Analysing texture and gesture in classical music supported by interactive software

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


Texture and gesture along with other ‘secondary’ parameters are generally given less prominence in music analysis, especially that of Western classical repertoire. Notable exceptions include Wallace Berry’s development of a systematic approach to analysing texture in ’Structural Functions in Music’ (1976), Janet Levy’s (1982) investigation of texture as a sign, and Nathalie Hérold’s research as part of her 2011 PhD thesis and subsequent work on timbre and form. Within larger analytical frameworks James Webster’s ‘multivalent analyses’ often incorporate both primary and secondary parameters creating musical structure in counter point with one another. Dora Hanninen’s theory of music analysis (2012) also allows for a wider range of parameters. Texture also often features in defining musical topoi. In practice, however, it is rare to find detailed and extended examinations of texture and gesture as prominent contributions to analyses.
This paper, drawing on ideas from the earlier research referenced above, investigates how texture and gesture might be given a more prominent role and discusses how they can enrich analysis. The first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Opus 2, No. 2 is taken as a case study comparing results with previous analyses. Can software help facilitate multivalent analysis in which texture and gesture play a significant part? In particular, the potential for interactive software to support such a development along with approaches recently developed by the authors in the very different context of analysing contemporary spectral music (in which texture and gesture often play a pre-eminent role) is examined.
Period10 Sep 2022
Event titleRoyal Musical Association 58th Annual Conference
Event typeConference
Conference number58
LocationDurham, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational