Dr. Joseph Siu will be presenting his research at the upcoming Society for Music Theory national conference (Nov 7–8 and 14–15). The title of his presentation is "Phrase-Rhythmic Norms in Classical Expositions: A Corpus Study of Haydn’s and Mozart’s Piano Sonatas," and below is the abstract:
Recent research in phrase rhythm and hypermeter have found that some phrase-rhythmic patterns, such as the end-accented “closing-theme schema,” appear regularly in certain parts of the Classical sonata exposition. These phrase-rhythmic norms can, therefore, be regarded as the first-level defaults according to the compositional preference hierarchy in Sonata Theory. However, besides the closing-theme schema, there has been no systematic study to examine the phrase-rhythmic norms in the other locations of the sonata exposition. Therefore, this study aims to fill that research gap by conducting a corpus analysis of phrase-rhythmic usage in all the first-movement piano sonata expositions composed by Haydn and Mozart. This corpus study can then inform our understanding of phrase-rhythmic default levels in Classical sonata form as well as any individual differences in the compositional styles of Haydn and Mozart.
In Haydn’s and Mozart’s piano sonatas, phrase rhythm in the primary themes are generally regular, while the secondary themes are mostly irregular. However, in the transitions, Haydn and Mozart have different first-level defaults, with regular phrase rhythm occurring more often in Haydn while irregular phrase rhythm is the norm in Mozart. When irregular phrase rhythms occur, Haydn’s sonatas demonstrate a strong preference to focus on a single loosening device, non-quadruple hypermeasures, while Mozart’s sonatas tend to also include the use of metrical reinterpretations and end-accented phrases. This study also reports on the phrase-rhythmic norms at the boundaries of the sonata formal sections and the hypermetric placements for the MCs, the dominant-locks, and the EECs.