IntroductionIn analyzing chromatic music as voice leading transformations, one is likely to see adiversity of chord types and qualities, most with tonal functional expectations, featuring bothtraditional and non-traditional resolutions. In recent research, certain transformations have beenselected by neo-Riemannian theorists as displaying a special "parsimonious" status.
Thesestudies, however, treat only a small fraction of all of the chord successions seen in chromaticmusic. I propose that a definition of a kind of diatonic parsimony will also allow for aworthwhile practical view of music as a progression of closely-related harmonies through tonalspace.
In the first section of this paper, I shall outline the diatonic theories that support thereasoning behind the just-intonation
model given in part two. Part three presentsexamples of the analytical method taken from the two Rhapsodies, Op. 79 of Johannes Brahms.In part four, a case-by-case method for treating atypical resolutions of normally functionalchords is suggested through an analysis of the opening of the Prelude to Wagner's
Tristan und Isolde
For a background and introduction to neo-Riemannian theory, see Hyer 1995, Cohn 1997, and Morris 1998. For aseries of articles on the subject and a bibliography, see the Neo-Riemannian Theory issue of the
Journal of MusicTheory
(42/2, Fall 1998).
This kind of parsimony is not restricted to transformations that preserve common tones. Instead, exclusivelystepwise (and common-tone) motion is the constraint for "diatonic parsimony." These voice-leading restrictions aregiven by Agmon 1991 and several other studies of diatonic voice leading.