Koch's Metrical Theory and Mozart's Music: A Corpus Study
journal contributionposted on 22.03.2019, 20:04 by John Paul ItoJohn Paul Ito
Mirka (2009) has recently argued that the 18th-century metrical theories of Heinrich Christoph Koch can be revelatory for a reconstruction of contemporary ways of hearing Viennese high classicism. Koch’s claims revolve around interactions between the metrical placement of cadences and the articulation of specific beat levels, and these claims are most specific and testable for common time and 6/8. This paper reports two statistical surveys of works by Mozart that were designed to gauge the fit between the corpus and Koch’s theory. In the works examined, the theory was strongly supported for common time, strongly disconfirmed for 6/8, and weakly supported for the other meters encountered. It is argued that these results point toward caution regarding the use of Koch’s theories but not toward their outright rejection, and that unexpected statistical contrasts within the corpus indicate the need for a fine-grained approach to meter in music of the later 18th century.