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“Two Shorter Lectures on Western Music and Optimization: Common Scales / Manifold Stretto”

Abstract: One of the more preoccupying problems of music theory is the discovery of a feature that pitch collections common with a certain set of styles have and uncommon collections do not have. My first short talk suggests such a feature for the consonant triad, and pentatonic, diatonic, and chromatic scales, arrived at through multivariate optimization and a little bit of computer code. These same two tools serve the second short talk, which locates a special fugue subject capable of abundant stretto variance that I realize through composition and performance.

Scott Murphy has served as a professor of music theory for the University of Kansas since 2001, where he also earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music theory, composition, and musicology. He completed his PhD in music theory from Eastman in 2004. Since that time, he has received two publication awards from SMT for his work on Brahms, and his scholarship on screen music theory and analysis is widely perused and
cited. His publications also reflect an interest in a broad array of western classical composers—Buxtehude, J.S. Bach, Haydn, Clara and Robert Schumann, Holst, Ives, Myaskovsky, Bartók, Ives, and Penderecki—and, on the SMT program in Denver next month, he is giving a paper on gospel music.

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