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Explaining Tonality

Eastman Studies in Music


Ralph P. Locke, Senior Editor
Eastman School of Music
(ISSN 10719989)
Additional Titles in Music Theory, Analysis, and Aesthetics
Analyzing Wagners Operas: Alfred
Lorenz and German Nationalist Ideology
Stephen McClatchie
Berliozs Semi-Operas: Romo et Juliette
and La damnation de Faust
Daniel Albright
The Chansons of Orlando di Lasso and
Their Protestant Listeners: Music, Piety,
and Print in Sixteenth-Century France
Richard Freedman
Concert Music, Rock, and Jazz since
1945: Essays and Analytical Studies
Edited by Elizabeth West Marvin
and Richard Hermann
Elliott Carter: Collected Essays and
Lectures, 19371995
Edited by Jonathan W. Bernard
Historical Musicology: Sources,
Methods, Interpretations
Edited by Stephen A. Crist and
Roberta Montemorra Marvin
Music and Musicians in the Escorial
Liturgy under the Habsburgs,
15631700
Michael Noone

Music and the Occult: French


Musical Philosophies, 17501950
Joscelyn Godwin
The Music of American Folk Song
and Selected Other Writings on
American Folk Music
Ruth Crawford Seeger, edited by Larry
Polansky and Judith Tick
The Music of Luigi Dallapiccola
Raymond Fearn
Music Theory in Concept and Practice
Edited by James M. Baker, David W.
Beach, and Jonathan W. Bernard
The Pleasure of Modernist Music:
Listening, Meaning, Intention, Ideology
Edited by Arved Ashby
Schumanns Piano Cycles and the
Novels of Jean Paul
Erika Reiman
The Sea on Fire: Jean Barraqu
Paul Griffiths
Theories of Fugue from the Age of Josquin
to the Age of Bach
Paul Mark Walker

A complete list of titles in the Eastman Studies in Music Series,


in order of publication, may be found at the end of this book.

Explaining Tonality
Schenkerian Theory and Beyond

Matthew Brown

University of Rochester Press

Copyright 2005 Matthew Brown


All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under current legislation,
no part of this work may be photocopied, stored in a retrieval system,
published, performed in public, adapted, broadcast, transmitted,
recorded, or reproduced in any form or by any means,
without the prior permission of the copyright owner.
First published 2005
University of Rochester Press
668 Mt. Hope Avenue, Rochester, NY 14620, USA
www.urpress.com
and Boydell & Brewer Limited
PO Box 9, Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 3DF, UK
www.boydellandbrewer.com
ISBN: 1580461603
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Brown, Matthew, 1957Explaining tonality : Schenkerian theory and beyond / Matthew Brown.
p. cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-58046-160-3 (hardcover : alk. paper)
1. Schenkerian analysis. 2. Tonality. I. Title.
MT6.B87E9 2005
781.258dc22
2005007617
A catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library.
This publication is printed on acid-free paper.
Printed in the United States of America.

Contents
Figures

vii

Preface

xiii

Introduction. Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues


Basic Goals and Assumptions
Building and Testing Theories
Six Criteria for Evaluating Theories
1. Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy
Fux and Strict Counterpoint
The Heinrich Maneuver
The Complementarity Principle
2. Semper idem sed non eodem modo
Conceptual Origins
Prototypes
Transformations
Levels
Fallout
3. What Price Consistency?
Sequences Reconsidered
Sequences and Counterpoint
Analytical Implications
4. Schenker and The Myth of Scales
Modes and Scales in Traditional Theory
Schenkerian Theory and Scales
Schenkerian Theory and Modal Inflections
Schenkerian Theory and Exotic Inflections
Schenkerian Theory and the Emergence of
Functional Tonality
5. Pleasure is the Law
The Limits of Schenkerian Theory
Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse
Debussy, La mort des amants
Schenkerian Theory and Twentieth-Century Music

1
2
12
18
25
27
41
56
66
67
72
76
83
91
99
103
117
126
140
142
146
151
158
162
171
172
186
192
202

vi

Contents

6. Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory


Naturalizing Schenkerian Theory
Schenkerian Theory as a Model of Expert
Functional Monotonal Composition
Conclusion

209
211

Notes

239

Bibliography

267

Index

281

222
234

Figures
I.1.
I.2.
I.3.
I.4.
I.5.
I.6.
I.7.
I.8.
I.9.
I.10.

Explaining tonality
A procedure for composing typical tonal melodies
Five forms of passing tone
Counterfactual conditionals
The Covering-Law Model
Explaining suspensions
A procedure for generating 76 suspensions
The Hypothetico-Deductive Method
The logic of falsification
Six criteria for evaluating theories

3
5
6
7
8
9
11
13
16
19

1.1.
1.2.
1.3.
1.4.
1.5.
1.6.
1.7.
1.8.
1.9.

From strict counterpoint to functional tonality


Fuxian cantus firmi
First Species counterpoint
Prototypical counterpoints in Fifth Species
Dissonances in florid counterpoint
Triads in three- and four-voice textures
First Species in three voices
Cadence patterns in two, three, and four voices
Parallel and direct perfect octaves and fifths in
three and four voices
Differences in the behavior of triads and Stufen
The major-minor system
Laws of melodic motion and closure
Polyphonic melodies
Parallels by doubling and figuration
Beethoven, Piano Sonata, Op. 2, no. 3,
1st movement, mm. 4751
Parallels by combinations of harmonic and
non-harmonic tones
Laws of relative motion and closure
Laws of vertical alignment
Consonant non-harmonic tones and dissonant
harmonic tones

26
30
32
33
34
36
37
39

1.10.
1.11.
1.12.
1.13.
1.14.

1.15.
1.16.
1.17.
1.18.

40
42
44
45
47
48

49
50
51
52

viii

1.19.
1.20.
1.21.
1.22.
1.23.
1.24.
1.25.
1.26.
1.27.
1.28.

Figures

Neighbor tones and suspensions as passing motions


Implied tones and the nota cambiata
Successive seventh chords
Displacement and accented dissonances
Beethoven, Piano Sonata, Op. 81a, 1st movement,
mm. 23042
Laws of harmonic classification
Chord function vs. chord derivation
Laws of harmonic progression
Laws of chromatic generation
Rectification of Phrygian II

2.1. Schenkers concept of prototypes, transformation,


and levels
2.2. The non-recursive nature of Fuxian species
counterpoint
2.3. Schenkerian Urstze in C Major
2.4. Horizontalizing transformations
2.5. Filling in transformations
2.6. Harmonizing transformations
2.7. Reordering transformations (non-recursive)
2.8. Composing out
2.9. Schenkers deep-middleground paradigms
2.10. Divided Urlinien
2.11. Derivation of divided Urlinien
2.12. The explanatory scope of Schenkerian theory
2.13. Schenkers sketch of The Representation of Chaos
from Haydns Creation
2.14. Alternative sketch of The Representation of Chaos
3.1.
3.2.
3.3.
3.4.
3.5.
3.6.
3.7.
3.8.

Sequences
A typical ascending-fifth sequence
Deriving ascending-fifth sequences
Restacking ascending-fifth sequences
Deriving ascending-third sequences
Deriving descending-fifth sequences
Deriving descending 56 sequences
Deriving alternative descending-fifth sequences

52
54
55
55
56
59
60
61
62
63

69
71
73
78
80
81
82
85
86
88
90
92
94
97
102
104
105
107
108
109
111
112

Figures

3.9.
3.10.
3.11.
3.12.
3.13.
3.14.
3.15.
3.16.
3.17.

ix

Deriving ascending 56 sequences


Simple mixture
Double mixture
Fuxs prototypical cantus firmi
Typical two-voice counterpoint in First Species
Typical two-voice counterpoints in Fourth Species
Fuxs three-voice prototypes
Typical three-voice counterpoints in Fourth Species
Parallel motion in mixed species with three and
four voices
Parallel linear progressions within a single Stufe
Parallel linear progressions between different Stufen
Schenkers analysis of Bachs Little Prelude in
C Major, BWV 924
Alternative analysis of Bachs Little Prelude in
C Major, BWV 924
Schenkers analysis of Bachs Prelude in C Minor,
WTC I, BWV 847, mm. 118
Alternative analysis of Bachs Prelude in C Minor,
WTC I, BWV 847, mm. 118
Two analyses of the Prelude from Bachs Partita
No. 3 for Solo Violin
Analysis of Bach, French Suite in D Minor,
BWV 812, Minuet II

113
114
115
118
118
119
120
120

4.1. Scale membership and tonality


4.2. Schenkers account of mixture
4.3. Beethoven, Heiliger Dankegesang, String Quartet,
Op. 132
4.4. Graph of Beethoven, Heiliger Dankegesang,
String Quartet, Op. 132
4.5. Brahms, Vergangen ist mir Gluck und Heil,
Op. 14, no. 6
4.6. Graph of Brahms, Vergangen ist mir Gluck
und Heil, Op. 14, no. 6
4.7. Chopin, Etude, Op. 10, no. 5
4.8. Graph of Debussy, Prlude LAprs-midi dun
faune, mm. 3037

145
148

3.18.
3.19.
3.20.
3.21.
3.22.
3.23.
3.24.
3.25.

122
123
125
127
129
131
132
133
135

152
153
155
157
159
160

Figures

4.9. Van den Toorns analysis of the opening of


Stravinsky, Petrouchka
4.10. Cadences in fifteenth-century music
4.11. The Artusi-Monteverdi debate
4.12. Renaissance modal polyphony and functional
tonality
5.1. Parallel dominant seventh chords
5.2. Free dissonances
5.3. Non-functional successions. Beethoven, Appassionata
Sonata, Op. 57, 1st movement, mm. 6287
5.4. Extreme chromaticism. Graph of Reger, Piano
Quintet, Op. 64, mm. 18
5.5. Incomplete transferences of the Ursatz
5.6. Interpolations in Debussy, La srnade interrompue
(Prludes, Book 1, no. 9)
5.7. Graph of Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse,
mm. 118
5.8. Graph of Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse,
mm. 1835
5.9. Graph of Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse,
m. 36ff
5.10. Evolution of The Sigh Figure in Debussy, Cest
lextase langoureuse
5.11. Global view of Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse
5.12. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 112
5.13. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 1218
5.14. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 1929
5.15. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 3045
5.16. Global view of Debussy, La mort des amants
5.17. Prolonged dominant-seventh chords
5.18. Schubert, Die Stadt, Schwanengesang, no. 11
5.19. Functional tonality and twentieth-century tonal
practices
6.1. Naturalizing music theory
6.2. Schenkers derivation of the major system from
The Chord of Nature

162
164
168
169
174
176
180
181
183
184
188
189
190
191
192
194
196
198
200
201
203
206
208
210
212

Figures

6.3. Lerdahl/Jackendoffs derivation of Bach, Prelude


in C, WTC I
6.4. Learning curve for expert monotonal composition
6.5. Slobodas Diagram of typical compositional
resources and processes
6.6. Schenkers account of expert monotonal composition
6.7. The scope of music theory

xi

218
221
228
231
232

Preface
Few terms in music theory are more profound and more enigmatic
than tonality. First coined by Alexandre-tienne Choron in his
Sommaire de lhistoire de la musique (1810), it was popularized
by Franois-Joseph Ftis in the 1830s and 1840s and has subsequently remained an essential part of theoretical discourse. Choron
originally used the term to denote music in which notes are related
functionally to a particular tonic, the tonic triad. This particular
brand of tonality is often known as functional tonality and is characteristic of works written by composers such as Handel, J. S. Bach,
Scarlatti, C. P. E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert,
Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin, and Brahms. But, as Chorons
term has gained currency, so it has expanded its meaning considerably. Nowadays, the term is often used in a very general sense to
denote any music that focuses melodically and/or harmonically on
some stable pitch or tonic. This definition covers a broad range of
music from many cultures and many time periods, from Medieval
plain chant to various twentieth-century idioms.
Of the many attempts to explain the nature of functional
tonality, perhaps the most comprehensive was undertaken by
Heinrich Schenker (18681935).1 In his monumental triptych,
Neue musikalischen Theorien und Phantasien, he systematically investigated the ways in which lines and chords behave in functional
tonal contexts. In the first volume, Harmonielehre (1906), he
explained how functional harmonies (or Stufen) are organized into
progressions (or Stufengang).2 In the second volume, Kontrapunkt
(1910, 1922), he explained the basic properties of tonal voice leading (or Stimmfhrung).3 And in the final volume, Der freie Satz
(1935), Schenker showed how the principles outlined in the
Harmonielehre and Kontrapunkt operate recursively across entire
monotonal compositions.4
But what sorts of relationships did Schenker count as tonal or,
to be more precise, functionally monotonal? Why do these relationships work in some ways and not others? Why should we prefer
Schenkers theory of functional monotonality to its competitors?

xiv

Preface

The purpose of this book is to try to answer these questions. The


Introduction explores some of the general methodological issues
that arise when we try to build, test, and evaluate a plausible theory
of tonality. It begins by outlining the main ingredients of such a
theory, namely concepts, laws, and procedures, and describes some
of the problems that they raise. The Introduction goes on to discuss
six criteria that theorists typically use to evaluate the success of
their models. These criteria include accuracy, scope, fruitfulness,
consistency, simplicity, and coherence. With this broad framework
in place, the central portion of the book uses these six criteria to
illuminate the foundations of Schenkerian theory. The conclusion
describes some of the ways in which Schenkerian theory might
develop in the future.
There are several reasons why I have decided to address these
issues at the present time. Like many music theorists, I am attracted
to Schenkers work because it offers us not only a powerful model for
explaining the tonal system, but also a flexible tool for analyzing the
practices of functional monotonal composition. The benefits of such
an approach seem clear enough; instead of laboriously labeling each
successive harmony with its own Roman numeral, the analyst can
study the contrapuntal behavior of those harmonies, both within the
local context of an individual phrase and within the global context
of the piece as a whole. Although Schenkerian theory deals primarily with matters of functional harmony and voice leading, it often
leads to important insights about a works motivic, rhythmic, and
formal structure. This fact is amply demonstrated by Schenkers best
graphic analyses, such as those published in Der Tonwille (192124),
Das Meisterwerk in der Musik (192530), and the Fnf Urlinie-Tafeln
(1932).5 Furthermore, since the process of graphing particular pieces
often teaches us new ways to hear music and understand the
processes of musical composition, Schenkerian analysis can be of
great help to performers and composers alike.
At the same time, however, I am also intrigued by the formal
properties of Schenkers model. This fascination is something that
I share with many other music theorists. Some, such as Milton
Babbitt, Allan Keiler, Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, have noted
certain parallels between Schenkers account of tonal relationships
and Naom Chomskys account of grammatical relationships in

Preface

xv

natural language.6 Others, such as Michael Kassler, James Snell, and


Stephen Smoliar, have even tried to model Schenkerian theory on
the computer.7 I see my work as part of these particular traditions.
That being said, Schenkerian theory is still the subject of considerable debate. For starters, although Schenkers ideas are widely
discussed in the music theory community, they are still shrouded in
mystery. For example, Jonathan Dunsby has recently accused aficionados of promoting a cabalistic image of Schenker that treats
his work as a secret body of knowledge that can be applied but
never fully exposed.8 To make matters worse, when Schenkers
arguments are scrutinized, they often appear to be disjointed, cryptic, and even illogical. William Benjamin has described these shortcomings as follows: While it is true in many instances that the
problem lies with Schenkers way of putting things and not with the
formal relationships he has in mind, there are other cases where
contradictory lines of reasoning go to the heart of his level-relating
style. In these cases the problem results in a conflict between his
artistic-compositional side and his formal-theoretic side.9
Such conflicts are not, however, easy to resolve; as William
Rothstein has observed, the ways in which theorists respond to
these issues depends as much on their individual interests, temperament, psychological makeup, and their broader sense of the prevailing
Zeitgeist, as on anything Schenker may or may not have written.10
Opinions vary enormously. Some regard Schenkers work as a
theory of musical structure, some as a theory of organic coherence,
some as a theory of structural levels, some as theory of voice leading, and some as a theory of tonality.11 I prefer, however, to treat it as
a theory of functional monotonal composition. It is this view that
I will defend in this book with arguments drawn from analytical
philosophy and cognitive science.
Another point of contention is the widely held belief that
Schenkerian theory is a closed system, incapable of adaptation.
Edward Laufer expresses this view most strongly in his review of
Ernst Osters English translation of Der freie Satz.12 According to
him, Schenkers concepts as such are complete: they call for no
extensions or modifications. Elsewhere, he defends the narrow
scope of Schenkers project by noting: It is ridiculous to demand as
a criterion of validity that an approach be applicable to all times and

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Preface

musics; for it is sufficient that Schenker revealed, in ever new ways,


the masterpieces of the classic era: altogether more great music than
anyone could hope to come to terms with in several lifetimes.13
While I am certainly sympathetic to Laufers point of view, I
would add two important provisos. First, no one has ever offered a
convincing argument to show why we should accept Schenkers
concepts as necessary and sufficient for explaining functional
tonality. As I see it, such an argument requires us to reconstruct the
theory systematically from the ground up. This is precisely what I
hope to accomplish in the present volume. Second, although I
have no problem accepting that Schenkerian theory is designed to
explain functional monotonal pieces of the Common-Practice
Period, I acknowledge that such music is part of a broader historical continuum. Eventually, Schenkerians must respond to Joseph
Kermans complaint that they treat tonal practice as an absolutely
flat plateau flanked by bottomless chasms.14 I am not suggesting,
however, that we should simply revive the approach adopted by Felix
Salzer in Structural Hearing; much as I admire Salzers broad outlook
on music history, I do not think his work provides a satisfactory
response to this issue.15 What we need is a way to redirect our thinking about tonality so that we can explain not only why Schenkers
theory works so well for functional monotonal compositions, but also
how this theory enhances our understanding of tonality in general.
Another important area of debate concerns the ways in which
Schenkerian analysis interfaces with the processes of hearing and
composing. Although I have no doubt that the way in which we
graph a piece depends on how we hear that piece, I do not accept
the common view that producing a Schenkerian analysis simply
means learning to hear music more effectively. For one thing, such
a view leaves the theory open to the charge of circularity levelled
by Eugene Narmour in his book Beyond Schenkerism.16 According to
Narmour, when Schenker tried to demonstrate that a piece could
be derived from a given prototype, he always knew in advance what
the prototype should be. By bending the piece to fit his preconception, Schenker was guilty of circular reasoning. From a methodological standpoint, this is a very serious charge and, so far as I can tell,
is one that has never been successfully dismissed by the Schenkerian
community.

Preface

xvii

For another, there is strong evidence from Schenkers own


writings that he was not trying to explain how ordinary people
hear a particular piece, but rather to explain how expert composers conceive of their music. For example, in his essay Forsetzung der Urlinie-Betrachtung: I from Das Meisterwerk I (1925),
Schenker insisted that it is the composers business to compose
out chords and that of the listener and the performer to retrace
this path from foreground to background.17 Given this claim, I
remain unpersuaded by the notion that Schenkerian analyses give
us artistic statements, in music, about music.18 I firmly believe
that, though they may be expressed as tones on a staff, Schenkerian analyses should be regarded not as pieces of music, but rather
as models of music.19 Like any model, these graphs capture some
aspects of the music and not others. I would argue that they
model an expert composers internalized knowledge of functional
monotonality.20
My goal, then, is to respond to these various challenges. Since I
am mainly motivated by methodological concerns, I have adopted
something of a compromise when referring to Schenkers works. For
one thing, Schenkers views clearly changed over time; his goals in
writing the Harmonielehre and Kontrapunkt I were not exactly the
same as those of the Fnf Urlinie-Tafeln and Der freie Satz. Having
said that, I still believe that there is an underlying continuity to
Schenkers thought. This continuity stems from two basic claims:
1) the laws of tonal voice leading are transformations of the laws of
strict counterpoint and are intimately related to certain laws of
functional harmony; and 2) complex tonal progressions can be
explained as transformations of simple tonal prototypes. Given my
interest in these claims and their theoretical implications, I will
focus more on the unity of his thought, than on its evolution.
Similarly, although one must always be sensitive to nuances in the
meaning of particular Schenkerian terms, I have generally quoted
from standard English translations. My rationale is simple; while I
am aware of the extraordinary problems that arise whenever we try
to render Schenkers often convoluted prose into English, I do not
want to become sidetracked with the daunting task of retranslating
every passage. Anyone interested in Schenkerian theory must
eventually compare the English translation with the original; I have

xviii

Preface

tried to give citations in such a way that this can be accomplished


as easily as possible.
Although this book has been largely written from scratch, it
nonetheless draws on material from several published and unpublished papers. The Introduction develops ideas originally outlined
in two published papers written with Douglas Dempster, The
Scientific Image of Music Theory, Journal of Music Theory 33/1
(1989), pp. 65106, and Evaluating Music Analyses and Theories:
Five Perspectives, Journal of Music Theory 34/2 (1990), pp. 24779.
This work was subsequently updated in two unpublished lectures,
The Scientific Image of Music Theory: Ten Years On, given at
Eastman School of Music in the fall of 1996, and Choosing between
Music Theories: Six Things to Think About delivered at SUNY
Buffalo in the fall of 1998. Chapters 1 and 2 expand arguments first
presented in my Ph.D. dissertation, A Rational Reconstruction of
Schenkerian Theory (Cornell, 1989), and in my paper Rothsteins
Paradox and Neumeyers Fallacies, Intgral 12 (1998), pp. 95132.
Whereas chapter 3 is entirely new, chapter 4 draws on another
unpublished paper, Schenker and The Myth of Scales, presented at the Oxford Music Analysis Conference and the annual
meeting of the Society for Music Theory in Baltimore in 1988.
Chapter 5 borrows from lectures delivered at the University of
Texas at Austin in the fall of 2001 and at Oxford University in the
spring of 2003. Chapter 6 is mostly new but draws on material that
I have been developing with Panayotis Mavromatis.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank several people for
helping me along the way. Much of the blame for this book must go
to Arnold Whittall for introducing me to Schenkerian theory in
my undergraduate years at Kings College, London. Since then, he
has been a pillar of support and very kindly read a draft of this manuscript. This particular project started life in 198386, when I was a
Junior Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University. I would
like to thank the Society for its unqualified support during those
years. Since that time, my thinking about Schenkerian theory has
also been shaped by discussions with four other peopleDoug
Dempster, Dave Headlam, Panayotis Mavromatis, and Bryce Rytting.
The fact that I have collaborated with most of them should indicate just how much they have taught me. I must also thank all my

Preface

xix

graduate students at Eastman for listening to me and for reading


chunks of textDon Traut and Bill Marvin deserve special mentionand John Brackett for inviting me to be involved with his
dissertation. Special thanks must go to Frank Samarotto for carefully reading the manuscript. Most recently, I must thank Wayne
Alpern and the Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music
Theory for inviting me to discuss my work in three workshops in
the summer of 2002. I am extremely grateful to the members of my
workshopKofi Agawu, Richmond Browne, Allan Cadwallader,
William Drabkin, Yayoi Everett, Dora Hanninen, Dan Harrison,
Peter Kaminsky, Richard Kaplan, Steve Larson, Nicolas Meeus,
Margus Partlas, Giogio Sanguinetti, Carl Schachter, and Joe Straus.
In terms of the production of the book, I would like to thank
Dariusz Terefenko and Ciro Scotto for help in preparing the
examples, though I must admit that I was never able to reproduce
Schenkers interlocking slurs to my satisfaction. And I must thank
my editors Louise Goldberg and Ralph Locke for their patience and
encouragement. Finally, I owe a special thank you to Milton Babbitt
for encouraging me to publish my ideas in book form.
I would like to express my gratitude to the following people and
publishers for permission to quote from their works and publications:
Cambridge University Press, for permission to use materials from the English
translation of Schenkers Das Meisterwerk in der Musik: (The Masterwork
in Music, ed. William Drabkin, trans. I. Bent, R. Kramer, J. Rothgeb, and
H. Siegel), vols. 1 and 2, 1994, 1996.
MIT Press, for permission to use the figure showing the derivation of J. S. Bachs
Prelude in C Major, WTC 1, from Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, 1983.
John Rothgeb, for permission to use materials from his edition/translation of
Schenkers Kontrapunkt I & II (Counterpoint I and II, ed. John Rothgeb,
trans. John Rothgeb and Jrgen Thym, 2 vols., [New York, Schirmer, 1987]).
Universal Edition, for permission to use materials from Schenkers Harmonielehre
(1906) and from Schenkers Der freie Satz (1935), copyright Universal
Edition A.G. Vienna.

Introduction

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical


Issues
What should we expect from a successful theory of tonality? Why
should we prefer one theory of tonality over another? To what
extent do theories of tonality pose the same methodological problems as theories in other domains? Although these are surely basic
questions for any music theorist to ask, they are by no means easy
ones to answer. In part, the difficulties stem from the fact that the
term tonality has come to mean different things to different people; as mentioned in the preface, some theorists use it very generally
to denote music that centers on a stable pitch or tonic, whereas
others use the term more restrictively to denote music that centers
functionally on a particular tonic triad. But difficulties also arise
because theorists often disagree about what they take to be the goals
of their work. Once again, opinions differ widely. Some believe that
theory building is an explanatory pursuit akin to the natural and
social sciences, whereas others believe that it is a critical activity,
analogous to art criticism or literary theory. As a result, some theorists deal exclusively with the internal properties of tonal music,
whereas others insist that these properties cannot be studied apart
from their cognitive, aesthetic, historical, and ideological context.
The purpose of this Introduction is not to address these issues in
a systematic manner, but rather to pinpoint some of the methodological concerns that shape my own particular views about tonal
theory. I will proceed from the assumption that, before we can assess
the cognitive, aesthetic, historical, and ideological implications of a
particular theory, we must first see how that theory explains why
tonal music behaves in some ways and not others. Since I believe
that, at some level, we process our knowledge of music separately
from our knowledge of other domains, I find it useful to treat music

Explaining Tonality

theory autonomously from other disciplines. Furthermore, since I


also believe that tonality is basically a general property of voice
leading and harmony, I will focus my attention on explaining these
phenomena. This does not mean, however, that I am uninterested
in thematic, rhythmic, or formal relationships. Rather, I do so
because I am concerned with explaining the tonality of music
rather than explaining tonal music per se. In fact, I readily accept
that there is much more to understanding the latter than simply
explaining its tonality. My discussion has three main parts.
Part 1 outlines what I take to be the main goals of any theory of
tonality: 1) to develop a vocabulary of concepts for describing what
relationships count as tonal; 2) to discover a set of covering laws
for explaining why these relationships work in some ways in ways
and not others, and 3) to devise procedures for explaining how to
produce specific tonal relationships. Next, part 2 discusses some of
the issues that arise in testing a particular theory of tonality. Finally,
part 3 discusses six criteria that theorists frequently use to pick one
theory of tonality over another: accuracy, scope, consistency, simplicity, fruitfulness, and coherence.

Basic Goals and Assumptions


Although music theorists formulate theories of tonality for a variety of reasons, three seem to be especially important. The first is to
develop a vocabulary of concepts for describing what relationships
count as tonal or, more specifically, functionally tonal. Concepts
are terms we use to categorize our observations into broad types.
According to The Classical Theory of Concepts, defining a concept involves establishing a set of necessary and sufficient conditions that something must satisfy if it is to fall under that concept.1
Music theorists have traditionally expended considerable effort on
developing concepts to describe a wide range of tonal relationships.
Many of these concepts allow us to describe how notes behave linearly. For example, when describing the tonal properties of the
music shown in figure I.1a (Beethoven, Six Variations, WoO 70),
we might observe that the thirty-second note B in the treble clef,

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

Figure I.1. Explaining tonality.


a. Beethoven, Six Variations, WoO 70, mm. 1316.

b. Beethoven, Piano Sonata, Op. 22, 4th movement, mm. 1921.

m. 13, passes between A and C. This account presupposes that the


concept passing tone can be defined as an unaccented dissonance
that moves by step between two consonances a third apart. Such a
definition conveys the necessary condition that passing tones move
by step and is sufficiently precise to differentiate passing tones from
other dissonances, such as neighbor tones, cambiatas, and suspensions. Alternatively, we might use quite different concepts to
describe how notes behave harmonically. In the case of figure I.1a,
we might observe that the passage begins and ends on a G triad
with the root in the bass. This description presumes that the concept triad can be defined as a chord with a root and two other
members a third and a fifth above. The latter definition conveys
the necessary condition that triads are built from thirds and fifths,
and yet is sufficiently broad to encompass major, minor, augmented,
and diminished triads.
It goes without saying that both of these descriptions tell us significant things about the tonal properties of figure I.1a. And yet,

Explaining Tonality

neither one actually explains why Beethovens music is in G major.


The problem is that to explain why the passage is tonal, it is not
enough to describe what melodic tones and triads are present; we
must also say why they are related to each other in some ways and
not others. To do so, music theorists invoke various laws of harmony
and voice leading. These laws are general claims about the ways in
which melodic tones and triads usually behave in tonal contexts.2
They are often, but not always, expressed in a conditional form: if X
occurs in context Y, then Z will happen. For example, to explain
why the passage in figure I.1a establishes the key of G major, we
might invoke the following law: If the leading tone appears in tonal
contexts, then it normally ascends by half step onto the tonic. This
law explains why the melody rises from F to G in mm. 1314, why
the alto part follows suit in mm. 1415, and even why the same
theme is in B-flat major when Beethoven transposes it up a minor
third in his piano sonata, Op. 22 (see figure I.1b). Having said this,
it is important to note that the law governing leading tones is not
true all of the time. In figure I.1a, for example, the alto F in mm.
1516 moves to B3 and not G4, presumably to avoid doubling the
soprano part. Since most laws of tonality are generally but not universally true, they are best classified as law-like generalizations.
Besides introducing concepts to describe what relationships are
tonal and invoking law-like generalizations to explain why tonal
music behaves in some ways and not others, theorists often have yet
another important goal: to explain how specific tonal relationships
are produced. This task requires them to develop a set of procedures.
Procedures consist of strings of commands that are usually expressed
in conditional form: to produce X, do Y, then Z, and so on. Over the
centuries, tonal theorists have developed procedures for accomplishing a variety of tasks from harmonizing a scale to composing a prelude from a given figured bass. Take, for example, figure I.2 (A
procedure for composing typical tonal melodies). This procedure has
six basic steps. First, pick a final tonic for the melody as a whole (figure I.2a). Second, begin the melody on a member of the tonic triad
and end with a stepwise descent onto the tonic (figure I.2b). Third,
pick a climax note midway through the melody and not more than
an octave above the tonic (figure I.2c). Fourth, reinforce the tonic at
the opening (figure I.2d). Fifth, join the opening to the climax and

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

Figure I.2. A procedure for composing typical tonal melodies.


a. Pick a final tonic for the melody as a whole.
1
b. Begin the melody on 8, 5,  3, or  1 and end with a stepwise
descent onto the tonic.
Cadence
3
 2 1
c. Pick a climax about two thirds through the melody and not more
than an octave above the tonic.
Climax Cadence
4
3
2 1
d. Reinforce the tonic at the opening.

