[Smt-talk] Subdominant

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Tue May 15 11:02:01 PDT 2012

Dear NIcholas, Giorgio, Dimitar and the List,

Yes, it would be an exaggeration to consider Schenkerian idea of "predominant" as rooted in 18th-century tradition. I can add writings of J. Ph. Kirnberger:

The major third above
tonic and subdominant can be doubled. (ftn. We make use of these
words for the sace of consiseness, and want to clarify their meanings
for those who are not accustomed to them. The tonic is the notes from
which the composition proceeds..The sominant is always the fifth
degree above the tonic... The subdominant is the fourth degree; thus
the note F in C major or C minor” (p.55)

Then, when he goes on to
the discussion of cadences, he suggests that :

The final cadence is
somewhat less perfect when one leaps to the tonic from the
subdominant instead of falling from the dominant (C—F—C).
Sometimes this cadence is combined with the preseding one to
establish complete repose through a double cadence (G—C—F--C).
(example 6.7, PAC+Plagal Cadence). (p.113)

Anyone who knows hoe to
deal with harmony to a certain degree will not find it difficult to
create rather long periods with only two or three chords.(119).

Krinberger was the promoter of ideas of Rameau and of theory of harmony. He wrote  few sentences mentioning Rameau, but he did not debunk his theory. Healthy competition went on between the German and French tradition, but we should not exaggerate its siginficance.

These views of significance of Subdominant are echoed in L. B. Meyer's article of Mozart (kindly given to me by one of our colleagues): 

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.

In the end, one remains puzzled by Gregory's notion of SChenkerian analysis: 

"one abstract level is expanded into another; that one is expanded into the surface counterpoint." Of course, Schenker himself warns us against conflating this "counterpoint" with what we all teach in Baroque theory.( I remember Gregory's statement that Schenker's book On counterpoint is the best on this topic. I prefer Bellerman, Prout, Taneyev.) So, all three categories (abstraction, expansion, counterpoint) remain abstract and inhuman. We are at the crossroads: either to teach students harmony, polyphony, form, or to switch to mysterious "abstract levels." There is no time to fit both. Janet Schmalfeldt's attempt to reconcile Schenker with teaching of form seems counterpoductive: The Master Himself made it clear that He did not want reconciliation.

As for hierarchy, I wrote a small article Hierarchy in Music Theory BEFORE Schenker, in Estonian journal Res musica. My point is that Schenkerian theory does not present functioning hierarchy.


Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory
Johns Hopkins University
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

--- On Tue, 5/15/12, Nicholas Baragwanath <nick at baragwanath.com> wrote:

From: Nicholas Baragwanath <nick at baragwanath.com>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Subdominant
To: "Ildar Khannanov" <solfeggio7 at yahoo.com>, "Giorgio Sanguinetti" <giorgio_sanguinetti at fastwebnet.it>
Cc: Smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 8:21 AM

	Dear Giorgio, Ildar, and others interested in the subdominant,


	just to add to the mix, I thought it might be worthwhile to point out that nineteenth-century Neapolitan textbooks describe the bass progression I-IV-V-I  as "La prima lezione di contrappunto". They provide pages of examples showing how students would realise this bass at the keyboard in an astonishing variety of ways. It was also called the "cadenza de' tuoni naturali" because it was understood to contain the three fundamentals of the scale. Tartini called it the "cadenza mista" or mixed cadence, because it seemed to him to mix plagal and perfect.


	Unless nineteenth-century maestros invented this "first lesson of counterpoint", which seems unlikely, it must have belonged to earlier practices. It suggests that the pre-dominant function of IV was instilled in Italian musicians from an early age.



	Nick Baragwanath

	University of Nottingham



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.societymusictheory.org/pipermail/smt-talk-societymusictheory.org/attachments/20120515/17b01e7c/attachment-0003.htm>

More information about the Smt-talk mailing list