Dissertation Diary 2016-01-14

I had a good meeting with my advisor this week, the upshot of which is that I’m considering cutting 2 or 3 sections from chapter 4 before I’ve even written them. This means that I can definitely finish the chapter by the end of the month.

Here’s one of the bits I wrote this week, even if I’m thinking of cutting it:

Another song using chords in both a traditional tonal sense as well as also a more modal sense is Still Alive, the theme song from the video game Portal.


[D Bm]x5 Em A7 D

[D Bm]x5 Em A7 F


F C Bb F, F C Bb F

Bb C F C/E Dm Bb A

The verse starts out with a straightforward, traditionally tonal T Tr Pr D7 T. The second phrase changes at the end to accomplish the modulation to the chorus, with a nontraditional deceptive cadence of D7 tR, using traditional tonal modal borrowing, but taking the third from above instead of the usual D tV.

Once in F for the Chorus, the harmonic rhythm speeds up and the chord pattern flips the traditional IV V I expectation, to be V IV I – which is not uncommon in the last 50 or 60 years. I represent this with T PS S T (PS for presubdominant). The chorus is half as long as the verse, but shows a similar sentence structure.

The final phrase of the Chorus mixes both the traditional functions and the newer functions: T P D T D3 Tr S, but then instead of cadencing in F, the Bb continues to A major giving us an S TV resolution (major version of Tv), or achieving the modulation with Bb in D major with pR D T. This phraselet does include a TPDT motion, but only in a very forward moving portion of the phrase and not at the cadence (except only with the modulation).

While the verse sets up tonal functions, the chorus sets up subdominant as an important pretonic chord. The song repeats Verse-Chorus three times, and then ends on a Coda based on the opening 2 measures. Thus, the structural cadence is D T in D major at the end of the final Chorus, but that cadence is reinforced with many repetitions of T Sr T – and depending on your hearing the very last cadence is Bm D – and could be construed as more important than the cadence in the middle of a modulation.

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