3

4

7

1

Climax
4

Cadence
 2 1

e. Join the opening to the climax and the climax to the cadence.
Climax Cadence
4
4
7
3
1
2
3
 2 1
f. Fill in any details and check to see that the melody has a good overall shape and that it satisfies any general laws of melodic motion.
Climax
Cadence
7
4
 3  2  3 4 6
1
2
3
2 1

the climax to the cadence (figure I.2e). Sixth, fill in any details and
check to see that the melody has a good overall shape and satisfies
any general laws of tonal voice leading, for example, that leading
tones normally ascend by half step onto the tonic (figure I.2f).
The preceding discussion has highlighted the central role concepts, laws, and procedures have traditionally played in tonal theory,
but it is important to realize that these components are a lot more
difficult to deal with than we might initially suppose. Take, for
example, concepts. While it is certainly possible to find necessary
and sufficient conditions for many concepts, cognitive scientists
have found that certain concepts cannot be defined in this manner.
Instead, they tend to define such concepts by appealing to the
notion of prototypes.3 As Alvin Goldman explains:
Concepts are represented in terms of properties that need not be strictly
necessary but are frequently present in instances of the concept. These

Explaining Tonality
properties are weighted by their frequency or by their perceptual salience.
A collection of such properties is called a prototype.4

He adds: Under the prototype view, an object is categorized as an


instance of a concept if it is sufficiently similar to the prototype,
similarity being determined (in part) by the number of properties
in the prototype possessed by the instance and by the sum of
their weights.5 Although Goldman does not explicitly say so, the
perfect prototype may not actually exist in the world at all; it
may be an idealization that combines features from many different
individuals. We can illustrate these points by reconsidering our
definition of passing tones (see figure I.3, Five forms of passing
tone). Although we defined passing tones as unaccented dissonances
that move by step between two consonances a third apart, some
passing tones do not satisfy this definition. In figure I.3a, for example, the pitch B in m. 1 seems to behave as a passing tone, even
though it is consonant, and in figure I.3b the notes F and E in m. 1
are both dissonant and seem to connect two consonances a fourth,
not a third, apart. More remarkably, figure I.3c contains an accented
passing tone, figure I.3d includes a chromatic passing tone, and, if
you believe Schenker, figure I.3e contains a leaping passing tone
(or springender Durchgang)!6 In other words, it is much easier to
think about passing tones in terms of prototypes and variants, than
it is to provide a necessary and sufficient definition that works in all
cases.7
Laws, too, pose their own problems.8 To begin with, not all generalizations are law-like.9 Take, for example, the claim that all pieces
in G major have a key signature of one sharp. Even if true, which it
is not, this generalization does not stand up as a law because it does
not explain why there is any connection between having a signature
of one sharp and establishing the key of G. To ensure that particular
Figure I.3. Five forms of passing tone.

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

generalizations are law-like, Nelson Goodman and others have


suggested they should support so-called counterfactual conditionals.10 Counterfactual conditionals are hypothetical statements that
suggest what would have been the case had things occurred differently (see figure I.4, Counterfactual conditionals). For example,
when explaining why the cadence in figure I.4a establishes the key
of G major, we might invoke our law governing leading tones. In
this case, the F in the first chord ascends by half step to the G in the
final sonority. We might support this law-like generalization by noting that if the phrase had been in F major, then the F in the first
chord would have descended to E, before moving back onto F for
the final chord (see figure I.4b). Since we know that the piece in
question is in G major, our remarks about what might have happened if the piece were in F major are known as counterfactual conditionals. While counterfactual conditionals have proved very
useful in helping us determine whether a particular generalization is
indeed law-like, they nonetheless raise their own sets of questions; it

Figure I.4. Counterfactual conditionals.

Explaining Tonality

Figure I.5. The Covering-Law Model.


The Covering-Law Model
Statement of initial conditions
Statement of covering laws
Statement about phenomena to
be explained.

is unclear not only how to ensure that they are relevant in any given
context, but also that they can be used to support all law-like generalizations.
It is also debatable whether law-like generalizations are always
necessary and sufficient for explanations. Certainly, many experts
believe that scientific research is fundamentally law seeking or nomothetic.11 This prompted Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim to
advance The Covering-Law Model of explanation.12 According to
them, explanations are arguments in which the premises are sets of
covering laws and initial conditions, and the conclusion is some
statement about the phenomena to be explained (see figure I.5,
The Covering-Law Model). If the laws are universal and the arguments are deductively valid, then the result fits The DeductiveNomological Model, and if the laws are not universal and the
arguments are only inductively valid, then they conform to The
Inductive-Statistical Model. Figure I.6 (Explaining suspensions)
illustrates what Hempel and Oppenheim had in mind. Suppose, for
example, that we want to explain why a particular suspension C
resolves by step to B (see figure I.6a). We might do so by invoking a
simple law of tonal voice leading: namely, that suspensions normally
resolve down by step onto consonances (see figure I.6b). Given the
initial conditions that the seventh CD on the down beat of m. 2 is
dissonant and that the dissonance is a suspension, this law-like generalization allows us to deduce that the dissonant tone C on the
down beat of m. 2 will resolve down by step onto the consonant
tone B in m. 2. This is a perfectly acceptable explanation.
Although The Covering-Law Model certainly produces
acceptable explanations, it is unclear whether covering laws are
absolutely necessary for all plausible explanations. In particular,

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

Figure I.6. Explaining suspensions.

b.

c.

The seventh C-D on the down


beat of m. 2 is dissonant

The sixth B-D on the weak


beat of m. 2 is consonant

This dissonance is a suspension

This consonance is a resolution.

Covering
Laws

Suspensions generally resolve


down by step consonances

Suspensions generally resolve


down by step onto onto consonances

Explanation

Resolution on weak beat


is a consonant sixth

Suspension on down beat


is a dissonant seventh

Initial
Conditions

critics have suggested that some types of explanation, such as


so-called functional explanations used in biology, or narrative
explanations found in history, do not necessarily involve covering
laws, at least not in any explicit way.13 Functional explanations
explain how particular parts of a complex system help to reinforce
the system as a whole. For example, when explaining the tonal
motion of Beethovens Waldstein Sonata, we might note that, in
the first movement, the function of the recapitulation is to recompose the tonal motion of the exposition, that the function of the
exposition is to modulate from the first key (C major) to the second
key (E major), and that the function of this modulation is to create
a pattern of tonal tension, and so on. Though this explanation
seems plausible enough, it is unclear what covering laws it uses.
Historical narratives often proceed on similar lines. For example,
when explaining why the climax of a given aria appears on a high
C we might note that this aria was written for a particular tenor to
sing at La Scala, and that high C was his top note. Although this
explanation seems to make historical sense, we would never suggest that, as a general rule, composers always make sure that the
climax of an aria necessarily corresponds to the highest note in the
singers register.14

10

Explaining Tonality

By the same token, Sylvain Bromberger and others have raised


doubts about whether covering laws are sufficient for all explanations.15 We can paraphrase their point by comparing the explanation given in figure I.6b with the one shown in figure I.6c. In figure
I.6b, we explained why the dissonant note C on the down beat of
m. 2 resolved down by step to a consonant note B by invoking the
law-like generalization that suspensions normally resolve down by
step. However, we can also use the same covering law in a quite different way. This time we might start with the initial conditions that
the sixth BD on the weak beat of m. 2 is consonant and that it
resolves a suspension on the preceding down beat. Since our covering law states that suspensions generally resolve down by step, we
can deduce that the consonant note B is preceded by a dissonant
note C. Although this argument is logically consistent, it does not
carry the same weight as the argument given in figure I.6b. The
problem is that the argument in figure I.6b explains the causal connections between the suspension and the resolution, whereas the
one in figure I.6c does not. This, in turn, suggests that it is not
enough to invoke covering laws in our explanations; our explanations must also be able to explain how one event causes another.
One way to guarantee such casual connections is by reformatting our covering laws in procedural form.16 As mentioned earlier,
procedures are strings of commands that we express in conditional
form: to produce X, do Y, then Z, and so on. This point is illustrated
in figure I.7, (A procedure for generating 76 suspensions). This
procedure involves three distinct steps:
1) take an upper voice that descends by step C to B (figure I.7a);
2) add a lower voice that moves in parallel sixths below, E to D
(figure I.7b); and
3) displace the first note of the upper voice over the second
note of the lower voice (figure I.7c). This step produces the
76 suspension.
Significantly, this procedure implies all of the same knowledge as
the explanation given in figure I.6b. In particular, it implies that
suspensions generally resolve down by step. And yet, the procedure
adds something extra: it also indicates that suspensions are caused
by displacing the upper voice over the lower voice.

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

11

Figure I.7. A procedure for generating 76 suspensions.


a. Take an upper voice that descends by step from C to B.

b. Add a lower voice that moves in parallel sixths below, E to D.

c. Displace the first note of the upper voice over the second note of the lower voice to create a 76 suspension.

Whatever advantages procedural explanations may give us,


they can, however, be slippery things to deal with. Reconsider, for a
moment, the procedure given in figure I.2. This strategy identified
six basic steps for composing a typical tonal melody. In order for us
to determine whether the procedure is successful or not, we must
decide whether or not our new melody resembles the melody in figure I.1. But what does it mean to say that two melodies resemble
one another? To answer this question we must invoke some notion
of similarity, but it is by no means obvious what this step involves.
As the philosophers Quine and Ullian explain: Everything is similar to everything in some respect. Any two things share as many
traits as any other two, if we are undiscriminating about what to
call a trait; things can be grouped in no end of arbitrary ways.17 In
other words, we can judge similarity in different ways, depending
upon what examples we take as prototypical and on how we decide
to measure similarity.
It seems, then, that in describing what relationships are tonal,
explaining why these relationships create music that behaves in
some ways and not others, and explaining how to produce specific
tonal relationships, music theorists draw on a rich assortment of

12

Explaining Tonality

concepts, laws, and procedures. Although each component raises its


own methodological issues, a given theory of tonality takes a specific
cluster of concepts, laws, and procedures, and structures it in a particular way. If these theories are successful, then we normally expect
that these knowledge structures will give us explanations and predictions that are coherent, reliable, and capable of being tested
empirically by other theorists. And they should work for all and only
all tonal music, or at least all and only all functional pieces. But how
do we go about building such a theory? How, in fact, do we check to
see that it actually covers all and only all music that we classify as
tonal? Let us see how we might answer these new questions.

Building and Testing Theories


According to conventional wisdom, theorists use a very simple strategy for coming up with their theories: they make guesses and then
they test them.18 This approach is summarized in figure I.8 (The
Hypothetico-Deductive Method).19 In fact we can subdivide The
Hypothetico-Deductive Method (or H-D) into four basic steps:
First, observe some distinct phenomenon in a well-defined test
sample (figure I.8a).
Second, guess some laws that seem to explain these observations
(figure I.8b).
Third, deduce some predictable consequences that are implied
if these laws are correct (figure I.8c).
Fourth, see if these predictions are confirmed by further observations (figure I.8d).
If the predictions are indeed confirmed, then theorists carry on
using their laws; if they arent, then they must either modify them,
or they must replace them with new laws and start the procedure all
over again. This final step is crucial to the entire process; ideally, it
implies not only that the predictions are testable, but also that they
are testable by someone else and under different conditions.
Now, if we want to make a theory to explain the behavior of
tonal voice leading and harmony, then we might adopt the following plan. We might begin by using certain familiar concepts to
study a specific corpus of pieces that a given community regards as

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

13

Figure I.8. The Hypothetico-Deductive Method.


a. Observe phenomenon in some well-defined test
sample.
b. Guess laws to explain these observations.
c. Deduce some consequences that are implied if the
laws are correct.
d. See if these predictions are confirmed by further
observations. If they are, then keep using the new
laws, if they arent, then modify them or replace with
some new laws and start procedure over.

quintessentially tonal. Chances are we would pick pieces by such


composers as Handel, J. S. Bach, Scarlatti, C. P. E. Bach, Haydn,
Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin,
and Brahms.20 Next, we might develop general laws that cover the
behavior of these concepts. For example, we might generalize about
how lines and chords behave in specific contexts. We could then
predict how the lines and chords might behave in other contexts,
preferably those that are slightly different from the ones used to
make the original theory. If our predictions are confirmed, then we
will keep on using our theory to explain the behavior of similar
works from the same corpus; if, however, they are disconfirmed,
then we must either modify the theory or find an alternative one
that does work.
So much for conventional wisdom; we find it perpetuated in
many introductions to science. But when we look at how theorists
actually work, we soon find that the process of building and testing
theories is a good deal more complex than figure I.8 suggests. To
begin with, it is very unlikely that any music theorists would actually
build a new theory of tonality from scratch. Instead, they are more
likely to start by taking some preexisting model and seeing if individual laws stand up to close scrutiny. Once they encounter a problem, then they will propose new covering laws. But disconfirming
existing laws and confirming new laws is no easy task; on the contrary, these activities are riddled with problems and inconsistencies.21
These difficulties stem from the fact that, as David Hume famously
remarked, all inferences from experience, therefore, are effects of

14

Explaining Tonality

custom, not of [logical] reasoning.22 Humes claim does not mean


that inferences from experience are necessarily untrue; rather it suggests that they always fall short of certainty. As a result, our theories
will always be fallible, though we may not always know where they
will fail.
Besides recognizing the general problems noted by Hume,
philosophers have discussed several other difficulties. One of the
most famous is The Raven Paradox.23 This paradox arises because
law statements of the form for all x, if x is F, then x is G are logically equivalent to those of the form for all x, if x is not G, then
x is not F. If x stands for piece of music, F stands for Beethoven
and G stands for tonal, then the first law-statement all pieces of
music by Beethoven are tonal is equivalent to the observation
that a particular non-tonal piece, say Babbitts Philomel, is indeed
not by Beethoven. What is paradoxical is that an atonal piece by
Babbitt should count as evidence that confirms the generalization
that all pieces by Beethoven are tonal; after all, Babbitts music
appears to have little in common with Beethovens and it hardly
seems relevant to any claims about whether the latter is tonal
or not.
Relevance also features prominently in another paradox known
as The Grue Paradox. This paradox was first discussed by Nelson
Goodman.24 According to him, the issue of whether a generalization
is supported by its instances depends on the nature of the properties
that appear in that generalization. Paraphrasing Goodman, let us
imagine a new property, gronality which we define as follows: a
piece is gronal if it is classified as tonal before the year 2010 and
atonal after that point. Now consider the following generalizations:
1) all works by Burt Bacharach are tonal and 2) all pieces by Burt
Bacharach are gronal. All works examined before the year 2010
will support not only the first generalization, but also the second
one. This result is problematic because we want to use our generalizations to predict what will happen at some later date; as it stands,
we have no basis for knowing whether the piece will be tonal
or gronal. To resolve this paradox, Goodman proposed that the
law-like status of a generalization is a matter of entrenchment and
projectibility. According to him, a predicate is entrenched if it is
true as a matter of historical fact and has been used to formulate

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

15

true predictions.25 He suggests that this property is the only one that
allows us to project what will happen in the future. Tonality is just
such a predicate; it is a trait that we naturally project from past
observation to future expectation. Gronality is not, however,
because we have no reason to suppose that Burt Bacharach wrote
music that can been classified as tonal at one point in time and
atonal at some later date.26
The Grue Paradox leads to a more general problem in confirmation; even if we agree on the same body of evidence, there is no
reason to suppose that this data can be explained by only one
theory; as we have seen, we can always invent new predicates, such
as grue-ness or gronality, that capture some aspect of the piece.
This means that, in principle at least, the evidence always underdetermines theories; there are always a variety of theories that will
accommodate any given set of data. Pierre Duhem and W. V. Quine
have gone even further to claim that, taken on its own, a particular
piece of experimental evidence is seldom used to falsify an entire
theory, because each element of the theory is somehow related to
another element in the theory. As Quine puts it, our statements
about the external world face the tribunal of sense experience not
individually but only as a corporate body.27 In other words, any
seemingly disconfirming observational evidence can always be
accommodated to any theory.28 This claim is usually known as
The Duhem-Quine Thesis.
Although extremely controversial, The Duhem-Quine Thesis
is significant because it threatens to undermine the most famous
alternative to H-D. Given the many paradoxes of confirmation,
Karl Popper and others have suggested that, instead of defending
their theories by finding more and more supporting evidence,
scientists should actually spend their time trying to show that some
hypotheses are false.29 In this sense, the guiding principle of testability is not confirmation but falsification. The rationale behind
Poppers thinking is simple enough and is apparent from the arguments given in figure I.9 (The logic of falsification). According to
Popper, H-D seems to follow the plan given in figure I.9a. Let us
assume that, if a particular explanation E is valid, then it will make
a given prediction P. When researchers test this prediction and find
that it is indeed accurate, they regard this as confirmation of their

16

Explaining Tonality

Figure I.9. The logic of falsification.


a.

c.

If Explanation E is valid,
then Prediction P is true.

b.

If X Y

Prediction P is true

Explanation E is valid

X (invalid)

If Explanation E is valid,
then Prediction P is true.

d.

modus tollens
If X Y

Prediction P is false

Explanation E is false

X (valid)

explanation. But, according to Popper, this line of reasoning is


invalid. Since explanation E was used to come up with prediction P,
prediction P cannot then be used to confirm explanation E. That
would commit the fallacy of affirming the antecedent (see figure
I.9b). To avoid this problem, Popper insists that H-D should be
used, not to confirm, but to falsify a theory. This means that, given
explanation E and prediction P, knowing that P is false allows us to
deduce that E is false as well (see figure I.9c). Such an argument
follows the principle of modus tollens given in figure I.9d.
Popper used the notion that H-D can be used to falsify an
explanation to reach two important conclusions. First, he proposed
that even our best knowledge is fallible or conjectural. To quote
him, we cannot reach certainty . . . all we can do is to criticize
[our theories], and to test them, as severely as our ingenuity permits.30 Second, Popper decided that the criterion of the scientific
status of a theory is its falsifiability, or refutability, or testability.31
He even claimed that falsifiability serves as a criterion for making
demarcations between science and non-science; whereas scientific
theories must always have discrete boundaries and can be falsified,
non-science need not have such boundaries and cannot be falsified.
Critics, however, have responded that strict falsification is hard to
uphold in light of The Duhem-Quine Thesis. If, as Duhem and
Quine insist, any seemingly disconfirming observational evidence
can always be accommodated to any theory, then it is hard to see
how we can decisively falsify any theory. Each time we come up
with a counter example, we can simply adjust our theory to make it

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

17

fit. If we cannot use specific observations to falsify a given theory,


then we cannot pick one theory over another on purely evidential
grounds. Poppers claim that falsifiability provides us with a definitive means of discriminating science from non-science seems,
therefore, too strong.32
As it happens, Poppers views have also been challenged by
recent findings in cognitive science. Research by Tweney, Doherty,
Mynatt, and others has suggested that scientists do not usually set
out simply to falsify existing theories; on the contrary, they normally start out by seeking confirmatory data; only when this data
has been obtained does it make sense to engage in rigorous falsification.33 Thus, while it might be true that successful theories are
initially conjectural, the accumulation of supporting evidence will
eventually move them beyond that status.34 Most people do, in fact,
believe that theories become more strongly confirmed the more
supporting evidence has been amassed. This point suggests that
our understanding of what makes a successful music theory must
eventually take account of the ways in which music theorists actually work, rather than simply relying on their logical or empirical
content.
All in all, just as The Covering Law Model provides an
idealized picture of explanation, so The Hypothetico-Deductive
Method presents an idealized account of how music theorists
confirm or refute a particular theory. While the latter conveys
many aspects of how music theorists work, the process of building
and testing theories involves a far more complex interplay
between confirmation and falsification. As we have seen, this
process is always open ended; music theorists do not begin with a
blank slate, they do not have foolproof methods, and they do not
reach definitive solutions. Instead, they plunge in medias res. They
start working within the context of an existing music theory, even
if they know some portions of that theory are surely wrong. They
then try to overcome certain specific problems, using the rest of
the theory to support their work. To borrow an image from Neurath and Quine, this situation is like that facing sailors at sea on a
leaking boat.35 Unable to rebuild their vessel from the keel up in a
dry dock, the crew is forced to fix the leaks while adrift on the
open water. As they work on leaks in one area of the boat, the

18

Explaining Tonality

sailors rely on the remaining timbers to keep the craft afloat. But
as one leak is patched so another appears; bit-by-bit the boat
becomes transformed into something new. In fixing the leaks,
music theorists typically try to balance what Quine has described
as the drive for evidence and the drive for system.36 According
to him, the former demands that theoretical terms should be subject to observable criteria, the more the better, the more directly
the better, other things being equal while the latter insists that
these terms should lend themselves to systematic laws, the simpler the better, other things being equal. Quine adds, If either of
these drives were unchecked by the other, it would issue in something unworthy of the name scientific theory: in the one case a
mere record of observations, and on the other a myth without
foundation.37

Six Criteria for Evaluating Theories


It should be clear by now that the task of building and testing music
theories is not only a lot messier than we might suppose, but it is
also plagued by many of the same methodological problems as theories in other disciplines, especially the natural and social sciences.
In very general terms, we have seen that these problems often
involve finding effective ways to balance the drive for evidence
with the drive for system. Although this all sounds reasonable
enough, we can spell out more clearly how such a balance might be
achieved. Following, Kuhn, Quine and others, we can invoke several concrete criteria for doing so: figure I.10 (Six criteria for evaluating theories) includes the notions of accuracy, scope, fruitfulness,
consistency, simplicity, and coherence.38 The list is by no means
exhaustive; other criteria, such as completeness, elegance, or even
coolness, could easily be added. Figure I.10, however, gives us a
good place to start our inquiry. For convenience, the six criteria are
divided into two typesthose that relate to the evidential basis of
theories and those which relate to the systematic aspects of a
model. The horizontal arrow at the top of the figure suggests that
there may be inherent conflicts between the evidential concerns
(accuracy, scope, and fruitfulness) and the systematic concerns

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

19

Figure I.10. Six criteria for evaluating theories.


Evidence

System

Accuracy

Consistency

Scope

Simplicity

Fruitfulness

Coherence

(consistency, simplicity, and coherence). The vertical arrows along


the sides suggest that there may be a similar tension between members of the same type.
The first criterion on our list is accuracy. Since a successful
theory should explain why certain phenomena behave the way
they do and predict what will happen in new situations, we will
surely want the most exact explanations and predictions possible.
Although our theories can never be completely accurate, we generally see increased precision as a virtue, so that, given two theories,
we usually prefer the one that is more accurate, other things being
equal. And yet, it is by no means obvious how to measure the accuracy of competing models. Norwood Hanson, Thomas Kuhn, Paul
Feyerabend, and others have insisted that since our observations
about the world may be theory-laden, decisions about what constitutes evidence will be determined by our theoretical prejudices.39
Indeed, to paraphrase Quine, Our judgments about what there is
are always embedded in some sort of theory; we can substitute one
theory for another but we cannot detach ourselves from theory
altogether and see the world unclouded by any preconception of
it.40 If competing theories reflect widely different values, there
may be no neutral grounds for comparing their accuracy. In such
cases the two theories are said to be incommensurate. Critics,
however, have countered that the problems of theory-ladenness
and incommensurability are greatly exaggerated. While it may be
true that observations tend to be theory laden, this doesnt mean
that we can never distinguish observational terms from theoretical terms. Indeed, as Quine points out, theoretical sentences
grade off to observation sentences; some observations come with

20

Explaining Tonality

negligible theoretical baggage, while others come with a lot.41


Compare, for example, the observation that the first movement of
the Eroica Symphony begins with an E triad with the claim
that the movement is in E. Whereas the former involves few
theoretical assumptions and is readily apparent to most listeners,
the latter is highly theory laden and presupposes an elaborate theory of key relations.42
But even though many of our observations are biased, theorists working with different frameworks are still able to reach some
degree of consensus in specific cases. In this respect, the main
issue is that of intersubjective testability rather than of objectivity
per se. This notion of intersubjective testability through bias is
most remarkable when the various biases are not only different,
but also contradictory. I refer to this as The Hostile Witness Principle. Very simply, this principle suggests that a particular claim
gains force when it is confirmed by theories that are directly
opposed to one another. Such situations often arise because, as
Richard Boyd points out, A particular experiment can be conducted on the basis of a methodology thathowever theorydependentis not committed to either of the two contesting
theories.43
The second criterion in figure I.10 is scope. Just as we want our
theories to be as accurate as possible, so we also put a premium on
their breadth of coverage. This means that, given two theories, we
normally prefer the one that covers the larger array of pieces or
wider range of properties, other things being equal. Perhaps the
most common way to expand the scope of our theories is by subsuming hitherto separate theories under a single scheme. This is
known as Theory Reduction.44 For example, if we proposed a theory of functional monotonality that subsumes the theory of tonal
voice leading with the theory of functional monotonal harmony,
then we should prefer it to a rival theory that explains only the
behavior of tonal voice leading or that explains only the behavior of
functional monotonal harmony. This does not mean, however, that
generality is always a good thing; on the contrary, some theories are
so general that they lose their explanatory force. Thats the snag
with Anne Elks theory of the brontosaurus.45 While it may be true
that the only thing common to all brontosauruses is that they are

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

21

thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle and then thin
again at the far end, this account is so general that it is trivial. The
notion of Theory Reduction has likewise been questioned. While
there are certainly situations in which the model seems to apply, it
does not explain every option. Kuhn, for example, has suggested
that explanatory scope can expand through conceptual innovations
or paradigm shifts, rather than the addition of new laws or the
reduction of one theory into another.46 To overcome these difficulties Philip Kitcher and others have advocated the notion of Theoretical Unification. According to Kitcher, the success of theories
depends on minimizing the number or patterns of derivation
employed and maximizing the number of conclusions generated.47
When evaluating the success of our theories, we do not simply
want to keep duplicating results in familiar pieces; we also want to
use our concepts, laws, and procedures to predict how things will
behave in other, perhaps novel, works and disclose new phenomena
or previously unnoted relationships among those already known.48
To do this, we must be able to predict every consequence and not
merely a smattering of special cases.49 This idea represents the third
criterion in figure I.10, namely fruitfulness. Very simply, given two
theories of functional monotonality, we prefer the one that makes
the more fruitful predictions, other things being equal. According
to Kuhn, the criterion of fruitfulness deserves more emphasis than
it has yet received.50 Just as it is hard to measure the accuracy of
rival theories, it is also difficult to assess their fruitfulness, especially
if the theories draw on widely different bodies of empirical data.
This issue is troubling because successful theories often evolve
considerably over time; it may take a long while for theorists to
appreciate just how fruitful a theory may be and even longer to consider all of its ramifications. As a result, fruitfulness may not play a
significant role when a theory is originally presented to the world
but will become more significant as that theory matures.
Whereas our first three criteria concern the drive for evidence,
our fourth criterion concerns the drive for system. When formulating a music theory, we will want it to be as internally consistent as
possible, other things being equal. Inconsistencies are bad because
they prevent us from making concrete predictions; if we cannot
make concrete predictions, then we cannot subject our work to

22

Explaining Tonality

rigorous testing, especially by other people. It is important to stress,


however, that even internal consistency is a matter of degree; the
more comprehensive our theories become, the less likely they are to
be internally consistent. For example, although Schenker insisted
that the process of composing out is bound to the laws of tonal voice
leading and harmony, his graphs often violate the law prohibiting
parallel perfect octaves and fifths. As we will see in chapters 2 and 3,
this inconsistency has enormous consequences for understanding
various tonal phenomena, especially sequences.
Assuming one has satisfied the preceding constraints, the drive
for system often prompts us to evaluate rival theories according to
their complexity; as a rule we prefer a simple theory to a complicated one, other things being equal. This fifth criterion from figure
I.10 is commonly known as Ockhams Razor or The Principle of
Parsimony and is almost as old as theorizing itself.51 The rationale
is obvious enough: the simpler the theory, the easier it is to apply
and the less prone it is to error.52 Nevertheless, Ockhams Razor can
leave some scars. Simplicity is, to some extent, in the eye of the
beholder; if taken to extremes it can end up being a downright
liability.53 As we will see in chapter 1, the theory of functional
equivalence seems to run afoul of this very issue. By restricting
tonal harmonies to just three basic functions (tonic, dominant, and
subdominant), the theory oversimplifies the richness of many tonal
progressions. In such cases simplicity comes into conflict with other
values, especially accuracy and scope.
Finally, we come to the sixth criterion from figure I.10. Suppose
that we are faced with two theories that are equivalent empirically
and systematically, that is, both are equally accurate, both have a
similar scope, both are fruitful, both are consistent to the same
degree, and both are comparable in their level of simplicity. What
grounds, then, do we have for picking one theory over the other?
One answer is to see if they are coherent with theories in related
disciplines, other things being equal.54 If, for example, one theory of
functional monotonality is coherent with current theories of music
cognition, whereas the other is not, then we have good reason for
preferring the former to the latter. Conversely, if our theories
cannot be embedded or made compatible with known principles of
music cognition, then we have good reason to be suspicious of them.

Theoretical and Meta-Theoretical Issues

23

Of course, coherence between theories in different domains is an


extremely difficult thing to achieve, especially since the two spheres
of inquiry may have such different methodological bases; it is no
easy task to find appropriate bridge laws that bind one discipline to
another. Nevertheless, coherence is still a goal worth striving for.
So far, we have sketched some general reasons for invoking the
six criteria given in figure I.10. We have also seen that these criteria are often at odds and that theorists are often forced to trade one
off against another. These last ideas are significant because they
help us to explain how different theorists can reach a consensus on
certain methodological issues without agreeing on the particulars
of any given theory. The reason for this is simple: music theorists
might evaluate theories according to the same criteria, but weight
each one differently in any given context. Take, for example, the
differences between Schenkers original theory and that of his
student, Felix Salzer.55 As we will see in chapter 1, Schenker put a
premium on the accuracy of his model. He went to great lengths to
make sure that he could explain the minutest details of tonal voice
leading. But, to achieve such a high degree of precision, Schenker
confined himself to functional monotonal music of the CommonPractice Period. Felix Salzer, meanwhile, focused his attention on
explanatory scope; he wanted to explain the tonal properties of a
broad spectrum of music from the Middle Ages to the Twentieth
Century. To do this, Salzer had to modify many of Schenkers
ideas, thereby sacrificing much of their accuracy and predictive
power. History has shown that Salzers trade was not worth the
price. As time has gone by, music theorists have generally found
Schenkers approach more robust than Salzers. This seems in
keeping with the general notion that theorists value accuracy most
highly among the evidential values; once accuracy is gained, theorists are unwilling to relinquish it without a fight. Just as theorists
seem to value accuracy over scope and fruitfulness, so they also
seem to value consistency over simplicity and coherence. Again
the rationale is clear. Consistency guarantees that claims can be
tested inter subjectively; and inter subjective testability is one of
the hallmarks of rational discourse. Simplicity, meanwhile, is an
advantage in application, but it is ultimately much better to be
complex and consistent than simple and inconsistent.

