[Smt-talk] Fwd: Re: Subdominant versus Predominant

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Sun Feb 26 16:53:28 PST 2012

Dear Nicolas,
let us keep "a    simplified post-sovietic Riemannian tradition" outside this discussion as well.  I am puzzled by your sequence of chords, though: "Sechter's, continued in Viennese theory (Bruckner, Schoenberg,    Schenker), where the functional value of the chords is seen to    depend from their distance to the tonic in the cycle of fifths,    IV–I–V–II–VI–III–VII."  Do you really put the II chord after the V? Any good musical examples, please? I think it is a nightmare, not a valid musical syntax. Or, if count it backwards, V-I-IV is no less drastic.
This is another "pearl": "The American tradition is close to the Viennese one, and therefore    can see II as a "predominant" chord (and IV as a possible substitute    to it)". I understand that you mean supertonic triad in root position. However, it is used much less commonly than its inversion or the seventh chord. Can you imagine that, for example, tonic triad would be used less commonly than its inversion? Therefore, according to great theorists of the past, including Rameau and Riemann, what you call II6 is in fact IV with added or substituted sixth. By the way, if you insist on root position supertonic as provider of good voice leading, then there is a problem: yes, IV to V connects with screaching noise, but at least there is functional drive of S to D which overrides it. But how do you plan to connect I -ii? Is not this connection even more noisy? And, finally, if I follow your advice, I will definitely lose half of my favorite music, that
 which is written in minor. In minor, the supertonic triad in root position is not used (according to K. & P and other textbooks) and voioce leading to it from tonic presents a strange kind, unless you are a fan of Snoop Dogg the Dogg.
Thus falls the "Viennese theory," " Scale Steps" etc. By the way, besides this strange circle-of-fifth statement, Sechter's textbook reads as a decent schoolbook, a diluted Rameau, but appropriate in the classroom.
I also think that it is dangerous to put Schoenberg and Schenker into one basket: they would not even walk on the same side of the street.
Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

 From: Nicolas Meeùs <nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr>
To: "smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org" <smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org> 
Sent: Sunday, February 26, 2012 4:10 PM
Subject: [Smt-talk] Fwd: Re:  Subdominant versus Predominant


Let's keep Schenker outside this discussion. You have the false
      notion that Schenker did not consider the subdominant, or
      considered it unimportant. This is not true, but it does not
      matter here.

I did not discuss whether the subdominant is a "reflection of the
      dominante", merely whether Reber said so: the answer definitely is

You wrote to Jean-Michel Boulay that "neither Nicholas nor you understand that the main point of our discussion is not whether the French think that S is a chord below D or the Germans think it is a chord below T". I do believe, though, that this is essential to the discussion, because it shows that generations of French (and, probably, Italian and Spanish) speaking people did not understand S as you do. They may have been mistaken, but at least their mistake (if any) demonstrates that your "axiom" remains open to discussion.

Your point of view seems to stem from an edulcorated conception of
    Riemann's theory of tonal functions. One important question (asked
    by Dahlhaus, among others) about Riemannian functions is whether the
    S function is associated with the IVth degree, II and VI being
    possible substitutes, or is an overarching function for IV, II and
    VI all together. The latter is the most probable. In view of this,
    to assume that T–S–D–T and I–IV–V–I are equivalent formulations is rather naive.

Roman numerals belong to a drastically different tradition,
    Sechter's, continued in Viennese theory (Bruckner, Schoenberg,
    Schenker), where the functional value of the chords is seen to
    depend from their distance to the tonic in the cycle of fifths,
    IV–I–V–II–VI–III–VII. In this conception, IV and V remain equally
    close to I as in the German (Riemannian) theory; but II refers to
    the tonic merely through the mediation of V, VI through II and V,
    and so on. 

The American tradition is close to the Viennese one, and therefore
    can see II as a "predominant" chord (and IV as a possible substitute
    to it), referring to I through V; while you are more familiar with a
    simplified post-sovietic Riemannian tradition, which sees II as a
    substitute to IV, the "subdominant". The 19th-century French
    theorists represent a third tradition, which did not much bother
    about tonal functions, in neither of these versions.

I myself belong to none of these traditions (I am not French!), but
    I met and studied all of them with some puzzlement and much
    interest. Don't think that I don't understand what you say: I
    probably knew your theory before you were born (;-)). But don't
    expect me to accept it as *the* truth: I have seen too many truths
    in my life.

Nicolas Meeùs
Université Paris-Sorbonne

Le 26/02/2012 17:00, Ninov, Dimitar N a écrit : 
Dear Nicholas, Thank you for this quotations. They only reflect what I have been saying up to now, namely: "By associating the fourth degree to the two preceding ones (the first and the fifth), the tonal effect is complete." Also, "...they [T, S,, and D] form the "bonnes notes" of the key". That is not Schenkerian, is it? Schenker does not need the 4th scale degree to complete the tonal effect and he does not think that T, S and D form the "bonnes notes" of the key - he builds a house on two columns instead of three.  Another quotation from your letter: "And it is by no means true that Reber explains it as "a reflection of the dominante". No disagreement here either - the S chord is a reflection of D as referred to the tonal center; it lies a perfect fifth in the opposite direction from the tonic - a mirror inversion of the position of D with T as an axis. Remember: T as an axis. I do not have to prove that all the chords in a key relate to the tonic.
 This is an axiom, not a theorem. Otherwise, the tonic would not posses the power of gravity, and there will be no key. PD is an invented sub-category which implies a "dominant paradigm" which does not exist at a pure diatonic level. The only paradigm in a key is the tonic. Only when the dominant is tonicized does it create a temporary paradigm, as it happens with any tonicized major and minor triads. But many theorists claim that, even if the dominant is tonicized, they steel hear it as D, not as a local T. There is some truth in this. Best regards, Dimitar    
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