Archive for the ‘academia’ Category

But What Does It MEAN, Professor? (Updated)

24 February, 2010

So, this is an analytic reduction of Schoenberg’s Op. 19, No. 2. The first element to be addressed is the nearly omnipresent G-B dyad that begins the piece. It occurs in eight of the movement’s nine measures. This repetition is a sure sign of the significance of thirds in the work’s harmonic structure. The first variance from this dyad expands it out to a III.1 chord (including the melodic F-sharp). The III.1 chords are significant throughout the movement- it begins with two such chords in succession and likewise ends with a pair of them. This group contains but is not limited to diatonic seventh chords lacking tritones: major sevenths, minor sevenths, and the possible-but-rarely-encountered minor-major seventh (that is a minor triad with a major seventh above it). The melodic outlining of an A-flat major triad (interpolating what can be considered a nonharmonic A) sounding beneath the G-B dyad creates the second III.1 chord. Comparing this descent to A-flat in measure 3 to the ascent from A-flat to C in measure 6, the A-C-sharp dyad there could be construed as having a nonharmonic function as well.

Moving on to root motion, it is clear that third-relations are significant here as well. Root motion by third appears regularly; five of fourteen root movements are by thirds. An additional three connections are by whole step, harmonized in parallel major thirds, and outlining a whole-tone scale fragment, which is broken by the half-step descent to C-E prior to the final sonority, again a III.1 chord, on G.

The melodic framework extrapolated here has been ‘normalized’ into a single octave for graphing purposes. Again, in it we see the emphasis on thirds, from D to F-sharp, and then descending (in pitch classes only, the actual register of the pitches is generally the octave above) to D at the end of the movement. Also, there is an internal descent by thirds in measure three, continuing from the anacrustic F-sharp in measure two.

Again, further information as this situation unfolds.

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The Seminal Work or, Academia Ho!

17 January, 2010

My in-progress dissertation is concerned with Hindemith. His theory of chord analysis is a fascinating rethinking of harmony, and is  potentially more viable than set theory in analysis of post-tonal music. In his The Craft of Musical Composition, Hindemith presents analyses from Machaut to Schoenberg. His Schoenberg analysis always bothered me, because it seemed perfunctory, and because it seemed to bypass a true attempt at analysis in favor of a dismissal of Schoenberg’s music.

So, I went out for the team. I started working on analyses of other works, mainly concerned with chord root analysis and melodic step-progressions. To my delight, the sixth of Schoenberg’s Op. 19 piano pieces was very plausible in a Hindemithian analysis. While it is true that the perfect fifths and fourths that Hindemith priveleges are not as predominant, the melodic and harmonic intervals that Schoenberg himself prefers are structurally significant. Further, the upper voice and the general melodic tendency form a wonderful descending step-progression, crossing over 4 octaves in the course of less than 20 measures. Herewith, please find a more detailed discussion of the analyses that inspired my dissertation’s theoretic work.

Hindemith and Progression