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

Donna Doyle donnadoyle at att.net
Mon Oct 3 07:43:41 PDT 2011

P S to Scott Murphy's implied Cad 6/4 idea: Going from I to a 6/4 on  
^2 and then not following through
into a cadence in the dominant feels like the motion is 'chickening  
out.' Or, to be experiential, like
walking along a swimming pool deck, deciding to jump in, then changing  
one's mind midair.  : )

Donna Doyle

Begin forwarded message:

> From: Donna Doyle <donnadoyle at att.net>
> Date: October 3, 2011 10:28:13 AM EDT
> To: Dmitri Tymoczko <dmitri at princeton.edu>
> Cc: Matt Bribitzer-Stull <mpbs at umn.edu>, Society for Music Theory <smt-talk at societymusictheory.org 
> >
> Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] "Neighboring" 6/4 Chords
> I almost agree with Dmitri that "it's better to get rid of the terms  
> 'neighboring' and 'passing' chords."
> I almost agree in that I think the N 6/4 is misnamed. As David  
> Headlam points out, the N 6/4 is an
> embellishing chord; actually, all three named 6/4s are embellishing.  
> Since the other two are
> identified by their bass activity, a better label for the N would be  
> "Pedal 6/4."  This would allow for
> various upper-voice activities (e. g., "walking the bass" [in both  
> classical and jazz]). These
> various upper-voice workings-out could become sub-categories, i. e.,  
> "P above the Ped,"
> "IN above the Ped," etc.
> RE Matt's original query: I agree with Scott Murphy--that a bare 6/4  
> above an ascending step-wise
> bass suggests IV - V 6/4 in the dominant key. Of course, metric  
> accent would play a role.
> Best,
> Donna Doyle
> Queens College
> _____________________
> On Oct 2, 2011, at 9:05 AM, Dmitri Tymoczko wrote:
>>> 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.
>> Sorry for being dense, but I'm not exactly sure I understand.  As I  
>> read it, you are asking for an explanation of why we don't often  
>> find progressions like:
>> (C4, E4, G4, C5)->(D4, D4, G4, B4)->(C4, E4, G4, C5)
>> I guess my first question is whether you can think of any common  
>> tonal progression in which a 6/4 chord acts in this way, with the  
>> bass moving in neighboring fashion (e.g. IV->I6/4->IV).  Off the  
>> top of my head, I can't think of one, on any scale degrees.  So  
>> "neighboring 6/4 chords" typically involve fixed bass.  But that's  
>> just a restatement of your question, I guess.
>> My second thought is that this sort of question has convinced me to  
>> abandon the term "neighboring 6/4 chord."  If you use the term, you  
>> create the (reasonable!) expectation that there is a general  
>> procedure here -- "6/4 chords can be used to create neighboring  
>> motion."  But common-practice music doesn't bear out this  
>> expectation.  The vast majority of "neighboring 6/4 chords" fall  
>> into just a couple idioms or schemas -- chiefly I->IV6/4->I and V- 
>> >I6/4->V.  (I'd wager that upwards of 98% of the "neighboring 6/4  
>> progressions" are in these two categories.)  Progressions like ii- 
>> >V6/4->ii and vi->ii6/4->vi, which are perfectly neighboring, don't  
>> ever appear.
>> So I have reluctantly concluded that it's much better just to get  
>> rid of the terms "neighboring" and "passing 6/4" chords and to  
>> speak of a small number of idioms instead.  This more particular  
>> (idiomatic or "schema-based") explanation correctly gives the  
>> expectation that there are just a couple relevant progressions,  
>> occurring on specific scale degrees, and expressing specific  
>> harmonic functions.  The problem with more general explanations is  
>> that they suggest there should be a more general phenomenon, but  
>> there really isn't.
>> We've actually discussed this on the SMT list previously, I think.   
>> There may be relevant posts in the archives.
>> DT
>> Dmitri Tymoczko
>> Associate Professor of Music
>> 310 Woolworth Center
>> Princeton, NJ 08544-1007
>> (609) 258-4255 (ph), (609) 258-6793 (fax)
>> http://dmitri.tymoczko.com
>> _______________________________________________
>> Smt-talk mailing list
>> Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
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