Stefan Rohringer

Schemata and Holism

Following the questions raised by New Musicology in the 1990s, an extensive discourse has developed around terminology and the meaning(s) of ‘unity’ within and for musical analysis (James Webster, Robert P. Morgan, Daniel K. L. Chua, Jonathan D. Kramer, Robert Fink, Fred E. Maus, Richard Cohn & Douglas Dempster, David Lewin …). In German music theory, the debate circled mostly around Schenkerian analysis and the concept of ‘functionality’ (Michael Polth, Martin Eybl, Oliver Schwab-Felisch, Stefan Rohringer). But also in other music-theoretical traditions, e.g. in historically informed music theory, especially in the context of ‘Modellanalyse’, we can observe a mostly implicit reference to the question of holistic thinking (in German music theory: Markus Janz, Ludwig Holtmeier, Felix Diergarten, Johannes Menke). In all these contexts, we can observe different aesthetic positions that are communicated more or less openly. To bring these discourses together and stimulate further debate, I will begin with a short overview of recent work on holism and related subjects in humanities and sciences, with an emphasis on the Germanophone context. I will then connect these discourses with music theoretical concepts and their development, with an emphasis on the theoretical prerequisites of ‘Satzmodelle’ and schema theory.