24

Explaining Tonality

Besides providing us with a mechanism for evaluating rival


theories, we can also use the preceding model to explain how music
theory might progress as a discipline. Now, there can be little doubt
that progress has become something of a dirty word in musicological
circles these days. Indeed, as Richard Taruskin notes, Few historians
today subscribe to overtly teleological or deterministic models.56
The reasons for this are not hard to find. Recent scholarship has
tended to focus on those properties of music whose significance
depends on historical or social context. Once music is treated as a
social construct, the notion of progress simply smacks of anachronism and cultural imperialism. Change, yes; progress, no. Yet, even
if we balk at the idea of progress in musical composition, we may
still accept the notion of progress in music theory. The two things
are, in fact, quite different. Whereas the former is concerned with
producing aesthetic experiences, the latter is concerned with producing knowledge and understanding. Knowledge and understanding are two things that can clearly improve. They progress when a
community of theorists acknowledges that a new cluster of concepts, laws, and procedures is more accurate, more expansive, more
fruitful, more consistent, more parsimonious, and more coherent
than its predecessors. It is for these reasons that Schenkers theory
of functional monotonality is superior to its precursors. And we
have every reason to suppose that even more successful theories of
tonality will be developed in the future.

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy


Of all epistemic values, none is more important to the music theorist than the quest for accuracy. Whether formulating concepts,
developing explanatory laws, or devising effective procedures, music
theorists always try to provide accurate accounts of the music they
are analyzing. If their methods fall short, then they will try to devise
new concepts, laws, and procedures that fulfill these expectations.
And so it was for Heinrich Schenker. He began from the simple
observation that the laws of strict counterpoint (or Der strenge Satz)
are not accurate enough to explain the richness of functional tonality (or Der freie Satz). To account for these anomalies, he transformed the laws of strict counterpoint through the addition of
functional harmonies, or Stufen. To quote from the Harmonielehre:
[Tonal] composition, then, appears as an extension of strict [counterpoint]: an extension with regard to both the quantity of [tonal]
material and the principle of its motion. What is responsible for all
these extensions is the concept of the Stufe.1 Later, in Kontrapunkt
III, he reiterated this view, claiming that functional relationships
must be understood only as transformations or prolongations of
strict counterpoint.2
As it stands, Schenkers claim can be interpreted in two quite
different ways. It could mean that the laws of strict counterpoint
still operate in tonal contexts but, through the intervention of
Stufen, they operate more freely. This interpretation is the one
endorsed by most music theorists.3 The disadvantage with this view,
however, is that functional tonality extends or transforms strict
counterpoint is some ways, but not in others. If we generalize about
when or why these extensions occur, then we inevitably end up
proposing a new set of covering laws. This latter option is precisely
the one shown in figure 1.1 (From strict counterpoint to functional

26

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.1. From strict counterpoint to functional tonality.

tonality). Quite simply, it takes certain basic principles of voice


leading and interprets them in three different contexts; interpreting them within a world of intervals allows us to explain the behavior of strict two-voice counterpoint; interpreting them within a
world of simple triads allows us to explain the behavior of strict
three- and four-voice counterpoint; and interpreting them within a
world of Stufen allows us to explain the behavior of functional
tonality.
To defend this second interpretation, this chapter begins by
taking another look at the laws of strict counterpoint as presented

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

27

by Fux in Gradus ad Parnassum. Part 1 shows that, even in Fuxian


Species counterpoint, the laws of strict counterpoint actually change
as the individual lines become more elaborate and as their context
changes from the intervallic world of two voices to the triadic
world of three or more voices. Continuing Fuxs line of argument,
part 2 shows how Schenker changed the laws still further when
they operate in the context of functional tonality. We will refer to
these changes as The Heinrich Maneuver. Finally, part 3 demonstrates that Schenkers laws of functional voice leading are intimately related to various laws of tonal harmony. We will refer to
this interconnection between harmony and counterpoint as The
Complementarity Principle. The conclusion explores some ramifications of this argument; it suggests that, by eliminating some
familiar anomalies from conventional theories of voice leading and
harmony, Schenker upheld an utterly traditional epistemic value
the quest for accuracy.

Fux and Strict Counterpoint


Few music theory treatises have been more influential than Johann
Joseph Fuxs Gradus ad Parnassum.4 First published in 1725, this volume became an instant success, circulating throughout Europe both
in its original Latin and in German, Italian, French, and English paraphrases and translations. Indeed, Fuxs discussion of species counterpoint not only shaped the thinking of composers such as Haydn,
Mozart, and Beethoven, but it also served as model for later treatises,
such as Schenkers Kontrapunkt.5 Yet, as Joel Lester and others have
stressed, the Gradus stands out more for its pedagogical success than
for the originality of its ideas. Fux is famous for his Five Species, but as
Lester and others have shown, the notion of the species can be traced
all the way back through Berardis Documenti armonici (1687) and
Miscellanea musicale (1689, Book 1) to Bononcinis Musico prattico
(1673, 1688), Zacconis Prattica di musica seconda parte (1622),
Dirutas Il transilvano Part 2 (1609) and even to Lanfrancos Scintille di
musica (1533).6 Furthermore, these treatises endorse many of the same
laws as texts written by Zarlino, Gaffurius, Guilielmus Monachus,
Tinctoris, and Prosdocimus, to name but a few.

28

Explaining Tonality

When thinking about Fuxian species counterpoint, it is important


to underscore a few basic points. First, like many of his predecessors,
Fux distinguished between the artificial world of counterpoint and
the real world of musical composition; in the former, notes are considered as abstract entities, independent of any motivic, rhythmic,
or formal implications, but in the latter, they are understood in
terms of their motivic, rhythmic, and formal function. Such distinctions are not, of course, unique to music theory. For example, physicists invariably begin by studying particular phenomena under
idealized conditions with perfect vacuums and frictionless pulleys.
Only when these simplified situations can be explained do they
extend their arguments to cover real world situations where vacuums leak and pulleys move more erratically. Even when physicists
model the real world, they do not mistake the model for the real
thing. After all, when simulating nuclear reactions, researchers
dont expect to blow up their laboratories.
Second, to explain the behavior of contrapuntal lines, Fux tried
to formulate an explicit set of covering laws. These laws cover three
main areas: 1) how individual lines move and reach closure; 2) how
polyphonic lines move in relation to one another; and 3) how
unstable (or dissonant) tones behave in relation to stable (or consonant) tones. Nevertheless, Fuxs generalizations are not as precise
as we might like them to be: sometimes they are inconsistent and
sometimes they are demonstrably incomplete. For example, Lester
has noted that Fuxs treatments of raised leading tones and melodic
tritones are contradictory.7 Meanwhile, David Lewin has proposed
a new Global Rule which states that for every note X of the counterpoint line lying above (below) the cadence tone, some note
lying one step lower (higher) than X must appear in the line at
some point subsequent to X.8 Lewin also claims that the counterpoint should not be overarticulated by a strong closure before the
final cadence is reached.9
Third, even within the realm of strict counterpoint, Fux assumed
that the behavior of contrapuntal lines changes as the individual
lines become more elaborate and as the number of voices increases
from two to three or more. To explain changes of the first type,
Fux used the notion of the species. He identified five distinct
species, with First Species corresponding to simple note-against-note

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

29

counterpoint and Fifth Species to florid counterpoint. Second,


Third, and Fourth Species are intermediate stages that introduce
progressively more complex dissonances: Second Species introduces
the passing tone, Third Species, the nota cambiata, and Fourth
Species, the suspension. To deal with changes of the second type,
Fux systematically discussed all five species, first in two voices, then
in three, and then in four. Let us now look at these changes in more
detail, starting with First Species in two voices.
When we think about First Species counterpoint, it is important to begin by considering the structure of the cantus firmus. For
convenience, these are presented in figure 1.2 (Fuxian cantus firmi).
According to Fux, the six tunes shown in figure 1.2a epitomize the
principles of good melodic writing. Globally, each one constitutes a
single phrase of music; each has a clearly defined beginning, a single climax, and an emphatic cadence at the end. They are also
clearly modal; each one begins and ends on a given modal final and
each one is strictly diatonic. Locally, Fuxs cantus firmi primarily
move by half or whole step, they avoid successive unisons, and they
avoid leaps of a seventh or diminished/ augmented intervals, as well
as consecutive leaps in the same direction (see figure 1.2b). These
simple observations are expressed as general laws in figure 1.2c.
These laws set out to explain why particular notes appear in a given
cantus firmus and why they behave in specific ways and not others.
For convenience these laws are classified in several ways. On the
one hand, figure 1.2c distinguishes between main laws, which
explain what normally happens in a melody, and subordinate laws,
which explain significant exceptions to the norm. On the other
hand, it distinguishes between local laws, which operate from one
note to the next, and global laws, which operate across the melody
as a whole.
Turning to figure 1.3 (First Species counterpoint), we see that
First Species counterpoints resemble cantus firmi in some ways but
not others. Like a cantus firmus, each counterpoint in figure 1.3a
forms a single coherent phrase with a clear beginning, a welldefined climax, and a stepwise motion onto the final cadence.
Locally, it primarily moves by whole- or half-step and uses leaps
only sparingly (see figure 1.3b). Unlike a cantus firmus, however,
the counterpoint contains repeated notes (e.g., B in mm. 89) and

30

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.2. Fuxian cantus firmi.


a. Fuxs prototypical cantus firmi.

b. Interval content.
Melody 1
Melody 2
Melody 3
Melody 4
Melody 5
Melody 6

U m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 A4 P5 m6 M6 m7 M7 P8
2
5
1
1
1

2
3
2
1

1
1
5
2
2

1
4
2
3
3

4
4
2
1

3
4
2
1
1

Total
10
9
11
13
11
11

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

31

Figure 1.2. (continued).


c. Laws of melodic motion/closure for a cantus firmus.
If a cantus firmus is perfectly closed,
then it begins on 1 and ends 21.

GM

If a cantus firmus moves from one note to


another, then successive notes are usually
a whole- or a half-step apart and never repeat
the same note.

LM

If leaps do occur, then they are never larger


than an octave and never encompass
diminished/augmented intervals or the
interval of a seventh.

LS

(Gglobal, Llocal, Mmain, Ssubordinate)

ends by ascending chromatically GA at the final cadence.10 Since


Fux promoted the independence of lines, he put a premium on contrary motion between the cantus firmus and the counterpoint (see
figure 1.3c). At cadences, for example, the final perfect consonance
is always approached in contrary motion from the nearest imperfect
consonance, either with a major sixth expanding to an octave or a
minor third contracting to a unison. Furthermore, Fux insisted that
when the cantus firmus and counterpoint do move in the same
direction, they can never produce parallel or direct perfect octaves
and fifths between successive notes.
Figure 1.3d also shows that First Species counterpoints are
always consonant with the cantus firmus; we will refer to this idea as
The Consonance Constraint. According to Fux, unisons, octaves,
fifths, and their compounds are classified as perfect consonances,
whereas thirds, sixths, and their compounds are classified as imperfect consonances. All other intervals, seconds, fourths, sevenths,
and their compounds plus all diminished/augmented intervals, are
counted as dissonant. Although figure 1.3d suggests that First
Species textures often include more imperfect than perfect consonances, Fux insisted that the cantus firmus and the counterpoint
always begin and end on perfect consonances. These generalizations
are presented as covering laws in figure 1.3e. Once again, these laws
are classified as main or subordinate and as local or global.

32

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.3. First Species counterpoint.


a. Prototypical counterpoint in First Species.

b. Interval content of the counterpoint.


U m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 A4
1
3
3
2

P5

m6
1

M6

m7

c. Relative motion between cantus firmus and counterpoint.


Contrary
Oblique
Similar
Parallel 3
6
1
1
1
d. Vertical intervals between cantus firmus and counterpoint.
U
2
3
4
A4
5
6

1
5
e. Laws of melodic motion/closure for a counterpoint.
If a counterpoint is perfectly closed, then
it begins on 8 or 5 and ends 71.

GM

If a counterpoint moves from one note to


another, then successive notes are usually a
whole- or a half-step apart, though they can
occasionally repeat the same note.

LM

If leaps occur, then they are never larger


than an octave and never encompass
diminished/augmented intervals or the
interval of a seventh.

LS

If leaps occur, then they seldom appear


consecutively in the same direction and are
normally approached/departed by step in
the opposite direction.

LS

(Gglobal, Llocal, Mmain, Ssubordinate)

M7

P8

Parallel 6
2

8
2

Total
11

Total
11

Total
12

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

33

Figure 1.4. Prototypical counterpoints in Fifth Species. From Fux, The Study of
Counterpoint, Figs. 82 and 87.

Significant as they may be, the differences in behavior between


cantus firmi and simple counterpoints are less pronounced than
those between simple and florid counterpoints. We can see this very
clearly by comparing the examples in figure 1.3 with those in figures
1.4ab (Prototypical counterpoints in Fifth Species). For example,
whereas the counterpoint in figure 1.3 has only one note for every
member of the cantus firmus, those in figures 1.4a and 1.4b have up
to four. And, unlike the counterpoint in figure 1.3, the one in figure
1.4a crosses the cantus firmus (e.g., m. 2) and includes the chromatic
tone B (e.g., m. 5). But the most striking difference between the
counterpoints in figure 1.3 and those in figures 1.4a and 1.4b is that
the latter are no longer strictly consonant with the cantus firmus. In
fact, we find three specific forms of dissonance (see figure 1.5,
Dissonances in florid counterpoint). First there is the passing tone.
These dissonances move by step in a single direction between two
consonances a third apart. For example, in figure 1.4a, the dissonant
E in m. 2 passes by step from D to F. Although passing tones usually
move between two adjacent consonances, they can appear consecutively: if, for example, the cantus firmus holds the note B, the
counterpoint can descend by step from the sixth G, through the
diminished fifth F and perfect fourth E onto a third D.11 Fuxs
second type of dissonance is the nota cambiata.12 Whereas passing

34

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.5. Dissonances in florid counterpoint.


Passing tone

Nota cambiata

Appears on beat 2 and


moves by step between
two consonances a third
apart.

Second Species

Two/three notes in
the counterpoint
against one in cantus
firmus.

Appears on beats 2, 3,
and 4. Consecutive
passing tones of a
diminished fifth and a
perfect fourth can appear
on beats 2 and 3.

Third Species

Four notes in the


counterpoint against
one in the cantus
firmus.

Appears on beat 2, a step


below consonance on
beat 1 and leaps to a
consonance a third below
on beat 3.

Third Species

Four notes in the


counterpoint against
one in the cantus
firmus.

Fourth Species

Two notes in the


counterpoint against
one in the cantus
firmus.

Lower neighbor can


sometimes appear
on beat 2.
Suspension

Appears on beat 1. Sounds


as a consonance on previous
weak beat and resolves onto
a consonance a step below.

tones always move by step, the cambiata is approached by step and


departed by leap. Consider figure 1.4b, m. 2. Here, the dissonant G
on beat 2 is preceded by a consonant A and followed by a consonant E. The third type of dissonance is the suspension. Whereas
passing tones and cambiatas fill in the space between two consonances, suspensions displace one strand of counterpoint against
another. This is clear in the final cadence from figure 1.4a. Here the
two voices basically move in parallel sixths F/DE/C before arriving on the octave D/D. The suspension is formed when the consonant D of the counterpoint in m. 10 is displaced over E in the cantus
firmus on the down beat of m. 11. Having become dissonant, D
finally descends onto the consonant C at the end of the bar. Since
suspensions stem from displacements rather than diminutions, Fux
classified them as essential dissonances and passing tones/cambiata

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

35

as non-essential dissonances.13 That being said, figure 1.4a contains


several cases where the resolution of a suspension can be ornamented by step (e.g., mm. 78) or by leap (e.g., mm. 89).
So far, we have noted that the behavior of intervals can
be specified precisely in two-voice counterpoint: consonances
(unisons, octaves, fifths, thirds, sixths, and their compounds) are
stable and control the contrapuntal motion, whereas dissonances
(seconds, fourths, sevenths, and their compounds, as well as all
augmented and diminished intervals) are unstable and play a subordinate role. But Fux realized that when two, three, or more counterpoints are added to a cantus firmus, the behavior of these additional
lines changes even more: as the number of voices increases, [so]
the rules are to be less rigorously observed.14 According to him,
these changes occur because three-voice textures are no longer
controlled by intervals per se, but rather by specific amalgamations
of intervals known as triads: [T]he harmonic triad should be
employed in every measure if there is no special reason against it.15
We will refer to this idea as The Triadic Constraint.
According to Fux, harmonic triads are three-note collections
that include unisons, thirds, fifths, or octaves above a given bass
note. According to this definition, diminished triads are not harmonic triads, nor are so-called first- and second-inversion triads.
There are, in fact, only twelve harmonic triads within the modal
system: these are listed at the top of figure 1.6 (Triads in three- and
four-voice textures). Significantly, Triads 18 contain members of
the Gamut; some include only the white notes, while the others
include B. Meanwhile, Triads 912 contain the chromatic notes
C, F, and G; they normally appear at cadences in Dorian,
Mixolydian, and Aeolian modes. Fux sometimes replaced the
diminished triad BDF with the minor triad BDF, especially
in Mixolydian mode. Although Triads 1317 are not harmonic
triads per se, they appear in figure 1.6 because they do occur at
cadences; the diminished triads DFB and GBE contain members of the Gamut, whereas the others use the chromatic tones C,
F, and G.
The shift from the intervallic world of two-voice counterpoint
to the triadic world of three- and four-voice counterpoint has several important implications. For one thing, it erodes the distinction

36

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.6. Triads in three- and four-voice textures.


1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

C
D
E
F
G
G
A
B

E
F
G
A
B
B
C
D

G*
A*
B*
C*
D*
D*
E*
F*

Major
Minor
Minor
Major
Major
Minor
Minor
Major

5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3

9.
10.
11.
12.

D
E
A
B

F
G
C
D

A*
B*
E*
F*

Major
Major
Major
Minor

5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3
5/3 or 6/3

[Mixolydian]
[Aeolian]
[Dorian]
[113114]

13.
14.
15.
16.
17.

D
G
E
A
B

F
B
G
C
D

B
E
C
F
G

Diminished
Diminished
Diminished
Diminished
Diminished

6/3
6/3
6/3
6/3
6/3

[Dorian]
[Mixolydian]
[Aeolian]

* Fuxs harmonic triads

between perfect and imperfect consonances. We have already seen


that two-voice textures always begin and end on perfect consonances.
This, however, is no longer the case in three- and four-voice textures. As shown in figure 1.7 (First Species in three voices), threevoice textures often begin and end on imperfect consonances:
figures 1.7a and 1.7b both open with sonorities that contain the
third, but not the fifth and figure 1.7c begins and ends in the same
way. The only time when Fux still favors perfect over imperfect
consonances is in the final cadence; figure 1.7a ends on bare octaves
and figure 1.7b ends on an octave plus a fifth.
Besides weakening the distinction between perfect and imperfect consonances, The Triadic Constraint also blurs the distinction between consonant and dissonant intervals. Since the
behavior of intervals is determined from the bass, the upper voices
can be consonant with the bass and dissonant among themselves.
The cadence in figure 1.7b offers a good case in point. Although
perfect and augmented fourths are always dissonant in two-voice
counterpoint, they behave as consonances when they appear

37
Figure 1.7. First Species in three voices. From Fux, The Study of Counterpoint,
Figs. 104, 105, 106.

38

Explaining Tonality

between the upper voices in three- and four-voice contexts. In this


case, the final measures contain the perfect fourth AD followed
by an augmented fourth GC. Since the behavior of the fourth
depends upon its harmonic context, the distinction between harmonic and non-harmonic tones starts to be more significant in threeand four-voice textures than the distinction between consonance
and dissonance.
The significance of The Triadic Constraint is easy to see in
figure 1.8 (Cadence patterns in two, three, and four voices). In
two-voice textures, cadences are normally marked by a stepwise
descent  3 2 1 in the cantus firmus and a stepwise motion  1 7 1
in the counterpoint (see figures 1.8ab). Since it does not matter
whether the counterpoint is above or below the cantus firmus,
these lines are completely invertible at the octave. But in threevoice textures, things are more complicated. Using our two-voice
cadence as a prototype, figures 1.8ce show what happens when
the third voice is added to them. If the cantus firmus is in the bass,
then the third voice usually contains the notes 54 5 or  54 3
(see figures 1.8c and 1.8d). Significantly, this new line is only partially invertible at the octave: it can appear above or below the
counterpoint  1 7 1, but never below the cantus firmus. This is
because 5 creates a dissonant fourth with  1. If, however, the third
voice is added below the two-voice prototype (see figure 1.8e),
then it typically leaps  15 1. Unlike the other voices, this one is
never invertible at the octave; on the contrary, it is the quintessential bass part and as such is quite different in character from the
cantus firmus and the other counterpoint. Figure 1.8f then shows
how these prototypical voice-leading patterns normally appear in
four-voice cadences.
The Triadic Constraint has other effects on the behavior of
contrapuntal lines. In two-voice textures, counterpoints rarely
contain consecutive leaps in the same direction, but in three- and
four-voice textures, such phenomena are actually quite common.
Figure 1.7c offers us some good examples: in mm. 59 the middle
counterpoint leaps from F via C to E and back through C to A, and
in mm. 25, the lowest counterpoint leaps from F to D to A to F.
We can find similar adjustments to the laws of relative motion (see
figure 1.9, Parallel and direct perfect octaves and fifths in three and

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

39

Figure 1.8. Cadence patterns in two, three, and four voices.


Two-voice cadences.

Both voices are completely invertible at the octave.


Three-voice cadences.

321 and 171 are completely invertible at the octave, 543 is partially invertible at
the octave (never in bass), and 151 is never invertible at the octave (only in bass).
Four-voice cadences.

321 and 171 are completely invertible at the octave, 5 4 3 is partially invertible
at the octave (never in bass), and 151 is never invertible at the octave (only in bass).

four voices). In two-voice contexts, for example, parallel perfect


octaves and fifths do not occur between successive down beats
when they are separated by a falling third (see figures 1.9a and
1.9b). Yet they can occur in three- or four-voice textures, for the
sake of the harmonic triad (see figures 1.9c and 1.9d). Notice, too,
that repeated tones and consecutive leaps appear in both of the
counterpoints.
The preceding discussion has shown that, even according to
Fux, the laws of strict counterpoint change as the individual lines
become more elaborate and as their context changes from a texture

40

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.9. Parallel and direct perfect octaves and fifths in two, three and four
voices. From Fux, The Study of Counterpoint, Figs. 29, 27, 28, 120, 173.

with two-voices to one with three or more voices. This is because


two-voice textures are controlled by The Consonance Constraint,
whereas three- and four-voice textures are controlled by The
Triadic Constraint. As these contexts change, so the laws of
voice leading change as well. But, as Fux was fully aware, species
counterpoint is still several steps removed from actual tonal
practice. We are left to wonder how the laws of strict counterpoint must be altered to account for the idiosyncrasies of functional
tonality.

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

41

Figure 1.9 (continued).

The Heinrich Maneuver


One writer who specifically addressed this issue was Heinrich
Schenker. In his Harmonielehre (1906) and Kontrapunkt III (1910,
1922), he demonstrated that, in functional contexts, the behavior
of lines is influenced by a new condition, which we will refer to as
The Stufe Constraint. As he explained in the Harmonielehre:
[Tonal] composition differs from strict counterpoint, in so far as the
former possesses Stufen, which articulate its content, and in so far as
[they] allow for a much wider range of freedom in voice-leading.16
He added:
Where in strict [counterpoint], we have notes consonant to those of the
cantus firmus, we have, in [tonal] composition, the Stufe. Where, in strict
[counterpoint], we have a dissonant passing tone, we have, in [tonal] composition, free voice-leading, a series of intermediate chords, unfolding in free
motion.17

According to him, Stufen then resemble powerful projector lights:


in their illuminated sphere the parts go through their evolution in a
higher and freer contrapuntal sense, uniting in [discrete harmonies], which, however, never become [an] end in themselves but

42

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.10. Differences in the behavior of triads and Stufen.


a, b. Influence of Stufen on harmonic progressions. From Fux, The Study of Counterpoint,
Figs. 118, 117.

Reordering of diminutions.
c. First Species.

d. Third Species.

e. Tonal Counterpoint.

always result from the free movement.18 For convenience we will


classify these extensions of strict counterpoint under the rubric of
The Heinrich Maneuver.
This point is clarified in figure 1.10 (Differences in behavior of
triads and Stufen). Take, for example, the passages shown in figures
1.10a and 1.10b. Although both satisfy the laws of strict counterpoint and are triadic, the progression IIII6 in figure 1.10a is
extremely rare in tonal contexts, whereas the progression I6VII6I

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

43

in figure 1.10b is very common. This suggests that there may be


constraints on what strings of triads can appear in tonal contexts.
These constraints are connected with chord function. Figures 1.10c
to 1.10e show another important difference. Figure 1.10c gives a
simple cadence in First Species. Although there are many ways in
which this pattern can be elaborated in Third Species, Fux insisted
that the final 1 must always be preceded by 7 (see figure 1.10d). In
functional tonal composition, however, this cadence pattern can be
transformed in other ways (see figure 1.10e). Assuming that this
cadence articulates the progression I6VII6I, then the upper voice
actually implies two strands of counterpoint: a soprano voice that
moves  17 1 and an alto voice that descends  54  3. In other
words, it is a so-called polyphonic or compound melody. The
descending line  76  54 actually connects the soprano voice C
with the alto voice G. Since the measure expands a single Stufe, the
soprano C need not sound on the final beat; according to
Schenker, this pitch is mentally retained throughout the entire
measure before it resolves onto D.
But what exactly are Stufen and how do they influence tonal
voice leading? Very simply, whereas triads are merely collections of
stacked thirds and fifths, Stufen are triads that function within a
tonality, this function being indicated by a Roman numeral. For us
to assign a Roman numeral to a given triad, we must be able to show
that triad is related to the tonic. The notion of functionality helps
to explain why some chord strings are possible in tonal contexts and
others are not. As shown in figure 1.11(The major-minor system),
Schenker acknowledged that there are seven possible Stufen. In
major keys, I, IV, and V Stufen are represented by major triads; II,
III, and VI Stufen by minor triads; and the VII Stufe by a diminished
triad (see figure 1.11a). Meanwhile, in minor keys I, IV, and V
Stufen are represented by minor triads; II, III, VI, and VII Stufen
by major triads; and the II Stufe by a diminished triad (see figure
1.11b). Schenker invoked the concept of simple mixture to swap
triads between parallel keys and the concept of secondary mixture
to change the qualities of II, III, VI, and VII in major, and II, III,
VI, and VII in minor.19 These are shown in figures 1.11c and
1.11d. According to Schenkerian theory, double mixture allows the
composer to borrow triads from the parallel key and change their

44

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.11. The major-minor system.


Mixture is a transformation that allows us to move from one quadrant to another: simple
mixture allows us to move from one diatonic quadrant to another; secondary mixture
allows us to move from a given diatonic quadrant to its secondary; double mixture allows
us to move from a given diatonic quadrant via the other diatonic quadrant to the other
secondary quadrant.
Major

Minor
o

a. Diatonic

|I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii

i, II, ii , III, iv, v, VI, VII| b. Diatonic

c. Secondary

|I, II, III, IV, V, VI, vii, VII

i, ii, iio, iii, iv, v, vi, vii | d. Secondary

Tonicization is a transformation that derives the missing triads by shifting locally to


another major-minor system. Diminished triads serve as position finders in the new system:
i
ii
iii
iii
iv
iv/v
iv/v
IV/V
v
vi
vi
vii

vii/II, ii/vii
vii/II, iio/vii
vii/III, ii/ii
vii/IV, ii/ii
vii/IV(V), ii/iii
vii/V, ii/iii
iv/II, iii/II, iii/III, ii/III, ii/IV, vii/V, vii/VI, vi/VI, vi/VII, v/VII
IV/II, III/II, III/III, II/III, II/IV, VII/V, VII/VI, VI/VI, VI/VII, V/VII
vii/VI, ii/iv
vii/VI, ii/iv(v)
vii/VII, ii/v
vii/VII, ii/vi

quality. Since diminished triads appear only as VII in major keys


and II in minor, they serve as position finders; for example, instead
of treating the diminished triad CEG as io in C major-minor,
we can regard it either as VII of D major or as II of B minor.20
Although figure 1.11 covers a wide range of Stufen, it does not
include those on IV/V. This omission suggests that these Stufen
cannot be derived directly from the tonic by mixtures. Instead,
Schenkerian theory explains them by another process, tonicization.
Tonicization allows an individual note or Stufe to function temporarily as a tonic and, in so doing, implies that the piece temporarily shifts
to a new major-minor system. For example, to generate the major
triads FAC and GBD in C major, we must temporarily
shift to a new key; these triads can then arise as the subdominant of D
major (IV/II), the dominant of B major (V/VII), the Phrygian II of F
minor (II/IV), the mediant of E minor (III/III), the submediant

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

45

Figure 1.12. Laws of melodic motion and closure.


a. Fuxs Laws of Strict Counterpoint

b. Revised Laws of Tonality

If the cantus firmus is perfectly closed,


then it begins on 1 and ends 21.

GM

If a melody is perfectly closed, then


it begins on 8 , 5 , or 3 , and ends 2 1.

If a cantus firmus moves from one note to


another, then successive notes are usually
a whole- or a half-step apart and never
repeat the same note.

LM

If a melody moves from one note to


another, then successive notes are
usually a step apart.

If leaps do occur, then they are never


larger than an octave and never
encompass diminished/augmented
intervals or the interval of a seventh.

LS

If leaps occur, then they do so


when the melody shifts from one
harmonic tone to another or from
one contrapuntal voice to another.

If leaps occur, then they seldom appear


successively in the same direction and
are normally approached/departed by
step in the opposite direction.

