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sonata and how they might relate to Brower’s plot schemas. For one, the action zones of sonata form can be seen, much like Brower’s schemas, as bounded and unbounded. S and C zones, for example, might be considered examples of bounded spaces for they are tonally closed. TR spaces, on the other hand, might be considered an unbounded space as it is tonally open. P zones can either be bounded or unbounded.
Future studies might consider whether or not certain zones can correspond to certain plot schemas. I have already started to think of the actions zones in these terms, for as you recall, I have designated a kind of TR as “escape-from-container.” It is my feeling that many other kinds of themes might be understood as having embodied plots.
Third, this study indicates something about the TR process as it is manifested in 19th century works. TR dysfunction is prevalent not only in the works of Chopin, but in the works of many other composers in the generations after him as well. It is my premise that as we enter into the repertory of 19th and 20th century sonatas we encounter TRs that become more and more problematic. Certainly, this is true of the works late-romantic composers such as Bruckner and Mahler. In these large works, the TR modules are the focal points of the musical drama. The relative dysfunction of a given TR is often related to its dimensions. The longer a sonata-movement gets the more problematic its TRs spaces become.
Finally, this study shows us something about the things we consider beautiful and our inherent desire to categorize aspects of art. This is related to disability studies. As of late, much has been made about the relationship between disability and the other arts. This discourse has challenged us to reconsider what we consider beautiful. It has asked us to see the beauty in the deformed or misshapen.
Since the Hepokoski/Darcy model is a metaphor for human action, it is natural to view it through the lenses of disability. Already, the language of the sonata theory model is laden with pathological language, intentionally or not. It is tempting to consider, as I have pointed, Chopin’s Ballades as deformed, misshapen sonatas. Certainly, this would be one lens through which to view these pieces. These works contain dysfunctional TRs and action zones that fail to correspond to generic norms. Furthermore, we
these works often show some difficulty in upholding important arrivals such as ERC and ESC. I, for one, would welcome a study of the Ballades that systematically examined the works as disabled entities.
Certainly, there is more to be work to be done in the realm of sonata theory, particularly in the area of dysfunctional TRs in 18th, 19th, and 20th century sonatas, TR paradigms, and Brower’s embodied plot schemas. I have considered future projects in this regard. The first one of these involves an in-depth study of Brahms’s type 1,2, and 3 sonatas to identify and classify the dysfunctional elements and TR paradigms in his works. There are considerably more works to examine here than in Chopin’s so such a study will get a much more detailed, comprehensive view. It is my view that Brahms’s dysfunctional TRs share many of the same characteristics of Chopin’s, although I believe that his TRs exhibit new, unclassified symptoms of this condition.
Another such project would involve the detailing of the generic obligations and narrative trajectories in the character pieces of Brahms, Schuman, and Rachmaninoff. It is my view that these works can indeed be understood along the same lines as Chopin’s Ballades. For example, they are highly rotational, utilize many of the same narrative procedures— such as rotational synthesis— can be conceptualized in terms of Brower’s embodied musical plots, and often involve the thematic oppositions that are present in the genre of the of sonata. On the other hand, I tend to find that these kinds of works tend to suppress the TR impulse, especially in Brahms’s late character pieces. In these works, the emergence of any kind of MC is a rarity and invites interpretation. I also believe that these works are involved in the trajectory toward ERC and ESC.
Finally, one could use my ecumenical method to understand sonata-forms of the 20th century such as those that are found in output of such composers as Shostakovich and Prokofiev. This kind of study would prove to be especially compelling because those forms depend less on tonal processes. In fact, a
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Jonathan Mitchell is a native of Pounding Mill, VA and currently resides in Baton Rouge, LA. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from Millsaps College in 2004, the Master of Music degree in piano performance from Louisiana State University in 2006, and the Doctor of Philosophy in music theory from Louisiana State University in 2012, with a minor in piano performance. Along with having taught music appreciation, aural skills, and music theory as a teaching assistant at LSU, he has also given presentations at the regional level on Sonata Theory and text/motive relationships in the Lieder of Richard Strauss.