[Smt-talk] Caution versus Generalization

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be
Sat Aug 31 08:10:07 PDT 2013


1) That the dominant triad should resolve to the tonic triad may be 
understood as the result of what Schenker termed "the fifth-spirit of 
degrees", /der //Quintengeist der Stufen/. It is for the same reason 
that Riemann first was at loss to explain the direct progression from IV 
to V, that early commentators of Rameau had said 'impossible' or 
'forbidden'. August Halm, a friend of Riemann, writes in his 
/Harmonielehre/ (1900, p. 32), speaking of IV and V: "between these two 
chords there is an abyss"; I think to remember he had discussed this in 
a correspondence with Riemann, but I cannot now find the reference. 
Riemann eventually explained it as a feigned consonance by which IV –V 
compared to II–V (a 5th-progression), but it remains a weak spot in his 
theory (as it was in Rameau's "double emploi").

2) Schenker, as a native German speaker, understood /Unterdominante/ as 
meaning the dominant under, i.e. the lower fifth, merely because that is 
what the term means in German. There is not a hint to anything else in 
any of his writings. The notation of his graphs makes this absolutely 
clear: he always underlines the T–S–D (–T) progression with a slur with 
double curve, that he uses in no other case (in particular, not in the 
case of I–III–V–I). He used this special slur from 1926 onwards, and 
probably copied it from vol. I of Afred Lorenz' /Das Geheimnis der Form/ 
(1924, p. 19), where it represents a sine curve going from the tonic 
down to the subdominant, up to the dominant and back to the tonic, 
materializing the fact that the /Unterdominante/ is "the dominant under".

3) The interpretation of the subdominant as an adjacency to the dominant 
is a feature of French theory. Rameau, and several of his followers, 
certainly understood it as the dominant a fifth under the tonic. 
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, however, already wondered about this: see his 
/Dictionnaire /(1767), vol. 2 pp. 200-201 of the edition available on 
CHTML/TFM. The earliest mention of the term that I have been able to 
find in French is in Jean-François Dandrieu's /Principes de 
l'accompagnement/, c1719 – more than ten years before Rameau, who did 
not use it before /Génération harmonique. /Dandrieu gives names for the 
seven degrees of the diatonic scale: /Finale/, /Sufinale/, /Mediante/, 
/Soudominante/, /Dominante/, /Sudominante/, /Soufinale/, where the use 
of /Sudominante/ for degree VI certainly denotes an adjacency to the 
dominant: this probably is true also of /Soudominante/. This became and 
remains today the usage of the Paris Conservatoire National, and I have 
been insulted in the French journal /Analyse musicale/ for having 
suggested that one might prefer "sous-médiante" (submediant) to 
"sus-dominante". On this point, see also my "Teorie musicali in epoca 
romantica", /Enceclopedia della musica/, J.-J. Nattiez ed., vol. V, 
2005, p. 627-644.//


Nicolas Meeùs
Université Paris-Sorbonne

Le 31/08/2013 10:44, Ildar Khannanov a écrit :
> Dear Nicolas and the list,
> I find it very difficult to perceive that Riemann has been insensitive 
> to directionality in tonal music. Au contraire, he was one of two 
> (with Rameau) who suggested a superstructure, something above and 
> behind the notes, which would drive music in time. How else could you 
> explain that dominant triad SHOULD resolve to tonic triad? Are there 
> any ideas beyond tonal-harmonic functionality that could explain this 
> simple yet mysterious phenomenon?
> Made-up concepts, such as "syntax" which should unfold only in one 
> direction, are just that -- made-up things. Who would ban the 
> Subdominant-to-Tonic motion as functional and syntactic?
> As for Erpf and Riemann--they both agreed with Rameau who called the 
> upper fifth dominant and the lower fifth sous-dominant. This is the 
> topic for the freshmen at the conservatory. The only one who did not 
> understand that subdominant is located a fifth below tonic was 
> Heinrich, who obsessively interpreted the subdominant note as 
> an adjacency to dominant on every so-called voice leading graph.
> Ildar Khannanov
> Peabody Institute
> Johns Hopkins University
> solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

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