[Smt-talk] Subdominant

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at paris-sorbonne.fr
Fri May 18 00:30:48 PDT 2012

Olli, Eytan, Frank,

It seems to me that Olli's criteria are excessively "reductionist" in 
that it tries to identify "points" in the score which, one supposes, are 
of sufficient weight to be retained at the next level of the reduction.

Schenker describes the process as one of elaboration and, more 
specifically, elaboration of a tonal space, i.e. of the disjunct spaces 
between the notes of a triad, by passing notes, i.e. a conjunct voice 
leading (see "Erläuterungen" in /Der Tonwille /9 or 10 or /Das 
Meisterwerk /1 or 2). The identification of the elaboration therefore 
passes by the identification of conjunct, or at least "fluent" lines. In 
this case, there is a complete octave line in the upper voice, 
Eb–F–G–Ab–Bb–C–Dn–Eb (which probably warns that the key is not Db 
major), but it obviously is the 6th-line F–G–Ab–Bb–C–Dn that interests 
us, supported by an almost complete  6th-line in contrary movement, 
Db–C–Bb–Ab–(G)–F; these two lines form a voice exchange accompanied by a 
chromatic inflection, F/Db becoming Dn/F, elaborating a IVth degree. 
Embedded inside this elaboration (and at a lower level), one may see 
another voice exchange, Ab–Bb–C/C–Bb–Ab, elaborating the tonic.

This leaves space (!), I think, to all three of your descriptions.

Nicolas Meeùs
Université Paris-Sorbonne

PS. One additional point that is not extremely important: Schenker 
himself would have described none of this as a /Prolongation/ (the 
German word, pronounce prolongatsiôn); he would have used 
/Auskomponierung/, which I translate as "elaboration", to describe what 
happens here. /Prolongation/ specifically denotes the extension of the 
laws of strict composition to free composition (Wayne Alpern should be 
able to tell us whether it is a juridic term); it is made visible in the 
tables that present the levels from background to foreground, the 
background being more or less strict and the subsequent levels ever 
freer. /Prolongation/, in Schenker, never (that I know) refers to an 
inscription of a chord in a time span.

Le 17/05/2012 20:56, Olli Väisälä a écrit :
> Some further thoughts on the opening of Carnaval:
> Frank Samarotto's and Eytan Agmon's discussion raises interesting 
> questions about the criteria of determination of structural weight in 
> Schenkerian analysis, an issue that I have pondered a lot in recent 
> years.
> A crucial criterion, on which most of us would probably agree, is that 
> in a passage of unified design, based on the repetition of a pattern, 
> the framing points should be strongly preferred as the two elements 
> with the greatest structural weight. In the Schumann, mm. 3–6 form 
> such a passage, especially on the basis of the sequential right-hand 
> part. Consequently, the IV and the V at the endpoints of this passage 
> are structurally superior to the intervening chords, as both Frank and 
> Eytan (and myself) agree.
> I would suggest, however, that the criteria for determining the next 
> most significant element are more complex. Two principles seem to 
> compete here, which might be called "partition principle" and "penult 
> principle". Under partition principle, the elements that occur at the 
> points that subdivide the passage take precedence. This principle 
> would support Eytan's reading of the "I" in m. 5 as overriding the 
> subsequent V4/3 of V. Under penult principle, the next-to-last element 
> tends to take precedence. This principle supports, of course, Frank's 
> reading of a voice-exchange between the IV and the V4/3 of V.
> My analytical experience suggests that it is by no means simple to 
> decide which of these two principles is more powerful in each case. 
> Sometimes the penult has to be chosen simply because it is 
> indispensable for the Schenkerian syntax. But the question can also be 
> approached from an empirical viewpoint: are there some particular 
> compositonal features – for example, registral or gestural – that 
> might reflect the structural signficance of either the partition 
> points or the penult?
> In the present case both the "I" and the V4/3 of V are syntactically 
> possible. As an empirical argument, one might note that the V4/3 of V 
> is registrally underlined by the bass's leap, which deviates from the 
> preceding motion. Hence, this aspect would support Frank's reading of 
> voice exchange (on which I am also intuitively inclined to agree).
> The dilemma between the partition principle and penult principle has, 
> of couse, much larger implications for Schenkerian studies, and is one 
> of the several evidential questions of Schenkerianism that would be in 
> need of better illumination.
> Olli Väisälä
> Sibelius Academy
> ovaisala at siba.fi
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