LS

(Gglobal, Llocal, Mmain, Ssubordinate)

of B minor (VI/VII), or as the sub-tonic of A minor (VII/VI).


In other words, although it is impossible to generate Stufen on IV/
V directly from the tonic, they can be generated indirectly from
I as II/IV, II/III, III/III, III/II, IV/II, V/VII, VI/VII, VI/VI, or
VII/VI. Elsewhere, Douglas Dempster, Dave Headlam, and I have
referred to this idea as The IV/V Hypothesis.21 We believe that
The IV/V Hypothesis is sufficiently well confirmed to stand as a
subordinate law of functional harmony.
Having introduced Stufen into the mix, we can now assess their
impact on tonal voice leading. Figures 1.12ab (Laws of melodic
motion and closure) compare Fuxs laws of strict counterpoint with
Schenkers laws of tonal voice leading. Starting with the structure of
melodic lines, it is clear that although Schenker certainly accepted
that functional tonal melodies mostly move by whole- or half-steps
and normally end by descending  2 to  1 (this is part of what he
meant by the term melodic fluency or Der fliessende Gesang), he also
recognized that this motion is controlled by The Stufe Constraint.22
Indeed, Schenker went so far as to claim that all melody is the
composing-out of sonorities.23 Since Stufen can only be expressed

46

Explaining Tonality

by major, minor, and diminished triads, it follows that melodic


motion must always occur between triadic intervals, such as thirds,
fourths, fifths, sixths, and octaves. Now the condition between
tones of the tonic triad in the law of melodic motion forces us to
change both of our main laws: globally, the essential melody need
not begin on  1; it can now start on 5 and  3; locally, since  2 and  1
cannot be members of the same Stufe, the melody must end with the
step wise descent  3 2 1. Of course, if melodies ultimately descend
from  3, then they can immediately be classified as major or minor.
By dropping the phrase whole- or half-steps the new law also
allows for steps of an augmented second, provided that they appear
between harmonic tones. Among other things, this means that lines
can skip from 6 to 7 in progressions from II6 to V.24
Once the preceding adjustments have been made, we can explain
how melodic leaps arise in functional triadic contexts. First of all,
they can occur when the essential melody moves from one harmonic
tone to another. The opening theme from the first movement of
Beethovens Eroica Symphony is just such a melody: it arpeggiates
the tones of the tonic triad EGEBEGBE.25 Notice how
this theme contains several consecutive leaps in the same direction.
But melodic leaps can also occur when the essential melody moves to
another voice in the essential counterpoint. This process gives rise to
polyphonic or compound melodies. We can illustrate this idea in figure 1.13 (Polyphonic melodies) by comparing the Sarabande and
Double from Bachs Partita No. 1 for Solo Violin, BWV 1002. As
shown in figure 1.13a, the Sarabande is a polyphonic composition
built from at least four lines of counterpoint. Sometimes the four
voices are given explicitly, such as at the start of the piece, but more
often they are implied by the laws of tonal counterpoint. For example, since we know that tonal harmonies must always contain the
third of the chord we know the dominant triad in m. 8 must have
an A in the tenor voice. And, since it seems likely that the final B in
m. 7 belongs to the alto voice, we can infer that the tonic chord at
the start of m. 7 has B as its alto. Meanwhile, figure 1.13b shows how
the Double horizontalizes this four-voice framework to create a seamless polyphonic melody. In other words, the prominent leaps of the
Double are created by moving between different contrapuntal voices
of the Sarabande.

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

47

Figure 1.13. Polyphonic melodies.


a. Bach, Partita No. 1 for Solo Violin, BWV 1002, Sarabande, mm. 18.

b. Bach, Partita No. 1 for Solo Violin, BWV 1002, Sarabande: Double, mm. 18.

Just as Schenker used The Stufe Constraint to explain why


melodies behave differently in strict counterpoint than in functional tonality, so he also used it to explain anomalies in the relative motion between lines. Schenker was quite adamant that tonal
counterpoint mostly moves by contrary or oblique motion and that

48

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.14. Parallels by doubling and figuration.


Beethoven, Piano Sonata, Op. 2, no. 3, 1st movement, mm. 4751. From Schenker ed.,
Brahms Octaven und Quinten, Ex. 5a.

the foreground fundamentally prohibits parallel octaves and fifths.26


But he also recognized that parallel perfect octaves or fifths sometimes occur in actual tonal pieces; in fact, he reconsidered almost
100 of the 140 or so examples cataloged in Brahmss famous study
Oktaven und Quinten.27
According to him, these anomalous parallels arise in two
distinct ways. First, they stem from unessential voices. Figure 1.14
(Parallels by doubling and figuration) gives a simple illustration.
This short extract from the first movement of Beethovens Piano
Sonata, Op. 2, no. 3, contains two sets of parallel perfect octaves
between the tenor and the bass, B/BC/C in mm. 4849 and
A/AB/B in mm. 5051. These are marked by the parallel lines in
the musical example. But, according to Schenker, these parallel
octaves actually arise from doubling.28 The melody in the right hand
is actually polyphonic: the soprano voice descends from D (m. 48)
through C (m. 50) to an implied B (m. 51); the alto voice descends
from B (mm. 4748) through A (mm. 4950) to G (m. 51); and the
tenor voice articulates the neighbor motion G (mm. 4748) F
(mm. 4950) G (m. 51). The imitation of the melody in the bass
clef (m. 48ff.) simply doubles this counterpoint.
Second, parallel perfect octaves and fifths can arise from unessential tones. In Der freie Satz, Schenker listed the following possibilities:
a principal note with an accented or unaccented passing tone or with a neighboring note; a passing tone with an anticipation, with an accented passing
tone, or with a neighboring note; a neighboring note with another neighboring
note, with the concluding turn of a trill, or with a suspension; the resolution of
a suspension with a passing tone, with another suspension, and so forth.29

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

49

Figure 1.15. Parallels by combinations of harmonic and non-harmonic tones.


a. Passing tone with anticipation. Bach, St. Matthew Passion, Part 2, No. 16, m. 8. From
Schenker ed., Brahms Octaven und Quinten, Ex. 29.

b. Accented and unaccented passing tones. Cherubini, Missa Solemnis in D Minor, Kyrie
2, mm. 7073. From Schenker ed., Brahms Octaven und Quinten, Ex. 55.

c. Simultaneous neighbor tones. Mozart, Cosi fan tutti, Act 2, No. 19, m. 22. From
Schenker ed., Brahms Octaven und Quinten, Ex. 53.

Figure 1.15 (Parallels by combinations of harmonic and nonharmonic tones) illustrates some of these configurations.30 In figure
1.15a, for example, the parallel perfect fifths B/EA/D arise from a
passing motion EDC in the tenor voice combined with an
anticipation A in the soprano. Similarly, the parallel perfect fifths
C/FB/E in figure 1.15b occur because the soprano passes from C

50

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.16. Laws of relative motion and closure.


If a counterpoint is perfectly closed,
then it begins on 8 or 5 and
ends 71.

GM

If a texture is perfectly closed, then


the melody begins on 8, 5, or 3 and
ends  21 , the alto ends 7 1 , the tenor
ends 543, and the bass leaps 51.

If a counterpoint moves from one


note to another, then it mainly
moves in contrary motion with the
cantus firmus.

LM

If the contrapuntal lines move from


one note to another, then they
mainly move in contrary motion
or in parallel thirds or sixths.

If a counterpoint and the cantus


firmus move in the same direction,
then parallel perfect octaves and
fifths do not occur between
successive notes.

LS

If two essential lines move in the


same direction, then parallel perfect
octaves and fifths do not occur
between successive harmonic tones.

LS

If parallel perfect octaves and fifths


occur, then they arise from
doubling/figuration or from
combinations of harmonic and
non-harmonic tones.

(Gglobal, Llocal, Mmain, Ssubordinate)

to A, whereas the alto passes from G to C. Finally, figure 1.15c


shows how parallel perfect fifths arise when an accented neighbor
tone C sounds against the chord tone F.
Taking these various cases into account, we can revise our subordinate laws (see figure 1.16, Laws of relative motion and closure).
These new laws state: [I]f two essential lines move in the same
direction, then parallel perfect octaves and fifths do not occur between successive harmonic tones; and [I]f parallel perfect octaves
and fifths occur, then they arise from doubling/figuration or from
complex combinations of harmonic and non-harmonic tones. In
other words, permissible parallels arise from complexities in the
voice leading: It is as if two people who have no contact with one
another simply pass in the street without an exchange of greetings.31
With regard to the behavior of unstable/stable tones, Fuxs
laws again differ from Schenkers (see figure 1.17,). Like Fux before
him, Schenker certainly believed that Laws of vertical alignment
consonances are more fundamental than dissonances. As he put it,

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

51

Figure 1.17. Laws of vertical alignment.


If a counterpoint is added above or
below a cantus firmus, then it always
begins/ends on a perfect consonance.

GM

If contrapuntal lines are added to a


melody, then they normally begin
and end on members of the tonic
triad.

If the counterpoint moves from one


note to another, then each note is
normally consonant with the cantus
firmus.

LM

If the contrapuntal lines move from


one note to another, then each
verticality is basically triadic.

If dissonances occur, then they move


by step to and/or from consonances.

LS

If non-harmonic tones occur, then


they move by step between
harmonic tones or by leap between
contrapuntal lines.

(Gglobal, Llocal, Mmain, Ssubordinate)

[C]onsonance manifests an absolute character, dissonance, on the


contrary, a merely relative and derivative one: in the beginning is consonance! The consonance is primary, the dissonance is secondary!32
Nevertheless, one of the most important consequences of The Stufe
Constraint is that it erodes the distinction between consonance
and dissonance. Indeed, figure 1.18 (Consonant non-harmonic tones
and dissonant harmonic tones) shows that functional tonality not
only contains dissonant harmonic tones, but also consonant nonharmonic tones. Figures 1.18b and 1.18c give two examples of the
former; according to Schenker, the VII Stufe in figure 1.18b and the
II Stufe in figure 1.18c may be diminished, but are treated as if they
are consonant.33 Meanwhile, figure 1.18a gives a good example of a
consonant non-harmonic tone: the pitch A in m. 1 serves as a passing tone, even though it is consonant with the bass.
Schenker, however, tried to go one stage further by suggesting that
all non-harmonic tones stem from passing motion. In Kontrapunkt I,
for example, he noted that the apparently free dissonance must be
understood as the clearly established internal element of a latent
passing motion.34 This is shown in figure 1.19 (Neighbor tones and
suspensions as passing motions). As shown in figure 1.19a, he
suggested that the neighbor motion CDC is a transformation of
the passing motion CDE, while in figure 1.19b he proposed that

52

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.18. Consonant non-harmonic tones and dissonant harmonic tones.

Figure 1.19. Neighbor tones and suspensions as passing motions.


a. Schenker, Kontrapunkt II, Ex. 123.

b. Schenker, Kontrapunkt I, Ex. 400.

the suspension CB is a transformation of the passing motion


DCB.35 Later, in volume 2 of Der Tonwille (1921), he reiterated
his claim that non-harmonic tones arise from passing motion:
Consonance lives in the triad, dissonance in [the] passing [tone]. From the
triad and from passing [tone] stem all the phenomena of tonal life: the triad
can become a Stufe, the passing tone can be modified to become a neighbor

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

53

note or accented passing tone, anticipation, a dissonant syncopation, and


the seventh of a chord.36

But by the time Schenker completed Der freie Satz, he had softened
his position; in par. 66 he claimed that the dissonance appears
only as a passing tone or as a syncopation, and in par. 10612 he
included neighbor motion as an independent transformation.37
Now he simply claimed that the traversal of the Urlinie is the most
basic of all passing motions.38
Given that non-harmonic tones arise from step motion between
harmonic tones, how do we explain cambiatas, appoggiaturas, changing notes, and other leaping dissonances? Once again, Schenkerian
theory offers two types of explanation. The first relies on implied
tones. In figure 1.20a (Chopins Mazurka, Op. 30, no. 4, mm.
12930), Schenker explained in his graph the string of parallel seventh chords by invoking implied suspensions.39 The second explanation treats leaping dissonances as byproducts of motion between
polyphonic voices. We can see how this might work in figure 1.20b.
Here the nota cambiata is explained in terms of an implied motion to
an inner voice: the alto voice passes BCD, while the soprano
temporarily moves down through D to hit the alto C.
Schenkerian theory uses much the same strategy to explain the
behavior of consecutive non-harmonic tones. Although such
things rarely occur in strict counterpoint, they are a dime a dozen
in tonal composition. As John Rothgeb has pointed out, The linear progression is but an extension of the basic passing-tone concept of second species counterpoint in that it allows for passing
motions within larger intervals than a third.40 Sometimes, however, consecutive non-harmonic tones arise from motion between
different polyphonic voices. For example, a double neighbor tone
CBDC might be derived from flipping between the soprano and
alto voices: in this case, the B might belong to the alto line,
whereas the D might belong to the soprano.
Rothgeb cites a more extreme example from Schenkers unpublished Generalbasslehre that seems to contain adjacent seventh
chords (see figure 1.21, Consecutive seventh chords). According to
Schenker, this passage, basically reduces to an 87 motion [above
a stationary bass]; but the passing tone [A] in the bass disguises this

54

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.20. Implied tones and the nota cambiata.


a. Implied tones. Chopin, Mazurka, Op. 30, no. 4, m. 129ff.

From Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 54.6.

b. Nota cambiata. From Schenker, Kontrapunkt I, Ex. 347.

fact, and thereby causes insurmountable difficulty for the theory


teacher and forces him to speak of a succession of seventh chords.41
In other words, the consecutive non-harmonic tones arise from two
separate, but simultaneous, levels of contrapuntal motion: the bass
A is simply a passing tone and does not support an independent
Stufe, whereas the soprano F is a passing tone between G and E in
the underlying progression VI in C major. This phenomenon is
common in mixed species and will be discussed in chapter 3.
Finally, whereas suspensions are the only possible accented
non-harmonic tones in strict counterpoint, many other types of
accented non-harmonic tones occur in tonal contexts through the
concept of displaced intervals. Figure 1.22 (Displacement and

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

55

Figure 1.21. Consecutive seventh chords. From Schenker, Generalbasslehre, p.


47. From John Rothgeb, Schenkerian Theory: Its Implications for the Undergraduate Curriculum, Music Theory Spectrum 3 (1981): 146.

Figure 1.22. Displacement and accented dissonances.

accented dissonances) shows how displacements can used to generate accented passing tones (figure 1.22a), accented neighbor tones
(figure 1.22b), and appoggiaturas (figure 1.22c). Displacement can
even account for more radical deviations from strict counterpoint,
such as the ones found in figure 1.23 (Beethovens Piano Sonata, Op.
81a).42 By displacing the right and left hands, Beethoven superimposed the tonic and dominant chords, thereby creating an effect of
extraordinary beauty.
So far, we have considered Schenkers explanation of the relationship between strict counterpoint and functional tonality. Schenker
saw many connections between the two; in both cases, melodic lines
mostly move by step, converge on the tonic at final cadences, and
move between stable and unstable verticalities. But he also saw subtle
differences; these arise because strict counterpoint is bound either by
The Consonance Constraint or The Triadic Constraint, whereas
tonal voice leading is controlled by The Stufe Constraint. We have
seen that, through The Heinrich Maneuver, Schenker not only

56

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.23. Beethoven, Piano Sonata, Op. 81a, 1st movement, mm. 23042.
From Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 132.

reinterpreted the basic principles of melodic motion, relative motion,


and the behavior of unstable/stable tones so that they applied to functional tonality, but he also supported these basic principles with an
alternative network of subordinate laws. Schenker was well aware of
what he had done: in Kontrapunkt I, for example, he promised to justify each prescription and restriction and elaborate how the application of [these rules] more or less changes in the context of [tonal]
composition.43 He believed that by this procedure, he could contribute best toward eliminating that unfortunate confusion of counterpoint and composition as well as its sad consequences.44

The Complementarity Principle


From the preceding discussion, it should be clear that The Heinrich Maneuver ties the principles of tonal voice leading to the
behavior of tonal harmonies. This observation reflects Schenkers
general belief that it is impossible to understand functional tonality
adequately from a purely contrapuntal or a purely harmonic perspective. Indeed, as he put it in Harmonielehre: [O]ne note, or even
more, may be heard merely horizontally, while the vertical is to be
totally disregarded; for other notes, on the contrary, the vertical
concept is far more important.45 For convenience, we will refer to this
interrelation of line and chord as The Complementarity Principle.

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

57

This principle can, in fact, be stated even more strongly: although


every tonal event can be interpreted contrapuntally or harmonically, any account that is purely contrapuntal or purely harmonic
will necessarily be incomplete.46 The Stufe Constraint does not
simply list what essential harmonies are possible, it also explains
how they conform to their own secret law of progression.47 To
understand what The Stufe Constraint involves, let us briefly compare traditional explanations of functional harmony with those
offered by Schenker.
In general terms, tonal theorists usually address three main
issues. First, they are concerned with showing how stable harmonies
are distinguished from unstable harmonies. Most theorists believe
that functional tonal music is basically built from triads and seventh
chords, which they classify in terms of their quality (major, minor,
diminished, and augmented) and their inversion (root, first, second,
and third). We can use the term inversional equivalence to refer to
the notion that the identity of a triad is independent of its vertical
ordering. Most theorists also classify triads into seven types identified
by seven Roman numerals. Second, tonal theorists are interested in
determining how successive harmonies are arranged to create typical
functional progressions. To do this, many theorists invoke the idea of
functional equivalence: they propose that the seven essential
harmonies fulfill three basic functionstonic (I, VI, and III), dominant (V and VII), and subdominant (IV, II, and VI). They then suggest that prototypical tonal progressions follow the scheme tonic
(T)subdominant (S)dominant (D)tonic (T). Third, tonal theorists are concerned with understanding how chromatic harmonies
arise in functional tonal contexts. Since most theorists assume that
functional tonal music is fundamentally diatonic, they usually regard
chromaticisms as surface deviations from this basic system.
Schenkers outlook on these three topics was, however,
anything but conventional; by including voice-leading elements in
his theory of harmony, he was able to simplify the principles of
harmonic classification and harmonic progression considerably,
thereby increasing their flexibility and accuracy. In the first case, he
used the laws of tonal voice leading to limit the number of essential
harmonies to major, minor, and diminished triads and he was very
suspicious of inversional equivalence.48 To be specific, since the

58

Explaining Tonality

interval of the perfect fourth is dissonant when it occurs above the


bass, Schenker seldom treated 6/4 sonorities as functional harmonies, and since augmented triads do not appear within the major
or minor systems, he did not count them as essential either. Finally,
and perhaps most importantly, Schenker rejected the idea that
seventh chords normally behave as functional harmonies. To quote
from the start of Kontrapunkt I:
The Stufe exists in our perception only as [a] triad; that is, as soon as we
expect a Stufe, we expect it first of all only as [a] triad, not as a seventh
chord. In this sense, the seventh is absolutely not an a priori element of our
perception comparable to the fifth and the third; it is rather an event a
posteriori, which we understand best of all with reference to the function
associated with it; that is, we understand it in retrospect as a passing tone, or
as a means of chromaticization, or the like.49

Obviously, if seventh chords are ultimately created by contrapuntal


motion, then so must more abstruse sonorities, such as ninths, thirteenths, and augmented-sixths. These are shown in figure 1.24
(Laws of harmonic classification).
Schenker also used the laws of tonal voice leading to shed light
on the behavior of harmonic progressions (or Stufengang). He was
quite clear that cadential closure was not simply a contrapuntal
phenomenon, it also depends on the distinctive motion from dominant to tonic:
In order to gain insight into cadences in [tonal] composition it is important
to recognize that there the closure is no longer based on the horizontal line
alone but rather (and to a larger degree) on the harmony of the vertical
[dimension], or, more precisely, on the succession from the V Stufe to I.50

But while he certainly accepted the functional priority of the tonic


and dominant Stufen, Schenker rejected the notion of functional
equivalence: he denied that the seven Stufen necessarily fulfill just
three basic functionstonic, subdominant, and dominant. To
quote from Kontrapunkt I, How can one claim to have understood
the [tonal] system if its individual Stufen, except I, IV, and V, are
deprived of their independence and thus of their attractive capability of assuming various functions?51 Schenker added, [I]t is the
functional versatility of the Stufe that is the basis of [tonal] practice,

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

59

Figure 1.24. Laws of harmonic classification.


a. Traditional Laws of Harmony

b. Revised Laws of Tonal Harmony

If a melody is harmonized, then it is


mainly supported by major, minor,
diminished, or augmented triads, and
seventh chords on seven degrees.

LM

If a melody is harmonized, then it


is mainly supported by major, minor,
diminished triads on seven degrees.

If these triads appear in succession,


then these seven degrees serve one
of three functionstonic (T),
subdominant (S), or dominant (D)
(functional equivalence).

LM

If a triad appears, then it always has the


root and the third, with any member in
the bass (inversional equivalence).

LS

If a triad appears, then it has the


root and the third, with only these
members in the bass.

If the triad doubles notes, then it


normally doubles the root, then the
fifth, then the third, but not 7.

If the triad doubles notes, then it


normally doubles the root, then
the fifth, then the third, but not 7 .

If non-harmonic tones appear, then


they arise from seventh chords or
motion between triads.

LS

If non-harmonic tones appear,


then they arise from motion
between harmonic tones or
contrapuntal voices.

(Gglobal, Llocal, Mmain, Ssubordinate)

and this, of course, at least presupposes its independence!52


Although there will certainly be times when II chords behave the
same way as IV chords, there will be other times when they do not;
this means that the notion of functional equivalence cannot be
generalized across the entire range of tonal progressions.53
Taking Schenkers argument further, even if two Stufen do
behave in the same way, they need not arise for the same reasons
(see figure 1.25, Chord function vs. chord derivation). Figure 1.25a
gives a simple progression IVI with a descent  3 2 1 in the
soprano. Next, figure 1.25b shows how we can compose out this
progression by a leaping passing tone in the bass, thereby generating an incomplete upper neighbor motion in the soprano. We can
assume that the II6 in figure 1.25c is generated in much the same

60
Figure 1.25. Chord function vs. chord derivation.

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

61

Figure 1.26. Laws of harmonic progression.


a. Traditional Laws of Harmony
If triads appear in succession, then
they are normally arranged as T-S-D-T.

b. Revised Laws of Tonal Harmony


GM

If a tonal progression is maximally


closed, then it ends by moving
from V to I.

LS

If another essential harmony


occurs, then it does so from motion
between I and V.

way. But what about the II Stufe in figure 1.25d? This one seems to
be derived from the upcoming dominant rather than from the preceding tonic.54 The same can also be said of the D-major Stufe given
in figure 1.25e. In other words, figure 1.25 indicates that different
predominant chords may serve the same function, even though
they may be generated in quite different ways. Schenkerian derivations are simply more accurate than functional explanations.55
Assuming that Schenkers seven Stufen cannot be reduced to
three functional categories, how can we explain the behavior of harmonic progressions? The answer is, in fact, surprisingly easy; according to Schenker, they arise from the process of composing out:
As a consequence of voice-leading constraint[s], all those individual harmonies that arise from the progression of the various voices are forced to
move forward. All the transient harmonies which appear in the course of a
work have their source in the necessities of voice-leading [par. 178, 180].56

Since Stufen are inextricably bound up with counterpoint, we can


reformulate some new laws, as shown in figure 1.26 (Laws of harmonic progression).57
Lastly, Schenker recognized that tonal voice leading has an
important influence on the behavior of tonal chromaticisms. Obviously, one of the biggest differences between strict counterpoint
and functional tonal composition lies in the area of chromaticism.
As Schenker himself pointed out, whereas strict counterpoint is
primarily diatonic and avoids direct chromatic successions, functional
tonal composition uses mixture and tonicization to create the
entire spectrum of chromaticisms.58 In some cases, these chromatic

62

Explaining Tonality

Figure 1.27. Laws of chromatic generation.


a. Traditional Laws of Harmony

b. Revised Laws of Tonal Harmony

If a melody is harmonized by
triads, then these triads are
mainly diatonic.

LM

If a melody is harmonized by triads,


then these triads are mainly
diatonic.

If chromaticisms occur, then they


substitute for or elaborate diatonic
triads.

LS

If chromaticisms occur, then they


arise from mixture or tonicization.

LS

If harmonies appear on IV/V,


then they are always indirectly
related to I.

successions will be direct: In contrast to strict counterpoint (see


Kpt. I, II/2, par. 28, and Kpt. II, III/1, par. 25), [tonal] composition
permits a succession of chromatic tones.59 But, since tonal composers still try to avoid juxtapositions of this latter sort, Schenker
believed that the prohibition is in a certain sense reestablished.60
In particular, he suggested that they can be avoided by techniques
such as motion from an inner voice, neighbor motions, and linear
progressions.61 This point is summarized in figure 1.27 (Laws of
chromatic generation).
To illustrate what Schenker had in mind, we need only consider
his discussion of the Phrygian II. As we all know, the supertonic
Stufen are often used to reinforce the dominant Stufe in perfect
authentic cadences (see figure 1.28a, Rectification of Phrygian II).
In such contexts, the soprano voice will normally descend from  2 to
 1 as the bass moves from V to I. But when the Phrygian II is added
before the dominant, the voice leading becomes more complicated
(see figure 1.28b). Since the Phrygian II typically has  2 in the
soprano and since changing this scale degree to  2 for the dominant
Stufe would create the direct chromatic succession  22, Schenker
insisted that the melody should descend from  2 to  7 in the alto
voice. He referred to the modification of  2 as rectification (or Die
Richtigstellung).62 Occasionally, Schenker even used this same principle in reverse. For example, to explain the special Phrygian effects
at the end of Chopins Mazurka, Op. 41, no. 2, in E Minor, Schenker

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

63

Figure 1.28. Rectification of Phrygian II. Adapted from Schenker, Five graphic
Analyses, No. 5, Chopin, tude in C Minor, Op. 10, no. 12.

suggested that  2 or F is rectified in reverse to create  2 or F, though


once again the music avoids a direct chromatic succession.63
In a paper cowritten with Douglas Dempster and Dave Headlam, I have described another more remarkable situation in which
contrapuntal devices are used to eliminate one specific type of direct
chromatic succession.64 We began by showing that, according to
Schenkerian theory, direct connections between I and IV/V cannot occur in tonal contexts. We then considered examples in which
Stufen on IV/V arise from contrapuntal motion. Among the most
remarkable examples of this appears in the Scherzo to Beethovens
String Quartet, Op. 59, no. 1. Although this movement is in B
major, the coda contains a brief excursion to E minor. We argue that
this outburst actually arises from a contrapuntal expansion of the
dominant F, which is reached in m. 445. Instead of resolving onto a
tonic B, it shifts to a diminished seventh on F (m. 446). This latter
sonority tonicizes E (m. 450) before returning to F (m. 458) to set up
the final arrival on B (m. 460). The F and E therefore serve as double neighbors to the dominant F, and, as if to draw attention to the
significance of this pattern FF(G)EF, Beethoven presents it
locally within the final cadence (mm. 46976). In other words, the

64

Explaining Tonality

same procedures govern the behavior of surface melodies and larger


harmonic progressions.
All in all, The Heinrich Maneuver and The Complementarity
Principle demonstrate the intimate connections between voice
leading and harmony in functional tonality. These two basic principles allowed Schenker to show not only how the traditional laws of
strict counterpoint are transformed in functional contexts by the
influence of Stufen, but also how the traditional laws of functional
harmony can be modified by grounding them in the laws of tonal
voice leading. By classifying these laws along the lines suggested
above, he had good reason for supposing that these new laws are
both necessary and sufficient for explaining functional tonality.
Schenker was able to make these connections between line and
chord because he recognized that Stufen play a crucial role in both
domains: in his words, they are the essential generator of all [musical]
content.65 He was prompted to take these steps precisely because
traditional theories of counterpoint and harmony proved to be
inaccurate.
Such observations are significant for several reasons. From a
pedagogical perspective, we have good reason to update current
textbooks on tonal theory. On the one hand, we can provide students with a more persuasive account of why Fuxian species counterpoint helps us understand functional tonality. We can tell them
that Fux teaches us about the behavior of contrapuntal lines as they
exist in the simplified world of intervals, whereas functional tonality exists in the messy world of functional triads, or Stufen. On the
other hand, we can offer students an explicit list of laws that cover
the behavior of functional voice leading. These new laws allow us
to abandon the rather dubious notion that in free composition,
great composers sometimes break the rules of strict counterpoint
simply because they are great composers.
From a methodological perspective, our observations also underscore the importance of accuracy to the development of music theories. Schenker was obviously very concerned about whether the laws
of strict counterpoint were adequate for explaining the behavior of
tonal voice leading. Instead of dismissing abnormalities by appealing
to the liberties of genius or to the extra-musical allusions of specific

Schenker and the Quest for Accuracy

65

pieces, he tried to build a theory that provided a more accurate fit


with the music he was studying. In this sense Schenkers work falls
within a quite normal pattern of theoretical inquiry. Indeed, as
Quine puts it:
The tension between law and anomaly is vital to the progress of science.
The scientist goes out of his way to induce it. Sir Karl Popper well depicts
him as inventing hypotheses and then making every effort to falsify them by
cunningly devised experiments.66

Quine adds that it is the tension between the scientists laws and his
own breaches of them that powers the engines of science and makes
it forge ahead.67 Given that Schenker left us with an empirically
testable theory of functional monotonality, our next job is to find the
anomalies that it surely contains; if we are able to fix them up, then
we can keep the engines of music theory firing on all cylinders.

