[Smt-talk] Subdominant

Bennighof, James James_Bennighof at baylor.edu
Wed May 16 14:34:10 PDT 2012

For whatever it's worth, I'm not familiar with those of us in the United States calling single stores "malls."  My experience with things called malls has always involved several stores along a walking area (which is actually the mall; of course, one of the major malls for us is not a shopping center, but the central area of Washington DC).  Most of the original shopping malls (again, in my experience) in the United States were huge single buildings with the central mall area covered, but there are also ones with uncovered central malls, and I think that more recent has been the practice of calling several adjoining shops in a single row, all facing the same direction toward a sidewalk, parking lot, and street, in that order moving away from the shops, a "strip mall" (since, I assume, the shops are all in a single strip).  While I'm throwing out unsubstantiated impressions here, I'll also say that I think that one among what are surely several interesting essays and articles about the mall phenomenon is included in one of Joan Didion's collections of essays, maybe Slouching Towards Bethlehem or The White Album, and probably addressing such ideas as single "anchor store" configurations and the preferred double anchor store configuration (one at each end, encouraging shoppers to have to walk past all the other shops in order to go from one to the other), as well as the idea of initially painting wide parking spaces so that the mall seemed popular (because a given number of cars would fill up a relatively large percentage of the parking lot) and accommodating (because the spaces were, well, spacious), and then later, once the mall's popularity had taken hold, repainting the lot with narrower spaces so as to accommodate more shoppers.

Pardon the digression; back to lurking.

--Jim Bennighof
James Bennighof
Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Policy
One Bear Place, #97014
Baylor University
Waco, TX  76798-7014
(254) 710-6500 (office)
(254) 710-3600 (fax)

From: "Ninov, Dimitar N" <dn16 at txstate.edu>
Date: Tue, 15 May 2012 21:19:07 -0500
To: <smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org>
Subject: [Smt-talk] Subdominant

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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