[Smt-talk] Nature and Labeling of the Cadential Six-Four

Olli Väisälä ovaisala at siba.fi
Mon Feb 13 11:59:42 PST 2012

First, apologies that I have not read all posts in this prolific  
thread; hence I am not aware of everything that has been said.

But I would first like to comment that Schenker's view of the  
cadential 6/4 was not quite as unnuanced as some perhaps think. In  
Free Compositon (§243) he states: "Even the so-called elaborated  
cadenza (at a fermata) has a structure of its own. […] In order to  
gain understanding of such a passage, it is necessary temporarily to  
disregard the bass tone which underlies the cadenza, usually V6/4– 
5/3." This is demonstrated by a passage by C.P.E. Bach (Fig. 109e6),  
in which the 6/4 is labeled as a I in a progression put in  
parentheses (=I–IV–V–I) above a V symbol. Hence Schenker did  
recognize that the cadential 6/4 can take on the role of tonic, if  
only temporarily.

Another question concerns chords that are prepared as if they were  
cadential 6/4s but which then are reinterpreted as tonics without  
ever convincingly resolving to the V. Such a deceptive device raises  
interesting historical questions. It fits the expressive aims of  
Romantics, such as Chopin and Schumann, and Beethoven examples have  
been mentioned here. But are there any examples in music before  

Olli Väisälä
Sibelius Academy
ovaisala at siba.fi

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