[Smt-talk] Caution versus Generalization

Edward Klorman eklorman at juilliard.edu
Thu Aug 29 05:04:12 PDT 2013

Dear Dimitar (and all),

Regarding what you describe as the "functional duality" of the cadential 6/4 chord: You may know, or may be interested to know, that there is some published research within the Schenkerian tradition that is (very obliquely) along these lines. I am referring to discussions of the invertibility of the cadential 6/4, which appear in the following publications:

Cutler, Timothy. 2008. "Inverted Cadential Six-Four Harmonies." Paper read at the annual meeting of AMS and SMT, Nashville, Tennessee. (I believe some of this material appears in Cutler's article "On Voice Exchanges" in Journal of Music Theory 53, no. 2 (20090: 191–226.

Rothstein, William. 2006. "Transformation of Cadential Formulae in the Music of Corelli and his Successors." In Essays from the Third International Schenker Symposium, ed. Allen Cadwallader, 245-278. New York: George Olms.

I believe Gabriel Fankhauser also discussed this in his paper on "Deviant Cadential Six-Four Chords" at SMT last year in New Orleans. Unfortunately, Hurricane Sandy prevented me from attending, but I've perused his handout available online:


Of course, these authors (like many of us on this list, I believe) understand the cadential 6/4 to represent the dominant Stufe (or "function"), with the sixth and fourth above the bass as non-chord tones. But they note the phenomenon that the chord can be inverted or, put differently, that a seeming I or I6 chord may act as the inversion of the cadential 6/4.

A simple example of this technique is in Schumann's Dichterliebe, song #3 ("Wenn ich in deine Augen seh'"), on the words "so werd' ich ganz und gar gesund." The predominant harmony (II 6/5 on "ich") moves to a seeming I6 on the downbeat. But the I6 moves, via a voice exchange, to the 6/4 position on the word "gar," and resolves normally as a cadential 6/4. (I don't recall whether this particular example is discussed by Rothstein or Cutler.)

Of course, as you have extensively explained, you will not agree with these authors concerning the function of the "I6" or the "I6/4" chords -- but I note that both you and they would recognize that these two chords are inversions of one another.



Edward Klorman, PhD
The Juilliard School
Chair, Music Theory and Analysis
Faculty, Chamber Music

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