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[I open this new thread for several reasons: (1) It will leave the managers of SMTDiscuss free to decide whether it is worth it. (2) It will allow the first discussion to go on. (3) It raises a question that I think rather different, but equally important.]
The question of music theory vs music analysis has been explicit or implicit in many postings so far. Stephen Soderberg wrote:
the theorists who set up SMTDiscuss saw fit to include two categories: "Theory" and "Analysis" -- not "Theory, i.e., Analysis". Surely this was not a thoughtless choice & it was made with a very large, varied, at times unruly community in mind.
Yet the reasons why they classified some postings in one of these categories, some in the other, and the majority in none of them, remains unclear — it was no easy choice, obviously.
The recent European Music Analysis Conference was organized by seven European societies, of which three call themselves "for music theory" (the Nederlandse Vereniging voor Muziektheorie, Netherlands and Duch speaking Belgium, the inviting society; the Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie, Germany, Austria and German speaking Switzerland; and the Russian Society for Theory of Music), three "for music analysis" (the French and French speaking Belgian Société(s) d'Analyse musicale and the British Society for Music Analysis), and one which calls itself both (the Italian Gruppo Analisi e Teoria Musicale). This is quite a remarkable equilibrium, especially for an odd number of societies. And if the conference itself was of "Music Analysis", it probably merely is because the first one (Colmar, 1989) had been organized by the French society.
It is striking that, in the same language, the American SMT chose "MT", while the British SMA chose "MA". This was perhaps merely in order to clarify a distinction, but maybe not. [British colleages might have an opinion about this...]
Let me start the discussion by quoting a few recent statements. Stephen wrote
In effect you are saying that music theory is "analysis," no more & no less. In other words, theory has no need to provide a generative function because the text is "just there" & your job is to pick it apart in a variety of ways.
Yes, indeed. I do believe that a theory of music necessarily is analytic, i.e. descriptive – because that is how and why it is a theory. Even a generative theory as Chomsky's is eminently analytic. It certainly does not describe how novel languages could be created, nor even how novel utterances could be generated, but merely how a universal linguistic competence generates utterances. Chomskyan generative theory had been preceeded by Schenker's, but a main difference was that Schenker was not considering a universal competence, merely one in tonal music.
There is certainly an empiricist mindset in much theory that seeks to create models which describe existing music. But that's not really saying that "theory = analysis" anymore than Kepler's laws of planetary motion are simply observation of nature. The abstraction process of theorizing of course creates new understanding that is somewhat different than the sum of all analyses.
Indeed, analyses are never merely inductive, rather, they are hypothetico-deductive, starting from a hypothesis, a method, a theory (Roman numerals, Riemann, Schenker, neo-Riemann, set theory, etc.) which they apply to existing works. Celestin Deliège defined music analysis as that from which emerges a new hearing.
There is in all this an interplay between theories (which often turn out to be analytic methodologies, or "models" as Isaac Malitz calls them) and empirical analyses that confirm or falsify (sorry to come back on this) the application of the theory/methodology used to this or that particular piece. I must confess that I fail to see what other theories could occupy music theorists. How could a composer, for instance, consider say set theory of neo-Riemannian theory to be generative for her/his own work, unless they proved enlightening for the understanding of existing works?
Or is there something that escapes me?