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The Spanish Baroque Guitar and Seventeenth-Century Triadic Theory

The Spanish Baroque Guitar and Seventeenth-Century Triadic Theory

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Published by: Rafael Iravedra on Aug 21, 2011
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Yale University Department of Music
The Spanish Baroque Guitar and Seventeenth-Century Triadic TheoryAuthor(s): Thomas ChristensenSource:
Journal of Music Theory,
Vol. 36, No. 1 (Spring, 1992), pp. 1-42Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of the Yale University Department of MusicStable URL:
Accessed: 18/07/2009 11:15
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available athttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained athttp://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=duke.Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1995 to build trusted digital archives for scholarship. We work with thescholarly community to preserve their work and the materials they rely upon, and to build a common research platform thatpromotes the discovery and use of these resources. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
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 Journal of Music Theory.
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THESPANISHBAROQUEGUITARANDSEVENTEENTH-CENTURYTRIADICTHEORY
ThomasChristensen
Insearchingfortheoriginsofharmonictonality,the historianmustbe carefulnot to fall into thetrapoffallaciousgeneticismbyanach-ronisticallynterpretingsome musicaleventortheoreticalformulationinthelightof latertonaltheory.Forexample,becauseaharmonicprogressionn a16th-centurymadrigalmightlook like a tonalauthen-ticcadence,it doesnotfollowthat theprogressionactuallyfulfills suchatonalfunctionincontext.Likewise,whenatheorist from thesametime notesthatinpracticethe fourth scaledegreeofaLydianmodeis oftenloweredthroughmusicaficta,itwould be Procrusteanforustodaytointerprethisobservationonlyasanadumbrationof themod-ernmajor/minorkeysystem.Anysophisticatedtheoryoftonality,asCarlDahlhaus has shownus,must be adynamiconecomprisinganexusoffeatures thatcannot befacilelyreduced toacompositeofindividualconstituents,howevercriticalanyoneoftheseconstituentsmaybe to thetheory.'In thisregard,thequestionoftriadictheoryinthe17thcenturystands as aparadigmatictestcase.Itiseasyforus toprojectback-1
 
wards our notionof tonalcoherenceuponthe chordalprogressionscomposedandtaught byearly Baroquemusicians,and indeedthishasoftenbeendonewithenlighteningresults.2Indoingso, however,weriskmisconstruingboththestylisticand the theoretical frameworksnwhich this chordalvocabularywasarticulated,onesthat relate back to16th-centurymodal andcontrapuntaltheoryas much astheypointforwardto18th-centuryfunctionalharmony.3Triadicstructures,inotherwords,maybenecessary,butbyno meanssufficient,compo-nents toatonaltheory.With thiscaveatinmind,Iwould like to look at auniqueandlittle-studied musicalrepertoirefrom the 17thcentury-thepopulardancetunesplayed upontheSpanishfive-courseBaroqueguitar-whereinwe findextraordinaryevidence of "triadicthinking"withintriguingtheoreticalimplications.Much musicplayedupontheBaroqueguitarwasstronglychordalintexture,whichshouldprobablynotsurpriseusgiventheease withwhichone canfingerand strum achordonthisinstrument. It is usual for folkand rockguitaristsodayto thinkof thesongs theyaccompanynexclusivelychordalterms;thesame turnsoutto have beentrue for17th-centuryguitarists,for whomchordsbecameindependentandautonomouscompositionalconstructs thatcould beinvertedandjuxtaposedfreely.This chordalmentalityallowedthemto test andexploitharmonicrelationshipswith fargreaterlicense thanwas available tokeyboardists,whosepracticewasheavilyconstrainedbycontrapuntal exigencies.Moreover,there wasanextensivepeda-gogicalliterature written fortheseguitariststhatcodified thistriadicpracticeand thatdiffered inremarkablewaysfromcommensuratetreatisesoncompositional practiceaimed atkeyboardists.Theprac-ticeandtheoryofBaroqueguitarmusic wasnotwithoutramifications.Inthesecond half of thisarticle I willshowhowthechordaltexturescultivated insologuitardances wereintegratedwithinthorough-bassensembles in the17thcentury,withprofound consequencesfor thedevelopmentofharmonictheoryin the18thcentury.RasgueadoGuitarPerformance andTriadicTexturesInthefirstdecades ofthe17thcentury,rasgueado,aperformingtechniqueonthenewly-developedfive-courseguitar,gainedrapidpopularityinSpain. Rasgueadoliterallymeans"strummed"andcon-trastswith thetechniqueofpluckingcalledpunteado,whichwaslongcultivated onthe lute(anditsSpanish equivalent,thevihuela).Inras-gueadoplaying,theperformerfingersachordwiththe lefthandwhiletherighthandstrumsthestringswithsharpunfurlingsofthefingersinalternatedirections;thetechniqueisusedmostcommonlytodayin2

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