Academic Papers

A selection of academic papers by Robert Cunningham, scanned and provided online in PDF format for the benefit of music students and scholars.

  • An Analysis of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Op. 110 – Outlines the sonata’s formal structure, key relationships, and thematic materials, and points to the striking thematic relationships among the three movements. August 1994.
  • An Analysis of Scriabin’s Étrangeté (Op. 63, No. 2) – Analyzes the pitch-class collections and formal structure of Scriabin’s Étrangeté. Includes a quasi-Schenkerian reductional graph.
  • Annotated Translation of an Excerpt from Rameau – An annotated translation of a portion of the last chapter of Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Nouveau système de musique théorique, in which he argues for a near-equal system of temperament. The passage represents a transitional phase in the theorist’s thinking; in a later work he advocated true equal temperament.
  • The Elided Second Degree and Hybrid Harmony in Rachmaninoff – Explanation of Rachmaninoff’s characteristic cadence with an elided second degree and its implications, with reference to the composers Prelude in A Minor (op. 32/8). Presented to the Music Theory Society at The Florida State University in April 1999.
  • Helmholtz’s Theory of Consonance – Review of nineteenth-century German scientist Hermann Helmholtz’s theory of consonance and dissonance, deriving from a combination of physical and physiological observations. Fall 1995.
  • Schenker, Kant, and Plato: The Epistemological Roots of Music Theory – Examines the philosophical outlook implicit in theorist Heinrich Schenker’s approach to musical analysis. Outwardly, Schenker seems to depict musical essence as impervious to ordinary reason and accessible only to those gifted with mystical insight. A closer look at how Schenker derives his ideas and how he views other theorists, however, suggests an opposite outlook, according to which music obeys natural laws subject to rational inquiry. Spring 1996.
  • Struggles of the Artist: Richard Strauss’s Tod und Verklärung – Background, formal structure, relationship of form to subject, and motivic transformation in Richard Strauss’s third tone poem. Fall 1996.
  • A Survey of Perspectives on Schenkerian Thought – Examines the reasons for initial resistance to the system of musical analysis espoused by theorist Heinrich Schenker. Also considers whether or not the system is applicable to post-tonal music and examines the relationship between Schenkerian analysis and transformational grammar. Spring 1996.
  • Toward an Epistemology-Based Theory of Meter – Outlines an approach to meter based on the recognition that meter must be constructed in the mind of the listener through a cognitive process. Illustrates the approach with a hypermetric analysis of Chopin’s Prelude in D minor, op. 28/24. Fall 1995. (I delivered a version of this paper to the Music Theory Southeast conference, March 16-17, 1996.)

See also:

PhD Dissertation

Sergei Rachmaninoff: A Bio-Bibliography