Judy Lochhead

Difference and Identity: Musical Sense and Music Analysis

The first part of Sofia Gubaidulina’s Second String Quartet (1987) presents repetitions of the pitch G4 in each of the four instruments in a free rhythm realized by the performers: scant information for the analyst to work with. The G4 defines a musical segment with too much identity – if one considers only pitch. But the sense of this passage depends not on the identity of pitch but rather on the differentiations of timbre and articulation. Successive events present distinct timbres and articulations creating a musical flow of perpetual alteration: a wealth of information for analytical inquiry. This qualitative multiplicity presents its own analytical challenge: too much difference.
My paper takes this music analytical dilemma – too much identity or too much difference – as a point of departure. First, I consider the underlying methodological and conceptual assumptions that generate the dilemma and demonstrate the roles that identity and difference play in a cross sampling of current analytical approaches to musical structure (e.g., Schenker, Hasty, Forte, Tymoczko). Second, I consider how predominant approaches to identity and difference generate the ‘beyond analysis’ status for much art music composed since 1950. And I suggest that a more productive approach to analysing the sense of recent music should be grounded in experiential models of musical structuring, models in which difference and identity may be shown to operate in the intersensory domains of musical experience. As demonstration I consider briefly works defined by process (Frederic Rzewski), repetition (Alvin Lucier), pastiche (Andrew Norman), post-tonality (Caroline Shaw), and non-musical reference (Anna Clyne).