[Smt-talk] "Neighboring" 6/4 Chords

Murphy, Scott Brandon smurphy at ku.edu
Sun Oct 2 18:59:09 PDT 2011

Charles mentions "a smooth modulation to the dominant." Dmitri recognizes
that cadential 6/4s are "primarily cadential 6/4s."  Putting a bare V
above a bass ^2, thus forming the 6/4, can be a clear and even potent
signal that the music is modulating to the dominant.  Generally avoiding
putting a bare V above a bass ^2, passing or neighbor, when the music does
not modulate afterwards steers clear of mixed signals.


Scott Murphy
President, Music Theory Midwest
Associate Professor, Music Theory
University of Kansas School of Music
smurphy at ku.edu

On 10/2/11 5:20 PM, "Ditto, Charles" <charlesditto at txstate.edu> wrote:

>Greetings, Collective,
>I wonder about the number of occurrences of harmonizing the 1-2-1 in the
>bass with I(i) - V6/4(ii dim or ii half-dim7) - V4/2 of V(v) there might
>be in the tonal literature.  It could be a smooth modulation to the
>dominant.  Anybody know an example of that?
>Charles Ditto
>School of Music
>Texas State University
>From: smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org
>[smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] On Behalf Of
>gzar at mail2.gis.net [gzar at mail2.gis.net]
>Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2011 12:48 PM
>To: Matt Bribitzer-Stull
>Cc: Society for Music Theory
>Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] "Neighboring" 6/4 Chords
>Dear Matt and All,
>In the haste of my previous reply I also seem to have assumed that
>the bass of the 6/4-chord could as well be (and maybe better ought to
>be) part of a PT-figure, rather than just a NT-figure. I think the
>comments I made still apply, one way or another, but let me add that
>in the case of a truly "upper-NT-bass" on ^2, the "direction" of the
>resultant figure probably would be to aim the initial prolonged Tonic
>toward a deeper N/P-chord, as part of a longer, turn-like Initial
>Ascent (quasi-Schleifer) -- rather than as a P-figure immediately
>aiming towards "S"-function, as I proposed in the previous posting.
>Here is an example of the actual "NT-^2" ("^  - - " indicates the
>smaller prolongation, "^^ --^ --^ " the larger):
>^^1/5/3/1-2/5/4/7-1/5/3/1--^7/5/2/2--^1/5/1/3 (-- ^^4/6/1/2
>[not great spacing -- sorry!]
>Gerald Zaritzky
>Faculty, Department of Music Theory
>New England Conservatory of Music
>290 Huntington Avenue (Room JH 325)
>Boston, Massachusetts 02115  USA
>gerald.zaritzky at necmusic.edu
>office: 617-585-1373 (voicemail only)
>At 10:38 AM -0500 9/29/11, Matt Bribitzer-Stull wrote:
>>Dear Colleagues:
>>I find when instructing undergraduates in core harmony courses that
>>students accept the guidelines we provide for part-writing much
>>better if they understand the reasoning behind them. I'm at a loss,
>>however, to explain why common-practice composers rarely used a 6/4
>>chord above scale degree 2 as a bass neighbor motion expanding
>>tonic. V4/3 is most often a passing bass gesture (in which, of
>>course, there's a good reason why students need not resolve the
>>chordal seventh in the soprano - namely, it's not a dissonance with
>>the bass and often completes a pleasing parallel-tenths idiom) or
>>part of a collection of dominant-functioned chords, though it can
>>and does function as a bass neighbor expanding tonic; and vii 6 an
>>vii 6/5 harmonize bass neighbor notes with much more frequency than
>>a 6/4 chord.
>>I'd be interested if there are any compelling contrapuntal or
>>harmonic reasons why composers tended not to harmonize neighbor
>>motions in the bass with unaccented 6/4 chords.
>>Matthew Bribitzer-Stull
>>Associate Professor of Music Theory
>>University of Minnesota School of Music
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