2016FallSymposiumURCreativityEngagement has ended
Tuesday, December 6 • 9:20am - 9:40am
Games of Silence and Surprise: Comedy in the Symphonies of Haydn

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The use of compositional techniques to imbue music with comedic elements was not atypical in the common practice era, but recognizing the jokes that were being told requires careful scrutiny due to the temporal and cultural divide that separates modern listeners from the experience of the great composers. In particular, Joseph Haydn made elaborate use of techniques such as comedic text, deviation from convention, musical parody, incongruency, and titling to emphasize humorous aspects of musical storytelling. The effects of these techniques on the trained listener are many, but frequently focus on a betrayal of conventional expectation with the express purpose of making light of the tradition and practices, or making referential jokes that could be readily understood in the era.
The salience of these jokes has diminished with age, but is still ripe for appreciation if a listener knows when and how to hear them. One must inculcate oneself into the conventional styling and techniques of the associated era of a piece if they are to hear it as it was meant to be heard at the time of its conception. Using Leonard B. Meyer’s implicational theory along with Enrique Alberto Arias’ hierarchy of comedic techniques in tonal music, this paper will explore the comedic nuances present in Haydn’s Symphony No. 80 in D Minor, and comment on the effect of these techniques on modern listeners in comparison to listeners contemporaneous to the composer.


Tuesday December 6, 2016 9:20am - 9:40am
018 Lipinsky Hall