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

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Mon Feb 13 12:52:37 PST 2012

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
From: Nicolas Meeùs [nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr]
Sent: Monday, February 13, 2012 2:02 PM
To: Ninov, Dimitar N
Cc: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Nature and Labeling of the Cadential Six-Four

But why this rage against Schenker? Who said that 5-6-7-8 is an
"heresy"? Certainly not Schenker! 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!

The 5-6-7-8 line can reasonably tought of only in its major form, with
high 6 and 7 even in minor. In this form, however, it poses contrapuntal
problems, as 6 and 7 above IV (or ii) and V make to successive major
thirds by conjunct motion, which is forbidden in strict counterpoint at
least since the 15th century, if I am not mistaken (and Schenker has no
share in this interdiction). Free composition does find solutions, as in
BWV 924 (or BWV 939), but these remain tricky and exceptional.

Schenker's Urlinie is not an "inflexible concept", it merely is the most
general representation of the polyphonic concept. For more about this,
especially about the "cantizans" line, 5-6-7-8, see also

Nicolas Meeùs
Université Paris-Sorbonne

Le 13/02/2012 19:22, Ninov, Dimitar N a écrit :
> [...]
> The same happens with the perfect ascending line 5-6-7-8. It is in no manner less convincing than the descending urline 5-4-3-2-1. But Schenkerians do not pay attention to it, for the theory forbids such a "heresy", and each time they see it and hear it clearly, they erase it and look "deeper" to find an imaginary line to replace it. This is an example of what I call "theory which bends the music for the sake of proving an inflexible concept." I am in favor of theoretical concepts which are flexible and open to the diversity in music.

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