Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





William N. Rothstein

Committee Members

Norman Carey

L. Poundie Burstein

Christopher Segall

Subject Categories

Music Performance | Music Theory


Performance, Analysis, Schenker, Rhythm, Form, Harmony


Musicians can generally be divided into one of two kinds: practitioners who compose or perform music, and thinkers who analyze or write about music (theorists, musicologists, and critics). These roles might seem to be of approximately equal importance, so the perspectives of each should be given proportionate consideration. Yet the existing music-theoretical literature consistently relegates the performer to an inferior position. When performance is discussed, it is usually done in objective terms; an analysis is presented as a rationale to judge a performance as right or wrong. My dissertation challenges this perspective and provides an alternative. By marrying rigorous, theory-based analysis with in-depth comparisons of different recordings and hypothetical performances of the same passages, I demonstrate how the perspectives of analyst and performer can complement and enhance one another. In considering harmonic structure, for example, I compare multiple harmonic interpretations of the same passage with various recordings. I illustrate how different performances can suggest different harmonic progressions or arrival points. I explore the interaction between hypermeter and grouping and, in particular, how these parameters can be either aligned or offset; I then show how performance decisions can influence this relationship. I also consider formal units ranging in size from motives to entire sections. Using the technique of recomposition—and thus taking on, briefly, the perspective of a composer—I consider hypothetical phrase models and their alterations. By elevating the role of the performer to that of an interpreter co-equal with the analyst, we not only create a more equitable relationship between theorists and other musicians, but also gain a more complete and nuanced understanding of the music we study.