Title page for ETD etd-11082011-115900

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Keller, Robert C.
URN etd-11082011-115900
Title Rotational Strategy in Selected Works by Bela Bartok
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Perry, Jeffrey Committee Chair
Boutwell, Brett Committee Member
Constantinides, Dinos Committee Member
Peck, Robert Committee Member
Waldrop, Grover Dean's Representative
  • Hyper-rotation
  • Contemporary form and analysis
  • Bartok's Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion
  • Bartok's Piano Sonata
  • Bartok's Fourth String Quartet
  • Sonata form
  • Rotational form
Date of Defense 2011-11-04
Availability unrestricted
While James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy regard rotational form as “an overriding structural principle, an Urprinzip that in the instrumental genres may control the progress of movements organized according to more familiar Formenlehre categories such as sonata form or rondo”, in the dissertation that follows I propose a framework for rotational analysis that is sufficient as a self-standing analytical structure. This step back from the more familiar Formenlehre is necessary in Bartók’s post-tonal repertoire to avoid confusion with the generic expectations that often accompany labels such as principal theme, subordinate theme, exposition, development, recapitulation, etc. Also, as rotational form is characterized by Hepokoski and Darcy as a rhetorical rather than tonal principle, it allows analysts to focus less on harmonic implication and more on the dense family of thematic/motivic relationships that lay at the core of Bartók’s repertoire.

I will apply rotational form to the first movements of Bartók’s String Quartet No. 4, Piano Sonata, and Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion in order to illuminate new analytical interpretations otherwise obscured. The question here, although highly provocative, is not whether sonata form does or even can exist in this post-tonal repertoire, but rather what do we have to glean from a perspective that is not dependent on it? Relaxing the generic expectations of sonata rhetoric affords us a more complete and accurate perspective of foreground/background formal structure as well as narrative trajectory.

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