Master’s Thesis, McGill University
Department: Schulich School of Music, Department of Research.
Advisor: Prof. Robert Hasegawa
Download & Cite: https://doi.org/10.17613/yk4j-fn98
Abstract: This thesis discusses prominent musical elements found in anime (Japanese animation). The resulting analyses show that several elements contribute to extramusical expression (emotion, storytelling) and meaning (aesthetics, sociocultural values, identity). The research material in this thesis situates anime music in both the topics of global pop music theory and media studies, particularly Japanese aesthetics in entertainment multimedia. Prominent musical aspects in anime music, such as the opening sequence format (“OP format”), and the timbrally bright pre-introduction (“call section”) within the OP format, are both products of my research and analysis. Other musical aspects already discussed academically or in public music theory are further analysed here, such as the “Royal Road” progression and the “Japanese augmented sixth.” Analyses and discussions presented in this thesis benefited from academic discourse in the field of music theory, specifically pop music theory (Peres 2016, Biamonte 2010, Duinker 2019) and semiotics (Greimas 1970, Simeon 1996).
Status: writing and presenting
Next presentation: CUNY GSIM March 24-25 2023.
Abstract: Transformational theories such as Weitzmann’s “regions” (1853) and Boretz’s “semitonal displacement” (1970), both recently discussed by Cohn (2000), among other theories which generally involve the analysis of parsimonious voice leading in chord progressions, are especially effective in the analysis of dissonance. These theories may also reveal how dissonances are constructed and how they relate to preceding and proceeding consonances. This paper analyses the parsimonious voice leading in progressions which include the “Japanese augmented sixth” (henceforth, Jp+6). This rather obscure dissonant chord was recently used in the context of Japanese pop music (J-pop) and Japanese animation (anime) soundtracks but has made a few appearances in the Western classical canon and jazz.
The Jp+6 comprises an augmented chord stacked a tritone away from an independent bass note. Due to the symmetry of the augmented triad above the bass, it may be spelled and labelled differently: for example, the augmented triad can be respelled as B+ or D♯+, including any enharmonic spellings, while no change is made in its pitch class content or 0248 set class—at times, this labelling versatility obscures the chord’s intended harmonic function. The interval between the bass note and the chordal third of the augmented triad makes an augmented sixth interval; this allows the chord to resolve in the same way as one would resolve any other augmented sixth chord (although it is more likely for the Jp+6 to resolve directly to the tonic than to the dominant). The analysis presented herein will discuss how the Jp+6 is generated in a twelve-tone environment and how it functionally relates to neighbouring consonant chords, using the theories of parsimony mentioned above. Examples from both East and West are presented, though a larger focus is given to the former.
Status: writing and presenting
Next presentation: Mechademia May 27-29 2023.
Abstract: This paper describes certain Japanese aesthetic formulations of class and gender, and identifies these in anime soundtracks as “extramusical signs,” drawing on research by Peirce (1931), Greimas (1983) and Simeon (1996). The upper class is associated with aesthetics like iki and ga. My research shows that most anime soundtracks illustrate privileged social groups via “refined” Western timbres and genres (jazz, classical). Period anime, particularly in series which portray Japanese nobility, usually feature traditional Japanese timbres and genres (gagaku, kabuki). On the representation of gender, the contemporary aesthetic of kawaī is inherently connected to iki and ga (Shiokawa 1999). In addition to refinement, kawaī encodes aspects which are mostly associated with younger, feminine or bishōnen characters, or those who exhibit specific “cute” traits. My research shows that kawaī is musically represented by soft or bright timbres or other bright sound effects, as opposed to darker timbres. On the other hand, disadvantaged social groups are characterised by aesthetics like yabo and zoku. This class is musically represented in anime with Western contemporary genres (rock, hip hop), genres which are (unfortunately) stereotypically connected to lower classes. This research provides a better understanding of the musical representations of class and gender in anime.
Status: editing and presenting
Abstract: Korean contemporary popular music, or K-pop, is a well-established genre having reached (or nearing) the top of the Billboard Global charts with artists such as PSY ("Gangnam Style") and groups like BTS and BLACKPINK. To this date, K-pop remains an under-researched topic in the field of music theory; in response, this paper provides a non-exhaustive collection of common musical elements heard in recent K-pop hits. Topics that may appear theory-heavy will be discussed on tier levels to make them accessible to readers of different backgrounds, from fans to researchers. The main objective of this paper is to provide new, more diverse, material for the undergraduate-level popular music theory syllabus.
Abstract: There are numerous pedagogical approaches one can take to improve the delivery of the undergraduate post-tonal curriculum. However, these approaches may be rendered ineffective when a curriculum uses a minuscule sample of music styles (mostly comprising mid-1950s music) to exemplify post-tonal techniques. This paper argues that adding a variety of contemporary genres (e.g., pop, rock) which use the same, or slightly altered, post-tonal techniques will result in an increase in student engagement since contemporary commercial music (CCM) may be more relevant to them. For the purpose of this paper, two prog-rock tracks which use and transform common post-tonal techniques are analysed: "Cretaceous Chasm" by the American prog-metal supergroup Blotted Science, and "The Architect" by the British prog-rock band Haken.
Copyright © 2023 Tân Nazaré | Music Theory - All Rights Reserved.