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

Paul Setziol setziolpaul at earthlink.net
Fri Jan 22 06:49:10 PST 2010

Not really meaning to contradict or lessen the value of the vast majority of the posts on this topic, let me just add -

I believe underdiscussed in this thread is the bass line.  Simplistically, referring to inversion numbers at all is a function primarily of the bass and not the action of upper parts.  I subscribe to the notion that all of the 6/4 uses and the ramifications for voice leading in upper parts flow from the bass.  Therefore, as was pointed out early on, I-IV6/4-I is not a neighboring 6/4 from this perspective at all. Rather, it is a pedal 6/4. If one looks at the model in several texts I-IV6/4-I, one is likely to run into an example or two calling into question whether there is any progression at all. Given this, to me a neighboring 6/4 would be as in I-V6/4-I [side NOTE: I agree with the example quoted below including Nicolas Meeùs' comments]

Other points -
One, several people comment on passing 6/4 citing the Aldwell and Schachter writings.  Importance comes not from iteration, reiteration alone. Placement and parallel structure are equally if not more important (consider the many pieces with relatively few I chords). I-V6/4-I6 (counting V4/3, of course, as a V6/4) coming right at the beginning of a piece as it frequently does forms the model from which parallel structures and variations and substitutions draw their sense making power. As descendants of the model, they are, at least in one respect, less important regardless of how many of them there are.

Two, a slight addition to Steven Haflich's nice offering - in general I believe it is fair to say that Brahms' choice, including patterns, between passing 6/4 and passing 6 chords has much to do with his abiding interest in creating outstanding middle voices and trading off a principle linear element from one voice to another.

Three, someone asked for examples of I-V6/4-I6.  Schubert does it fairly frequently in both songs and piano works.  An example commonly used for a variety of analytical purposes is his Morgengruss.

Many good thoughts on this thread.

Paul Setziol
Musicianship Coordinator
De Anza College
Cupertino California

setziolpaul at deanza.edu
setziolpaul at earthlink.net

>Jeremy Day-O'Connell a écrit :
>> Other considerations point /against/ the possibility of ii-V6/4-ii 
>> (though I expect we could come up with an example or two without too 
>> much trouble): the rarity of ii-V-ii in general and the inherent 
>> difficulty of motion from ^7 to ^6, for instance, are two such 
>> considerations.
>It seems to me that ii-V6/4-ii belongs to _forbidden_ circumstances in 
>strict counterpoint, because the progression involves parallel major 
>thirds (5/3, 6/4, 5/3 above the bass ii) and so create a false relation 
>between the 3 and the 6. If, as here (and in several other cases, 
>probably), the problem is one of voice leading, it cannot fully be dealt 
>with in term of harmonic roots and root progressions.
>Nicolas Meeùs
>Université Paris-Sorbonne

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