Channan Willner



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The purpose of my homepage is to make my work on early eighteenth-century phrase rhythm available to scholars and to students, especially in areas where scholarly publications about music are hard to come by. I launch the website by offering my doctoral dissertation, "Durational Pacing in Handel's Instrumental Works: The Nature of Temporality in the Music of the High Baroque," in PDF format.

Like the new articles that I have been posting in Online Publications, the dissertation addresses two fundamental questions: What is Baroque temporality, and how does Baroque temporality influence the temporalities of later eras. The key to understanding Baroque temporality resides in the plot archetypes that govern the narrative discourse and tonal architecture of compositions across a wide range of genres and styles, and in the stylistic hierarchies and the pacing hierarchies that mediate between the tonal and the durational structure of each piece; see the accompanying diagram. Of great help in approaching these issues is knowledge of the borrowings (assuming they can be traced) that often account for the motivic life of a composition at the surface. In the later chapters of the dissertation I describe how the borrowings can influence and can be influenced by the articulation of the composition's tonal and rhetorical structures, and how the borrowings maintain a similarly reciprocal relationship with the composition's many paces. In the earlier chapters I set the stage for this description by defining norms of meter, pacing, and displacement in the various genres and styles of the high Baroque.

The articles I plan to post later on will apply these principles to a variety of tonal, thematic, and rhythmic phenomena in the analysis of eighteenth century music, from the Baroque to the Classical era.

Layered structures in Baroque instrumental music

Plot archetype

Narrative discourse

Tonal structure
Durational structure Thematic structure
High, middle, and low styles Borrowings, amalgamated
Levels of pacing Multiple borrowings, varying degrees of compatibility
Meter  Rhythm  Isorhythm Motivic structure

(The structures and parameters that appear higher govern those under them, at least up to a certain point. There are many instances, though, where the priorities shown here are reversed, at least temporarily.)

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