[Smt-talk] Caution versus Generalization

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Sat Aug 31 11:14:01 PDT 2013

Dear Nicolas and the list,
exactly, the weak spot in theory in general is a conflict between what we see (a smooth parsimonious connection of IV to V, obvious semantics of Subdominant as Predominant and, as such, the adjacency to Dominant) and what real theory suggests: not to see what everyone sees and to see what no one can see. There is no abyss between Subdominant and Dominant, has never been and will never be.  At least, it does not make Bach jump in a salto mortale over it: he always most gracefully steps from IV to V and this connection is one of the most musically enjoyable among all others. Counterpoint has never been based upon mere visual adjacency. Good counterpoint can create a  maximally smooth connection of two tones at a m7, the fifth is neither close, nor far from the fourth. The musical grammar (and syntax) is special, different from what an average well-educated person can see. And there is no way around it, no fast food lines, no contrivances, no smart
In this sense, Der Quintengeist der Stufen just as "biological urge of tones" and double slurs remind me of ABGlucose, a tablet which mediaeval doctors prescribed as panacea from all diseases to humans as well to live stock. I wonder, why do we spend so much time learning music if it only takes the Spirit of the Fifth to dawn on us in a single act of epiphany?
Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Institute
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com

 From: Nicolas Meeùs <nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be>
To: Ildar Khannanov <solfeggio7 at yahoo.com> 
Cc: "smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org" <smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org> 
Sent: Saturday, August 31, 2013 11:10 AM
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Caution versus Generalization


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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