[Smt-talk] II6/4

Olli Väisälä ovaisala at siba.fi
Tue Sep 3 11:57:51 PDT 2013

Comment to Eytan:

> But then, you might as well hear II prolonged already in the theme!
> I think there is something genuinely na•ve about this piece. I  
> prefer a
> simpler reading.

In an earlier posting (replying to Vasili Byros), I already pointed  
out the possibility to hear the prolonged II in the theme ("Ah, vous  
dirai-je, Maman"). But I also noted that this is by no means  
unequivocally supported in its simple (Å naive) circumstances. I  
called the theme inherently ambiguous and cited features in the  
variations that support the prolongation of II, actualizing the  
potential in the theme, so to speak.

I would thus suggest that in the naivete of the theme, prolongational  
hierarchy may indeed be shallow (or meaningless), but in Mozart's  
art, as in the variations, deeper hierarchy tends to arise.

Incidentally, Schenker did not intend his theory as a general theory  
of tonality (as some recent authors have suggested) but of  
"masterworks." I think he may well have been on the right track in  
that the hierarchy of structural levels is indeed a resource mainly  
exploited in a certain kind of "art music."

Then a word about simplicity of readings. Regarding hierarchical  
depth, it is indeed simpler to read the tonic in m. 6 as a genuine I.  
With respect to meter, however, it is simpler to read a prolongation  
of II in mm. 5Ð7. The former criterion may, indeed, be more  
significant if there is reason to assume that the music is of a  
"naive" type incapable of sustaining any deeper prolongational  
hierarchy. But in that case there is not much reason to apply the  
concept of prolongation (or structural levels) in the first place.  
But once we take the possibility of prolongation in earnest, I do not  
think metric strength should ever be dismissed as a criterion of  
hierarchy unless there is clear evidence to the contrary. It is,  
indeed, so much *simpler* to hear a passing figure connect two  
metrically strong points than weak ones.

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

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