[Smt-talk] Mozart harmonic progression

Sheehan, Paul J. Paul.Sheehan at ncc.edu
Mon Apr 22 17:28:15 PDT 2013

Dear Eric and other readers:

I don't have a ready answer but can't help recognizing the similarity between your progression and the descending bass a few measures into the overture to Don Giovanni.

If you haven't done so already, pore over the Crucifixus from Bach's Mass in B minor.

I hope this helps.

Paul Sheehan

Dr. Paul Sheehan

Instructor, Music Department

Nassau Community College (SUNY)

One Education Drive

Garden City, New York 11530

From: smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org [smt-talk-bounces at lists.societymusictheory.org] on behalf of Eric Knechtges [eric.t.knechtges at gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, April 22, 2013 12:59 PM
To: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
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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