[Smt-talk] Do-Re-MI

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Fri Oct 26 11:28:43 PDT 2012

"What would the Schenkerian Urlinie for The Sound of Music's Do-Re-MI be? ;-)"

I am glad that you inserted a smile after your question. Even when there is a line like that that harmonizes a phrase ending with IV - II half-diminished 6-5 - I, and outlines a beautiful plagal cadence, a Schenkerian analysis will "erase" your impressions by replacing that line with an imaginary descending one and an authentic cadence; or it will postulate that this is a tonic prolongation which has no place in a background analysis.

The final cadence in the first period from the opening theme of Jupiter by G. Holst is plagal. That is the only final cadence and the period is parallel. The melodic line over the last two chords is Re-Do. But harmonized with S-T, instead of D-T. What a mistake, to end a parallel period with a tonic prolongation! Therefore, this is not a parallel period either, for it must have true cadences, but it does not end with one!

I am glad there are such "mistakes" here and there in music, such as the clausula vera cadence (which is really a true and perfect melodic cadence) and other harmonically imperfect cadences, the Sol-La-Si-Do line, and many other elements that cannot be simply erased for the sake of keeping a theory intact. I am always amused by some people's attempts to "reinterpret" those prominent features by throwing them in the back yard along with the leading tone, which, of course, has no place in the background melodic analysis either.

But if we open Pandora's box, and start discussing the defects of a reigning theory, the eternal sanity and peace will be violated, and the violators punished. That is why noble silence must replace any possible criticism against a system of beliefs that is being upheld like a bible. Try to publish a critical article against the Teacher and his preaching; something that he himself did freely against Jean Philippe Rameau and other "lost sheep," yet nobody silenced him. But now we live in a democratic world, and it is more democratic for some, and less for others. 

With best wishes,


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

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