Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Music Theory of Godfrey Winham

The Music Theory of Godfrey Winham

Leslie David Blasius
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 184
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Music Theory of Godfrey Winham
    Book Description:

    This book serves as an introduction to the work of Godfrey Winham, an influential figure in American music theory circles in the 1960s. Little published in his lifetime, Winham left behind, at his premature death in 1974, a massive collection of notes: correspondence, unfinished articles, sketches for books, etc. These notes were transcribed and deposited in the Special Collections of Firestone Library at Princeton University. They cover a fascinating range of subjects: exercises in analytical logic, thoughts on the construction of a formally consistent music theory, studies of particular pieces, and an epistemological reconception of Schenker's analysis.

    InThe Music Theory of Godfrey Winham, Leslie David Blasius attempts to synthesize the various aspects of the theorist's thinking into a single coherent, if unfinished, endeavor. Blasius concentrates in particular on Winham's attempts to define formally the basic terms of music theory, his axiomatic phenomenology of pitch and harmonic relations, his tentative steps towards an axiomatic phenomenology of rhythm, and his fresh consideration of the reciprocal relationship between theory and analysis. In so doing, Blasius gives a clear picture of the materials in the archives, particularly when they exhibit Winham's multiple attempts to come to terms with a specific problem. The volume includes a set of complete excerpts of materials cited in Blasius's text and an index for the entire collection.

    Originally published in 1997.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6470-6
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Milton Babbitt
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    Godfrey Winham was born in London, England, in 1934, educated at the Westminster School (1947–51) and the Royal Academy of Music, and studied privately with Matyas Seiber (1952–54). He received his A.B. in music from Princeton University (1956), where he also received an M.F.A. (1958) and was awarded the institution’s first Ph.D. in musical composition (1965), with a thesis comprising hisComposition for Orchestraand an essay entitled “Composition with Arrays.” After completing his degree, Dr. Winham remained in Princeton to teach, and (from 1964) became a lecturer and research associate in the field of computer-generated electronic sound....

  5. [Illustrations]
    (pp. xv-xx)
  6. PART 1 Godfrey Winham’s Conception of Music Theory
    (pp. 1-83)

    The music theory that comes into being in the late 1950s and through the 1960s is the product of various factors unique to that moment in the American academy. Among these, five deserve mention. The first must be the establishment of historical musicology as an autonomous, scientific, and professionalized discipline; the second, the growth of a theoretically aware compositional community; the third, the introduction and dissemination of Scheriker’s analysis of music (with its claims to displace a more impressionistic or heuristic critique of musical works); the fourth, the availability of various analytic tools in contemporary writings on logic and mathematics;...

  7. PART 2: Selected Excerpts
    (pp. 84-137)

    I think that this passage is Winham’s most complete discussion of the distinction between descriptive and explanatory or analytic statements. As such, it returns to a ground that Winham previously has covered on several occasions, yet goes further than the others, touching on such points as the choice of axioms for a theoretical system and the like. (Of particular interest is the reference to Allen Forte and the free choice of axioms.) As is sometimes the case, in the original Winham misdesignates the third footnote as “1,” something that I have corrected....

  8. PART 3 The Contents of the Winham Archive
    (pp. 138-163)

    Godfrey Winham’s writings on music divide physically into three classes, the first comprising loose sheets gathered together in a series of folders and designated by the notation “*_,” the second comprising intact spiral-bound notebooks and designated by the notation “N_,” and the third comprising material given on score paper (mostly musical notation, yet with some explanatory notes) and designated by the notation “S_.” (The musical notations are not transcribed but xeroxed: the accompanying text is transcribed.) The material in the first category (the loose folders) is written in pencil on sheets of lined notebook paper. According to the editor, most...