Punctuation and sense in late-eighteenth-century music

Danuta Mirka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Two closely interrelated techniques of phrase expansion occasionally used by eighteenth-century composers but so far not recognized by music theorists are twisted caesuras and overridden caesuras. Both of them represent complex games played by composers with their listeners on two different levels of listening experience: One dimension of the play belongs to the unconscious "modular" level of processing and hence, in principle, was accessible to all attentive listeners of the eighteenth century, including less cultivated ones (Liebhaber). The other dimension involves the "central" level of processing, related to consciousness, in that it plays with rules of Tonordnung - the part of eighteenth-century music theory dealing with succession of ending formulas. Consequently, it was addressed mainly to connoisseurs (Kenner). Phrase expansions caused by overridden and twisted caesuras offer some of the most intriguing proofs that late-eighteenth-century music was conceived of as an art of communication between composers and listeners.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-282
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of Music Theory
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Music


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