[Smt-talk] Addendum on Bach

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Sun Jan 24 06:37:53 PST 2010

Dear David,
your analysis of the opening measures of the finale of Tempest is incorrect.. You wrote: 
Hi.  Very nice Hali, and Dmitri and everyone (including Janet the S, who's
VE in 6/4s is very true).  I would like to add the context of perspective..
For instance, when I taught starting harmony I always used the Tempest 3rd
movement -- I-V-I takes the whole phrase here, where it might take 3 chords
in Bach or 3 hours in Wagner. 
Whatever you call 'phrase' is vague and elusive. The form of the theme here is a sentence. What you called the phrase is, in fact, two units, the basic idea and the repetition of the basic idea. So, it is not I - V - I, but I -V  and V - I.  Each unit occupies two metric measures. Therefore, it is the level of progression, same level as three chords you have mentioned. 
As for Wagner's opera, the blocks in it are structured not by the principle of neighbor note or passing note. This would be a far fetched hypothesis, it would be a difficult thing to prove musically. No, this level exceeds the level of voice exchange. It is  known as the tonal plan. To imagine that composer or listenter operate with  the key areas on this scale as adjacencies is ridiculous. The tonal plan operates on different principles, than both harmonic progression and NCT interaction. Contrary to the most important law of harmonic progression (no S after D), on the level of tonal plan the key area of subdominant often follows the key area of the dominant. For the Baroque binary form it is the norm, in the second half to begin with the dominant area and then to swerve into subdominant.
So, please, be careful categorizing people into Mozarts and Salieris. It can have the effect of a boomerang. 
Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory  
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com 

--- On Sat, 1/23/10, Dave Headlam <dheadlam at esm.rochester.edu> wrote:

From: Dave Headlam <dheadlam at esm.rochester.edu>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Addendum on Bach
To: "Fieldman, Hali" <FieldmanH at umkc.edu>, "Dmitri Tymoczko" <dmitri at princeton.edu>, "smt-talk smt" <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org>
Date: Saturday, January 23, 2010, 10:29 PM

Hi.  Very nice Hali, and Dmitri and everyone (including Janet the S, who's
VE in 6/4s is very true).  I would like to add the context of perspective..
For instance, when I taught starting harmony I always used the Tempest 3rd
movement -- I-V-I takes the whole phrase here, where it might take 3 chords
in Bach or 3 hours in Wagner.  If I look in with my magnifying class I see
lots of self-similar structures -- passing tones become chords become
passing sections or even movements, etc.  I can find Roman Numerals in Bach
chorales if I care to -- they seem to work as well here as in Beethoven or
Chopin - but often at different time/piece scales.  When Bill Rothstein
talks about sophistication in his Phrase Rhythm Book, it's that saturation
of levels, where each note ( node) hold a place in multiple patterning on
different scales.  That's what separates the Mozarts from the Salieris, etc.
The grammar of the Mozart piano sonatas surely has a lot in common with his
symphonies or the symphonies of Haydn or Brahms.  A lot of it is simply
because it's for piano!  If Dmitri had the complete divertimenti for strings
and brass on his DELL, he'd have a much different idea about VL.  The K331
Theme we all use, where the bass moves in parallel 10ths lends that piano
piece its interesing qualities, along with the remarkable "chord" F#-A-E
which is voice-leading against a "tintinabulating" E (nod to John Roeder and
Part) as Mozart basically says -- see, be careful with parallel 10ths --
they can get you into trouble if you descend!  Here is the essence of
"Breaking the rules" and harmony / voice-leading all at once -- going A-C# /
B-D / C#-E is great for the key, going A-C# / G#-B / F#-A moves us out of
our comfort zone -- but in the larger picture -- no harm done -- it all
depends at what level you approach the music **-- at some level I think
there's "progression" but that's not the level Hali prefers to live at, and
Dmitri's study seems to derive from the Bach chorale model ( you know Alex
Brinkman's study no doubt DT), which has become a "keyboard" model of
harmony -- very handy, no doubt, but main-ly biased.  I like V-IV-I, I call
it the "teenage wasteland" progression after Who's next Baba OReilly-- it's
the second essence of the blues after the first essential I-IV motion --
although Wagner used it as V-(IV-I) with a plagal extension on I -- a root
position V -IV in the classical rep?

I don't know - it's all over popular music, however!

