[Smt-talk] Mozart harmonic progression

Kyle adams adamsk01 at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 22 11:44:48 PDT 2013

Dear Eric,
A close approximation occurs in the brief interlude preceding "Mourn, Israel" from Handel's Saul (1738), HWV 54. Two differences: Handel also harmonizes the decending leading tone (with a diminished-seventh chord), and uses a German augmented-sixth chord.
Kyle Adams
Associate Professor of Music Theory
Jacobs School of Music
Indiana University

 From: Eric Knechtges <eric.t.knechtges at gmail.com>
To: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org 
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2013 12:59 PM
Subject: [Smt-talk] Mozart harmonic progression


Point of curiosity -- those of you with corpus studies of Mozart at hand may have a ready answer to this.

There is a certain harmonic progression that seems to pop up in Mozart's music in minor keys, and I have yet to find an example of this exact progression in any other composer.  Arguments of counterpoint vs. harmony aside, here is the basic idea:

i - v6 - #viø7 - +6 - V (or cadential 6/4)

So, in d minor, for instance:

Dm - Am/C - Bø7 - It+6 - A

While I know that chromatic and diatonic descents to the dominant are commonplace and have a rich history, it is this precise sequence of harmonies that I haven't found in any other composer with nearly the frequency that I've seen it in Mozart.  Does anyone have examples of this from another composer?  Is it more common in Mozart than his contemporaries?


Eric Knechtges, DM
Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Composition/Theory
Northern Kentucky University  
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