[Smt-talk] Sequences

Elizabeth Sayrs sayrs at ohio.edu
Thu Mar 5 08:35:29 PST 2009

There's a nice ascending "minor thirds" sequence with a little twist  
in Verdi's Requiem, "Dies Irae," mm. 330-336; it moves up through the  
dominants (w/cadential 6/4's) of E-flat, G-flat, and A, and then  
comes out on a root position C major (using a common tone as the  
explicit link between each unit of the sequence). But again, it uses  
transpositional ascending voice leading rather than the descending  
voice leading you're looking for.

Another example of a sequence where the typical part-writing is  
opposite the smoothest idealized voice leading is the ubiquitous  
descending fifth sequence. We usually associate descending part  
writing with the descending fifths sequence, but it has idealized  
ascending voice leading. See Wolf's "Nun wandre, Maria" for an  
example that uses the ascending as well as the descending voice  
leading options.

Re: the Waldstein, the middle section of Schubert's "Pause" has  
always reminded of the opening of the Waldstein, without being  
explicitly sequential. Starting m. 20, the first phrase moves from  
Gm--DM (g: I – V),  the second from FM--CM (F: I—V) [all very  
locally]. Then you even get the semitone flip from C major to C minor  
in m. 26 to de-dominantize C and turn it back into a local  
subdominant (as Beethoven does locally in the Waldstein moving from  
IV-iv as part of the chromatic descending bass). But there are some  
important differences, too – too many to go into here.

It's fun to note that Tovey found this progression so typical, he  
wrote: "[E]ver since Beethoven's 'Waldstein' Sonata [and his earlier  
G major, op. 31, no. 1], flat-VII has become the stalking-horse for  
the subdominant." (The Main Stream of Music and Other Essays)


On Mar 3, 2009, at 3:28 PM, Jeremy Day-O'Connell wrote:

> "Waldstein"/"Hey Joe" sequence appears also at the beginning of  
> Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman" (which is similarly expressive of  
> a mournful/sinking text).
> - - - - - - - - - -
> Jeremy Day-O'Connell
> Assistant Professor, Music
> Knox College
> Box K-95
> Galesburg, IL 61401
> (309) 341-7301
> jdayocon at knox.edu
> fax (309) 341-7605
> On Mar 3, 2009, at 9:06 AM, Dmitri Tymoczko wrote:
>>  Thanks for the sequence suggestions, everybody.
>> Jay Hook also noted two other very clear ascending minor-third  
>> sequences:
>>  1. Grieg, first Norwegian Dance, middle section.
>>   2. Tchaikovsky, Symphony 4, movement 2, m. 110
>> Interestingly, in almost all of the sequences mentioned so far,  
>> the voice-leading is (mostly) parallel and ascending.  This  
>> suggests to me that composers typically think of the ascending  
>> minor-third sequence in harmonic rather than contrapuntal terms --  
>> at least, they don't seem to be interested in exploiting the  
>> potential for *descending* voice leading.
>> A cool example of the "Waldstein" sequence C-G6-Bb-F6 is "Hey  
>> Joe" (which I know only in the Hendrix version: C-G-D-A-E).  Here  
>> the descending stepwise voice leading is very clear, both in the  
>> melody and the upper guitar strings, and perhaps contributes to  
>> the mournful "sinking" feeling ("I'm going down ...").  The  
>> effective-but-unusual ascending fifths harmonies were always a bit  
>> of a mystery to me, but they perhaps make more sense if you think  
>> in terms of voice leading.
>> DT
>> Dmitri Tymoczko
>> Associate Professor of Music
>> 310 Woolworth Center
>> Princeton, NJ 08544-1007
>> (609) 258-4255 (ph), (609) 258-6793 (fax)
>> http://music.princeton.edu/~dmitri
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Elizabeth Sayrs, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Music Theory
591A Glidden
Ohio University

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