Semper idem sed non eodem modo


In the previous chapter, we saw how Schenkers concern for accuracy
motivated him to refine the traditional laws of strict counterpoint
and functional harmony; he did so by constraining the laws of counterpoint harmonically and by grounding the laws of harmony contrapuntally. If Schenkers only contribution to music theory had been
to devise more accurate laws of tonal voice leading and harmony,
then his place in music history would have been assured. After all,
these new laws overcome technical problems that had perplexed
theorists for several centuries. But Schenker took another crucial
step: he reformulated his new laws in a procedural form as a system of
prototypes (Urstze), transformations (Verwandlungen), and levels
(Verwandlungs-Schichten, Stimmfhrungs-Schichten, or Schichten). This
system allowed him to reach two important conclusions: 1) all functional monotonal pieces can be derived from a single prototype; and
2) there are only three possible prototypes for all functional monotonal compositions.
There are several reasons why these conclusions are so important. On the one hand, they allowed Schenker to achieve the sort
of theoretic unification described in the Introduction. Indeed,
whereas music theorists had traditionally treated counterpoint and
harmony as largely separate phenomena, Schenkerian theory
insists that they are irrevocably intertwined. This synthesis is
undoubtedly a major step forward in our understanding of tonal
relationships. On the other hand, these results allowed Schenker to
widen the explanatory scope of tonal theory; instead of simply
explaining tonal motion across an individual phrase, he could now
explain tonal motion across an entire monotonal composition.
Schenker achieved this goal by showing that the same laws of functional voice leading and harmony operate both in the small and in

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

67

the large. This radical insight is encapsulated in his famous motto


semper idem sed non eodem modo or always the same but not in the
same way.1
Remarkable though it may be, Schenkers system of prototypes,
transformations, and levels does raise a number of interesting questions. How, in fact, are the individual components of the system
related to the general laws of functional voice leading and harmony
outlined in chapter 1? Why did Schenker insist that his prototypes,
transformations, and levels have some forms but not others? Why
was he so confident that this system is capable of generating all and
only all complete, continuous monotonal pieces? Does his motto
semper idem sed non eodem modo really stand up to critical scrutiny?
This chapter will answer these questions. Part 1 starts by looking
at the conceptual origins of Schenkers work. Since Schenkers
system of prototypes, transformations, and levels has some obvious
connections with Fuxs concept of species counterpoint, we will
compare the one with the other. After part 1 has shown certain
important differences between the goals of Schenker and those of
Fux, part 2 examines Schenkerian prototypes in more detail.
Among other things, it suggests that they summarize in an optimally
compact way the main laws of tonal motion mentioned in chapter 1.
Next, part 3 describes the various ways in which these prototypes
can be transformed. In particular, it explains why these transformations are finite in number. Part 4 then looks at the various ways in
which Schenker ordered his transformations into discrete levels.
The main focus will be on showing how, in principle at least, the
process of generation preserves the local laws of tonality outlined in
the previous chapter. Finally, Part 5 considers some implications of
the preceding discussion. In particular, it looks at Schenkers preference for analyses in which the same patterns of transformation occur
within and between levels.

Conceptual Origins
As mentioned above, Schenkers thinking about functional tonality
is dominated by the basic idea that complex tonal progressions can
be explained as transformations of simple tonal prototypes. For him,

68

Explaining Tonality

the processes of transformation have several implications. First, they


imply that whenever a prototype is transformed, it will be elaborated
with new harmonic and melodic material. Schenker drew attention to this idea by invoking a number of colorful terms, such as
Auskomponierung (composing out), Mehrung (increase of content),
and Auswicklung (unwinding).2 Second, these processes imply that
when a prototype is elaborated, the new material may behave somewhat differently from the original prototype. For example, although
Schenkers prototypes are fundamentally consonant and diatonic,
they can be transformed to create progressions that are highly dissonant and chromatic. Such changes are what Schenker had in mind
when he used terms like Umwandlung (reshaping) and Umbildung
(recasting).3
Schenker was not, of course, the first person to think about
music in terms of prototypes, transformations, and levels; on the
contrary, the same ideas lie at the heart of many theoretical projects, including Fuxian species counterpoint.4 Fuxs interest in the
process of elaboration is obvious enough; in codifying the Five
Species he set out to show how cantus firmi can be elaborated with
simple or florid counterpoints. But as we saw in chapter 1, Fux also
realized that the behavior of the contrapuntal lines alters from one
species to the next; whereas counterpoints are always strictly consonant with the cantus firmus in First Species, they can be dissonant in Fifth Species. Furthermore, as counterpoints become more
elaborate, so they can include progressively more repeated tones
and even chromaticisms.
But while Fuxian species counterpoint has some obvious
connections with Schenkers system of prototypes, transformations,
and levels, it nonetheless differs in crucial respects. For one thing,
the theoretical status of a cantus firmus is very different from that of
a Schenkerian prototype. Fuxs cantus firmi are essentially examples of
effective modal melodies. Each one begins and ends on the final of a
given mode and each one moves onto the reciting tone at points of
structural significance. Meanwhile, Schenkers prototypes are far
more general in scope. Instead of representing a specific melody
per se, they encapsulate certain underlying principles of melodic
construction. These principles guide both the local behavior of individual melodies and the global behavior of entire pieces. Schenker

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

69

Figure 2.1. Schenkers concept of prototypes, transformation, and levels. From


Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 1.

conveyed such levels of abstraction very beautifully at the start of


Der freie Satz, in a chart given here as figure 2.1 (Schenkers concept
of prototypes, transformation, and levels). This chart shows that the
tonality of a given foreground (Vordergrund) can be generated from
the diatony of the given background (Hintergrund) through various
levels of the middleground (Mittelgrund). Each prototype (Ursatz)
contains an upper line (Urlinie) in the upper register and a bass
arpeggiation (or Bassbrechung) that articulates the upper fifth, i.e., it
moves from I to V and back to I. To reinforce the global nature of his
prototypes, Schenker even included a paragraph in Der freie Satz
that differentiates prototypes from cadences.5 For convenience, we
will refer to the notion that functional monotonal pieces derive
from a single prototype as The Global Paradigm.
As it happens, The Global Paradigm did not come to
Schenker overnight; it actually developed in his mind over a period
of at least twenty years. In fact, he started to toy with the concept
of a prototype as early as the Harmonielehre and Kontrapunkt I and
even criticized C. P. E. Bach for underestimating their significance.
But at this point in time his prototypes were purely local phenomena and certainly did not control an entire piece.6 Over the next
decade, however, they became wider in scope.7 In his edition of
Beethovens Piano Sonata, Op. 110 (1914), for example, Schenker
explained how the development section of the second movement

70

Explaining Tonality

could be derived from a single 32-bar progression. Six years later, in


his comments to Beethovens Piano Sonata, Op. 101 (1920), he
even coined the term Urlinie. Nevertheless, it was not until the
early issues of Der Tonwille (1921) that he proposed a single Urlinie
for an entire piece and the fifth issue (1923) that he derived a
whole work from a single Ursatz.8
Another important difference between Fuxs conception of
species counterpoint and Schenkers system of prototypes, transformations, and levels is that the latter is recursive and rule preserving,
whereas the former is not. Recursion is a term borrowed from mathematics. In very general terms, a musical system is recursive if it posits
certain starting states, such as a prototypical harmonic progression,
and derives more complex states, or progressions, by repeatedly
applying a given set of transformations. This system is also rule
preserving if every derived state or progression conforms to the same
underlying laws of voice leading and harmony as the prototype. If the
musical system is indeed recursive and rule preserving, then the
processes of generation and reduction will be the reverse of each
other. We will refer to these ideas as The Recursive Model.
There are good reasons to suppose that Fuxian species counterpoint is neither recursive nor rule preserving. To begin with, Fux
never claimed that Fifth Species counterpoints can be generated by
repeatedly elaborating First Species prototypes, nor did he suggest
that Second, Third, and Fourth Species are intermediate stages of
generation. Furthermore, if Fuxian species counterpoint were
indeed recursive and rule preserving, then we would be able to
reduce all of the species to First Species prototypes. But this is not
necessarily the case. Figure 2.2 (The non-recursive nature of Fuxian
species counterpoint) gives settings of a single cantus firmus in First,
Second, Third, and Fourth Species. Although these settings all
satisfy the laws of strict counterpoint, they cannot be reduced to a
plausible First Species prototype, like the one in figure 2.2a. Take,
for example, the counterpoint given in figure 2.2b. When we try to
reduce the counterpoint in mm. 35 from two notes per measure to
one, we soon run into difficulties. If we regard the G in m. 4 as
ornamental, then parallel octaves occur between the downbeats of
mm. 4 and 5. Conversely, if we regard the C in m. 4 as ornamental,
then we create parallel fifths with the main note A in m. 3. Many

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

71

Figure 2.2. The non-recursive nature of Fuxian species counterpoint. From Fux,
The Study of Counterpoint, Figs. 11, 36, 57, 76.

of the same issues arise in mm. 45 of figure 2.2c. But the problems
are even more acute in figure 2.2d. Here, the string of suspensions is
created by displacing the counterpoint over the cantus firmus. If we
try to normalize this displacement, then the resulting First Species
prototype consistently violates the law prohibiting parallel perfect
fifths (c.f., mm. 37).
Whatever their similarities, it seems that Fuxs concept of
species counterpoint and Schenkers system of prototypes, transformations, and levels have quite different goals. Whereas Fux used
his cantus firmi to illustrate a well-composed melody in each mode,
Schenker used his prototypes to explain the general principles of

72

Explaining Tonality

melodic construction as they operate locally within a phrase and


globally across an entire piece. And, whereas Fuxs species teach
students certain general techniques of elaboration, Schenkers system
of prototypes, transformations, and levels explains how the extraordinary diversity of functional tonality stems from the working out
of certain underlying principles of counterpoint and harmony. To
show how this system is, in principle at least, both recursive and
rule preserving, let us now consider its main components in detail,
starting with Schenkers prototypes.

Prototypes
For anyone concerned with the explanatory scope of Schenkerian
theory, it is important to reconsider the various covering laws
mentioned in chapter 1. In very general terms, these laws cover six
areas: 1) how individual lines move and reach closure; 2) how
polyphonic lines move in relation to one another; 3) how unstable
tones behave in relation to stable tones; 4) how stable harmonies
are distinguished from unstable harmonies; 5) how successive harmonies are arranged to create typical functional progressions; and
6) how chromatic harmonies arise in functional tonal contexts. As
such, these laws seem to be necessary and sufficient for explaining
tonal relations. Within each domain, we classified these laws in
several ways. On the one hand, we distinguished main laws from
subordinate laws: the former explain how melodies normatively
behave, whereas the latter explain significant exceptions to that
norm. On the other hand, we distinguished local laws from global
laws; the former explain how one note moves to the next, whereas
the latter explain how the melody moves as a whole.
The great advantage of classifying the covering laws in this way
is that it allows us to structure our knowledge about tonal music; this
structure becomes very important when we reformulate our laws as
prototypes, transformations, and levels. As we saw in chapter 1,
Schenker believed that, locally, melodies mainly move by step and,
globally, they are maximally closed if they begin on 8, 5 , or  3 and
end  2 1. Similarly, he acknowledged that contrapuntal lines tend to
move in contrary motion or in parallel thirds, sixths, and tenths and

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

73

never produce parallel perfect octaves or fifths between successive


Stufen. Schenker also accepted that the only stable harmonies are
functional triads in root or first inversion. According to him, chord
successions are controlled contrapuntally, with closure most strongly
articulated by the harmonic progression VI. And, he recognized
that functional progressions are primarily diatonic in nature.
If we now look at Schenkers prototypes, we soon see that they
summarize these main laws in an optimally compact way. For convenience, the three parts of figure 2.3 (Schenkerian Urstze in C
Major) show the three basic prototypes for C major. Each one
consists of a stepwise descent from a headtone (Kopfton), either  3,
5 , or  8, to  1. This simple passing motion is supported by a bass
arpeggiation IVI. Whereas Schenker notated the upper line and
bass arpeggiation in whole notes, he included a prototypical inner
voice in black note heads. Elsewhere, he referred to the precise
location of the prototype as the obligatory register (obligate Lage).9

Figure 2.3. Schenkerian Urstze in C Major. Adapted from Schenker, Der freie
Satz, Figs. 9, 10, 11.

74

Explaining Tonality

With respect to the laws of melodic motion and closure, it is clear


that the upper line follows the local law of moving by step and the
global law of beginning on 8, 5, or  3 and ending  2 1. The upper
line and bass arpeggiation likewise obey the main laws of relative
motion: the three essential lines close  2 1,  7 1, and 5 1, whereas
the outer voices essentially move in contrary or oblique motion
with the upper line descending from the headtone to  1 and the bass
arpeggiation ascending from I to V. Similarly, each prototype follows
the main laws of vertical alignment by beginning and ending on
members of the tonic Stufe. Schenkers prototypes also conform to
the main laws of functional harmony: each one contains three
Stufen arranged to form the quintessential functional progression
IVI. This progression is not only diatonic, but it also defines the
tonic C in the most unambiguous manner possible.
Having shown how Schenkers prototypes summarize the main
laws of functional tonality in an optimally compact way, we can
now respond to several alternative accounts of their structure. For
starters, although we have seen certain connections between
Schenkerian theory and Fuxian species counterpoint, one should
not read too much into Carl Schachters claim that Schenkers prototypes are basically Second-Species constructs.10 While Schachter
is certainly right to suggest that their upper lines derive some of
their logic from the principle of passing motion, it is important to
remember that these lines do not belong to the purely intervallic
world of strict counterpoint; on the contrary, they clearly belong to
the world of Stufen, something that is underscored by the Roman
numerals marked under the bass arpeggiation in figures 2.3ac.11
We can use similar arguments to rebuff Peter Westergaards
critique of 5 and 8 lines.12 Westergaard has suggested that, since
these upper lines contain unsupported stretches (Leerlaufen), they
are conceptually inferior to  3 lines. This notion seems to be confirmed by the fact that the Fnf Urlinie-Tafeln and Der freie Satz
contain a deluge of  3-line graphs and a dearth of  8-line readings.
The chief problem with Westergaards position is that Schenker
himself did not insist the upper line should be completely supported; on the contrary, in par. 69 of Der freie Satz, he specifically
acknowledged that they can contain passing tones.13 Since 5 and  8
lines do indeed conform to the general laws of tonal voice leading

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

75

outlined in chapter 1, there are no grounds for discriminating


against them. This does not mean that 5 and  8 lines will necessarily
be as common as  3 lines; on the contrary, there are good reasons
why they may be rare. For example,  8-lines present the composer
with a fairly narrow set of options; it is perhaps small wonder that
they tend to be found in specific types of music, such as Baroque
preludes.14
By the same token, we can respond to David Neumeyers
revised list of prototypes. In a series of thought-provoking papers,
Neumeyer has proposed that: 1) there are other forms of upper line,
including some that rise, for example, 567 8; 2)  8 lines properly
belong to the middleground not the background; and 3) some
pieces are controlled by three-voice prototypes consisting of a
structural soprano and a structural altoabove a bass.15 These
alternative prototypes stem in part from the work of Schenkers
pupil, Felix-Eberhard von Cube.16 The chief drawback with
Neumeyers additions is that they no longer conform to the laws of
tonal motion mentioned above. Most obviously, his rising lines
contradict the law that melodies reach maximum closure when
they descend  3 2 1. Since 8 lines satisfy this and our other laws, it
is hard to see how they can be rejected as Neumeyer suggests.17
Having said that, Neumeyers case for three-part prototypes is
utterly convincing. For one thing, it is certainly borne out by the
examples shown in figures 2.3a and b. For another, Joseph Lubben
has noted that in Der Tonwille, Schenker often used the term
Aussensatz to denote a structure of two upper voices above the
Stufen.18 Furthermore, since Schenker clearly used so-called polyphonic transformations (for example, unfolding and motion from
an inner voice) at the deep middleground, it suggests certain inner
voices must be present at some prior level or derivation. As we will
see in chapter 3, these inner voices also help us resolve certain
inconsistencies in Schenkers generation of sequences.
Finally, we can address Eugene Narmours charge that
Schenkerian theory commits the fallacy of affirming the consequent.19 Narmour claims that Schenkerian theory is circular
because it sets out to show that all tonal compositions can be generated from various prototypes. According to Narmour, however,
the analyst must know the nature of these prototypes in advance in

76

Explaining Tonality

order to make a reduction. Since Schenkerian analyses seem to


bend the notes to fit the theory, they are, in Narmours opinion,
specious. Given the ways in which Schenkerian analyses are
normally presented, it is hard to disagree with Narmour; at times
the arguments do indeed seem viciously circular. But the foregoing
account minimizes these problems by suggesting that the process of
confirming Schenkerian theory is a lot more complex than Narmour
suggests. We have seen that the explanatory laws underpinning
Schenkerian theory were actually discovered empirically in the
Harmonielehre and Kontrapunkt I, long before Schenker formulated
his concept of a single tonal prototype. These laws are, in fact,
extensions or transformations of well-established laws of counterpoint. By classifying them along the lines suggested in chapter 1,
we have good reason to suppose that they are both necessary and
sufficient for all functional tonal music. After spending the next
decade studying a broad range of functional monotonal compositions, Schenker discovered empirically that he could reformulate
this set of explanatory laws in terms of prototypes, transformations,
and levels. There is a sense, then, in which the principles governing Schenkers prototypes can be confirmed independently without
the need for graphing; whatever circularity remains stems from the
kind of bootstrapping process by which Schenker came up with his
results.

Transformations
So far, we have seen that Schenkers prototypes summarize the main
laws of tonal voice leading and harmony in an optimally compact
way. They are the simplest possible expressions of a given key. But
we also know from chapter 1 that these particular laws do not
explain every aspect of functional tonality; on the contrary, we also
introduced a number of subordinate laws to cover deviations from
these norms. Among other things, these exceptions allow us to
explain why leaps can occur in melodic lines, why melodic lines can
contain a whole host of dissonances and not just the simple passing
tone, why functional progressions can include harmonies other
than I and V, and why these progressions can contain a variety of

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

77

chromaticisms. To explain these diverse phenomena and satisfy the


various subordinate laws, Schenker invoked a set of transformations
or prolongations.
Although Schenker did not define his arsenal of transformations
as precisely as we might wish, we can divide them into four main
groups. The first group horizontalizes a given Stufe by presenting the
constituent harmonic tones successively rather than simultaneously
(see figure 2.4a), the first of Horizontalizing transformations.20 Of
these, the simplest is repetition (Wiederholung). In a nutshell, repetition expands a particular Stufe by taking a note in the soprano or
bass voice and duplicating it exactly. In figure 2.4b, the tonic chord
in C major is composed out by repeating the soprano pitch G. Significantly, repetition can generate new material before or after the
original Stufe: this new material is said to be front-related if it
appears before and back-related if it appears after.
Whereas repetition duplicates a particular tone in a given register, the other members of this group create leaps. To begin with, register transfer creates octave leaps by projecting a tone from one
register to another. Schenker referred to this idea in general by the
term Lagenwechsel and introduced specific transformations to denote
ascending register transfers (Hherlegung), descending transfers
(Tieferlegung), and alternations between a given pair of registers
(Koppelung). An ascending register transfer is given in figure 2.4c.
Like repetition, register transfer can occur in the soprano or the bass.
Meanwhile, arpeggiation (Brechung) creates leaps by taking the
soprano or bass note and moving to another member of the same
Stufe. For example, in figure 2.4d the soprano voice arpeggiates the
tonic Stufe by leaping from the third to the root. Significantly, arpeggiations can appear successively and even in the same direction. Just
like repetition, they can be applied before or after the original Stufe.
Just as register transfer and arpeggiation create leaps by moving
from one harmonic tone to another, so unfolding, voice exchange,
and reaching over create leaps by moving from one polyphonic
voice to another. The simplest of these is unfolding (Ausfaltung).
As shown in figure 2.4e, this transformation creates a single line by
moving from the soprano E to the alto C. Following Schenker, its
marked by a diagonal beam. Voice exchange (Stimmentausch), however, is more complicated; it involves swapping notes between two

78

Explaining Tonality

Figure 2.4. Horizontalizing transformations.


a.
Transformation

Domain

Schenkers Discussion

Repetition
(Wiederholung)

Single line
Single harmony

None, but implied,


DfS, Fig. 21

Register transfer
(Hohelegung, Tieferlegung,
Koppelung)

Single line
Single harmony

DfS, par. 14754, 23841


Fig. 4749, 1068

Arpeggiation
(Brechung)

Single line
Single harmony

DfS, par. 12528, 230


Fig. 40, 100

Unfolding
(Ausfaltung)

Multiple lines
Single harmony

DfS, par. 14044, 234


Fig. 4345, 103

Voice exchange
(Stimmtausch)

Multiple lines
Single harmony

DfS, par. 23637

Reaching over
(Ubergreifen)

Multiple lines
Multiple harmonies

DfS, par. 12934, 23132


Fig. 41, 101

voices (see figure 2.4f). Here the soprano E in the first Stufe
becomes the alto E in the second Stufe, while the alto C in the first
Stufe becomes the soprano C in the second. The final transformation, reaching over (bergreifen), seems to combine unfolding and
voice exchange; as shown in figure 2.4g, the soprano and alto E/C
of the first tonic Stufe are horizontalized, and then the soprano
E connects with the alto D of the second Stufe and the alto C
connects with the soprano F of the second Stufe.

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

79

Although the first group of transformations can create a wide


range of material, they have an enormous limitation; since they
cannot create step motions, they cannot generate non-harmonic
tones. To overcome this deficiency, Schenker introduced four more
transformations (see figure 2.5a, Filling in transformations). The
simplest of these is neighbor motion (Nebennote).21 As shown in
figure 2.5b, neighbor motion produces a step motion between two
repeated tones. In this case, the neighbor tone F elaborates the
repeated tone E in the soprano. The next transformationlinear
progression (or Zug)fills in the leap produced by a register transfer
or an arpeggiation. Figure 2.5c shows how the third-progression
EFG connects the harmonic tones E and G by a passing tone F.
The next two transformations produce step motion between different
voices of adjacent Stufen or repetitions of the same Stufe. Figure 2.5d
gives a simple example of motion from an inner voice (Untergreifen).
Here a single melodic line is created by a step motion between the
alto C of the opening tonic Stufe and the soprano E of the adjacent
tonic chord. Figure 2.5e shows an analogous example of motion to an
inner voice. This time the melody is created by a step motion from
the soprano E of the first Stufe to the alto E of the second. The fact
that the soprano moves to an inner voice suggests that this transformation is closely connected with reaching over, hence the parallel
nature of Schenkers original terms.22
Besides accounting for an almost limitless array of melodic
patterns, Schenker also needed to generate an array of new Stufen
from the tonic and dominant triads of the prototype. This meant producing not only every diatonic Stufe, but all of their chromatic counterparts as well. He did this through a third group of transformations
(see figure 2.6a, Harmonizing transformations). The term harmonize is easy enough to explain (see figure 2.6b). Once a given Stufe
has been horizontalized, the derived tone can be supported harmonically by a root or first inversion triad, typically ()III, IV, V, and ()VI.
In such cases, Schenker insisted that the generating Stufe is always
conceptually present; he referred to this idea by the concept of a
mentally retained primary tone (der festgehaltene Kopfton).23 Once the
resulting span is filled in, the various non-harmonic tones can also be
harmonized. Although these non-harmonic tones are usually harmonized by root or first inversion triads, they are sometimes supported

80

Explaining Tonality

Figure 2.5. Filling in transformations.


a.
Transformation

Domain

Schenkers Discussion

Neighbor motion
(Nebennote)

Single line

DfS, par. 10612,196202


Fig. 32, 7680

Linear progression
(Zug)

Single line

DfS, par. 11324, 20329


Fig. 3339, 8199

Motion from inner voice


(Untergreifen)

Multiple lines
Multiple harmonies

DfS, par. 13539, 233


Fig. 42, 102

Motion to an inner
voice

Multiple lines
Multiple harmonies

DfS, par. 203

by a dominant-seventh chord. This latter option arises when the


melody moves by step through 4 (for example, by passing motions
5 4 3 or 3 4 5 and neighbor motion  34  3). In such cases, we can
support 4 with a dominant-seventh sonority.24 Instead of harmonizing
derived tones by a complete triad, Schenkerian theory also allows
another option. Suppose that a given Stufe has been horizontalized
and that the space between its members has been filled in by step by
a linear progression. This linear progression can be supported by
adding a linear progression that proceeds in parallel thirds, sixths, or
tenths. These thirds can then be harmonized as before (see figure
2.6c). We will discuss this strategy in more detail in chapter 3.
Under normal conditions, harmonize and addition produce only
diatonic Stufenthat is, major, minor, or diminished triads from the
appropriate major or minor system. To create chromatic Stufen,
Schenkerian theory introduces two transformationsmixture (or
Mischung) and tonicization (or Tonikalisierung). As mentioned in

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

81

Figure 2.6. Harmonizing transformations.


Transformation

Domain

Schenkers Discussion

Harmonize

Single harmony
Single/Multiple lines

None, but implied, c.f.


Retained tones DfS, par. 93, 115

Addition

Single tone
Single/Multiple lines

DfS, par. 22129 Fig. 9599

Mixture
(Mischung,
Phrygische II)

Single harmony
Single/Multiple lines

DfS, par. 1025, 19395


Har., par. 2630, 3852
Fig. 2831, 7375

Tonicization
(Tonikalisierung)

Single tone / harmony


Single/ Multiple lines

Har., par. 13262

chapter 1, there are three basic types of mixture: simple mixture


allows for the interchange of triads between parallel keys (see figure
2.6d); secondary mixture allows for changes in the quality of triads
in the major and minor systems (see figure 2.6e); and double
mixture borrows triads from a parallel key and then changes their
quality (see figure 2.6f). Meanwhile, tonicization creates chromaticisms by changing, albeit temporarily, from one tonal system to
another. In the case of figure 2.6g, the chromatic tone F is created
by tonicizing the dominant Stufe with an applied dominant harmony.
Whereas the first three groups of transformations generate new
tones and, as such can be used recursively, the final group modifies

82

Explaining Tonality

Figure 2.7. Reordering transformations (non-recursive).


Transformation
Delete
(Vertretung)
Displacement
(Der uneigentliche Intervalle)

Domain

Schenkers Discussion

Single line

DfS, par. 14546, 235,


24446, Fig. 46, 104.

Single/Multiple lines

DfS, par. 158, 261

or reorders tones that have already been generated (see figure 2.7a,
Reordering transformations). These new transformations cannot
normally be used recursively, though they can be used at early
stages in the generative process. The first of these is known as
deletion. Schenker clearly believed that the effect of a particular
tone can sometimes be felt, even though this tone is not actually
present in the score (see figure 2.7b). He described these virtual or
deleted tones under the rubric of substitution (Vertretung); this
more general idea suggests that particular notes do not behave
exactly as they appear and can therefore by replaced by other
notes. Schenker normally placed such implied notes in parentheses in his graphs.25 The second transformation is displacement and
it shifts tones from one point to another (see figure 2.7c).26
Schenker referred to these tones as displaced or inauthentic intervals (Die uneigentliche Intervalle) and notated them with a diagonal
line. As we noted in chapter 1, displacements can be applied to
non-harmonic, as well as harmonic tones.
Now that we have surveyed Schenkers list of transformations,
we are still left with a couple of nagging questions: why, in fact,
should we suppose that this list is complete and why should we
suppose that this list of transformations is powerful enough to
generate all and only all tonal pieces? In answering these questions,
it is important to remember that Schenkers transformations are
intimately related to the subordinate laws of tonal voice leading
and harmony outlined in chapter 1; the list of transformations is

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

83

simply as comprehensive as this body of covering laws. For example, register transfer, arpeggiation, unfolding, voice exchange, and
reaching over satisfy the subordinate law that melodic leaps arise
when the melody shifts from one harmonic tone to another or from
one polyphonic voice to another. These transformations account
for every possible way in which a single line can be created from
two polyphonic voices.27 Similarly, neighbor motion, linear progression, motion to and from inner voice, represent the only ways to fill
in the space between horizontalized harmonic tones. When combined with displacement, these transformations can generate the
full range of non-harmonic tones, ranging from suspensions and
anticipations to appoggiaturas, cambiatas, and other more exotic
phenomena. Finally, Schenkers arsenal of harmonizing transformations conform nicely with the general laws covering the behavior of
diatonic and chromatic harmonies; they allow us to generate not
only the entire range of diatonic chord progressions, but also the
full array of chromaticisms.

