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

Donna Doyle donnadoyle at att.net
Mon Feb 13 18:05:32 PST 2012

Dear Dimitar,

Re the pedal point (a technique quite different from the cad 6/4, of  
course, about which I have yet to read all
the recent commentary): How I hear a pedal point depends upon which  
level I'm listening to--the middle-
or the foreground. Generally, my attention is drawn to the bassline,  
as it gives me more information than the
top parts about the course of the piece. Listening to the bassline  
enables me to follow the piece on various
middleground levels. This takes focused, sustained attention and  
memory but is extremely satisfying. In this case,
I hear a pedal as a single function (e. g., as a dominant retrans).  
However, there are times when I don't want to
work hard, preferring to sit back and enjoy the scenery (the  
foreground). In this case, I would probably hear
activity over a pedal as a separate progression, but, nevertheless,  
over the prevailing bass. (I believe that,
because of the strength of the bass's overtones, true bi-functionality  
is difficult to achieve, if not impossible.
Scoring has a big influence. Don Sebesky, the film composer/arranger,  
taught me this.) From another
perspective--traditionally, the pedal point is classified as a  
dissonance, like the passing tone, etc. There are times,
I think, when it is just plain dissonant with the upper part activity-- 
when it fades in and out of agreement. This, too,
though, argues against bi-functionality, doesn't it?

Generally, I tend to believe the bass runs the show. (Move your arms  
all you like, but if your feet stay glued
to the floor, you ain't dancin'.)

Donna Doyle
Queens College CUNY

On Feb 13, 2012, at 2:09 PM, Ninov, Dimitar N wrote:

> Dear Dona,
> You say: The cadential 6/4
>> When the bass ascends the scale from T through S to D, it makes
>> little sense to me that, upon reaching the ^5,
>> the other voices would sound T above it. This reminds me of Terry
>> Southern's '60s satirical novelette, "Candy":
>> An American young woman travels to Tibet seeking a guru. Upon
>> reaching the top of his mountain and meeting
>> him face to face, she exclaims, "Daddy!"
> I have a question for you. When a passage unfolds over a pedal point  
> (T or D) do you only hear one single function throughout? Do you not  
> recognize bi-functionality per se?
> Thanks,
> Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
> School of Music
> Texas State University
> 601 University Drive
> San Marcos, Texas 78666
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