** Following a discussion with Matthew Brown a few years ago, I
characterized a bunch of the Mozart Piano sonatas as so:  two voices in
10ths or 6ths, (big difference, Hali, if one of these is in the bass), one
^1-^5 voice and one "noodling" voice -- very consistent and characteristic
and strongly suggestive of Bob Gjerdingen's Partimenti theories -- basically
a lot of riffing going on with conventions -- that's a quick way to
establish a grammar!   Compare the Schubert Moment op. 94/6 -- now it's much
more of a voice-leading VERSUS harmony (promissory notes, etc.) as opposed
to earlier voice-leading SUPPORTING harmony (which is why K331 is so
surprising -- a singular moment - and a change in the grammar --  now
compare Schoenberg op. 19/6 -- the harmony determines the
knet-voice-leading, now to Schoenberg op. 23/3, now there is no voiceleading
-- the harmony -- now a set-class governs -- everything --

On 1/22/10 4:39 PM, "Fieldman, Hali" <FieldmanH at umkc.edu> wrote:

> Dear colleagues, 
> I've not been following this thread in minute detail, and perhaps that
> accounts for my being a bit surprised at the way it has developed.  The
> surprise is that it appears that all/every succession of a chord to the next
> is being considered to be a progression of chords as such.  There are very few
> patterns of chords that feel like "progressions" to me, that possess in my ear
> that kind of clearly-directed energy.  Instead, it seems like much of the
> wealth of the tonal language is invested in managing the pace of directed
> motion, so that it can slacken or tighten in countless nuanced ways without
> being heard to resolve a particular tension, and without losing track of its
> path even when directedness is at low ebb.  Some wise heads see melodic motion
> in the bass, as differentiated from harmonic motion, as responsible for a
> significant part of that role (I'm not naming Schenker because it isn't clear
> to me that his project was aimed at sorting out tonal music's many kinds of
> ener
>  gy/tension).  When the bass is melodic, it is highly likely to be part of
> vertical consonance(s); those verticalities might look like chords, and we may
> be able to give them Roman-numeral names, but whether or not they *function*
> as chords -- as carrying the **harmonic** responsibilities of the
> scale-degrees upon which they are built -- is, I think, something different
> altogether.  Perhaps thinking of the "core [harmonic] grammar" as being very
> small, and distinguishing harmonic progression from other kinds of things
> that verticalities do, would be a way to sort things out.
> Best wishes for this still-young year.
> Hali
> *****
> Hali Fieldman, Ph.D.
> Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music Theory
> Conservatory of Music and Dance
> University of Missouri -- Kansas City
> -----Original Message-----
> From: smt-talk-bounces at societymusictheory.org on behalf of Dmitri Tymoczko
> Sent: Fri 22-Jan-10 1:58 PM
> To: smt-talk smt
> Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Addendum on Bach
> On Jan 22, 2010, at 11:46 AM, Steven Rosenhaus wrote:
>> I have found that while following rules can make for some exquisite
>> music, it can also result in G*d-awfully boring stuff. When I teach
>> the craft of composition I make sure the students understand that
>> what they are learning are not hard and fast "rules" but practices,
>> and that learning them is like knowing where the walls are in an
>> unlit room; much easier to push/break down those walls (or just find
>> the light switch and/or door, to further the metaphor) if you know
>> where those walls are.
> While Stephen Jablonsky wrote:
>> Using the words "normal" or "usual" when referring to the output of
>> great composers is quite amusing. It is only the second rate
>> composers who stick to the predictable or the probable.
> Two points:
> 1) It is important to distinguish the project of defining a harmonic
> grammar from that of doing analysis.  The activities are as different
> as linguistics and literary criticism.  Great authors play with
> grammatical rules, but this doesn't show that grammatical rules don't
> exist, or aren't important.
> The problem here is that music theory comprises many different
> activities -- analogues to linguistics, psychology, literary
> criticism, etc.  What defines our field is the subject matter, not the
> style of thinking.  So when someone like me starts talking about
> grammar, others are always going to talk about how irrelevant that is
> to what they do.  This is a reminder that we all do very different
> things.
> 2) Interestingly (or perhaps predictably) enough, I've always been
> surprised by how *infrequently* great composers violate some of the
> musical conventions that defined their style.  In this respect, I
> think, they were very different from contemporary artists, weaned on
> modernism and the violation of norms.
> For instance, there are very, very few clear root position V-IV
> progressions in the music -- despite the fact that this progression
> sounds good.  Likewise, there are hardly any sonata-form movements in
> major with the second theme in the relative minor, or in the
> supertonic.  (Yes, I know a few.)  Or pieces in Lydian.  Or parallel
> fifths.  Or pieces in 5/4.  Really, the list could go on and on.
> In large part, I think this is because these composers did not think
> of  the principles of their musical style as being arbitrary and
> conventional, but rather as being rooted in something much deeper.  In
> this respect I would think that theory played a huge role in defining
> for them the limits of the acceptable.
> When I imagine myself projected back in time, and composing in the
> 18th- or 19th-century style, I always imagine exploring all these
> relatively obvious alternatives.  And I always tell my students:
> "these composers were very different from us.  The things we think of
> as natural, like mixolydian mode or VI-VII-i or V-IV-I progressions,
> were not at all natural to them."  I think it is very hard to
> understand how they distinguished between norms that were not to be
> trifled with, and norms that could be violated.
> The great classical composers were, of course, very inventive.  They
> broke rules.  But it's equally important that they preserved rules and
> didn't even think about breaking with them.  This is how some of the
> conventions survived for so long.
> 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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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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