[Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature

Olga Bakulina ellen.bakulina at mail.mcgill.ca
Fri Feb 20 09:50:51 PST 2009

Dear Ildar,

Could you comment on your idea of "juxtaposition of various triadic systems" in the prolonged song? (You mean prot'azhnaya song, right? I wasn't sure what you meant by "prolonged" in this context...) Do you refer to the use of triadic harmonies in the prot'azhnye, or to the juxtaposition of different harmonic styles in the prot'azhnaya as a genre?

Thank you!

Ellen Olga Bakulina
MA candidate, Music Theory
McGill University
From: smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org [smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of Ildar Khannanov [solfeggio7 at yahoo.com]
Sent: February 17, 2009 7:07 PM
To: Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org; Rebecca Hyams
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature

Dear Rebecca,

my advice will be somewhat unusual: please, find the textbook Russian Folk Musical Art by N. Bachinskaya and T. Popova and go over all the musical examples there. This book is available at Mr. Tarakanov's web page. The art of harmonization which Stravinsky used in his music, including his neoclassical works, is based upon neither figured bass, nor basso fondmentale tradition. It is indigenous. The non-triadic sonorities come from oligotonic (small-range modes, characteristic of pre-Christian layer of folk music). Juxatposition of various triadic systems can be found in the tradition of prolonged song.
As for the dialogue with Baroque harmony, it would be useful to listen to some Fomin or Bortnyanski, or the tradition of so-called kant of Peter the Great times.
I understand that your first intuition was to use pc set theory. There is nothing wrong with it. Stravinsky must have had a different   intuition. Fortunalty, the sources of his intuition are available nowadays to everybody with the access to the Internet.

Best wishes,

Dr. Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory

--- On Mon, 2/16/09, Rebecca Hyams <rebecca.hyams at gmail.com> wrote:
From: Rebecca Hyams <rebecca.hyams at gmail.com>
Subject: [Smt-talk] Stravinsky, sonorities, and nomenclature
To: Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
Date: Monday, February 16, 2009, 1:12 PM

   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

Thank you,
Rebecca Hyams
MA student in music theory
Queens College- CUNY
rebecca.hyams at gmail.com
Smt-talk mailing list
Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list