[Smt-talk] Semitonal voice leading

Ildar Khannanov solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
Sun May 12 07:39:41 PDT 2013

Dear Andrew,
an excellent point!
In general, the question of function cannot be and should not be tied to the so-called voice leading context. The Dominant Seventh chord functions as Dominant with or without the resolution triad in sight. In music of Wagner, say, in Tristan, there are hundreds of unresolved dominant seventh chords, yet they all are Dominant seventh chords. It has become a matter of style to leave them unresolved. Yet they bleed the energy of leading tone and leave the listener on a tip of his or her toes.
Of course, here the rigorous experimental science collides with music theory and (on the background) with philosophy. The fact that one can identify V7 as the Dominant Seventh chord in the absence of the chord of resolution or, even, in the absence of any horizontality, is supported by the whole history of philosophy. It all started with the discussion of horseness of a horse between Plato and Diogenes. The former suggested that we can think of horseness, the latter, the cynic, doubted that and saw only a horse.
A major Aristotelian achievement--the faculty of mind to ascend from the level of fact to the level of kind by means of generealization--is the proof that tonal-harmonic functions have the right to exist beyond the criterion of tangibility. This is a major flop of Schenker--he wanted to criticize Riemann but managed to identify only objectal level (the note heads, adjacencies, etc). Together with Riemann, he libeled the whole history of Western thought. 
Voice leading is not mere connection of note heads by steps. Parsimony is not a criterion of voice leading. Musical line is different from line as geometric object on a Cartesian plane. In one of the best examples of it, in Adagio cantabile from the Pathetique, outer voices leap 50 percent of times, yet the voice leading is perfect. The secret of this perfection lies not in adjacency of note heads, but in the fact that there is an underlying basso fondamentale. Connections of adjacent triads always present the problem of voice leading the anomaly of functional syntax. I have all the reasons to believe that basso fondamentale is the source of good voice leading, much better than basso continuo.

Best wishes,
Dr. Ildar Khannanov
Peabody Conservatory
solfeggio7 at yahoo.com
--- On Tue, 5/7/13, Andrew Schartmann <andrew.schartmann at yale.edu> wrote:

From: Andrew Schartmann <andrew.schartmann at yale.edu>
Subject: Re: [Smt-talk] Semitonal voice leading
To: smt-talk at lists.societymusictheory.org
Date: Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 4:29 PM

Michael Rofe's new book "Dimensions of Energy in Shostakovich's Symphonies" makes extensive use of Boleslav Yavorsky's theoretical work, which has a great deal in common with Kurth. Chapter 2 of Rofe's book, entitled "Energy as Melodic-Harmonic Motion", posits Yavorskian tritone-driven motion as a basic engine of harmonic progression—one that operates quite freely relative to traditional diatonic pitch-space—in Shostakovich's music. It's not exactly what you're looking for, but Rofe does discuss Kurth's work in relation to Russian musicology, and he goes a long way in expanding the notion of leading-tone energies to semitonal motion in general.

Best wishes,
Andrew Schartmann
Graduate Student
Yale University
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