Levels
Besides proposing that any complex tonal surface can be explained
as a composing out of some simple progression, The Recursive
Model also presumes that whenever a given progression is
expanded by the recursive application of a given transformation,
the resulting progression conforms to the same laws of voice leading and harmony as the starting progression. To quote from Der freie
Satz, The principles of voice-leading, organically anchored, remain
the same in background, middleground, and foreground, even when
they undergo transformations. In them the motto of my work is
embodied, semper idem sed non eodem modo.28 According to our
classification of laws given in chapter 1, it is only the local laws
that are preserved from one level to the next: these local laws guarantee that melodic motion will mostly move by step, that contrapuntal lines will not include parallel perfect octaves or fifths
between successive harmonic tones, that harmonic progressions
will mostly be triadic, diatonic, and follow the basic law of harmonic closure. It is important to mention, however, that Schenker

84

Explaining Tonality

wasnt always able to achieve this goal; as we will see in chapter 3,


he was sometimes inconsistent in his treatment of the laws
prohibiting parallel perfect octaves and fifths.
We can illustrate these ideas with a simple example (see
figure 2.8, Composing out). Figure 2.8a gives a progression
CGC with a step wise descent in the soprano EDC. The first
thing we must do is to specify its function within a particular key.
This step is especially important if we want to transform the triad
chromatically, because we can specify whether it serves as a mixture or even as a member of some secondary key area. In this particular case, figure 2.8b places the progression within the context
of C major, hence the Roman numerals IVI. Once we have
interpreted the individual harmonies as Stufen within a key, we
can also compose them out using the horizontalizing transformations from figure 2.4. In this particular case, we can arpeggiate the
opening tonic Stufe to create the bass motion CE. We can then
harmonize the derived tone to create our first derived triad in
figure 2.8d this creates a I6 sonority (see figure 2.8c). Although
there may, in principle, be many options, The Recursive Model
prohibits those that violate the local laws of tonal voice leading
and harmony. This means, for example, that the derived tone cannot produce parallel perfect octaves or fifths with members of the
original progression.
If we want to continue generating material, then we have two
options: we can either repeat the same moves on our first derived
triad, or we can fill in the tone space between this derived triad and
our initial triad. The second option requires that we use a transformation from figure 2.5. In this case linear progression to produce
the bass motion CDE (see figure 2.8d). Having created the passing tone D, it is then harmonized in figure 2.8e. Once again, the
specific harmony will be constrained by the local laws of relative
motion and vertical alignment; our derived Stufe cannot produce
parallel perfect octaves or fifths with its neighbors and it can
initially take the form of only a major, minor or diminished triad.
Notice how the resulting progression IVII6I6 is slightly different
from the underlying progression IVI, but it still conforms to our
basic laws of tonal voice leading and harmony. In particular, the
subordinate progression mostly moves by step, it does not include

85
Figure 2.8. Composing out.

86

Explaining Tonality

Figure 2.9. Schenkers deep-middleground paradigms. From Schenker, Der freie


Satz, Figs. 15, 16, 18.

any parallel perfect octaves and fifths, and it contains lines that
converge on the tonic 7 1 and 2 1 .
Although figure 2.8 illustrates several distinct stages of transformation, it marks a significant point in the generative process.
Schenker referred to this stage as the deep, or first-level, middleground. In part 2 of Der freie Satz, Schenker cataloged a broad range
of deep-middleground paradigms.29 These are listed in figure 2.9
(Schenkers deep-middleground paradigms). Looking through these
paradigms, it soon becomes clear that the main feature of this level
is to fill in the tone space created by the first two notes of the bass
arpeggiation. For Schenker, the most basic motion involves horizontalizing the opening tonic Stufe to produce the progression
II6VI or IIIIVI, the latter giving rise to what he referred to as
a Terzteiler (third divider).30 But Schenker also supposed that the

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

87

bass arpeggiation is filled out by passing tones.31 He then explained


the deep-middleground progressions IIVVI and IIIVI, as
incomplete passing motions in the bass; he even notated such
progressions with a pair of interlocking slurs to convey the idea that
they articulate the contrapuntal-melodic step of a second.32
Besides focusing on the paradigms given in figure 2.9,
Schenker restricted the use of transformations in several other
ways. First, to avoid violating the local law prohibiting parallel
perfect octaves and fifths, he excluded the progression IVIVI
at the deep middleground because this progression creates parallel
perfect fifths between the soprano and the bass 3/VI2/V. Second,
since he believed that each piece lies in a specific register,
Schenker limited the use of transformations so that any derived
tones remain as close to this register as possible. For example, he
excluded ascending arpeggiations, linear progression, voice
exchanges, or reaching over from the headtone, upper neighbors
from 8, and so forth. Third, since prototypes are bound by the laws
of melodic and harmonic closure, Schenker discouraged transformations between 2/V and 1/I. According to him, at the first level,
2/V1/I provides33 no opportunity for prolongation in contrapuntalmelodic terms. At later levels, however, he relaxed his position;
as he explained in par. 189, the arpeggiation of the descending
fifth can proceed through the third only.34 Fourth, since Schenker
wanted to preserve the distinction between different forms of prototype, he shied away from adding transformations that immediately convert one prototype into another. For example, he
preferred not to compose out a 3-line with a preliminary descent
from 53 since that transformation would create a 5-line descent
at the deep middleground.
Schenker also discussed one other important strategy for transforming prototypes at the deep middleground, namely, divisions of
the upper line (der Gliederung des Urlinie-Zges). As shown in
figure 2.10 (Divided Urlinien), these divisions have very distinct
forms. In 3- and 5 lines, they involve an interrupted version of the
descent (Unterbrechungen) followed by a complete descent. In the
case of 3-lines, the result is an upper-line pattern 32//321; in
the case of 5 lines, 543 2//54 3 2 1. Schenker used a divider
symbol (Teiler) to mark the two segments. In  8-lines, however, he

88

Explaining Tonality

Figure 2.10. Divided Urlinien.

subdivided the upper line at 5, thereby producing the motion


8765//54 3 21. He made this adjustment because the
descending seventh from 8 to 2 can be reinterpreted as an ascending second from 1 to 2. This latter motion contradicts the notion
that tonal melodies typically descend by step onto 1 and therefore
conflicts with Schenkers conception of the upper line.
As it happens, Schenker had a very good reason for dividing the
upper line at the deep middleground: this strategy provided him
with a means for explaining the behavior of certain formal types, a
point that he made perfectly clear at several moments in Der freie
Satz. In par. 94, for example, he declared: Interruption has the
quality of heightening the tension toward 1; particularly, it opens
the way to two- or three-part forms, a1a2 or a1ba2.35 He added

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

89

that it is even the basis of the extended form of the sonata, with
exposition, development, and recapitulation.36
Provocative as they may be, divisions of the upper line do,
however, raise an interesting question: how, in fact, do divided
lines derive from prototypes? Unfortunately, Schenker gave inconsistent answers to this question.37 On certain occasions, he seems
to suggest that the first 2/V belongs to the prototype and that the
subsequent IV progression is front-related to the final I. This
interpretation seems to conform with graphs published in Der freie
Satz, especially figures 21, 2328, 32.7, and 3335. At other times,
however, he intimated that the final 2/V belongs to the prototype.
This alternative implies that the dividing dominant is backrelated to the opening I. Such a view seems more consistent with
the analyses presented in Fnf Urlinie-Tafeln, such as his sketch of
Bachs setting of the chorale Ich bins, ich sollte bssen from the
St. Matthew Passion.
If we accept the claim that prototypes summarize the main laws
of tonal voice leading and harmony, then the latter response seems
preferable to the former. In particular, we know that one of the
main goals of the prototype is to explain why a given piece closes in
the tonic. It is for this reason that the upper line descends  2 1, the
alto line ascends 7 1, and the bass descends VI. Unfortunately,
the front-related prolongation of the final I advocated by Schenker
in Der freie Satz seems to obscure the connection between the background dominant and the final tonic. Figure 2.11 (Derivation of
divided Urlinien) shows how we might derive a divided upper line
in the manner implied by his sketch of the Bach Chorale Ich bins,
ich sollte bssen. First, the headtone is repeated; second, the opening repeated tone is harmonized with a tonic Stufe; third, this
derived tonic is arpeggiated in the bass; and, fourth, the new bass
tone G is harmonized with a new dominant Stufe.
Besides adding intermediate Stufen and divisions of the upper
line, the deep middleground is also the source of other transformations, though they appear at a slightly later stage of generation. For
example, Schenker allowed the headtone to be composed out by
preceding or front-related material, provided this material ascends
onto the headnote. He referred to this as a preliminary ascent
(Anstieg). Such ascents can derive from an ascending register

90

Explaining Tonality

Figure 2.11. Derivation of divided Urlinien.

transfer, an ascending arpeggiation, an unfolding, or an ascending


linear progression. Schenker also allowed passing motions between
the intermediate Stufe and its companions. These extra motions
can be clearly seen in the deep-middleground paradigms given as
figures 1518 in Der freie Satz.38

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

91

Although it is fairly easy to describe the characteristics of


Schenkers prototypes and his deep middleground paradigms, the
situation becomes a lot harder as we pass through the middleground
and foreground levels. The reason for this is that as we approach
the surface, our graphs will capture the individual characteristics of
each piece with greater and greater specificity: above all, thematic
and rhythmic features will emerge as the process reaches the surface. In this respect, background levels capture what is common
among the entire class of tonal composition, whereas foreground
levels convey what is idiosyncratic to a particular piece. Having
said that, several specific possibilities should be mentioned. For one
thing, Schenker showed how VI can be used as an intermediate
Stufe, provided that another intermediate Stufe is added to eliminate the parallels mentioned earlier.39 For another, the progression
from V to I can be filled out by a motion through III.40 Schenker
also allowed transformations to the final tonic chord. In fact, these
prolongations will often correspond to the coda.41

Fallout
The preceding sections have shown that, according to Schenkerian
theory, any complete, continuous, functional monotonal piece can
be generated from a single prototype by the recursive application of
certain transformations. As shown in figure 2.12 (The explanatory
scope of Schenkerian theory), this idea expands the scope of traditional tonal theory not only by showing how line and chord interact
with one another, but also how they do so both locally and globally.
However, given the complexity of most functional monotonal
pieces, we have every reason to suppose that there may be more
than one way to derive a particular surface from a given prototype,
provided that each derivational scheme follows the prescribed laws.
In practice, however, it is clear that Schenker endorsed some derivations and not others. Our next job is to find suitable criteria for making such a choice. Why, in fact, are some readings deemed preferable
to others?
Unfortunately, this question is not an easy one to answer.
Certainly, there is no magic formula. When pressed, Schenker

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 2.12. The explanatory scope of Schenkerian theory.

and his disciples generally throw their hands in the air and insist
that analysis is a creative not a scientific activity; they vehemently deny that it can be reduced to any sort of algorithm.42 Yet,
in actuality, Schenker did leave us with a few tantalizing clues. In
particular, his sketches show that he put a premium on analyses in
which the same patterns of derivation appear not only at the same
level of transformation, but also between different levels. This
point was clearly made by Milton Babbitt some forty years ago:
Schenkerian theory of tonality, in its structure of nested transformations so
strikingly similar to transformational grammars in linguistics, provides rules
of transformation in proceeding synthetically through levels of composition.
Since many of the transformational rules are level invariant, parallelism of
transformation often plays an explanatory role in the context of the theory
(and, apparently, an implicitly normative one in Schenkers own writing).43

In fact, Schenker took special delight when these patterns coincided


with surface motivic shapes. He referred to them as hidden repetitions (Der verborgene Wiederholungen) and stressed that repetitions

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

93

of this kind have nothing to do with motive repetitions in the


normal sense of the term.44
We can see the pros and cons of such parallelisms when we
consider figure 2.13 (Summary of Schenkers sketch of The Representation of Chaos from Haydns Creation).45 Perhaps the most
striking feature of Schenkers reading is that it includes a recurring
fourth progression CBAG in the bass; this pattern appears
five times at the foreground, each one being marked by square
brackets. According to him, this progression is made up of two
descending secondsCB and AG. These two-note pairs are
motivic in function and derive from the prominent descent AG
at the opening of the movement. Schenker also found the fourthprogression CBAG projected across mm. 139 of the middleground: as shown in figure 2.13a, he linked the opening C to the
B4^ in m. 31 to the A in m. 38 to the G in m. 39.
While the sketch in figure 2.13 reveals many important insights
about Haydns remarkable score, Schenker was sometimes a little
overzealous in his search for descending fourth-progressions. Particularly dubious is the one he found in mm. 1827. It is hard to see
how the C and B in mm. 1819 initiate a span; on the contrary,
they articulate a clear half cadence in the key of E, with the C
supporting an augmented-sixth chord. Similarly, by linking the B in
m. 19 to the A and G in m. 27, Schenker glossed over the arrival
onto D in m. 21. This is perplexing because m. 21 not only articulates the first, albeit weak, authentic cadence in the piece, but it also
marks the introduction of what Tovey regards as the second group
material.46 This material eventually returns over a dominant pedal
in the Recapitulation in mm. 4449.
Other readings are possible, however; see figure 2.14 (Alternate sketch of The Representation of Chaos). The underlying
prototype for the piece is shown in figure 2.14a. Next, figure
2.14b shows how this progression is composed out contrapuntally
at the deep middleground by the descending fourth progression
CBAG in the bass and how upper voices are displaced over
the structural dominant to create the progression IV4^3%I.
Notice how the augmented-sixth chord serves to tonicize the
dominant Stufe. In figure 2.14c, this progression is transformed
by an initial ascent from C to E in mm. 18. This motion is

94
Figure 2.13. Schenkers sketch of The Representation of Chaos from Haydns Creation. From Schenker, The Masterwork in Music
2, pp. 1023.

Figure 2.13. (continued).

95

96

Explaining Tonality

supported by a descending fourth-progression CBAG in the


bass. Figure 2.14d then fills out mm. 1330 by two nested motions
from an inner voice, the larger one of which extends from the alto
A in m. 13 through B, C, and D, to the soprano E in m. 31, and
the more local one extends from the alto A in m. 13 through B,
C, and C, to D in m. 21. These rising spans are then harmonized
in figure 2.18e. The former leads to the passing 6/4 sonority in m. 30
while the latter moves to D. This complex motion completely
obscures Schenkers fourth-progression CBAG in m. 18ff.
and suggests that the fourth span in mm. 1319 is generated after
the analogous spans in mm. 18 and 4044.
Besides preferring derivations in which the same patterns occur
within and between levels, Schenkerians also prefer derivations
that show connections with other related pieces. Such decisions
suggest that composers actually learn by reworking tonal models
from one piece to another. A nice case in point has been discussed
by David Beach and others. When analyzing several piano sonatas
by Mozart, Beach noticed an interesting pattern; he found that in
certain cases the return to the tonic for the Recapitulation was
accomplished not by a simple motion to the dominant, but by a
large-scale harmonic progression VIIII.47 Beach showed that this
pattern appears in several sonatas: the first and third movements of
the Piano Sonata in F, K. 280, the first movement of the Piano
Sonata in F, K. 332, and the first movement of the Piano Sonata in
B, K. 333. A similar pattern can be found in the first movement of
Beethovens Sonata for violin and piano, Op. 24.48 Although other
composers certainly used this strategy, it seems extremely likely
that Beethoven learned the pattern from Mozart; many of
Beethovens works are clearly modeled on those of his illustrious
forebear.49 On one leaf from the Kafka papers, Beethoven admitted as much by noting that a passage in C minor was stolen from
the Mozart symphony in C minor [sic].50
This chapter has shown just how important The Recursive Model
and The Global Paradigm were to Schenkers thinking. According to The Recursive Model, Schenkerian transformations can
generate an almost limitless range of tonal surfaces when they are
recursively applied to their own output. Since the prototypes and

Semper idem sed non eodem modo

97

Figure 2.14. Alternative sketch of The Representation of Chaos.

transformations satisfy the various laws of tonal voice leading and


harmony, recursive use of the transformations will necessarily produce new pieces that also satisfy them. If we insist that all complete continuous monotonal pieces can be derived according to
The Global Paradigm, then Schenkerian transformations provide
us with a recursive definition of the infinite set of tonal pieces. In
the words of Schenkers motto, The Recursive Model and The

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Explaining Tonality

Global Paradigm do indeed show us how functional monotonal


pieces are always the same, but not in the same way.
Seen in broader context, however, Schenkers motto also gives
us an insight into his overall goals as a theorist. Schenker is often
criticized for reducing functional monotonal music to some Procrustean formula, akin to Three Blind Mice.51 In a trivial sense,
this characterization is right on target. Schenker was clearly preoccupied with showing how tonal music conforms to certain very
simple principles. But this observation disguises a more profound
point: by showing that all of the [tonal] master works manifest
identical laws of coherence, Schenker demonstrated a diversity in
essential nature among the masters.52 According to him, we can
appreciate the significance of specific works only if we understand
the general mechanisms that shape them. Or, to put it another way,
It is an inevitable principle that all complexity and diversity arise
from a single simple element rooted in the consciousness or the
intuition.53 This notion is not really so different from those of theories found in other empirical disciplines, such as biology: indeed,
just as Darwin tried to explain the diversity of life through a few
fundamental processes, so Schenker tried to explain the extraordinary richness of functional tonal music via a limited number of
tonal prototypes, transformations, and transformational levels.
Furthermore, Schenkers motto also underscores his concern for the
scope of his theory. The Recursive Model shows that Schenker
was indeed concerned with trying to explain the broadest range of
surfaces possible. To do this, he introduced an array of transformations that was large enough to account for all conceivable melodic
configurations, all conceivable non-harmonic tones, and all conceivable chromaticisms. In this way, The Recursive Model is intimately connected with The Heinrich Maneuver and The
Complementarity Principle. Meanwhile, The Global Paradigm
allowed him to account for the behavior of particular lines and
particular Stufen not only within the local context of an individual
phrase or period, but also in the global context of an entire composition. This move expanded the scope of tonal theory considerably.

What Price Consistency?


There can be little doubt that music theorists value consistency as
much as any epistemic value. The reasons for this are clear enough.
Claiming that something and its opposite are both true creates difficulties in making predictions; though prediction may not be the
sole purpose of scientific inquiry, it is always the bottom line. To
quote Quine: [Prediction] is what gives science its empirical content, its link with nature. It is what makes the difference between
science, however high flown and imaginative, and sheer fancy.1
When we confirm a theory, we do so through the verification of its
predictions.2 The more predictions we verify, the more confident
we will be about using our theory. The same can be said about
building and testing music theories, as Schenker made perfectly
clear near the start of Kontrapunkt I. According to him:
In this study, the beginning artist learns that tones, organized in such and
such a way, produce one particular effect and none other, whether he wishes
it or not. One can predict this effect: it must follow. Thus tones cannot produce any desired effect just because of the wish of the individual who sets
them, for nobody has the power over tones in the sense that he is able to
demand from them something contrary to their nature. Even tones must do
what they do.3

Several pages later, Schenker reinforced the point by noting that


he was primarily interested in describing the abstract effects that a
particular tone might have on the motion of a voice and not the
psychological effects it might have on a listener: Tones mean
nothing but themselves; they are as living beings with their own
social laws.4
Although Schenker went to great lengths to ensure the consistency of his theory, he repeatedly ran into problems in one particular

100

Explaining Tonality

area: the treatment of parallel perfect octaves and fifths. To understand the source of these contradictions, it is important to remember
that tonal voice leading is founded on the notion that contrapuntal
lines tend to move in contrary motion or in parallel thirds and
sixths. In strict counterpoint, if a given pair of lines moves in the
same direction, then they can never produce parallel perfect octaves
and fifths between successive notes. But in functional monotonality, a given pair of voices can contain parallel perfect octaves and
fifths provided that those lines involve doublings and figuration or
combinations of harmonic and non-harmonic tones. This subtle
change from strict counterpoint to functional tonality is an essential component of The Heinrich Maneuver. We can also infer
from Schenkers motto, semper idem sed non eodem modo, that this
principle applies consistently at all structural levels.
At least, that is what we are led to believe. Unfortunately,
Schenker was not always able to preserve the laws of tonal voice
leading from one level to the next; he ran into particular difficulties
maintaining the laws prohibiting parallel perfect intervals. William
Benjamin has described the problem as follows:
[O]n the one hand, [Schenker] accounts for certain foreground events in
terms of the need to get rid of parallel fifths or octaves at a middleground
level; on the other, he justifies certain parallel fifths and octaves in the foreground by noting that they are no longer present once a reduction to the
next-higher level (a middleground) is accomplished.5

For his part, Schenker was perfectly aware of these inconsistencies;


in par. 161 of Der freie Satz, he claimed that the foreground fundamentally prohibits parallel octaves and fifths, but was forced to
concede that the middleground frequently displays forbidden successions, it is then the task of the foreground to eliminate them.6
We can illustrate the problem with a simple example. Figure 3.1
shows mm. 116 of Minuet II from Bachs French Suite I in D Minor,
BWV 812. As shown in figure 3.1a, the passage has two eight-bar
phrases, each of which ends with a cadence in D minor. Each phrase
is sequential in nature. These sequences are normally explained
either in terms of the textures outer-voice counterpoint, in this
case the repeating intervallic pattern 510510, or in terms of
local bass motionin this case the repeating pattern of descending

What Price Consistency?

101

fifths transposed by descending seconds. Such explanations are the


ones we normally encounter in undergraduate theory classes or harmony textbooks.7
Nevertheless, difficulties arise when we try to reconcile such
explanations with a Schenkerian derivation of the music. From a
global perspective, the most striking feature of the sequences is that
they both support a stepwise descent in the upper voices from A to
D, with A ornamented by B, G by A, and F by G. If we remove the
ornamental notes and their supporting harmonies, then we are left
with a chord succession IVIIVIVI that violates the law prohibiting parallel perfect octaves and fifths (see figure 3.1b, The Parallel
Problem). These inconsistencies suggest that our common-sense
distinction between structural and ornamental tones conflicts with
the general laws of tonal counterpoint. This conflict, which we will
refer to as The Parallel Problem, is particularly vexing for those
who believe that Schenkerian analysis give us artistic statements,
in music, about music.8 After all, how can we support such a view if
our analyses include relationships that do not typically occur in
tonal surfaces?
This is not, however, the only problem with sequences. If we
take the distinction between structural and ornamental notes a step
further, then we might suppose that the first chord in each portion
of the sequence has priority over the second (see figure 3.1c, The
Top-Down/Bottom-Up Problem.). According to this scheme, the
A chord in m. 7 should have priority over the D chord in m. 8. But
this reading is unconvincing; as the goal of the entire phrase, the
final tonic D in m. 8 surely has priority over the dominant in m. 7.
Thus, describing sequences in bottom-up terms as some sort of
repeating melodic, contrapuntal, or harmonic pattern conflicts
with treating the phrase in top-down fashion as a prolongation of
the tonic D. This topic, which we will refer to as The Top-Down/
Bottom-Up Problem, is significant because it suggests that there
may be inherent differences between the conventional ways in
which we describe musical surfaces and the more radical ways in
which Schenkerian theory derives them.
In short, sequences present us with some thorny questions. Can
we, in fact, generate sequences like the one in figure 3.1 without
violating the basic laws of tonal voice leading? Can we resolve

102
Figure 3.1. Sequences.
a. Bach, French Suite in D Minor, BWV 812, Minuet II, mm. 116

What Price Consistency?

103

Figure 3.1 (continued).

The Parallel Problem and The Top-Down/Bottom-Up Problem


using Schenkerian theory? This chapter sets out to answer these
questions. Part 1 takes another look at sequential patterns like the
one in figure 3.1 and suggests some concrete ways to overcome
the hazards mentioned above. Next, Part 2 shows how these solutions can be grounded in familiar principles of counterpoint and
in Schenkers own concept of combined linear progressions; among
other things, it shows that there are interesting connections between
sequences and pedals. Part 3 then considers the analytical consequences of these ideas and presents detailed readings of several
pieces, including the Minuet shown in figure 3.1.

Sequences Reconsidered
To shed light on the nature of sequences, we will begin by looking
at some familiar patterns, starting with the one in figure 3.2 (A typical ascending-fifth sequence). This particular phrase has two main
components: a sequence and a cadence. The former consists of pairs
of fifth-related harmonies that are transposed down a third: CG,

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 3.2. A typical ascending-fifth sequence.

AE, FC, DA. The latter, meanwhile, consists of a typical


progression II5^ VI. Innocuous as these observations may seem,
they actually suggest that each component encapsulates a quite different principle of voice leading. These differences are most obvious in the soprano and alto voices. Indeed, figure 3.2 clearly shows
that, while the two upper voices move by parallel thirds during the
sequence, they ultimately converge on the tonic at the cadence.
This point has important ramifications; among other things, it confirms the intuition that parallel motion creates a sense of openness,
whereas convergence creates a sense of closure. We might also note
that the soprano and alto lines make contrapuntal sense on their
own; the other voices could be omitted and the phrase would still
define the tonic C. This point is supported by the fact the two
upper voices can potentially be supported by a long tonic pedal in
the bass. We will return to this connection between sequences and
pedals later in the chapter. But for the time being, we can simply
conclude that sequences are ultimately contrapuntal, rather than
harmonic, in origin and that they might be generated from parallel
voice leading, rather than from the outer voice counterpoint.
This observation allows us to generate the pattern in the
manner shown in figure 3.3 (Deriving ascending-fifth sequences).
Figure 3.3a begins by presuming that the sequence occurs within
the context of a single phrase, in this case one that descends by step
87
 3 2 1 and ends with the cadential progression II5^ V I. Since
this derivation is context-dependent, we can avoid The Top-Down/
Bottom-Up Problem. Next, the soprano tone  3 is transferred up an
octave and the intervening space is filled by a stepwise descent

What Price Consistency?

105

Figure 3.3. Deriving ascending-fifth sequences.

(see figure 3.3b). In figure 3.3c, this descent is harmonized by a


string of parallel thirds. Finally, figure 3.3d harmonizes this string of
thirds according to two principles: each third must be supported
by a root triad and each triad should not produce parallel perfect
octaves and fifths with its neighbors. Significantly, the laws of tonal

106

Explaining Tonality

voice leading dictate that only one such harmonization is possible


from a given starting chord. For example, although the third D/B
can belong to triads on G or B, the latter creates parallel perfect
octaves and fifths with the initial tonic chord. This leaves G as the
only option. Similarly, when the third D/B descends to A/C, the
latter can be harmonized by triads whose roots are F and A. But
since the triad on F creates parallel perfect octaves and fifths with
the preceding G chord, the triad on A must be picked. In other
words, we can resolve The Parallel Problem by generating the
sequence from the upper voices and not the bass.
The same strategy can be used with suitable adjustments to
derive other sequences. Perhaps the easiest way to change the
pattern in figure 3.3 is to invert the voices contrapuntally, thereby
transforming the chain of parallel thirds into a chain of parallel
sixths. This process is shown in figure 3.4 (Restacking ascendingfifth sequences). In figure 3.4a, the soprano spans an octave  8 to
 1. The final stepwise descent  2 1 is harmonized by a cadential
progression II5^ VI. Next, figure 3.4b supports the stepwise
descent of the soprano with a string of parallel sixths from E to E
in the tenor voice. Finally, these parallel sixths are harmonized by
root triads (see figure 3.4c). As with figure 3.3, the starting chord
and laws of counterpoint dictate that only one such harmonization is possible.
With further adjustments, we can generate still more sequences
(see figure 3.5, Deriving ascending-third sequences). Figure 3.5a
starts again with a phrase model consisting of a descent  3 2 1 in
the soprano supported by a simple cadential progression III5^
V87I. As before, the soprano tone  3 is transferred up an octave.
The intervening octave space is then filled by step (see figure 3.5b)
and harmonized by a string of parallel thirds in the alto voice (figure 3.5c). But in figure 3.5d, the soprano E from the first third E/C
is displaced over the second alto note B to create the pattern
343. Similar displacements occur when C/A descends to B/D,
when A/F descends to G/E, and when F/D descends to E/C. Instead
of creating a chain of parallel thirds, this process produces the succession 343343343343. Although figures 3.5ad set
the soprano and alto voices against a single tonic pedal, figure 3.5e
harmonizes the descent 43 as a passing motion; E/BD/B are
supported by a triad on E, C/GB/G by a triad on C, A/EG/E by

What Price Consistency?

107

Figure 3.4. Restacking ascending-fifth sequences.

a triad on A, and F/CE/C by a triad on F. For variety, several


chromaticisms have been added; these introduce applied chords
that tonicize the triads on VI, IV, and II.
Whereas the sequence in figure 3.5 elaborates the chain of parallel thirds by displacing the lines to create the pattern 343, other
sequences can be created by inserting intermediary tones (see figure
3.6, Deriving descending-fifth sequences). This sequence is, of course,
analogous to the one in figure 3.1. Figure 3.6a begins with a stepwise
descent 5 4 3 2 1 in the soprano. This motion is supported by a

108
Figure 3.5. Deriving ascending-third sequences.

What Price Consistency?

109

Figure 3.6. Deriving descending-fifth sequences.

simple cadential progression III5^ V87I. Next, the soprano part is


elaborated with escape tones (see figure 3.6b) and the new line is harmonized by a string of parallel thirds (see figure 3.6c). Figure 3.6d then
harmonizes the soprano and alto lines exclusively with root triads.
Once again, there is only one possible harmonization. Although the

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Explaining Tonality

third A/F belongs to triads on D and F, the former is impossible


because it produces parallel perfect octaves and fifths with the opening tonic chord. Similarly, when the third A/F leaps to F/D, the latter
can be harmonized only by a triad on B because a triad on D creates
parallel perfect octaves and fifths with the preceding F harmony.
Figure 3.4 modifies the sequence in figure 3.3 by inverting the
lines contrapuntally; the soprano line in figure 3.4 was originally
the alto line in figure 3.3, and the tenor line in figure 3.4 was originally the soprano line in figure 3.3. But, if the alto line in figure 3.3
is placed in the bass, below the tenor voice, then this no longer the
case; the resulting pattern is now reclassified as a descending 56
sequence. Figure 3.7 (Deriving descending 56 sequences) shows
how to generate such a configuration. Figure 3.7a starts with a
descent  3 2 1 in the soprano, harmonized by the cadential progression III5^ V87I. In figure 3.7b, 3 in the soprano line is transferred up an octave and the intervening space is filled by a stepwise
descent. Figure 3.7c then supports the octave descent with a string
of parallel tenths in the bass. Finally, figure 3.7d adds inner voices
to this parallel string. Although these tenths can be harmonized in
other waysperhaps by a string of parallel 6/3 sonoritiesfigure
3.7d follows the same scheme as figure 3.3, thereby underscoring
the close connections between these two forms of sequence.
In the same vein, we can develop further transformations of our
model. One such transformation is shown in figure 3.8 (Deriving
alternative descending-fifth sequences). Figure 3.8a starts with a
descent  3 2 1 in the soprano, harmonized by the cadential progression III5^ V87I. In figure 3.8b, the alto voice G moves up by
step through A and B to C, with each of these notes repeated. This
motion from an inner voice is then harmonized in parallel thirds
(see figure 3.8c). Finally, figure 3.8d harmonizes the chain of thirds
with root chords. Given the starting chord and the laws of counterpoint, only one harmonization is possible. Notice how the tenor
part rises by step from C to G before descending back to E.
A similar strategy is shown in figure 3.9 (Deriving ascending
56 sequences). Once again, figure 3.9a starts with a descent  3 2 1
in the soprano, harmonized by the cadential progression
III5^ V87I. In figure 3.9b, the alto moves up by step from G to C,
and in figure 3.9c it is supported by parallel thirds with the tenor.

111
Figure 3.7. Deriving descending 56 sequences.

112

Explaining Tonality

Figure 3.8. Deriving alternative descending-fifth sequences.

Next, figure 3.9d repeats each new member of the alto and tenor
voice; it also displaces them so as to create the pattern
3434343. Finally, in figure 3.9e, this pattern is then harmonized by alternating root and first inversion triads. As in figure 3.5,
a few chromaticisms have been added; these allow us to treat the
6/3 sonorities as applied dominants.

113
Figure 3.9. Deriving ascending 56 sequences.

114

Explaining Tonality

Figure 3.10. Simple mixture.

We have already shown in figures 3.5 and 3.9 that sequences


often allow composers to introduce chromaticisms; in both cases,
applied chords were added to tonicize particular harmonies. But
there is another important source of chromaticism in tonal contexts, namely the principle of mixture; figure 3.10 (Simple mixture)

What Price Consistency?

115

Figure 3.11. Double mixture.

and figure 3.11 (Double mixture) derive two chromatic sequences.


Figure 3.10 presents a variant of the descending-fifth sequence that
we derived in figure 3.6. Figure 3.10a begins with a stepwise descent
in the soprano from  5 to  1, though the third is mixed  5 4  3 2 1.
This motion is supported by a simple cadential progression V87I.

