[Smt-talk] Smt-talk Digest, Vol 37, Issue 5

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr
Wed Feb 8 08:03:24 PST 2012


I am afraid we are evaluating these cases from the point of view of our 
respective theories of tonality. Any argument that we could have would 
aim at the validity of the theory, more than at the cases themselves. It 
may therefore not be very wise to go any further...

I may agree that the C-minor chord in m. 7 of op. 39#15 is 
Dominant-Parallel; in m. 8, it certainly transformed in 
Tonic-Leittonwechsel, G remaining the common note until m. 9 (after 
which it does at last resolve as the leading tone).  I think to hear G5 
in m. 7 as a consonant skip above Eb5 and returning to it (probably 
because I already hear the Fb7 chord of m. 6 as IV in C minor; the 
downbeat of m. 7 could then be considered as an "inverted" V6/4). At any 
rate, I fail to hear any tendency of G5 to climb to Ab5. (And my 
distance hearing is not such that I can imagine tensions in m. 7 
resolving in the next to last measure, m. 35 in my version of the score: 
I can read that, but not hear it.)

Nicolas Meeùs

Le 8/02/2012 04:32, Richard Cohn a écrit :
> Nicolas,
> I personally hear many non-resolving leading tones as bearing strong 
> expectations in the absence of realization. For me, this issue comes 
> into strong focus when 19th-century composers begin to take advantage 
> of the expressive potential vested in the direct move move major 
> tonics to minor mediants. Consider the Brahms Ab-major Waltz, Op. 39 # 
> 15 (perhaps the most familiar of these waltzes). On the downbeat of 
> measure 7, in the approach to the C-minor cadence one measure later, 
> Brahms sounds a C-minor triad in 6/3 position with  G5 on top, the 
> highest pitch in the composition so far. (The bass support of  global 
> ^7  by  global ^5 makes it feel very much like a global dominant: in 
> Riemannian terms, this tonicized C minor is the Dominant-parallel, not 
> the Tonic-Leittonwechsel). Brahms then descends scale-wise downward 
> from that G5, leaving it hanging. An acute sense of yearning and 
> incompletion is central to my experience of this moment.
> At the parallel point of the reprise, one measure before the final 
> cadence, Brahms ascends one semitone higher, to Ab5. I experience all 
> of  the residual tension from the earlier G5 as discharged; an 
> extraordinary effect (yet so simple....).
> --Rick Cohn
> Yale University
>> Message: 1
>> Date: Tue, 07 Feb 2012 16:57:02 +0100
>> From: Nicolas Mee?s<nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr>
>> To: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
>> Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Uncommon six-four chords
>> Message-ID:<4F3149CE.9020906 at paris-sorbonne.fr>
>> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"; Format="flowed"
>> Even although I can understand a desire to consider the harmony without
>> the voice leading, I think that the limit is reached when ^7 is dubbed
>> "the leading-tone" (and vii? "the leading-tone triad"), while this tone
>> does not lead to the tonic. In the case of IV--vii?6/4--IV, it seems
>> unavoidable that the voice leading includes ^6--^7--^6. (It might be
>> possible to hear ^6--^7--^8, but that probably would be an inadequate
>> hearing.)
>> This raises the question whether a chord including ^7 can be considered
>> a dominant when this tone does not resolve on the tonic -- or, in other
>> terms, whether the attraction (and the accompanying tension) exists
>> without being resolved, whether tonality involves expectations even in
>> the absence of realization. In my opinion, attraction and tension are
>> retrospective: one realizes that they existed when resolved (and, in the
>> absence of resolution, that they were not there, at least in the
>> habitual sense).
>> A neighboring 6/4 decorating a subdominant is merely that, in my
>> opinion, a neighboring decoration, an effect of voice-leading. Note that
>> in m. 11 of "La Paix", the true ^7, the major 3rd of the V chord, does
>> not resolve as a leading tone either: the progression is IV -- I -- V --
>> ii -- vi, a "reverse" progression, in which tonal functions are 
>> suspended.
>> Nicolas Mee?s
>> Universit? Paris-Sorbonne
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