Conductor and Composer Peter Black  

Music Analyses

1. Rhythmic Games in J.S. Bach's Sinfonia No. 15 for keyboard

Sonus, Fall 1994. Opening paragraph:

Groups of threes, presented on many levels of duration, vie for our attention throughout the last of Bach's three-part Sinfonien. Though the game of nested threes is the most engrossing, other striking devices flash out: magnification of a unit by whole number factors, metric shift and superimposition, hemiola and palindrome. How are these games initiated and how do the interrelate?

2. A Zuni Squaw Dance: When language and time change roles.

Sonus, Fall 1995.

Transcription of a recorded Squaw Dance, revealing very complex metric patterns, and a cogent large-scale structure.

Presented at Wheaton College and New England Conservatory.

3. Inroads for analysis: When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Boom'd by Roger Sessions.

Sonus. Fall 1998.

The Lilacs cantata, finished in 1970, "may prove to be the essential American requiem of the 20th century". Analysis of temporal proportions reveals "Sessions' masterful hand in laying out his cantata's divisions". Pitch analysis shows a surprising "trinity of serial technique, the harmonic fragrance of the whole-tone collection and acceptance of the memories of tonal implications".

"For its premiere in 1971, I was involved in the auditions, rehearsals and performances of the work. . .as the performances were given, there was the sensation of eloquent mastery; that all the difficulties were deliberate and necessary".

Presented at a joint conference of the Roger Sessions Society and The College Music Society, North Carolina, 1996.

4. From Landscape to Soundscape.

Sonus. Fall 2009.

"The lion's roar is to silence what the shooting star is to the dark of the night."
                  - Laurens van der Post

We yearn to hear what we have seen, and to see what we have heard. This essay studies music about the world outdoors, such as Debussy's La Mer and Beethoven's Sixth Symphony. These compositions translate sights into sounds. Working in the other direction, the essay describes the use of sound spectrographs to translate musical sound into visible graphs.

Please contact me for information or reprints of these papers.