116

Explaining Tonality

Next, the soprano part is elaborated with escape tones (see figure
3.10b) and the resulting line is harmonized by a string of parallel
thirds (see figure 3.10c). Figure 3.10d then harmonizes the soprano
and alto lines exclusively with root chords. Again, this harmonization is the only one possible. Although the third A/F in m. 2
belongs to triads on D and F, the former is impossible because it produces parallel perfect octaves and fifths with the opening tonic
chord. Similarly, when the third A/F leaps to F/D, the latter can be
harmonized only by a triad on B because a triad on D creates parallel perfect octaves and fifths with the preceding F harmony. Notice
how the D harmony II serves as a pre-dominant at the cadence.
Figure 3.11 follows the same strategy, though the double mixture is
created by changing the quality of the triads on B, E, and A from
major to minor.
To sum up, figures 3.33.11 resolve the problems of generating
sequences in two quite different ways. On the one hand, they
overcome the The Top-Down/Bottom-Up Problem by deriving
sequences within the context of a phrase. This move guarantees
that the goal of the sequence is always specified before its surface
features are completely worked out. On the other hand, figures
3.33.11 sidestep The Parallel Problem by deriving the sequence
from parallel motion in the upper voices and not necessarily from
the counterpoint between the outer voices. Not only does this
approach contrast with most conventional accounts of sequences,
but it also confirms the notion that sequences are basically contrapuntal, rather than harmonic in nature. Indeed, by showing that
the bass motion is ultimately controlled by the upper-voice counterpoint, figures 3.33.11 also imply that harmonic function in a
Riemannian sense emerges from contrapuntal motion. This point is
evident both inside the sequence, where functionally related harmonies derive from parallel step motion, and at the cadence, where
the penultimate dominant chord converges on the final tonic, with
the soprano descending  2 1, the alto ascending  7 1, and the predominant chord converges on the dominant chord, with 4 and 6
both moving to  5. These derivations even suggest that interesting
connections can be found between sequences and pedals. But this
contrapuntal view of the sequence begs its own set of questions: to
what extent can we find precursors of sequences in traditional

What Price Consistency?

117

contrapuntal theory, especially Fuxian species counterpoint, and


how do the derivations in figures 3.33.11 fit with Schenkerian
theory? In order to answer these questions, we must take a closer a
look at the principles of strict counterpoint as formulated by Fux
and assess their impact on Schenkers thinking.

Sequences and Counterpoint


At first sight, it seems utterly perverse to search for the origins of
sequences in the pages of Gradus ad Parnassum. After all, Fux
called for variety in melodic writing and discouraged the use of
recurring melodic patterns (or monotonia) in strict counterpoint.9
And yet, his examples often contain an important component of
the sequence, namely, strings of notes that move in a single direction by some fixed interval. This point is clear from figure 3.12
(Fuxs prototypical cantus firmi): although these melodies avoid
exact repetitions of given melodic shapes, many of them end with
a string of descending steps. In fact, Melody 6 ends with a string of
three, Melody 1 with a string of four, and Melody 5 with a string of
five!
The significance of these stepwise descents becomes more
apparent when we add a simple counterpoint to the texture (see
figure 3.13, Typical two-voice counterpoint in First Species).
Indeed, although both voices primarily move in contrary motion,
they often move by parallel thirds or sixths when the cantus firmus
descends by step at the cadence. These parallel strings actually create a strong feeling of motion that makes the closure at the cadence
all the more compelling. In Fourth Species, this sense of propulsion
is heightened when the parallel intervals are displaced to create
chains of suspensions (see figure 3.14 , Typical two-voice counterpoint in Fourth Species).
Textures with three or more voices provide even more opportunities for parallel motion by step. The reasons are clear: if the new
counterpoint moves in contrary motion with the cantus firmus,
then it will inevitably move in similar motion to the existing counterpoint; and if it moves in contrary motion with the counterpoint,
then it will inevitably move in similar motion with the cantus

118
Figure 3.12. Fuxs prototypical cantus firmi.

Figure 3.13. Typical two-voice counterpoint in First Species. From Fux, The
Study of Counterpoint, Fig. 22.

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119

Figure 3.14. Typical two-voice counterpoints in Fourth Species. From Fux, The
Study of Counterpoint, Figs. 73, 74.

firmus. Fux himself offered some intriguing examples in his discussion of First Species in three voices: instead of recycling one of the
cantus firmi from figure 3.12, he introduced some new prototypes in
which the lowest voice simply ascends by step from C through D, E,
and F to G, before ending back on C (see figure 3.15, Fuxs threevoice prototypes). The first prototype (figure 3.15a) has three descending thirds between the upper parts, whereas the second (figure
3.15b) has three ascending thirds between the lowest voices. In
both of these cases, the soprano essentially moves in contrary motion
with the bass. It seems very likely that Schenker had these prototypes in mind when he showed how Urstze are usually transformed
at the deep middleground.10 Similar examples are shown in figure
3.16 (Typical three-voice counterpoints in Fourth Species). Figure
3.16a is interesting for a couple reasons. In the first place, Fux harmonized the chain or 76 suspensions in the upper-voice parallels
at the end of the passage with a sequential bass line FCDAD.
For another, he included a pair of 76 suspensions against the
repeated tone G in the bass in mm. 34. In his text, Fux singled out
this passage, noting that the bass can be extended to create a pedal

120
Figure 3.15. Fuxs three-voice prototypes. From Fux, The Study of Counterpoint,
Figs. 91, 92.

Figure 3.16. Typical three-voice counterpoints in Fourth Species. From Fux, The
Study of Counterpoint, Figs. 141, 142.

What Price Consistency?

121

Figure 3.16 (continued).

point as shown in figure 3.16b. According to him, the results are


not only correct but even very beautiful.11
As it happens, figures 3.16ab open the door for mixed species.
Although Fux did not address this topic systematically in Gradus ad
Parnassum, he did include a few tantalizing examples, given here in
figure 3.17 (Parallel motion in mixed species with three and four
voices). In figure 3.17a, he put the cantus firmus in the bass, the
soprano in Second Species, the alto in Third, and the tenor in
Fourth. Notice how the stepwise descent in the bass near the end of
the example supports quasi-sequential motion in the upper voices.
Similarly, in figure 3.17b, he showed a three-voice texture in which
the melody moves in First Species, the alto in Fourth, and the bass
in Second. In this case, the parallel motion of the upper voices
starting in m. 4 is supported by a sequential bass part, FG, EF,
DE, and CD. These examples suggest that pedals and sequences
often spring from the same source: pedals can sometimes be created
when chains of stepwise parallel lines move against a static voice,
whereas sequences can arise when such strings are supported by a
recurring bass pattern. This ties in nicely with our discussion of figures 3.33.11.
Whereas Fux avoided sequences, Schenker was openly hostile
to them. His response was simply to reject them altogether. For
example, when discussing the passage in figure 3.1a, he scoffed at
the idea that the progression IIVVIIIIIVIIII in mm. 18 is
an idle sequence and insisted that it simply defines the tonic D

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 3.17. Parallel motion in mixed species with three and four voices.
a. From Fux, The Study of Counterpoint, Fig. 204.

b. From Fux, The Study of Fugue, Ex. 61.

minor.12 Later, in the essay Das Organische der Fuge (1926),


Schenker claimed that the word sequence has no validity and
that the mere fact of its existence as a theoretical term does not
lend it any credibility as a concept.13 And, in Der freie Satz (1935),
he rejected the term on the grounds that it described local details
without explaining global processes.14 Yet, like Fux, Schenker certainly recognized the significance of parallel stepwise counterpoint,
especially over a pedal. This is already apparent in his discussion of
mixed species in the latter portions of Kontrapunkt II (1922). Here,
Schenker specifically referred to examples from Fux like those
shown in figures 3.163.17. According to him, it is irrelevant
whether the florid counterpoints are consonant or dissonant with
the bass; all that matters is that they make contrapuntal sense with

What Price Consistency?

123

Figure 3.18. Parallel linear progressions within a single Stufe. From Schenker,
Der freie Satz, Fig. 97.2.

each other.15 This crucial idea fits with our observation that the
soprano and alto parts in figure 3.3 make contrapuntal sense in
their own right.
Matters become more complex when Schenker shifted his
attention from the purely intervallic world of strict counterpoint to
the triadic world of functional monotonality. Now the stepwise parallel strings are constrained by the underlying harmonic motion of
the music. Schenker took up this particular issue with a vengeance
in his discussion of parallel linear progression in par. 22426 of Der
freie Satz.16 In fact, these paragraphs appear in a general discussion
of the various ways in which two or more linear progressions can be
combined (par. 22129); they mention sequences only in passing.17
The main thrust of Schenkers argument is clear: when two or more
linear progressions are combined, one is primary (or leading) and
the others are secondary. To prioritize one linear progression over
another, Schenker insisted that each progression must be evaluated
according to the order in which it is generated from the background.18 This is readily apparent from figure 3.18 (Parallel linear
progressions within a single Stufe). Here Schenker sketched a short
passage from the third movement of Mozarts Piano Sonata in A
Minor, K. 310. He suggested that the soprano voice leads and the
alto follows, and that both voices move over a pedal A. Given the
essential role that Urlinien play in generating the melodic profile of
a piece, leading progressions are frequently found in the soprano
voice. But, as Schenker was quick to point out, they need not
be confined to this register: once one has decided whether the
leading linear progression is in the lower or in the upper voice, one
must understand the counterpointing progressions as upper or

124

Explaining Tonality

lower thirds, tenths, or sixths.19 These points are implied in figures


3.33.11. Since these derivations proceed from a single stepwise
descent that we subsequently harmonized in thirds or sixths, they
necessarily treated one linear progression as the leader. Furthermore, we have already noted that the various parallel voices can be
redistributed in the texture and even inverted contrapuntally. We
used these strategies to derive the sequences in figure 3.4 from
those in figure 3.3.
Besides evaluating the status of linear progressions, Schenker
also classified parallel linear progressions in two ways.20 The first way
is according to the length of the leading progression. Since he
believed that genuine linear progressions can span only the intervals
contained within triads, this means that the leader will normally
span a third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or octave; in the case of figure 3.18,
for example, it articulates an octave span. That being said, it is
important to note that the follower need not be the same length as
the leader. Thus, whereas the leader in figure 3.18 projects an octave
line, the follower is far more ad hoc in nature and barely a linear
progression at all. Indeed, as William Rothstein has recently pointed
out: [T]he one instance in which Schenker admits non-harmonic
Zge is in the case of two Zge moving in parallel thirds, sixths, or
tenths.21 In this respect, the leading Zug arpeggiates the harmony;
the follower goes along passively for the contrapuntal ride.
The second way in which Schenker classified parallel linear
progressions is according to whether they horizontalize a single
Stufe or whether they fill in the space between two Stufen. We have
already seen the first possibility in figure 3.18; in this case the parallel linear progressions compose out a single A-major chord. The
second possibility is shown in figure 3.19 (Parallel linear progressions between different Stufen). This figure derives an ascending
56 sequence along the lines shown in figure 3.9. Now, however,
the phrase as a whole is controlled by a stepwise descent  54 3 in
the soprano and a cadential progression III5^ V7I (see figure
3.19a). Before reaching the cadence, the alto line ascends GA
BCDE (see figure 3.19b). In figure 3.19c, every note of the alto
voice is repeated, and in figure 3.19d this string is harmonized with
alternating thirds and fourths. Finally, in figure 3.19e the pedal is
replaced by a string of alternating root and first-inversion chords.

125
Figure 3.19. Parallel linear progressions between different Stufen.

126

Explaining Tonality

As a result, the alto voice appears to span a minor seventh from G


to F. But this span is not, in Schenkers terms, a true linear progression; instead of composing out a single line of counterpoint, the
span actually connects the alto voice of the opening tonic Stufe
with the soprano voice of the II5^ . The span is therefore an example
of what Schenker termed motion from an inner voice. Although
he devoted a paragraph of Der freie Satz to so-called seventh progressions (Die Septzge), Schenker conceded that they usually arise
from changes of register between voices, rather than from genuine
linear progressions within a single voice.22

Analytical Implications
Having solved The Parallel Problem and The Top-Down/BottomUp Problem and grounded these solutions in contrapuntal principles and combined linear progressions, let us now consider some
analytical implications. We will try to show how particular sequential patterns can be derived within the context of specific pieces. A
good place to start is with Bachs Little Prelude in C Major, BWV
924. This short through-composed prelude contains two sequences
and a dominant pedal. The first sequence appears in mm. 13 and
consists of the pattern CG, DA, E in the bass. This pattern leads
to a second sequence in mm. 36 that descends ABC; EF
GA; CDEF. The long dominant pedal in mm. 717 eventually
resolves onto a tonic chord at the final cadence in m. 18.
Schenker himself analyzed this prelude on at least two occasions: in Der Tonwille 4 (1923) and again in Der freie Satz.23 His
feadings are conflated in figure 3.20 (Schenkers analysis of Bachs
Little Prelude in C Major, BWV 924). In Der freie Satz, Schenkers
main insight was to suggest that the Urlinie is composed out at the
deep middleground by a pair of unfoldings EC and BD (see figure
3.20ab).24 He suggested that the unfolding EC is inverted contrapuntally to create an upper sixth and that this interval is filled to
create a sixth progression EFGABC. This sixth progression is
then split into two segments, EFG and ABC, with the latter
segment transferred down an octave (see figure 3.20c).25 In Der freie
Satz and Der Tonwille, Schenker derived the first sequence from the

127
Figure 3.20. Schenkers analysis of Bachs Little Prelude in C Major, BWV 924.
Adapted from Schenker, Der Tonwille, vol. 4, and Der freie Satz, Fig. 43.b.

128

Explaining Tonality

first segment by harmonizing it in parallel tenths with the bass


E/CF/DG/E (see figures 3.20cd). He followed much the same
strategy in Der Tonwille to derive the second sequence (mm. 36).
This pattern stems from a 56 motion between the outer voices
that is subsequently elaborated by motion in the inner voice.
As it stands, figure 3.20 offers a fascinating analysis of Bachs
prelude, one that captures both the broad sweep and subtle details
of the musical fabric. And yet, this reading is not without its problems. Indeed, although Schenker deliberately avoided any mention
of the term sequence and overcame The Top-Down/Bottom-Up
Problem by deriving both sequences from a global prototype, he
was unable to avoid The Parallel Problem because he still derived
both sequences quite conventionally from the outer-voice counterpoint. In the first sequence, he sidestepped the parallels by omitting
the inner voices altogether; he simply claimed that any middleground parallels are avoided by inserting intervening harmonies to
create the pattern 10510510.26 In the second sequence, he
finessed The Parallel Problem by deriving all four voices simultaneously. Once again, he insisted that the purpose of the foreground
was to cover up the implied parallel perfect octaves and fifths of the
middleground, in this case by a string of 56 motions.
Figure 3.21 (Alternative analysis of Bachs Little Prelude in C
Major, BWV 924) tries to overcome The Parallel Problem in
figure 3.20. Figures 3.21ab correspond to the progressions shown
in figures 3.20ab. Unlike figure 3.20, which derives the two sequences from linear interval patterns in the outer voices, figure 3.21
derives them from chains of parallel thirds in the upper register.
Figure 3.21c includes a chain of ascending thirds E/CF/DG/E
A/F. These thirds are elaborated in two ways: the ascent E/CF/D
G/E is elaborated by lower thirds E/CD/BF/DE/CG/E, and the
progression from G/E to A/F is transferred down an octave and
filled in G/EF/DE/CD/BC/AB/GA/F (see figure 3.21d).
Once the string of thirds in the upper voices has been generated, it
can be harmonized in the manner shown in figure 3.21e. Significantly, there is only one way to harmonize this string; this harmonization inevitably produces the two sequences found at the
surface of the music. Besides circumventing The Parallel Problem,
figure 3.21 also reveals some interesting connections between the

129
Figure 3.21. Alternative analysis of Bachs Little Prelude in C Major, BWV 924.

130

Explaining Tonality

sequences in mm. 16 and the pedal in mm. 717; in particular, the


ascending sixth progression EC is balanced by a descending sixth
progression BD. The main difference between the sequence and
the pedal is that the former harmonizes each successive parallel
third with a new chord.
We encounter many of the same analytical issues when we try
to analyze Bachs Prelude in C Minor, WTC I, BWV 847. Once again,
Schenker discussed the piece on several occasions. In Harmonielehre
(1906), he cited mm. 14 as examples of a subdominant fifth and a
pedal point.27 Almost twenty years later, he published an extended
analysis of the entire prelude in Die Musik (1923); this analysis was
subsequently revised for the final portion of his essay Das Organische
der Fuge, from Das Meisterwerk in der Musik 2 (1926).28 And, finally,
in Der freie Satz, Schenker included a reduction of mm. 118 in his
discussion of combined linear progressions; this reduction refines
his analyses from the 1920s.29
Broadly speaking, Bachs C-minor prelude follows the same basic
format as the Little Prelude in C, though it is somewhat larger in
scope.30 Like its diminutive cousin, the C-minor prelude begins with
a long expansion of the tonic (mm. 118) that includes prominent
sequential motion. The sequence eventually leads to an elaborate
dominant pedal (mm. 2133). This pedal finally moves onto a tonic
harmony in mm. 3438. With regard to the initial tonic expansion
(mm. 118), Schenker rightly observed that it has four distinct
components. As he noted in the Harmonielehre, mm. 14 use a simple pedal to establish the tonic C minor. Next, mm. 511 consist of
a passing motion from E to B in the Urlinie. Although mm. 1114
continue the downward trajectory of the Urlinie, they change the
accompanying lines in order to avoid a premature arrival on C.
Finally, mm. 1418 use a 56 exchange to complete the octave
descent EE in the Urlinie and return to the tonic chord.
Schenkers derivation of mm. 118 is summarized in figure 3.22
(Schenkers analysis of Bachs Prelude in C Minor, WTC 1, BWV
847, mm. 118). Figure 3.22a gives the foreground graph that originally appeared in Das Organische der Fuge. Next, figure 3.22b
gives the middleground reduction that he presented in Der freie
Satz. When we compare these two readings, it is clear that they
both rely heavily on the string of parallel tenths that occur between

What Price Consistency?

131

Figure 3.22. Schenkers analysis of Bachs Prelude in C Minor, WTC I, BWV


847, mm. 118. From Schenker, The Masterwork in Music 2, pp. 4849.

the soprano and bass. According to Schenker, the main body of the
sequence, mm. 511, is generated from a string of descending 76
sequences, akin to those found in Fourth Species textures like the
one cited in figure 3.14a. His view of the prototypical voice leading
is given here as figure 3.22c. Notice how Schenker suggested how
the line might continue in mm. 1218; he added the hypothetical
bass tones FEDC in parentheses.
Although this interpretation initially seems plausible, it seems
less satisfactory when we compare figure 3.22 with figure 3.23 (Alternative analysis of Bachs Prelude in C Minor, WTC 1, BWV 847,

132

Explaining Tonality

Figure 3.23. Alternative analysis of Bachs Prelude in C Minor, WTC I, BWV


847, mm. 118.

mm. 118). In figure 3.22a, Schenker proposed that mm. 511 project a string of parallel first-inversion chords, separated by applied
chords. For example, the motion from A6 in m. 5 to G6 in m. 6 is
elaborated by an applied harmony that tonicizes G6. But in figure
3.22b these applied chords are reduced out, leaving a succession of
parallel perfect fifths E/AD/GC/FB/E. Figure 3.23 tries to
overcome these problems: it circumvents The Parallel Problem that
mars figure 3.22 and it maintains Schenkers position that
dissonances are ultimately passing in nature. Like figure 3.7 this derivation places the string of parallel tenths in the soprano and bass

What Price Consistency?

133

Figure 3.24. Two analyses of the Prelude from Bachs Partita No. 3 for Solo
Violin. BWU 1006 From Schenker, The Masterwork in Music 1, pp. 4041.

(see figure 3.23a) and, like figure 3.9, it repeats each successive
soprano note (see figure 3.23b). Finally, instead of harmonizing the
repeated tones with root chords, figures 3.23c and 3.23d support
them with inversions; this strategy preserves the prominent parallel
tenths between the outer voices.
One of the most interesting features of Bachs C-minor prelude is
the fact that it uses apparent sequential motion to support an octave
descent in the upper voice. The descent occurs at the middleground
in figure 3.22. But it does raise the possibility that such motions
might occur at even deeper levels. This possibility is clearly shown in
Figure 3.24 (Two analyses of the Prelude from Bachs Partita No. 3
for Solo Violin, BWV 1006).31 Significantly, Schenker supported
the descent  8 1 in the Urlinie with a sequential harmonic progression IV/VIVIV/IV IVV/IIIIVI (see figure 3.24a). However,
figure 3.24b presents an alternative derivation analogous to the one
presented in figure 3.5; in particular, it adapts Schenkers reading to

134

Explaining Tonality

highlight the chain of descending parallel sixths. This being said, it


is important to stress that sequential settings of  8-line Urstze are not
common, and it is quite possible that Schenker himself would have
regraphed the Prelude later in his career. One reason for this is that
 8-line prototypes tend to divide  85  1 with an intermediate motion
onto the dominant, rather than  84  1 as in this particular prelude.32
Nevertheless, the graph in figure 3.24 certainly captures many special features of the work, and it confirms David Smyths claim that
8 -line Urstze often have important formal implications.33
Given that the preceding analyses have focused on the ways in
which Bach used sequences and pedals, it seems fitting to round
things off by reconsidering Minuet II from his French Suite No. 1.
As we saw in figure 3.1a, the first part of this piece has two eight-bar
phrases. These phrases both begin and end in the tonic D minor,
and both are built from the same sequential progression IIVVII
IIIVIIIVI. The second section also opens with another eightmeasure phrase (mm. 1725), though it ends with a clear half
cadence in D minor. Motivically, this phrase develops the main
material from m. 1. Bach presents this gesture three times in the
bass and tenor registers on D (m. 17), G (m. 18), and A (m. 19), and
twice more in the soprano on C (m. 21) and D (m. 22). Just like
mm. 916, these motivic statements are accompanied by continuous eighth notes. Having reached the half cadence in m. 25, Bach
brings back verbatim the entire opening section (mm. 2540).
Unlike the first section, however, mm. 1740 are not repeated.
Although Schenker did not publish a graph of this particular
movement, we can fill this gap in the manner shown in figure 3.25
(Analysis of Bachs Minuet II, French Suite in D Minor, BWV
812). Figure 3.25a suggests that the piece can be derived from a  5line prototype in D minor. Figure 3.25b then shows how the half
cadence in m. 24 is generated by a division of the Urlinie at the
deep middleground. Next, figure 3.25c derives mm. 116 as a
descent from  5 to  1 just like mm. 3340. Figure 3.25d then shows
how the descending fifth sequences in mm. 816 and 3340 are
generated from third chains in the upper voices; this derivation
follows the general scheme outlined in figure 3.6. Finally, figure
3.25e derives the same sequence in mm. 18 and 2532 from analogous chains of thirds. Unlike mm. 916 and 3340, however, the

135
Figure 3.25. Analysis of Bach, French Suite in D Minor, BWV 812, Minuet II.

136

Explaining Tonality

chain of parallel thirds is submerged beneath a soprano line that


rises from A (m. 1) through B (m. 2) and C (m. 3) to D (m. 4).
Once m. 4 is reached, the soprano line takes over the lower third
of the chain, thereby demonstrating Bachs fondness for invertible
counterpoint. Yet again, the derivation shown in figure 3.25
avoids both The Parallel Problem and The Top-Down/BottomUp Problem.
In this chapter, we have used our discussion of sequences as a
pretext for considering the consistency of Schenkerian theory. We
have seen that Schenker was ultimately inconsistent in the way he
treated parallel perfect octaves and fifths. Although he insisted that
such phenomena do not occur when a given pair of voices move
between successive harmonic tones, his analyses are littered with
parallels, especially when the music is sequential. When these
anomalies appear at the foreground, Schenker claimed that they
can be eliminated by appealing to the behavior of the middleground, and when they appear at the middleground, he proposed
that they can be eliminated at the foreground. To resolve these
inconsistencies, we found a new way to generate sequences, one
that focused less on the outer voice counterpoint and more on the
stepwise motion of the upper voices. This strategy conformed very
nicely with Schenkers own discussion of combined linear progressions in par. 22426 of Der freie Satz.
Besides eliminating an important inconsistency in Schenkerian
theory, this solution has several important consequences. For one
thing, it suggests that, although certain aspects of tonal motion are
controlled by the outer voice counterpoint, others can be understood only in terms of the inner voices. When graphing a particular
piece, the analyst should not simply trace the motion of the
soprano and bass voices; he or she should also monitor the behavior
of the tenor and alto voices. This point ties in with our discussion
of Urstze in chapter 2. For another, our discussion has shown that
harmonic function is intimately connected to voice leading. In
particular, we found that bass motion by fifth inevitably arises when
the upper voices move by step in a single direction by parallel thirds
or sixths. This observation fits in nicely with our discussion of The
Complementarity Principle in chapter 1. In the same vein, we

What Price Consistency?

137

have also noted that sequences and pedals are actually related
phenomena. This point is interesting for a couple of reasons. On
the one hand, it provides further justification for  8- and  5-line
Urstze; instead of thinking of them as containing unsupported
stretches, we can think of them as descending across a pedal. On
the other hand, by showing connections between pedals and
sequences we can explain why both often appear in the same piece.
As we saw in our analysis of Bachs Little Prelude in C, BWV 924,
the underlying counterpoint of both can, in fact, be very close
indeed.
Another important consequence of this solution is that it underscores a fundamental methodological difference between Schenkers
concerns and those of many other music theorists. As mentioned in
the Introduction, there are important differences between describing what happens in a piece of music and explaining why these
things happen or how to make them happen. While many music
theorists are concerned with describing music in bottom-up terms
as a string of surface events, Schenker was intent on explaining
how these surfaces are generated top-down from tonal prototypes.
This dramatic shift in perspective does not mean that conventional
descriptions of sequences are necessarily wrong or that Schenker
himself never took time to describe surface events. Nothing could
be further from the truth. All empiric inquiries must start from
careful descriptions of phenomena and, like any good empiricist,
Schenker often provided the reader with extremely vivid descriptions of how a piece sounds. For example, in his analysis of Bachs
Little Prelude No. 1 in C Major, BWV 924, he described the music
in narrative terms, suggesting that Bach wanted to spin a tale and
create suspense by exquisite tensions and convolutions . . . an insatiable desire for first-rate suspense and intricacy.34 Yet, Schenkers
emphasis on top-down processes underscores that there is more to
understanding music than describing its local effects; describing
pieces and deriving them are simply not the same thing. Derivation
requires something more.
But why should top-down derivations mean more to Schenker
than bottom-up descriptions? Who, in fact, needs to understand
the significance of global prototypes? To answer these questions,
it is helpful to take Schenkers narrative metaphor a bit further.

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Explaining Tonality

Imagine, for a moment, that we have just seen a whodunnit at the


local theater. The production involves at least three different
groups of people: the author of the play, the performers, and the
audience. Of these, it is clear that the author must have some topdown sense of the play; if not, then, it is unclear how he/she could
reveal the various clues in the right order so that the final revelation is convincing. Equally, the audience must not know who
dunnit, at least on first viewing. Such knowledge would deprive
them of the thrill of deducing that Professor Plum bludgeoned Miss
Scarlet with the candlestick in the library. Their response will
initially be governed by bottom-up concerns. The actors, however,
seem to stand somewhere in between. To understand a characters
motivations and personality, the actors must know who perpetrated
the crime and yet they must not give the game away to the audience.
The ability to know something without betraying this knowledge
would appear to be the essence of acting.
By the same token, it is composers rather than listeners who
must know in advance the global structure of pieces, and it is the task
of the performer to mediate between these two groups. Schenker
made his point quite clear on several occasions. In his essay Forsetzung der Urlinie-Betrachtung: I, from Das Meisterwerk in der Musik
1 (1925), he noted that the composers business is the composingout of a chord; this task leads him from a background Ursatz
through prolongations and diminutions to a foreground setting.
Meanwhile, It is up to the reader or player, conversely, to retrace
the path from foreground to the background.35 Schenker reinforced his point a few lines later. When analyzing the opening to
Mozarts Sonata in A, K. 331, he uncharacteristically placed his
foreground sketch above those of the middleground: The voiceleading strata are deliberately viewed from the perspective of the
observer not from that of the composerthat is, they are presented, as an exception, from the foreground to the background.36
The same idea was apparently behind Schenkers claim in Der freie
Satz that the ability in which all creativity beginsthe ability to
compose extempore, to improvise fantasies and preludeslies only
in a feeling for the background, middleground, and foreground.37
In other words, the tension between traditional accounts of the
sequence and Schenkerian derivations stems from the fact that the

What Price Consistency?

139

goals of traditional music theory are ultimately quite different from


those of Schenkerian theory. Whereas traditional music theory is
often motivated by a desire to describe how we, as informed listeners, experience a piece as it flows from beginning to end, Schenkerian theory is more concerned with explaining how expert tonal
composers tacitly understand how their music fits together locally
and globally. This does not mean, of course, that listening and composing are completely unrelated activities or that informed listeners
understand music in fundamentally different ways to expert composers. If there were no points of intersection, then it is hard to
understand why informed listeners are able to recognize and value
exceptional feats of compositional prowess. But it is important to
recognize that they may be different and that such differences have
enormous consequences for the music theorist.

Schenker and The Myth of Scales


My [theory] shows that the art of music is much simpler than
present-day [theories] would have it appear.1 For anyone reading
Der freie Satz, this statement sticks out like a sore thumb. Schenkers
intricate analyses often make pieces look anything but simple; at
times they seem even more complex than the scores themselves.
And yet, there can be no doubt that Schenker meant what he said;
he expressed the same sentiment in various ways on other occasions. When discussing the structure of prototypical cantus firmi in
Kontrapunkt I, for example, Schenker defended the quest for simplicity on ethical grounds, claiming that it be may be artistically
ethical to match a simple situation only with a simple beginningthat is,
a beginning with a tonicinstead of contradicting its simplicity with a complicated beginning.2 Similarly, at the end of his essay Eluterungen,
he announced:
The art of geniuses is as simple as the simplest passing-tone progression; but
for precisely that reason it is for ever inimitable and unattainable to nongeniuses. The latter lack a bond that is for them unfathomably God-derived,
the bond which connects back to ultimate simplicity; consequently they go
in a thousand different directions, always anxious because they have no
sense of origin.3

In the same vein, he noted, [W]here art is concerned, only


geniuses pertain, for they bring to bear the utmost economy in feeling and creative activity.4
Just as Schenker saw simplicity as a hallmark of musical genius,
so philosophers also see it as a guiding principle of theory construction. Indeed, it was regarded as a basic epistemic value, long before
William of Ockham supposedly authored the famous dictum Entia
non multiplicanda sunt praeter necessitatem.5 There are times, however,

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

141

when simplicity is no longer a virtue: as the philosopher Paul


Churchland notes, simply to hold fewer beliefs from a given set
is . . . to be less adventurous, but it is not necessarily to be
applauded.6 Churchland adds that the desire for simplicity may
even end up being counterproductive, in which case the result is
perversity not parsimony!7
Nevertheless, before we dismiss Schenkers claims as mere wishful thinking, it is worth considering one specific situation in which
the desire for parsimony was uppermost in Schenkers mind: this is
his treatment of modes and scales. Modes and scales have, of course,
played a pivotal role in shaping our notions of music theory. Over
the centuries, music theorists have expended considerable energy
discussing a broad spectrum of modes and scales, ranging from the
so-called Church modes to major, minor, and chromatic scales, and
even a plethora of exotic scales. They have primarily been guided by
the simple belief that the behavior of a particular piece is determined by intervallic properties of some source scale. In some cases,
they have assumed that harmonic systems derive from scales. We
will refer to this particular assumption as The Myth of Scales.
Seen from Schenkers perspective, however, the musical soundscape looked very different. Instead of viewing the behavior of
functional monotonal music in terms of diatonic scales, Schenker
envisioned it in terms of prototypes and recursive transformations.
His picture of the tonal universe was revolutionary because it proposes a single system of prototypes, transformations, and transformational rules, rather than myriad interacting scale-based systems.
Through the concepts of mixture and tonicization, he was able to
explain not only how tonal surfaces can be highly chromatic, but
also how they can contain a wide variety of modal and exotic
inflections. Conceptually, this new system represents a dramatic
step forward in theoretical simplification.
For convenience, we will address the issue of modality and
exoticism in five stages. To begin with, we will discuss the role
modes and scales play in traditional theory; we will see just how
strongly entrenched The Myth of Scales is in the theoretical
community. Next, we will consider Schenkers general discussion
of scales and his case against The Myth of Scales. We will then
use Schenkerian theory to help us understand the behavior of

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Explaining Tonality

Common-Practice works that have a strong Lydian or Dorian flavor.


