[Smt-talk] Early Tritone Sub

Dave Headlam dheadlam at esm.rochester.edu
Sun May 31 04:40:43 PDT 2009

Hi.  You're looking for popular music references, and this may not fit the
bill exactly, but it's a wild piece well worth checking out in this context
-- we had a presentation on it years ago at ESM.  Check out the CPE Bach
Fantasia in C major, H 284.  I don't have the score here, but see the links
below --  it's got myriad uses of C#/Db, including something like a tritone
sub, around the shared F-B of G7/C#7, if I'm remembering correctly.



for the enticing first page, and for a discussion -- ex. 2.11 and esp. the
footnote at the bottom


A couple of other related (tritone) examples:

Of course, the obligatory Berg reference:  the combined C / F# at the
cadence of the Piano Sonata opus 1, about 10 bars from the end.

Here is a popular example of this combination:  the George Shearing
arrangement of Somewhere over the Rainbow -- the glorious Eb7 over A as the
first chord in the opening "V/V"-V-I ( in G!, as a very cool opening to the
piece in Eb)

Also in Berg: the tritone related keys harmonizing the Wedekind song in Lulu
(C/F#) in Act III, and the Landler in the Violin Concerto ( first Eb/A),
with the very audible connections of the common tritone in the dominants

Finally, our #IV hypothesis article (Spectrum 1997) suggests, as I look over
some of the examples, a large-scale structure of tritone motion that might
be some mutation of tritone subs (moving from the V sphere to the I sphere)
that leads to all sorts of things (Stravinsky C/F# in Petrushka, etc.)-- if
the tritone is regarded as the "final frontier" that leads from tonal to
non-tonal.  Robert Gauldin's analysis of the Tristan climax as being in A /
Eb is suggestive in this regard ( note that these two chords F-G#/Ab-B-D#/Eb
to Bb-D-F-Ab return in Debussy's Faun to end the first big phrase -- now
leading to E!).  Something like "Large-Scale Structural Projections of the
Tritone Sub"

Fascinating topic -- keep asking questions, D.


Dave Headlam

On 5/28/09 8:10 PM, "Dmitri Tymoczko" <dmitri at Princeton.EDU> wrote:

>> Great Question....I've thought about this often over the years;
>> what I don't know as well as DT and many of you is good examples of
>> "going back to Schubert" classical examples (can someone suggest a
>> few I can offer up to curious students?).
> A few classical examples off the top of my head:
> 1. Schubert's A major piano sonata, D. 959, I, ends with a Bb7->A
> cadence.
> 2. Schubert's C major string quintet, last movement, ends with a G4/3
> [b5]->C progression.
> 2. Chopin C# minor nocturne, opening page, has a D7->c# progression
> over a C# pedal.
> 3. Brahms's Bb intermezzo, op. 76 no. 4, near the end (just before
> "poco string."), has a c/o7->B7->Bb progression.
> 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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> rg


 Dave Headlam
 Professor of Music Theory
 Joint Professor of Electrical Engineering
 Eastman School of Music
 26 Gibbs St
 Rochester, NY 14604
 (585) 274-1568 office
 dheadlam at esm.rochester.edu

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