[Smt-talk] Ascedning urline

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Mon Feb 13 16:53:57 PST 2012

Dear Nicholas,

Please see your own statement below in which you use the term "ascending urline". Thanks!

See his analysis of BWV 924 in Der
Tonwille IV (1923), p. 3-6, or his ascending Urlinie in Erläuterungen
(in the last two volumes of Der Tonwille and the first two of Das
Meisterwerk). Don't think that because you read Free Composition you
know Schenker!

Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666
From: Nicolas Meeùs [nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr]
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 3:47 PM
To: Ninov, Dimitar N
Cc: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Nature and Labeling of the Cadential Six-Four

I don't mean that the Urlinie could be ascending, I mean that the descending Urlinie is not an "inflexible concept", that it is the result of a long reflexion, in which ascending lines were taken into consideration as well. There is no reason to "reject" 5-6-7-8 as a line (what would that mean?), but you recognize yourself that it does present some contrapuntal and harmonic difficulties.
    Schenker's Ursatz is a model of the most general case. As such, it must be conceivable in three chords only, I–V–I, even if in practice it often supposes a pre-dominant at a deep middleground level. The ascending line 5-6-7-8, on the other hand, always requires a pre-dominant in its harmonization. But harmonizing 5-6-7-8 normally requests another voice doing 3-2-1, which is the most general case and therefore a good choice for the Urlinie.
    Schenker has nothing against 5-6-7-8, he does not describe it as an "heresy" (your term!), it is not true that this line would not be "accepted" in Schenkerian theory (again, what would that mean?). It merely cannot be used as a general description of the most general cases, for the very reasons that you state below, which make it a special case, and also for the additional reason that its harmonization requires four chords, etc. Note that a 5-6-7-8 line, in all its possible cadential harmonizations, normally is accompanied by a 3-2-1 line; the reverse is not true.

Nicolas Meeùs
Université Paris-Sorbonne

Le 13/02/2012 21:52, Ninov, Dimitar N a écrit :

But Nicholas...how many urlines do you have in today's Schenkerian theory? Only three versions: long (descending from 8 down to 1); middle size (downward from 5 to 1); and short (downward from 3 to 1). If Schenker has considered the descending progression 5-6-7-8 as an urline, this is certainly not known or not recognized by today's Schekerian analysts., which is regrettable. In other words, would you say loudly that in contemporary Schenkerian theory theascending line 5-6-7-8 is an urline?

One of the reasons that this line is not accepted may be the fact that there are voice-leading difficulties if we decided to harmonize it with I-IV-V-I, because of the connection between two successive triads with an ascending melody. Unless we double a non-normative tone, parallel fifths or octaves in the harmonic motion will result. For me this reason is not good enough, though, because viio6 could successfully replace V in the progression. To this they will say that this compromises the perfect cadence. That is true, but it creates another type of perfect cadence that has a melodic character: clausula vera. In other words, the perfection of the ascending 5-6-7-8 does not have to be underminded because of technical difficulties in the harmonic support or becauise of an imperfection of the harmonic closure.

Of course, if we harmonize 5-6-7-8 with I6-V7/V-V7-I there will be no problem. One detail is that the seventh of V7/V will resolve upward to avoid the doubling of the leading tone in V7, but that is not something unusual if you chose V7/V instead of V/V.

Best regards,

Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666

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