Abstract: Shapey's worksheet as compositional space

Some happy news. I’ve been asked to present my paper on Ralph Shapey’s late music at the 2010 8th annual conference of the Music Theory Society of the Middle Atlantic. The conference is on March 26-27, 2010 at Penn State  University in University Park, Pennsylvania.

My paper is included in a session  titled “Composers at Work after 1945,” scheduled for 9:00-10:30 am on Saturday, March 27. It develops some of the concepts from my article on Shapey which appears in the next issue of Perspectives of New Music, focusing in particular onRobert Morris’ theory of compositional spaces.

I’ve included the abstract below. If any readers are attending the conference, I look forward to meeting you in March!


From 1981 until his death in 2002, Ralph Shapey repeatedly employed serial procedures in his works. Shapey’s Mother Lode worksheet contains precompositional elements found in nearly all of the works that date from this time period.  Although Shapey based the Mother Lode’s array on a twelve-tone row, he described the worksheet in hierarchical, harmonic terms, often with a quite traditional sense of voice-leading between verticals. Thus, it displays aspects of both tonal and post-tonal grammars.This paper evaluates the worksheet using Robert Morris’ theory of compositional spaces,  examining Mother Lode deployments found in several late works: String Quartets Nine and Ten, Piano Quintet (2002), and  Millennium Designs.

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