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The music theory of composer Paul Hindemith (1895-1963), originally entitled Unterweisung im Tonsatz, is well known, yet poorly understood. This book provides a critical engagement with Hindemith's Unterweisung, particularly concerning its relationship to existing acoustic music theories. By examining different Unterweisung-versions, it charts the evolution of Hindemith's use of language and mode of communication, including his reference to polytonality, atonality, Fuxian species counterpoint, and avoidance of existing music for his examples. It also elaborates the source material on which the theory is based, using a reconstruction of Hindemith's personal library.

 

Central to the book is the relationship of Hindemith's Unterweisung to his compositional practice. Hindemith's fascination with the challenges of music theory falls into a middle period in his oeuvre, enabling profitable comparisons with his compositional practice both before and after his theory-making. The book also comprises a detailed discussion of Hindemith's theoretical and compositional legacy. Beginning with an overview of existing polemics, it draws together unpublished materials from the Yale Hindemith Institute with reminiscences from former students to construct an Unterweisung reception history. The book shows that, while many areas of Hindemith's theory have been overtaken by recent interests in music theory that relate to cognition and geometry, his influence has been deeply felt.

Shape is a concept widely used in talk about music. Musicians in classical, popular, jazz and world musics use it to help them rehearse, teach and think about what they do. Yet why is a word that seems to require something to see or to touch so useful to describe something that sounds?

 

Music and Shape examines numerous aspects of this surprisingly close relationship, with contributions from scholars and musicians, artists, dancers, filmmakers, and synaesthetes. The main chapters are provided by leading scholars from music psychology, music analysis, music therapy, dance, classical, jazz and popular music who examine how shape makes sense in music from their varied points of view. Here we see shape providing a key notion for the teaching and practice of performance nuance or prosody; as a way of making relationships between sound and body movement; as a link between improvisational as well as compositional design and listener response, and between notation, sound and cognition; and as a unimodal quality linked to vitality affects. Reflections from practitioners, between the chapters, offer complementary insights, embracing musical form, performance and composition styles, body movement, rhythm, harmony, timbre, narrative, emotions and feelings, and beginnings and endings.

 

Music and Shape opens up new perspectives on musical performance, music psychology and music analysis, making explicit and open to investigation a vital factor in musical thinking and experience previously viewed merely as a metaphor.