[Smt-talk] II6/4

Olli Väisälä ovaisala at siba.fi
Tue Sep 3 00:01:24 PDT 2013

Dear Vasili and List,

Thanks to Vasili for his most welcome contribution. In fact, what I  
might have done in the first place is to consult Sanguinetti's (as  
well as Gjerdingen's) book. However, I do not think Vasili's points  
settle the matter of Schenkerian hierarchy as conclusively as he  

This relates with a topic that I find very interesting and have  
thought about recently, namely how to relate "Gjerdingenian" schemata  
with "Schenkerian" patterns. Their relationship is by no means  
simple, i.e., a certain schema does not always call for a similar  
Schenkerian reading. Consider Gjerdingen's Prinner, for example,  
which is archetypally a ^6^5^4^3 top-voice line accompanied by  
^4^3^2^1 bass, the ^6 being metrically strong. Such metrical  
circumstances support a Schenkerian hierarchy in which the I6,  
usually formed by the combination of ^5 in top voice and ^3 in bass,  
is a passing chord (usually between IV and II7 or IV and VII6).  
However, there can certainly be factors that require reading the I6  
as structural. Of course, one also cannot rule out certain ambiguity  
in this respect.

Similarly in the Mozart, the participation of the tonic in m. 6 in a  
cadential scheme does not settle the matter of its position in  
Schenkerian hierarchy. If we take the theme as such, I would consider  
the ^4–^3–^2 pattern in mm. 5–7 supported by ^2–^1–^7 as inherently  
ambiguous with respect to Schenkerian hierarchy. In the simple  
circumstances of the theme, one can certainly hear the I m. 6 as a  
genuine tonic. However, meter makes possible an alternative hearing  
in which this passage prolongs the II by voice exchange. What I find  
a really interesting compositional question is whether Mozart's  
variation technique involves features that support one or the other  
of the potential hierarchies. (Brahms's Haydn variations is a much  
more ambitious example exploiting alternative hierarchies of  
invariant scale-degree successions.)

The position of the ^3 in m. 6 in a 5-line also by no means settles  
the matter. In Schenkerian 5-lines, the ^3 is sometimes supported by  
a structural tonic but very often it functions as a passing note  
between ^4 and ^2.

What I find most illuminating in Vasili's post is the relationship he  
points out between two variant forms of cadenza lunga. Both bass line  
possibilities are amply used in the Mozart variations. 2–7–1–6–4–5–1  
is, of course, in the theme and also in vars. I, V, VI, X (slightly  
varied), and XII, whereas 6–7–1–6–4–5–1 is in vars. II, III, IV, VII  
(varied), XI (varied). Moreover, the II9 suspension that Vasili  
mentions occurs in m. 5 of vars. V and VI (in var. I one might  
perhaps hear the high E6 in m. 4 as implicitly suspended in m. 6).  
Hence Mozart resorts to schemata that were generally available to  
composers of the time as variants of each other. The perception of  
them as variants would, of course, go well together with my effort to  
interpret them through similar voice-leading models, both involving  
the II scale degree.

Now to the question whether the variations with a root-position II in  
m. 5 contain a prolongation of II in mm. 5–7. As I already observed  
in my previous post, in var. I the II in m. 5 gets some emphasis  
through the slight tonicization, and the subsequent "I" (m. 6) is  
weakened by being a part of the right hand's sequential design. Of  
course, the right-hand figure already begins in m. 4, but I would  
suggest that this is sufficiently counteracted by the hypermetrical  
strength and tonicization of II. In vars. V, VI, and XII, the span  
connecting the downbeats of mm. 5 and 7 is also bound together by a  
unified design (in var. V somewhat anticipated in the preceding  
upbeat to prepare the first suspension).

In all these cases, I would not hesitate reading a prolongation of II  
in mm. 5–7. In vars. V and VI, the impression of the weakness of the  
"I" in m. 6 is particularly enhanced by the chain of suspensions that  
goes through it. Now whether or not one agrees with this  
prolongational interpretation, I hope we can agree with the  
observation behind it: there are several features in these variations  
that diminish the likelihood that the I in m. 6 is perceived as a  
starting or end point of a perceptual unit (relative to m. 5 and 7).  
In this way I hope to have given an idea of the interaction of  
cadential and "Gjerdingenian" schemata (if I may use that word) with  
other factors. A composer such as Mozart was able to give various  
nuances to such schemata by varying their points of emphasis and  
embedding their framing points into larger patterns etc. etc.

Olli Väisälä
Sibelius Academy
University of the Arts Helsinki
ovaisala at siba.fi

> Dear Olli,
> In response to your query about Mozart's variation...
> The passage you cite in bars 5–7 is a cadential lick that Mozart  
> and others use frequently. In this context, the tonic in bar 6 is  
> not "apparent" but an integral part of the schema's cascading  
> thirds in the bass (1–6–4).
> When forming an authentic cadence, the formula's bass goes (1–)6–7– 
> 1–6–4–5–1. For a half cadence, (1–)6–7–1–6–4–#4–5. For an example  
> of each, see the K466 concerto, first movement, bars 41–44 and 121– 
> 124, respectively (in D minor and F major).
> The pattern is a species of what Italian musicians called a cadenza  
> lunga (long cadence) in the eighteenth century (see e.g. Giorgio  
> Sanguinetti's Art of Partimento, p. 109). This cadence, like other  
> cadenze lunghe (of which there are many), is really a concatenation  
> of two bass patterns: (do–)la–ti–do and do–la–fa–sol–do. See the  
> first example in the attached PDF.
> The middle tonic here is a cadential fulcrum, of sorts. In  
> Schenkerian terms, your "apparent tonic" also occurs at the  
> midpoint of a 5-line. In other words, the two patterns that make up  
> the cadenza lunga also correspond to two third-progressions (G–E, E– 
> C) that bisect the larger line in the top voice. (This 5-line is of  
> course a central feature of the "Maman" theme.)
> You may be onto something, however, regarding a suppressed ii chord  
> in bar 5: not a ii6/4, but a ii9/3. This cadenza lunga often begins  
> not with 6 in the bass but with 2, resulting in a partimento  
> formula called the "down a third up a step" (and vice versa), 2–7–1– 
> 6–4–5–1 (usually preceded by 1 or #1). This formula is frequently  
> harmonized with alternating 9/3 and 6/5 chords: see the second and  
> third examples in the attached PDF as well as Sanguinetti, p. 150,  
> Example 9.45d.
> Examples of this pattern are ubiquitous in the literature.
> Hope this helps...
> All best wishes,
> Vasili
> ••••••••••••••••••
> Vasili Byros
> Assistant Professor, Music Theory and Cognition
> Northwestern University
> Bienen School of Music
> 711 Elgin Road
> Evanston, IL 60208

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