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- Given my present belief in the much greater range of variability as to both order and kind of complexity in the world's musics versus the world's languages, I can hardly imagine how a model developed really satisfactorily for the detailed structureal explanation of one musical language is so easiy modified to another, and all the more so if the original model be evolved from linguistics rather than from the musical disciplines.
- Harold Powers, "Language Models and Musical Analysis", p.48.
- 'Objective' analysis is a tool, primarily useful for suggesting or confirming putative relationships between different musical styles....'Critical' analysis results not in a statistical measurement of style or proof of relationship but rather, ideally, in a formal model for a relatively independent and artistically controllable style within a culture, and should then be viable for accounting for individual manifestations of that style...
- [A. Merriam] neglects to take sufficiently into account the possibilities of critical musical analysis as though from within the culture, be it by a native or a native-trained foreigner.
- Harold Powers, review of A. Merriam's The Anthropology of Music, p.171, 167.
- No critic, not even a topical analyst, can escape seeing the musical past from a present perspective. But...the common-language approach of the topical-analyst critics permits a separation between present sensibility and the general sensibilities of the late eighteenth century, allowing for an ever-evolving dialogue between the vanished past and the evanescent present.
- Harold Powers, "Reading Mozart's Music", p.43.
- In applications of the music-as-language metaphor we should attend to diverse musical traditions in musical terms, including not only traditions of the music we study but also traditions of how we study music.
- Harold Powers, "Language Models and Musical Analysis", p.54-55.
- A tonal type is minimally identifiable by its three markers and thus objectively observable completely apart from its musical or cultural context; it is 'scientific,' it is 'etic.' 'Mode' conversely is all bound up in sixteenth-century musical culture, not as a living doctrine of the music of the church and a heritage fomr the Middle Ages but also as a musical construct being expirimented with by members of the culture, from both humanistic and traditional points of view; it is thoroughly 'emic' and requires study on its own terms....
- Harold Powers, "Tonal Types", p.439.
- Counterpoint texts tend to resemble one another in the underlying principles of voice-leading they espouse and in the kinds of orderings of rules they provide, but no one could accuse the harmony texts of, let us say, Heinrich Schenker and Hugo Riemann, or of Allen Irvine McHose and Walter Piston--or for that matter, of Arnold Schoenberg, Paul Hindemith, and Roger Sessions--of being mutually compatible, either in premise or in practice.
- Harold Powers, "Is Mode Real", p.18,10.
- "Rules of simultaneous ensemble constraint can't be assumed a priori to be the kinds of rules or rest on the same foundations as rules for constraint on succession. They may well be similar, but they may well not be similar also. It seems to me that ensemble constraints must first be understood in their own terms, within musical cultures individually and comparitively, looking to what appear to be basic principles in each in light of the others, I would call such a study "comparative counterpoint."
- Harold Powers, "Language Models and Musical Analysis", p.39.