Today, I received…

…word that I’ve once again failed my Analysis Comps.  This will make my second try; I’ve got one more before I reap serious financial consequences for it.

The two pieces were Brahms Op. 99 no. 2, and Adès’s Living Toys, no. 5.

I’m not a complete idiot.  I can analyze music.  If you put tonal music in front of me and tell me to put roman numerals under them, I can execute, no problem.  I just can’t seem, for the life of me, to find anything the least bit significant with the results, or rather, everything is so significant that nothing is significant.  Or something.  I’m not even sure anymore what my problem is with it.

I think the problem comes with the interpretation of the data.  It always seems to me that nearly all people interpret their findings in roughly the same way, except for me.  I don’t ever seem to come up with the interpretation that I’m supposed to.  In the Brahms, there’s a V/IV chord that doesn’t get resolved until two measures later. There are other chords in between now and then, and I would never have made the connection that this chord simply sits unresolved in our minds until the section in the subdominant two measures later.  Or, if I make some kind of logical leap like that, it’s consistently shot down as frivolous or distant.  I can’t see how one twisting of the data (the fact that we’re choosing to ignore [or at the very least suppress] the harmony in between a far-off resolution in order to justify the connection of two larger sections) is more significant than the other.  If we are going to manipulate cold data, than all manipulations should be equally viable, right?

The thing that really has me upset is the form of the Brahms.  Two themes in F-sharp major, followed by an interior section in f minor with one theme (being neither of the first two themes), followed by a transition back to F-sharp major, than a recap of the first theme in F-sharp, plus the interior theme in an adjacent-to-F-sharp key area, followed by a small coda.  I assumed that the piece was in ternary form, but SURPRISE! It’s actually in sonata form, even though it has no development section (which is supposed to be the important part of sonata form, right?), and there are no key areas that even remotely correspond to what we’re taught sonata form is supposed to have.  So even though it doesn’t behave like sonata form should, and doesn’t contain many of the major tenets of sonata form, and even though it looks a lot like another form, it’s still sonata form, and this is abundantly clear to everyone else but me.

The Adès was a crap shoot from the start.  I found some research on it, but apparently it didn’t communicate what they wanted to hear about the piece.  My talk about orchestration (which to me, is extremely important when talking about the piece, considering it was painstakingly orchestrated) was considered frivolous.  I still have no clue what they actually wanted from me for that piece.

It really feels to me like every other human on the planet understands the organization of music in one way, and I understand it as another.  I wish I could figure this crap out like everyone else seems to have.

What’s sad is that this is the crap people are (potentially) going to want me to teach!  How the hell can I teach people about form and harmony and the like when I can’t seem to pick this up for myself.

For that matter, how (or why) the hell am I even composing when I don’t seem to know crap about form and harmony?!  How am I able to form complete thoughts in my own music, and why can’t I just translate those ideas into analysis?

Today has been a really rough day.  I really need this Benadryl to set in so I can go to sleep and end it.