Essays in schenkerian theory and analysis


Essays in schenkerian theory and analysis

This page intentionally left blank O N E A Preliminary Study Of all the criticisms occasioned by the work of Schenker and his school, one has been especially persistent. It is that Schenkerian analysis, whatever insight it may give in many respects, fails to do justice to rhythm, that crucial element without which there could be no music.

One might tend to brush aside such an objection if it were expressed only by those unconvinced by Schenker's approach. However, musicians who subscribe to many of Schenker's views have also voiced this criticism. How often have we heard that Beethoven was weak at counterpoint or that the use of extreme registers in his late works was due to his deafness?

But whether wholly, partly, or not at all true, any criticism of such staying power deserves our careful attention. By considering its implications, those of us working with the approach can consolidate what we already know and begin to explore areas that are still largely uncharted.

In this essay I shall try to explain how this criticism of Schenker arose and to determine the extent to which it is valid. I shall then discuss attempts in recent years to establish a theory of rhythm.

Schenkerian analysis - Wikipedia One might even argue that no description of an Ursatz properly speaking is complete if it does not include IV or II at the background level.
One might even argue that no description of an Ursatz properly speaking is complete if it does not include IV or II at the background level. Schenker uses a special sign to denote this situation, the double curve shown in the example hereby, crossing the slur that links IV or II to V.
These facts alone amply justify the publication of Unfoldings. But, in addition, Schachter is unmatched as acommunicator of complex musical ideas.

And finally I shall outline some of my own ideas about the analysis of rhythm in tonal music. Schenker often excluded rhythmic notation from his graphic analyses, particularly those remote from the foreground of the composition.

Originally published in Music Forum 4pp. This exclusion results from his conviction that the Fundamental Structure Ursatz is arrhythmic4 and that each level of prolongation brings with it an increasing rhythmic activity.

Thus, in Schenker's view, tonal relationships generally take priority over rhythmic ones as determinants of musical structure.

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In his analyses, Schenker would often assign a high structural level to a tone, a chord, or a tonal complex that the composer had not emphasized by stress or duration. On the other hand, elements that were so emphasized might be consigned to a lower level of structure.

Essays in schenkerian theory and analysis

In as early a work as Harmony Schenker stated that the harmonic or contrapuntal function of a chord does not depend upon its duration. And finally, Schenker's most devoted adherent must agree that he elaborated no systematic approach to rhythm comparable to what he achieved in the realm of voice leading and tonal organization.

Rhythmic Notation and Graphs The first of these points—the absence of rhythmic notation from background-level graphs—is certainly the least important. The graph, after all, is a representation and as such is dependent upon the conception leading to it. It should be noted, however, that Schenker often took great pains to include durational values and important groupings both of tones and of measures in his foreground graphs, and that these include a wealth of fascinating rhythmic detail.

Furthermore, his middleground graphs, even those that contain no rhythmic notation, can yield much valuable insight into the larger rhythms of a composition. Priority of Tonal Relationships The second and third points—the arrhythmic nature of the Ursatz and the priority of tonal over rhythmic relationships—represent a specific and a general expression of the same thought.

For the present I would like to concentrate upon the third point, reserving a discussion of the Fundamental Structure for later treatment. In considering Schenker's assumption that tonal events take priority over rhythm, we might well begin by determining whether we can even investigate the two aspects of music apart from each other.

According to Charles Rosen, such a separation is not valid. One of his complaints about Schenker is that "his neglect of rhythm, too, has only accentuated the nonsensical separation in theory of the elements of music, as if a tonal melody could exist without a rhythmic contour.

But does it then follow that any separation of the elements of music must be "nonsensical"? Only, I think, if the separation plays no role in our perception of music; in music theory the nonsensical is the unbearable. In this connection let us study a few very simple examples from the literature, concentrating upon melody.

Bach, The Musical 19 Offering trio sonata. It is obvious that the two melodies, despite the differences in rhythmic contour, have much in common. Otherwise we could not hear the second as a variation of the first.

It must follow as a logical consequence that something other than rhythm—some relationship among the tones—must cause the similarity. If this is so, it could hardly be "nonsensical" to separate, for the purpose of analysis, the tonal contour from the rhythmic.

Unfoldings : Essays in Schenkerian Theory and Analysis by Carl Schachter (, Paperback) | eBay

Now it might be objected that the rhythmic contrast between Frederick's subject and Bach's variation lies mainly on the surface, the underlying pace being very similar see the alignment of the two melodies in Example 1.Unfoldings: Essays in Schenkerian Theory and Analysis by Carl Schachter.

Carl Schachter is, by common consent, one of the three or four most important music theorists currently at work in North America. He is the preeminent practitioner in the world of the Schenkerian approach to the music of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which. This volume gathers some of his finest essays, including those on rhythm in tonal music, Schenkerian theory, and text setting, as well as a pair of analytical monographs, on Bach's Fugue in B-flat major from Volume 1 of the Well-Tempered Clavier and .

Schenkerian analysis is a method of analyzing tonal music, based on the theories of Heinrich Schenker (–). The goal is to demonstrate the organic coherence of the work by showing how it relates to an abstract deep structure, the Ursatz.

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Therefore, we consider the schenkerian analysis not only a theory, but also a comprehensive way of understanding musical works. Schenkerian analysis provides a comprehensive view of music from the small to the large representing thus a great asset to hearing understanding and performance.

Title Unfoldings: Essays in Schenkerian Theory and Analysis. Carl Schachter has taught music theory and analysis at Mannes College since He has served as the Chair . "The idea of feting Carl Schachter by publishing a collection of his essays in music theory and analysis is most laudable.

Schachter is one of the heroes of musical analysis, and his collected writings explain Schenkerian analysis better than any of the existing textbooks in English on the Carl Schachter.

Schenkerian analysis - Wikipedia