[Smt-talk] Passing and Neighboring 6/4s

Stephen Jablonsky jablonsky at optimum.net
Tue Jan 19 09:46:51 PST 2010


It does seem as though it is only the primary triads (I, IV, and V) that seem to do nicely in the second inversion and account for the lion's share of use. That may be so because it takes a strong harmony to work well in such a weak position. Don't forget I-V6/4-I6. When I deal harmonic problems such as this I always try to get my students to appreciate the context in which it occurs, the name of the chord (passed over in to many theory texts), the function (T,S,orD) and the voice-leading that creates the issue. I teach that the three chords I-IV6/4-I are all tonic in function just as I suggest that the tonic chord in the second inversion V(6/4) has a dominant function (the cadential 6/4). In my textbook I do a whole chapter on chords in the second inversion because they are such a special case.


On Jan 18, 2010, at 9:02 PM, Dmitri Tymoczko wrote:

> Recently I was preparing to teach second-semester harmony, and found myself contemplating once more the idea of "passing" and "neighboring" 6/4 chords.  And it suddenly occurred to me that these terms are potentially misleading.
> My basic worry is that, in classical music, "neighboring" and "passing" 6/4s occur only in very specific circumstances (e.g. I->IV6/4->I or IV6->I6/4->ii6), whereas the terms "neighboring" and "passing" suggest more general contrapuntal functions that should in principle appear in a broader range of progressions (e.g. vi->ii6/4->vi or vi->iii6/4->vi6).
> In other words, if the IV6/4 is really the byproduct of "neighboring" motion, then we should expect progressions like ii->V6/4->ii.  And conversely, the absence of ii->V6/4->ii should give us good reason to think that IV6/4 is not "simply a neighboring chord."  But then it's hard to understand what's gained by labeling IV6/4 as "neighboring."  Are we really explaining anything, if we have to add the proviso that other neighboring 6/4 chords are almost never used in the style?
> This is leading me to wonder whether I wouldn't be better off simply teaching a few specific tonal idioms, and leaving the labels "neighboring" and "passing" out altogether: I could just say that tonal composers often use I->IV6/4->I, V->I6/4->V and IV6->I6/4->ii6, and that would cover ~95% of the cases students encounter.
> Does anyone have any thoughts about this?  When you teach "neighboring" and "passing" 6/4 chords, do you teach the specific idioms or general principles?  And if you do the latter, how do you prevent students from overgeneralizing to nonsyntactic progressions like vi->iii6/4->vi6 and so on?  And do you feel any tension between "this is just a neighboring chord" and "these other progressions, though contrapuntally quite similar to the acceptable case, are never used?"
> Thanks,
> 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
> _______________________________________________
> Smt-talk mailing list
> Smt-talk at societymusictheory.org
> http://lists.societymusictheory.org/listinfo.cgi/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org

Prof. Stephen Jablonsky, Ph.D.
Music Department Chair
The City College of New York
160 Convent Avenue S-72
New York NY 10031
(212) 650-7663

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.societymusictheory.org/pipermail/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org/attachments/20100119/2ff09fb3/attachment-0004.htm>

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list