pace that can never be explored in depth or detail, as other new topics become more pressing. The short time we spend with them in the classroom belies the complexity (and, in many cases, the contradictions) underlying these concepts. This book takes the time to tarry over these complexities, probe the philosophical assumptions on which these concepts rest, and shine a light on all their iridescent facets.

This book presents music-theoretical concepts as a register of key terms progressing outwards from smallest detail to discussions of the music-theoretical project on the largest scale. The approaches individual authors take range from philosophical, historical, or analytical to systematic, cognitive, and critical-theorical-covering the whole diverse spectrum of contemporary music theory. In some cases authors explore concepts that have not yet been widely added to the theorist's toolkit but deserve to be included; in other cases concepts are expanded beyond their core repertory of application. This collection does not shy away from controversy. Taken in their entirety, the essays underline that music theory is on the move, exploring new questions, new repertories, and new approaches.

This collection is an invitation to take stock of music theory in the early twenty-first century, to look back and to encourage discussion about its future directions. Its chapters open up a panoramic view of the contemporary music-theoretical landscape with its expanding repertories and changing guiding questions, and offers suggestions as to where music theory is headed in years to come.


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About the author (2019)

Alexander Rehding teaches music theory at Harvard University. He specializes in the music of the nineteenth century, history of music theory, and media theory. His publications include Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought (2003), Music and Monumentality (2009), and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (2017). He is editor-in-chief of the Oxford Handbooks Online in Music and series editor for a six-volume Cultural History of Music.

Steven Rings teaches music theory at the University of Chicago. His research ranges from transformational theory to studies of the popular singing voice. His book Tonality and Transformation received the Emerging Scholar Award from the Society for Music Theory, and his article "A Foreign Sound to Your Ear: Bob Dylan Performs 'It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), ' 1964-2009" received the Outstanding Publication Award from the SMT's Popular Music Interest Group. He is Series Editor of Oxford Studies in Music Theory.

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