[Smt-talk] Semitonal voice leading

Nicolas Meeùs nicolas.meeus at scarlet.be
Tue May 7 05:21:22 PDT 2013

I had argumented something of the kind in my paper "Transitivité, 
rection, fonctions tonales" 
(www.plm.paris-sorbonne.fr/IMG/pdf/NMTransitivite.pdf), some 20 years 
ago, and I have since built my conception of harmonic functions 
accordingly. In short, my idea is that functions are transitive, in the 
linguistic sense of the term, that is, that they result from a 
reciprocal relation between chords. The consequence is that they can 
only be judged retrospectively, after the second chord has been heard. 
This also concerns the "characterizing elements" (rections) of chords, 
those that are supposed to be subjected to obligatory motion: there is 
nothing obligatory (unless in our habits) until after the motion. Note 
that this concerns parsimonious relations in general, not necessarily 

Nicolas Meeùs
Université Paris-Sorbonne

Le 7/05/2013 13:12, Seth Monahan a écrit :
> Dear colleagues:
> Can anyone direct me to a theoretical discussion of 19th-century 
> chromaticism that (1) addresses the kinds of creeping, semitonal 
> chord-connections that inspired Kurth’s conceit of “leading-tone 
> energies,” but which (2) argues that their apparent purposiveness is 
> less a matter of intrinsic striving "within" the notes themselves than 
> a function of retrospective hearing—i.e., that many or even most 
> motions by semitone can be heard as “directed” or “purposeful” after 
> the fact?
> Surely someone has argued this; any leads would be greatly 
> appreciated! (Off-list replies are welcome, of course.)
> With thanks in advance,
> -Seth
> -----------------------------------------------------------
> Seth Monahan
> Assistant Professor of Music Theory
> Managing Editor,/Theory and Practice/
> Eastman School of Music
> 26 Gibbs St.
> Rochester, NY, 14604
> (585) 274-1556
> smonahan at esm.rochester.edu <mailto:smonahan at esm.rochester.edu>
> www.sethmonahan.com <http://www.sethmonahan.com>
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