[Smt-talk] Subdominant

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Wed May 16 13:09:01 PDT 2012

Dear Dimitar,
I think that the discussion of the use of the term Subdominant is coming to an end. The results of three months of debates are obvious:
1) Nobody, neither in the 19th, nor in the 18th century, used the term "predominant" or used the idea of scale step 4, the triad on scale step 4, any modified chords on scale step 4 in the function of "predominant."
2) The theory of Heinrich Schenker is filled with major inconsistencies and crude errors of judgement.
The subdominant is not the only problem in this theory. The next topic for discussion can be the leading tone. Apparently, Nicolas does not like the idea of the leading tone as such, as the source of attraction to tonic.  This sounds in agreement with Oswald Jonas's lament in the Preface to Harmonielehre:
"If the theories of counterpoint and figured bass remained the basis for teaching during the following generations, MUSIC HISTORY MIGH HAVE TAKEN A DIFFERENT COURSE. This is, however, the history of might-have-been....  
This may be due to the fact that Rameau was totally unaware of the new trends in German music. "
And the Master Himself: 
"The new confusing world of “leading tones” and “doublings” is fabricated, a world of which the true theory of voice-leading and scale-degrees can know nothing."
Then, I decided to open The Art of Strict Composition by Kirnberger and found that:
"The feeling that the leading tone must resolve up is most distinct when one sings the major scale from below. As soon as the seventh degree is reached, one can neither go back nor go anywhere else than to the octave a half step above" (p.56).
Compare: "On appele Notte sensible, se Son precurseur de l'Octave... parce que l'on ne sent que la Notte tonique, ou son Octave doivent suivre immediatement apres. (p.56)
What a pathetic flop! Kirnberger is legit according to the Master, and yet, he seems to betray Him.
By the way, it is very impolite and distasteful to call a person by the last name (e.g. "Ninov"). It has been a policy in the concentration camps. So, I will call you Dear Dimitar, as always.
Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory
Johns Hopkins University
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

--- On Tue, 5/15/12, Ninov, Dimitar N <dn16 at txstate.edu> wrote:

From: Ninov, Dimitar N <dn16 at txstate.edu>
Subject: [Smt-talk] Subdominant
To: "smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org" <smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org>
Date: Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 9:19 PM

Dear Colleagues,

Although I opened a big polemic on the topic "Subdominant versus Predominant" nearly  three months ago, and this topic has now been resumed, I cannot fight the fact that some North American theorists have decided to call the subdominant a "predominant". If this is what they feel, no one can convince them that it is wrong, and my appeal to relate harmonic functions to the tonal center rather to the dominant function, are in vain.

But I have a question. While the term "predominant" has been invented by American followers of Schenker, it has not been popular in Europe. Why, then, some  European theorists started repeating it, as if they have grown up with it in the United States? It is like calling a Department store or a supermarket a "Mall" only because they call it so in the United States. Believe me, in this regard I criticize my Bulgarian countrymen, because they really started calling their supermarkets "Malls"! I am ashamed of this parrot-like adoption of foreign terms in Bulgaria, but I think that is an inferiority complex of the weak, who always have the need to be under someone's umbrella - whether it be the Soviet Union, or The United States. 

Well, if I, as a Bulgarian, have the decency to criticize the mentality of a large group of my countrymen, why should I abstain from criticizing other European citizens for nodding and reiterating concepts and terminology that does not stem from a solid tradition on their soil?

To eliminate further confusion, and to rehabilitate Bulgarian teachers of harmony, I will add that, if they call the supermarket a "Mall", they still keep calling the old subdominant with its genuine name. The cadential six-four, which is literally depended on the dominant, and announces its arrival in an unprecedented manner, is the real bearer of the term "pre-dominant".

Thank you,


Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666
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