Dissertation Diary 2015-05-12

Edits! I merged my two sections of chapter 3 for a total of 49 page, approx. 12800 words, and 22 additional pages of appendices. I feel a lot better about this chapter, but I definitely need outside eyes on it for grammar, detail, a little flow, and concepts that may be readily apparent to me but not to others. If you are interested in reading the entire chapter let me know!

I’m thinking about writing an article while catching up on my readings and hopefully I’ll have the motivation to edit the second half of chapter 2 before school gets out. (4 more weeks!)

Here’s the Beethoven analysis I added to the end of Chapter 3: Appendix C



As an additional demonstration, I have included an analysis of a longer excerpt: the Exposition and Development from the first movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata op 31 no 3, in Appendix C pages ???. This movement is particularly interesting because it often features predominants in positions where we typically expect structural dominants, in addition to concepts such as slash-D, D 6/4, sequences, chords with multiple interpretations, chromatic predominants, applied Dominants, and showing detail versus showing big picture. A glossary of terms for readers unfamiliar with Sonata Theory formal terminology is available in Appendix D.

The movement opens with a P 6/5 instead of tonic, something which might only be known later, but as the initial sonority has the add-6 sound, it is hard to call it tonic, as well as that add-6 sonority being most commonly used as a Predominant, many experienced listeners could get the subtle sense of predominant-ness even from the first sound waves. This P 6/5 gets manipulated through the movement as it changes with the themes and motives. After the initial phrase and repetition, the next strong predominant is a borrowed p 6/5 in mm. 33-34. This calls to mind the opening, but the change of mode foreshadows development transformations, and the fact that it is right after a strong dominant (with preceding Double dominant, mm. 30-31) upsets the first option for a medial caesura and thwarts expectations of an early second theme. This p 6/5 is directly transposed to the key of the dominant in m. 39, the earliest it is safe to modulate stably to the new key. However, it is not p(Bb) but p(F), marking an extended tonicization of the Dominant, which then morphs to a pR #6/5 before the emphatic Bb: HC for a proper medial caesura in m. 45.

Predominant doesn’t feature as highly in the secondary theme, but returns at the opening of the Development, in m. 89. The sonority from m. 1 is reimagined as pR 6/5 in c minor, and then expanded to pR #6/5 to more firmly express c minor. As the development cycles downward by fifth through keys, the next two keys (F m. 109, Bb m. 117) are introduced with a predominant, pR #6/4. Eb is not introduced with a predominant but a dominant (m. 125), signaling that while the home key is achieved, it is still too early for the primary theme. Eb tonic quickly becomes (D7)P (m. 127), and the triad slowly moves its 5 to 6 (mm. 129-130) and P6 is drawn out as a pedal, as if it were the dominant, reintroducing the tonic theme (m. 137). The full P 6/5 is not completed till m. 139, 2 measures after the primary theme has been reintroduced.

There are several places where more than one chord interpretation is possible. In the transition between the primary and secondary themes, there is a verticality that could be thought of as an extension of the prevailing predominant (m. 36 beat 3), but could also be a slash-D. However, this diminished seventh chord doesn’t resolve any of the times it appears (mm. 36, 38, 40, 42) in any key, even belatedly. For me it makes more sense for the predominant to hold tension and resolve final in m. 44, but there may be reasons to draw attention to its status as a fully diminished seventh chord as well.

Another flexible instance occurs in m. 49. A Predominant has shifted from P5 to P6. Commonly, I don’t call a fa-la-re collection Pr3 unless there is a (D)Pr preceding it, but this case is in between. If the performance strongly highlights the B♮, some listeners may hear it as an applied leading tone to C, and hear the Pr3 instead of the P6.

Measures 68-70 have a falling thirds sequence that also shows multiple applied dominants. This sequence can easily be analyzed functionally, but the harmony also interacts with a 10-7 LIP, highlighting the dominant 7th chord pull from each embellishing applied dominant to its referent. There is also the applied dominant to the double dominant, which is the same chord as (D)Pr, as Pr and Double Dominant have the same root. The Double dominant replaces the Pr which would have been the logical continuation of the sequence in order to provide pull towards the cadence.

One passage which I find much easier to analyze with Functional Analysis than with Roman numerals is the opening of the development, mm. 89-100. Function helps clarify why the pR#6/5 resolves neatly to a D6/4 though the D6/4 itself never resolves here, and then in m. 96-7, when an applied slash-D of Dominant resolves to another slash-D, very little explanation is needed, whereas in Roman numerals explaining why (viiº7)V goes to viiº7 instead of V takes more time and words.

Throughout this excerpt, the figuration of the texture makes for many places where a chord every beat or even every bar is tedious or unhelpful. For example, mm. 17-21 are a tonic pedal, for which showing a new chord every bar could be helpful, but may also detract from identifying the tonic-ness of the passage. On the repeat of the passage, the analysis of mm. 21-25 demonstrate how the upper numerals can show the voice leading over the tonic pedal. Additionally, compare m. 26 with m. 28. In some instances, the more detail of the moving bass line 5-3-1 may be useful. In a time crunch or a big picture focused analysis, D7 for the whole bar may be sufficient.

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