"Expansive Rock: Large-Scale Structure in the music of Pink Floyd"
Written by Ed Lopez-Reyes   
Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Gilad CohenPink Floyd academic, composer, and pianist Gilad Cohen's studies of the band, along with performances of Cohen's compositions, will be featured in events held in Illinois, at the University of Chicago, and Northwestern University, in early February.

Cohen [right] will be giving two lectures, titled "Large-Scale Structure in the music of Pink Floyd: 'Dogs' and 'Shine On'" and "Large-Scale Structure in the music of Pink Floyd: 'Dogs'". They will each offer insight on a variety of subjects related to these songs as well as two unique opportunities for discussion.

Northwestern University's lecture will consist of an expansive analysis of 'Dogs' and 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond' followed by a discussion with Cohen. The lecture at University of Chicago will concentrate on 'Dogs' but will consist of a fuller discussion, including speakers from that institution's music department. "That being said, both events will probably be modified according to the amount and interest of the audience attending, so the format and content are pretty open along those lines," stated Cohen. "All lectures are about my Ph.D. dissertation, which analyzes three large-scale pieces by Pink Floyd: 'Echoes,' 'Shine On,' and 'Dogs.'"

Cohen is completing his doctoral studies at Princeton University, in Princeton, New Jersey and is now an Assistant Professor of Music Performance and Theory at Ramapo College in Mahwaw, New Jersey. His dissertation advances the argument that "although the large-scale song (single tracks of over fifteen-minutes) was a quite common phenomenon in British rock of the 1970s, these three Pink Floyd pieces have a unique format, since they employ very little material and stretch it for long time."

The pianist, composer, and professor believes Pink Floyd's format on these long pieces set their work apart from bands like ELP, Genesis, Jethro Tull, and Yes, among others: "This model makes it very challenging to create a successful long piece of music while maintaining enough variety, direction, and cohesiveness. My research examines how these three pieces cope with this challenge."

Despite the academic substance of his work, Cohen has drawn interest from a wide audience that spans beyond academia: "My first article about (this subject), which was aimed at a non-professional audience and thus included very few musical terms and notated examples, was published in Israel in November as part of a book of Pink Floyd articles. A related article that I wrote about the way time is being used (or manipulated) in The Endless River, compared to previous albums, was published online by The Conversation and other leading websites." Cohen added: "At the Conference I produced at Princeton University with my friend, composer Dave Molk, it became obvious that Pink Floyd fans – even those with very little musical background – are very open for and curious about such research and analysis."

In addition to the two lectures, there will be performances of Cohen's composition work: "The Chicago Ensemble will play two concerts with a program that includes my piece Ten Variations for oboe, piano, and a string quartet." The piece was one of the winning compositions in their "Discover America" competition. Cohen describes it as "a 15-minute piece that showcases my musical influences, ranging from Ravel and Shostakovich to Led Zeppelin and Alice in Chains, including a coloristic quote from 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'." In 2012, Ten Variations won the top prize at the Franz Reinl Composition Contest in Vienna, Austria and has been performed in Austria and the United States by several ensembles since. "I'm grateful to The Chicago Ensemble for performing this piece, and I'm very excited to be able to attend one of these concerts!"

Dates, locations and info:

Concert #1: The Chicago Ensemble playing music by Telemann, Dutilleux, Dvorak, and Gilad Cohen
Date: Sunday, February 1st, 2015 at 3pm
Location: The University of Chicago’s International House, 1414 E. 59th St., Chicago, Illinois
Admission: $25 general, $10 students, free for I-House residents
(Click here for more information)

Lecture: "Large-Scale Structure in the music of Pink Floyd: 'Dogs' and 'Shine On'"
Date: Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 from 3:30pm to 5pm
Location: MAB 125, Northwestern University: Bienen School of Music, Evanston, Illinois
Admission: Free and open to the public
(Click here for more information)

Short talk and discussion: "Large-Scale Structure in the music of Pink Floyd: 'Dogs'"
Date: Wednesday, February 4th, 2015 from 4:30pm to 6pm
Location: Terrace Room 801, Logan Center for the Arts, The University of Chicago, Ilinois
Admission: Free and open to the public.
(Click here for more information)

Concert #2: The Chicago Ensemble playing music by Telemann, Dutilleux, Dvorak, and Gilad Cohen
Date: Tuesday, February 10th, 2015 at 7:30pm
Location: Fourth Presbyterian Church (the new chapel), Chestnut and Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
Admission: $25 general, $10 students.
(Click here for more information)