[Smt-talk] Subdominant

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Fri May 11 18:59:23 PDT 2012

Dear Giorgio,
yes, indeed. Only one thing, the term "predominant function" was definitely not among the terms of the Naples school.
Then, another important figure of the 18th century and the one whom Schenker seemed to value very much, J.P. Kirnberger writes in his treatise Der Kunst... about the "double cadence," which is a  PAC immediately followed by the plagal cadence. He goes at length describing how a simple V-I cadence is not perfect enough and it requires the following by IV-I. He also suggests that in minor it is possible to build a cadence with the root motion a fifth down and back  I-IV-I (the only requirement--a Pickardy third at the end). He introduces and defines the term "Subdominant". He writes that the IV-I cadence "is somewhat less perfect, but usable" At the end of Chapter 6 he suggests that any melody can be harmonized with three chords, tonic, dominant and subdominant. Needless is to say that Kirnberger represented the continuo tradition in Germany.
And another theorist, our contermporary, North American theorist, suggested something very similar:
Ftn. 8. The term “complete cadence” will be used to designate one in which a progression from the dominant to the tonic is preceded by subdominant harmony (ii or IV). Because a key or tonal center is defined by a progression from the subdominant to the dominant, rather than by one from dominant to tonic (as is ofted supposed), a complete cadence creates more decisive closure than one which is merely “authentic” or “full”--that is, V (or V7)—I.
I leave it for you to guess who that was.
I studied Schenkerian theory at the graduate school with world-renowned professors. I have been around Schenkerian analysis for at least 20 years and have written and published several articles and a book concerning its problems. I studied graphic anlysis even in Russia under Yuri Kholopov. My professional education includes 11 years at the Specialized Music School, 5 years at the conservatory, 2 years of stage, 3 years of aspirantura, 5 years of graduate shool at the UC Santa Barbara. I cannot complain. That is not the problem, though. Why would anybody spend 10000 hours on studying the system of "analysis" which has no practical application in composition and audition? Rachmaninoff wrote tonal music, but he did not have a clue about the method of graphic reduction, just as other few composers who wrote tonal music in 1920s.
I also wonder, for how many years Schenker studied "traditional" music theory which he so vehemently libeled? I know only of some sporadic private lessons with Carl Mikuly from the age of 13 (too late!)  and some private lessons with Anton Bruckner. The content of these lessons needs to be defined and the extent of the study needs to be evaluated. I have strong doubts that after such a transient experience he would be able to judge musical pedagogy of the 18th century.
Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Institute
Johns Hopkins University
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

--- On Fri, 5/11/12, Giorgio Sanguinetti <giorgio_sanguinetti at fastwebnet.it> wrote:

From: Giorgio Sanguinetti <giorgio_sanguinetti at fastwebnet.it>
Subject: [Smt-talk] Subdominant
To: Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Date: Friday, May 11, 2012, 5:12 PM

Dear List, 

now that we are back to our favorite talks (Schenkerian vs. rest of the world) I think I may add something to the discussion about subdominant. 
Schenker probably rejected the idea that the subdominant was on the same foot of the tonic and the dominant because his theory has its roots in the continuo practice and, in general, in the eighteenth century pedagogy. If we look at the several manuscripts of exercises written by generations of students in the conservatories of Naples and -- more generally -- in Italy during the eighteenth century, it is clear that the basic, most essential tonal structure was: opening tonic, middle dominant, closing tonic. The Neapolitan called this as "cadenza semplice": the concept of "cadenza" was not identical to the modern cadence: it was also the simplest possible tonal utterance. Using the cadenza semplice as a basis, the Neapolitan masters asked their students to write countless diminutions in the upper voices. But at a certain point, the began making diminutions in the bass as well, and often the first diminution was scale degree four, used in the predominant

The Neapolitan pedagogy of composition was not even confined in Italy, but was hugely influential all over Europe, and in particular in Vienna. In fact, Vienna has been the capital of a large part of Northern Italy and, for almost three decades, also of Naples (the so-called Austrian viceregnum, ended in 1734). Many Austrian composers (such as Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert) had Italian teachers. So it makes perfect sense that Schenker, who explicitly regarded thorough bass as a fundament of his own theory, did not consider the subdominant as important as opening tonic, dominant, and closing tonic. He simply followed one of the most important theoretical fundations of the music he devoted his entire life on. 

Giorgio Sanguinetti
via Giuseppe Avezzana, 6
00195 Roma
giorgio_sanguinetti at fastwebnet.it
tel. 06 32110265

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