[Smt-talk] The Concept of Appoggiatura

Donna Doyle donnadoyle at att.net
Wed Oct 24 06:05:22 PDT 2012

RE textbooks:

Around 20 yrs ago, Charles Kaufman, Mannes College Dean at the time, exclaimed, at the 
publication of a new harmony text, "Does the world really need another harmony book?" 
Not a few harmony texts work well for their author in the author's curriculum but fail when 
used in another educational context. No text is universal. Some are astoundingly incorrect.
But almost each contains enough useable material.

Let's remember our profession's history--an essentially oral tradition supplemented with written materials. 
Let's not be slaves to the written word! Yes, students need something to consult at home, and
why should each instructor reinvent the wheel, but, if the instructor is a sensitive, well-educated 
musician, able to define and nuance things for his/her students and to encourage lively debate, 
as you do, Dimitar, the students will gain. Isn't that the inestimable value of person-to-person/
classroom interaction? 

Donna Doyle

Aaron Copland School of Music
Queens College
65-30 Kissena Blvd.
Flushing, NY  11367
tele: 718-997-3819
fax:  718-997-3849
email: donna.doyle at qc.cuny.edu
email: donnadoyle at att.net

On Oct 23, 2012, at 3:51 PM, "Ninov, Dimitar N" <dn16 at txstate.edu> wrote:

> I think there were useful points in all recent comments provided by Victor, Stephen, David and Karen. To stay true to the historical approach to appoggiatura (or leaning tone, or accented dissonance), we may have to recognize that the first acceptable accented dissonance in counterpoint, along with the repeated tone (the suspension), was the accented passing tone. Then it cloned into neighboring and leaping versions, but in all of these transformations its character is not defined by the way it is approached but by the acoustic/harmonic effect it creates, especially in the realm of homophony.
> Introduce the tone D over the C major triad on a downbeat and resolve it down a step. Does it matter how it is approached? If you do not know this, you would probably determine it as a 9-8 suspension/appoggiatura. After you do that, approach it in four possible ways from the previous measure: 1) as a repeated tone; 2) as a passing tone; 3) as a neighboring tone; and 4) as a leaping tone. Do all these procedures change the harmonic conflict with the chord? Not in the least. As a listener, once you hear the clang, do you remember how the tone has been approached? 
> The biggest confusion arises from the indiscriminate classification of all non-chord tones by melodic contour only. By mixing up strong and weak tones, some authors may have taught they were doing a great favor to the students and to themselves - everything is on the shelf and it has a tag. The effect is exactly the opposite; a mish-mash system with no roots in history and practice that ignores the relationship between intuitive perception and logic. I think that labeling a clear apporggiatura (an accented dissonance) just as a passing or neighboring tone is one of the biggest flaws in some of today's theory books. 
> The worst of all comes when students are tested on non-chord tones. "Identify and label the non-chord tones," reads the direction, and the poor students embark on phishing for melodic contours all over the place, mixing up strong and weak tones until the last non-chord tone has been caught in the net. If a bold student takes the liberty to think creatively and to label as "appoggiatura" a tone that creates a clang but has a passing or neighboring profile, he or she will be immediately penalized by a teacher who has diligently digested a nonsensical theory, and for whom the melodic profile is the ultimate analytical criterion [because many current books say so].
> Best regards,
> Dimitar
> Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
> School of Music
> Texas State University
> 601 University Drive
> San Marcos, Texas 78666
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