[Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature

Richard Porterfield porterfr at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 17 11:00:35 PST 2009


Try figured bass. This (not Rameau's chord roots!) would be the basis of Pergolesi's training, and something Stravinsky would certainly have had to consider on some level or another. In figured bass also some sonorities "cannot be explained by identifying them as some sort of triad." Figured-bass progressions, especially those that describe dissonances, are somewhat predictive: 6/4/2 is almost always followed by a 6/3 over the tone a step below, for example. Look at the progression of intervals (mod 7) over the bass; perhaps you will find Stravinsky made similar rules for himself. 

Good luck,


Richard Porterfield

Instructor, Mannes College

Ph.D. candidate in Music Theory, CUNY GC

porterfr at hotmail.com
> Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2009 14:12:29 -0500
> From: rebecca.hyams at gmail.com
> To: Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
> Subject: [Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature
> Currently, I'm in the process of working on my MA thesis, where I'm 
> looking at Stravinsky's alteration of his sources in Pulcinella. As I'm 
> working, my biggest challenge is dealing with harmonies and what to call 
> them. I wanted to pose my conundrum to the theory community, and though 
> I realize that no single solution is perfect, I want to see what other 
> ideas are out there (or if perhaps there's a way to reconcile a method 
> I'm already familiar with with the realities of the music).
> My first instinct was to call them by set class, but that has its 
> limitations as well as connotations that are not necessarily applicable 
> to this musical context. I know there's also an approach that attempts 
> to place non-triadic sonorities into an altered triadic context. While I 
> agree that there's some instances of altered triads throughout the work 
> (after all, the source materials are clearly common practice) there's 
> sections where the majority of material is added by Stravinsky. Some of 
> those sonorities, while they clearly have some sort of root, cannot be 
> explained by identifying them as some sort of triad, in part because of 
> the functional implications triads have from tonal music. Of course then 
> while set theory can provide a name for the sonority and a method of 
> relating it to other similar sonorities, it doesn't easily lend itself 
> to the centric-nature of the sonorities in question. I know there must 
> be some sort of middle ground or other approach that I have yet to be 
> exposed to.
> (I have a specific section in the music that I've been milling over 
> that started a whole conversation between myself and my thesis advisor. 
> I would be happy to share that except of the score with anyone willing 
> to take a look at it.)
> Thank you,
> Rebecca Hyams
> MA student in music theory
> Queens College- CUNY
> rebecca.hyams at gmail.com
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