Next, we will analyze certain exotic passages from a Schenkerian
perspectivethese passages include pentatonic, whole-tone, and
octatonic material. Finally, we will see how Schenkerian theory
might shed light on the emergence of functional tonality in the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Once again, we will see that
Schenkers work provides a simplified solution to some familiar
problems in the history of music theory.

Modes and Scales in Traditional Theory


At least since Classical Antiquity, music theorists have tried to
explain the behavior of melodies by appealing to some concept of
mode or scale. Ancient Greek music theory developed a system of
eight modes, a corrupt version of which was transmitted into Western music theory during the Middle Ages in order to classify plainchants. Medieval theorists adopted this system for several reasons.8
For one thing, performers needed an effective way to proceed from
one chant to another; this was of paramount importance in singing
antiphons and psalms. For another, performers needed a way to
learn and teach the enormous repertory of chants that appear
throughout the liturgical year; grouping them into families provided one way to do this. For some theorists, the impetus may have
been purely academicto widen the frontiers of knowledge. Whatever their motivation, Medieval theorists generally used four criteria to explain such classification schemes: final; range or ambitus;
species of fourth, fifth, and octave; and reciting tone. Although
these explanations worked for many chants, they were not always
completely accurate; in some cases, chants were even rewritten to
fit with theoretical norms; in others, recalcitrant chants were
ignored completely. Theorists sometimes compensated for other
anomalies by discussing irregular or imperfect modes.
By the turn of the sixteenth century, however, theorists ran into
problems when they tried to extend their system of modal classification to polyphonic music. At first, they classified pieces according to the mode of the tenor; but as they tried to be more specific,
the difficulties soon multiplied. Some of them stemmed from the
fact that individual strands of the polyphony had different finals

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

143

and different ranges, whereas others stemmed from the fact that
each line was constrained by a growing sense of triadicity. Even
today, the task of explaining mode in polyphony remains one of the
thorniest problems in contemporary music scholarship.
The problems of applying melodic categories to harmonic systems
multiply when we try to use major and minor scales to explain tonal
music written from the Common-Practice Period. Certainly, there has
been no shortage of attempts to do so. Many music theory textbooks
claim that the properties of functional triadic tonality derive from
those of diatonic scales. According to William J. Mitchell, for example, [T]he major and minor scales, which form the basis of this study
of harmony, are diatonic.9 Similarly, Edward Aldwell and Carl
Schachter claim that [f]rom the time of the ancient Greeks through
the nineteenth century, most Western art music was based on diatonic scales.10 Scholarly publications have likewise promoted this
point of view. For example, Pieter van den Toorn has remarked:
Tonality is viewed here in its more restricted sense as a hierarchic system of
pitch relations based on the diatonic major scale (the C scale) . . . the historical development of which can be traced from the beginning of the seventeenth century to the end of the nineteenth.11

Or, to quote Richard Taruskin:


Just as we get our sense of Mozarts C major not only from his use of the C
scale on C but also from the way the black keys are related hierarchically
to the tones of the scale, so, if we are able to conceive of the octatonic collection as a tonality, we must be able to account for the use of the other
four tones in relation to it.12

Taruskin adds that, in Mozarts case, even the simplest minuet or


sonatina movement will contain tones foreign to the C scale that
defines its key.13
But what does Taruskin really mean when he says that Mozarts
C major is referable to the C scale on C? How does this scale
define the key of C major? How are the chromatic notes in Mozarts
simplest minuet or sonatina related hierarchically to the members
of this scale? Are these wrong notes really intrusions of some other
scale type? Do the properties of the tonal system really depend on
those of major and minor scales?

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Explaining Tonality

As it happens, there are good reasons to be cautious about


answering these questions. Even on an intuitive level, we know
that scale membership is neither necessary nor sufficient for determining the tonality of a passage or piece (see figure 4.1, Scale membership and tonality). It is easy, for example, to imagine how a key
might be defined by progressions that do not contain every note of
the relevant scale. Take, for example, the progression IVI in figure 4.1a; this passage clearly lacks two members of the C-major
scale4 and 6 . Similarly, the mere presence of a given scale need
not guarantee that a passage is in the corresponding key. As
shown in figure 4.1b, a passage built exclusively from the notes of a
C-major scale might actually be in A Aeolian, D Dorian, E Phrygian, and so forth.
To complicate matters further, we can also establish a tonality
using progressions built from pitches outside the diatonic collection.
Figures 4.1c and 4.1d give some simple cases in point. Figure 4.1c
shows a short progression in D minor. Here, the opening chords
move from I to VI6 and back via VIIo7 to I5, while the final cadence
tonicizes D by the familiar succession VII6I. The progression contains several interesting chromaticisms. The B (m. 1) is a simple
mixture. The A (m. 3) seems to imply a local tonicization of C
(VII), though the leading tone is immediately raised to tonicize D.
Meanwhile, in figure 4.1d, we find a progression from the tonic of E
to the dominant of F. This motion is achieved by a common-tone
progression onto a diminished-seventh sonority in m. 2. The chromatic tones D and F in this sonority are both mixtures. The
B(A) and D in m. 2 then appear as tonicizations; they inflect the
subsequent V$5 of F in m. 3.
These last two examples show very clearly that tonality does
not simply depend on the presence of the right notes, but rather
on the fact that particular notes appear in the right order according to some general laws of tonal voice leading and harmony.
Figures 4.1c and d are particularly telling in this regard; although
both passages are tonal, neither is referable to the appropriate diatonic scale. Figure 4.1c is not built exclusively from the notes of a
D-minor scale and figure 4.1d is not derivable from an E-major
scale. In both cases, the passages are built exclusively from the
notes of the octatonic scale shown in figure 4.1e.

145
Figure 4.1. Scale membership and tonality.

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Explaining Tonality

Schenkerian Theory and Scales


One indication that Schenker was suspicious about The Myth of
Scales is that he seldom, if ever, discussed scales explicitly. Yet,
through a number of passing comments, he left us in no doubt about
his views. Among the most colorful of these appears at the start of
Kontrapunkt 1, in a general discussion of prototypical cantus firmi.
Although Schenkers immediate goal was to discuss the essential
behavior of tonal melodies, he took the opportunity to explain why
a simple appeal to scale type provides an inadequate explanation.14 If
we ignore his condescending attitudes to music written before Bach
and to music theorists before him, Schenkers objection to The
Myth of Scales is clear enough: since scales can at best describe only
purely linear relationships, they are incapable of explaining how
voice leading and harmony interact in functional monotonal contexts.15 In other words, scales may describe what pitches are present
in a given context, they do not explain why these pitches are related
in some ways and not others. Whatever value they may have as
descriptive tools for classifying melodic patterns, scales have little
power to explain the behavior of specific notes or chords.16
To support these bold claims, Schenker began his onslaught
against scales with a brief synopsis of modal theory. According to
him, the church modes were modest efforts to categorize horizontally conceived melodies whose purpose was simply to capture
theoretically the beginning and end of a given melody as well as
other relationships in the course of the horizontal line.17 He added,
Earlier periods further divided, for similar descriptive purposes, all
modes into authentic and plagal or so-called perfect, imperfect, and
mixed modes just to catalog and categorize the various melodic
phenomena.18 Schenker insisted, however, that once theorists
began to recognize that melodic lines behave differently in polyphonic contexts, then it became necessary for them to consider the
vertical as well as the horizontal dimension of music. As he put it:
Consequently they need no longer limit themselves to providing a highly
detailed horizontal description; rather, by the application of harmonic criteria (even to the horizontal linecompare Harmony, par. 76), therefore precisely by virtue of their deeper penetration, they are able to reveal all the
more accurately the true inner core of the melody.19

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

147

Schenker made similar arguments about attempts to explain exotic


harmonies by appealing to exotic scales: Even though the intentions in all these cases seem to be so diverse, the error is one and
the same, since neither the so-called church modes nor exotic
scales should be considered real systems.20 To be considered a real
system in any explanatory sense, Schenker insisted that the system
must not only list what pitches appear, it must also explain how
they behave. This inevitably requires formulating explicit laws of
voice leading and harmony, and rejecting The Myth of Scales.
If Schenker thought that scales do not represent real systems
in any explanatory sense, how did he explain the diatonic nature of
the tonal system? How did he get rid of any primitive notion of
scale membership? Quite simply, Schenker believed that the diatonic properties of functional monotonal music arise from composing out triads. To quote from Der freie Satz:
The series of tones thus created in the Urlinie, represents diatony (Diatonie).
In the narrowest sense, Diatony belongs only to the Urlinie. But, in accord
with its origin, it simultaneously governs the whole contrapuntal setting [of
the Ursatz], including the bass arpeggiation and the passing tones . . ..
Diatony therefore does not stem from the so-called Greek or Gregorian
modes, but rather from the composing-out process, which is governed by the
principle of the fifth.21

In other words, diatonic scales are not the basis of functional monotonality; rather they result from composing out triadic prototypes.
But Schenker went further. Since he believed that tonal surfaces could be fully chromatic, Schenker proposed that modal and
exotic effects could be produced by mixture and tonicization. For
example, in the Harmonielehre, he included two charts that demonstrate how various modal inflections can arise from varying degrees
of mixture (see figure 4.2, Schenkers account of mixture).22 Figure
4.2a shows the major system, with its natural third, sixth, and seventh degrees, on the top staff, whereas the minor system, with its
lowered third, sixth, and seventh degrees, appears on the bottom
staff. Between these two extremes, there are six rows, each one corresponding to the six possible combinations of natural and lowered
degrees. In Rows 1, 2 and 3, the lowered third, sixth, and seventh
degrees appear individually: Row 1 illustrates the ascending melodic

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 4.2. Schenkers account of mixture.


a. Schenker, Harmonielehre, par. 41, p. 110.

minor scale and Row 3 Mixolydian mode. In Rows 4, 5, and 6, the


various pairs of lowered degrees occur: Row 4 illustrates the harmonic minor scale and Row 5 Dorian mode. The arrows along the
right hand side of figure 4.2a indicate that mixture can occur in
varying degrees.23 Figure 4.2b lists the tonic, subdominant, and
dominant triads for each row.24 Since simple mixture cannot
account for all modal inflections, Schenker was forced to invoke
tonicization as well. For example, to explain so-called Lydian mode,
Schenker suggested that  4 arises to tonicize 5; similarly, he suggested that Phrygian  II arises from a mixture within the minor system. Although he did not discuss Locrian mode, he presumably
derived it from mixtures of  2,  3, 5,  6, and  7.
Once Schenker realized that he could explain a wide range of
different modal inflections using mixture and tonicization, he was

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

149

Figure 4.2 (continued).


b. Schenker, Harmonielehre, par. 48, p. 117.

able to reject the notion that the modes were systems equivalent to
tonality. To quote him:
In dropping the Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Mixolydian rows we have
apparently reduced the number of possible relationships into which each
tone could enter, to the detriment of its vitality and egoism. However, this

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Explaining Tonality
loss is merely apparent only. The tone itself bravely stood its ground, and it
seems it was the tone itself that forced the artist to leave the door ajar for
relationships of a Mixolydian, Dorian, etc. character, even when the artist
no longer believed in the validity of those systems.25

As he explained, If the so-called Dorian and Mixolydian qualities


are established by the major and minor systems alone (these understood correctly, of course), then why should we burden ourselves
with still more independent systems?26
Schenker made similar claims about the origins of exotic inflections in functional monotonal contexts. At the start of Kontrapunkt 1,
he outlined the traditional view of exotic scales:
Finally, a parallel exists in that the Orientals, exactly like our ancestors
and this is proof enough!submit to the puerile preoccupation with scale
systems they commit to paper simply by following the horizontal direction of
the melodies. They assume, for example, a pentatonic system consisting of
five degrees: C D E. G A.C or C D E. G A.C; or a heptatonic system consisting of seven degrees: F G A B C D E F (Chinese), D E F G A B C D
(Japanese), C D E F G A B C (Gypsy), F G A B C D F (Chinese wholetone scale), or C D E F G A B C (Indian), and so forth. In addition,
all these so-called systems, like our old church modes, can begin with any
of its tones, whereby the number of systems is increased to monstrous
proportions.27

But once again, he suggested that these phenomena stem not from
alternative systems, but from transformations within the tonal
system:
Skillful artists, still, have always successfully limited the problem of musical
exoticism in practice. They solved it by attempting to make the original
melodies of foreign peoples (often original only because of their imperfections and awkwardness) accessible to us through the refinements of our two
tonal systems. They expressed the foreign character in our major and minor
such superiority in our art, such flexibility in our systems!28

In short, Schenker did not deny that Common-Practice composers


wrote music that sometimes sounds modal or exotic; rather, he denied
that these inflections can be explained merely by invoking various
independent scale systems. In place of this plethora of scale systems,
Schenker drew on just two processes: mixture and tonicization. This

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

151

step represents a remarkable simplification of theoretical concepts. To


see the consequences of Schenkers arguments, let us now see how he
analyzed some specific pieces with clear modal inflections.

Schenkerian Theory and Modal Inflections


Schenker offered his most detailed account of modal inflections at
the opening of the Harmonielehre in two chapters entitled Die
brigen Systeme (Kirchentonarten) and Mischungen.29 Here he
used the notions of mixtures and tonicization to analyze various
modal passages from works of the Common-Practice Period. One
extract that he discussed in particular detail is given in figure 4.3
(Beethoven, Heiliger Dankgesang, String Quartet in A Minor,
Op. 132).30 Beethoven apparently completed this piece after recovering from a serious illness in 1825. He celebrated his recovery by
inscribing the score with the phrase Holy Song of Thanksgiving to
the Divinity by a Convalescent, in the Lydian Mode.31 As if to
underscore the highly personal nature of the movement,
Beethoven even marked the contrasting D-major sections Feeling
new strength and the final section With most intimate feeling.
Although much has been written about this remarkable movement, most commentators take for granted that the opening section is indeed in Lydian mode. The signs are clear enough. As
Schenker himself pointed out, there is the chorale-like feel of the
half notes, the strong tendency to use triads in root position, the
clear avoidance of any extreme chromaticisms, and perhaps most
significantly of all, the consistent preference for B rather than B.32
Given these factors and Beethovens own title, the case for a Lydian
interpretation seems almost overwhelming.
Yet, while Schenker certainly acknowledged the strong modal
tendencies of the Heiliger Dankgesang, he insisted that these
traits stem not from the Lydian system per se, but from chromaticisms within the overall key of F major:
It could be objected that the two Bs in measures 5 and 23 (first and fourth
part) are incompatible with F major and can be explained only if we presuppose the Lydian system as [the] basic key. This objection can be countered:
The two Bs, as they appear here, are in no way incompatible with our F

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 4.3. Beethoven, Heiliger Dankegesang, String Quartet, Op. 132. From
Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 47.

major. They result from a trivial chromatic trick, which we use everyday and
on only slight occasion to emphasize the cadence and to underline the F
major character of the composition.33

In Schenkers opinion, [I]t is true that the composers intention to


avoid the B-flat is particularly noticeablean intention which, in
art, unfailingly entails punishment; it is not true, however, that, in
accordance with that intention, the Lydian mode is presented convincingly.34
Schenkers own analysis divides the opening section into five
parts. The first ends with a deceptive cadence in F major (mm. 56);

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

153

Figure 4.4. Graph of Beethoven, Heiliger Dankegesang, String Quartet, Op. 132.

the second, modulates to C major and ends with an imperfect


authentic cadence (mm. 1112); the third is in C major and closes
with a half cadence (mm. 1718); the fourth leads back from C
major to a perfect authentic cadence in F major (mm. 2324); and
the fifth modulates to D major and ends with a half cadence (mm.
2930).35
The ramifications of this analysis are shown in figure 4.4 (Graph
of Beethoven, Heiliger Dankgesang, String Quartet, Op. 132). It
suggests that the passage is built from a distinctive prototype
II6V/VVI or VI. As shown in figure 4.4a, this prototype controls
the opening phrase of the movement. Notice how the progression
from II6 is mirrored by a descent from A to F in the upper voice.
Figure 4.4b then shows how this same pattern governs the opening
section as a whole. The local motion to V in mm. 45 is now projected as the larger tonicization of C in mm. 1112. Beethoven eventually returns to F via the I6 in m. 20. This sonority leads to the

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Explaining Tonality

prominent cadential progression V/VVI in mm. 2324. Beethoven


now presents the rising inner line CDEF in the alto rather than
the tenor voice. Despite the obvious modal tendencies of the surface,
there are several clues that the music does not conform to the principles of sixteenth-century polyphony. For example, the descending
fifths ADG in m. 7 of the second violin part are unlikely in Palestrinas style, as are the successions CFGBC in mm. 1112 and
CACAGFBC in mm. 2528.
As it happens, the reading in figure 4.4 stands in direct contrast
to the one presented in a paper by Kevin Korsyn. Besides many differences in detail, the most striking divergence between the two
analyses is that the former is in F major, whereas the latter is interpreted in F Lydian. Although Korsyns sketch purports to be
Schenkerian in nature, it is very hard to reconcile with Schenkers
own interpretation.36 For Schenker, the power of the tonal system
was ultimately much greater than that of the Lydian system:
[Beethoven] had no idea that behind his back there stood that
higher force of Nature [that] led his pen, forcing his composition
into F major while he himself was sure he was composing in the
Lydian mode, merely because that was his conscious will and intention.37 He added, Is that not marvelous? And yet it is so?
Before leaving Schenkers explanation of Lydian inflections, it is
worth noting that he used much the same arguments in his analysis of
Chopins Mazurka Op. 24, no. 2 in Kontrapunkt 1. According to him:
With this passage, however, Chopin by no means intends to establish the
old [Lydian] system as equivalent (to major and minor) and as independent;
this is sufficiently clear from the refined artistry he uses in the introduction
as well as the harmonization in general to provide the listener with the
absolute certainty of only C major and F major.38

Schenker concluded, Thus, the passage in question simply contains a few features of artist archaism, a highly ingenious trick, such
as could befall Chopin occasionally in the midst of his fantastic
improvisations.39
Whereas Schenker drew on the concept of tonicization to
explain the Lydian features of Beethovens Heiliger Dankgesang,
he invoked the notion of mixture to explain the Dorian qualities of
the music shown in figure 4.5 (Brahmss song Vergangen ist mir

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

155

Figure 4.5. Brahms, Vergangen ist mir Gluck und Heil, Op. 14, no. 6. From
Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 50.

Glck und Heil, Op. 48, no. 6). These qualities are not hard to
spot. The song is written in four-part chorale style and is clearly
centered on the tonic D. Except for a single B triad in m. 23,
Brahms consistently favors the pitch B to its diatonic counterpart.
To emphasize the modal qualities even further, Brahms frequently
uses the lowered leading tone, C.
Nonetheless, Schenker insisted that these modal inflections
stem not from the Dorian system, but from mixtures within the key
of D minor. His analysis is worth quoting at length:
The artist here clearly aims at writing in Dorian mode on D. This results
from the mere fact that he omitted the key signature B in a composition
really written in D minor. Brahms, too, guided by his desire to compose in

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Explaining Tonality
Dorian mode (just like Beethoven, in the previous example, aiming at the
Lydian) strictly avoids any B with one single exception in the second-to-last
measure.40

He continued:
And yet I insist: None of the Bs occurring in this beautiful chorale is to be
derived, as Brahms believed, from the Dorian scale as such; we must substitute, rather the following explanations. The first bars constitute, basically,
the A minor scale; hence the B is justified merely in consideration of that
key. It is true that, with the C of m. 2, the composition changes to D minor.
If in this D minor the IV Stufe is presented with the third B natural rather
than with the diatonic third B, the idea of D minor remains nevertheless
alive in the listener. More than that, we recognize here the very B natural
which we employ in our daily practice in D major/minor (cf. par. 38ff.) and,
to boot, in this same sequence IV3V3, without sacrificing in any way the
identity of the D minor! That Brahms abstains from using the B in the subsequent development (mm. 1013) is simply explained by the motion that
the composition is taking toward C major.41

Schenker concluded, This example, too, demonstrates how music


itself holds on to the minor mode even where the artists intention
aims at the Dorian system.42
As it stands, Schenkers analysis leaves a lot to be desired. For
one thing, the opening phrase does not really center on A minor;
on the contrary, it clearly moves to a half cadence in D minor. For
another, mm. 1013 may indeed move towards C major, but this
motion is temporary to say the least. In fact, the goal of the progression is the cadence in D at m. 16. An alternative interpretation
is given in figure 4.6 (Graph of Brahms, Vergangen ist mir Glck
und Heil, Op. 48, no. 6). The most obvious feature of this piece is
that it repeats two basic chunks of material: mm. 16 are repeated
as mm. 611, and mm. 1116 are repeated as mm. 1722. The piece
ends with a single three-bar phrase. The tonal structure of mm. 16
(611) is particularly intriguing and provides clues to the layout of
the piece as a whole. The passage consists of two distinct phrases:
mm. 13 move from the tonic chord D (m. 1) to a half cadence on
A (m. 3); mm. 46 then move back from the dominant (m. 4) to a
perfect authentic cadence on the tonic D (m. 6). From a contrapuntal perspective, the motion to the dominant in mm. 23 (78)
is quite distinctive; it is marked by a clear melodic motion

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

157

Figure 4.6. Graph of Brahms, Vergangen ist mir Glck und Heil, Op. 14, no. 6.

ACBAGFE over a bass motion AEFCDA. The


descending trajectory of this figure culminates in the motion from
E to D at the cadence in mm. 56 (1011). Seen in this context,
the Bs in mm. 2 (7), 4 (9), and 5 (10) all arise as simple mixtures,
while the Cs in mm. 3 (8), 4 (9), and 5 (10) serve to tonicize D.
If we compare the counterpoint of the first chunk with that of
the second, we see that the former is a variant of the latter. The second chunk begins with a sequential motion from a triad on A to a
triad on C in mm. 1114 (1720). This motion is answered by a
progression EFCDAD that recalls the progression in mm. 23
(78). This time, however, the soprano motion BAGFE is
buried in the inner voices: BA appear in the alto, GFE occur in
the tenor. The new soprano follows the alto line of mm. 23 (78).
Once again, the Bs in mm. 12 (17), 13 (18), 15 (20) arise as mixtures and the C in m. 16 (21) serves to tonicize D. The closing
three-bar phrase (mm. 2224) then mirrors the end of the first
chunk: the final cadential descent is almost identical in both cases,
AGED. In both cases the Dorian traits arise from the process of
simple mixture.
It should be clear from the preceding analyses of the Heiliger
Dankgesang and Vergangen ist mir Glck und Heil that in
Schenkers mind, Beethoven and Brahms were able to simulate
modal music using the resources of the tonal system. Instead of
invoking separate Lydian or Dorian systems, he explained these
inflections through the concepts of mixture and tonicization.
Schenker drew on these same ideas in his discussions of other
modal pieces. In Kontrapunkt 1, for example, he claimed that,

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Explaining Tonality

although the chorale melody Gelobet seist du Jesu Christ might


appear to have a Mixolydian quality, Bachs settings are obviously
grounded in G major.43 And, in his discussion of Hasslers melody
O Sacred Head Sore Wounded in Der freie Satz, Schenker mentioned that Bachs settings of the tune paid only an outward tribute to the Phrygian System that people of the time believed in.
Instead he regarded the melody as firmly rooted in the major mode.44

Schenkerian Theory and Exotic Inflections


So far we have seen how Schenker used the concepts of mixture
and tonicization to explain modal inflections in functional monotonal pieces from the Common-Practice Period. But what about
exotic inflections? How did he explain their appearance in CommonPractice composition? As mentioned earlier, it seems that Schenker
conceived of exotic inflections in much the same way that he treated
modal inflections. This suggests that they, too, can be explained by
mixtures and tonicizations. Once again, Schenker provided his most
suggestive account of the matter in Kontrapunkt I:
Think, for example, of Haydns and Beethovens Schottische Lieder, Schuberts unique Divertissement lhongroise, the Hungarian Dances by Brahms,
the Slavonic Dances by Dvork and the Norwegian Dances by Grieg, as well
as Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov, among others. The point in all these
cases was not to loosen our system in order to incorporate a foreign one, but,
on the contrary, to use our major and minor systems to express the foreign
element, which does justice in a certain sense to a primeval state of music
but needs to be adjusted in some way to suit the needs of a more advanced art.45

Unfortunately, Schenker did not support his assertion with extensive analyses of these pieces; of the works listed above, he offered
only a brief sketch of mm. 115 of Schuberts Divertissement lhongroise, Op. 54, in Der freie Satz (Fig. 89.2).
But elsewhere Schenker left us with more concrete clues about
how we might derive specific exotic effects. For example, in a brief
discussion of Chopins Black-Key Etude in G, Op. 10, no. 5, he
gave a hint at how he might explain the works apparently pentatonic surface (see figure 4.7, Chopin, Etude, Op. 10, no. 5). Having
taken exception to Leichentritts scalar explanation, Schenker

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

159

Figure 4.7. Chopin, Etude, Op. 10, no. 5. From Schenker, The Masterwork in
Music 1, p. 92.

claimed that the melody derives from orthodox tonal transformations:


The right-hand figuration is no jolly tune, still less has it anything to do
with a pentatonic scale. The omission of C and F from the figuration is
explicable solely in terms of the association of the third progression
BAG with the neighbour-tone motive DED, i.e., the association of

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 4.8. Graph of Debussy, Prlude LAprs-midi dun faune? mm. 3037.

two perfectly good diatonic motives; as soon as the other voices contribute
the C and F to these, the major diatonic mode [Dur-Diatonie] is secured.46

The third progression and neighbor-tone motive are marked on the


score in figure 4.7.
Taking the last example a bit further, we can begin to see how
Schenkerian theory might explain intrusions of whole-tone material. The notion that whole-tone material can be explained within
the tonal system is not, of course, without precedent. On the contrary, writers such as Schoenberg and Tovey have suggested that
they often stem from altered dominant harmonies.47 But from a
Schenkerian perspective, such phenomena can be explained with
much greater precision. Consider, for a moment, mm. 3037 from
Debussys Prlude LAprs-midi dun faune.48 This passage divides
into two parts: the first contains a diminution of the famous flute
theme set against the whole-tone collection BCDFGA,
whereas the second contains another statement against the other
whole-tone collection CDEFGA. Meanwhile, figure 4.8
(Graph of Debussy, Prlude LAprs-midi dun faune, mm.
3039) suggests that these harmonies arise from a complex prolongation of a dominant Stufe.49 The upper line is created by a motion
from an inner voice: F in m. 30 ascends by step through G, A, B,
and C, to C in m. 37. The inner parts mirror this succession: the
viola part moves up from B through C (mm. 3133) to D and E

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

161

(mm. 3436); the second violin part moves up from F through G


(mm. 3133), G and A (mm. 3436); and the cello, bass, and bassoon parts move up from C through D and D (mm. 3133) to E, F
and F (mm. 3436). The final sonority in m. 36 (FAEC)
functions as an altered secondary dominant (V7/5 of V) that
resolves onto V9 of E in m. 37.
If we become more adventurous still, we can use Schenkerian
theory to explain even more radical pieces, such as the opening of
Stravinskys Petrouchka. This famous passage has been analyzed
from many standpoints. One of the most influential is summarized
here in figure 4.9 (Van den Toorns analysis of the opening of
Stravinskys Petrouchka). Although he concedes that the first
Tableau does not contain any blocks of explicit octatonic material,
van den Toorn insists that the chromatic (non-diatonic) pitch
elements and intervals . . . may be heard and interpreted as referentially octatonic, as prompting a form of diatonic-octatonic
interpenetration.50 In particular, he regards the notes in the passage (see figure 4.9a) as an interaction between a D or Dorian scale
transposed onto E (top line of figure 4.9b) and an octatonic scale
beginning on E (bottom line of figure 4.9c). Van den Toorn apparently invokes both scales because the D scale on E lacks the crucial
F and the octatonic scale has an extra B and A. According to
him, this diatonic-octatonic interaction is a matter of consequence because it anticipates the (more) fully committed Collection III framework of The Petrouchka Chord in the second
tableau.51
Instead of treating this material as a by-product of interacting
diatonic and octatonic systems, it can be regarded as a Schenkerian
transformation of a D triad. Here, the upper line descends by step
DCBA and the lower parts move by neighbor progressions
AGA and DED. Notice how Stravinsky avoids parallel fifths
for the final tonic by suspending the B to create a 65 succession.
Within this pattern, the C serves to tonicize D and the B arises as
a mixture, thereby averting a diminished supertonic Stufe, and creating the all-important motivic tetrachord. What makes this alternative reading so interesting is that it is not so different from the
one we gave for Brahmss song Vergangen ist mir Glck und Heil
in figure 4.6. In fact, the two explanations are similar because the

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 4.9. Van den Toorns analysis of the opening of Stravinsky, Petrouchka.
From Van den Toorn, The Music of Igor Stravinsky, Exx. 20 and 21.

pitch content of both passages is exactly the same, even though the
two pieces sound quite different stylistically. This point is all the
more ironic if we recall the two progressions given in figures 4.1c and
4.1d: not only do these two progressions have exactly the same pitchclass content, but these pitches belong to the same octatonic scale,
DEFGABBCD. Whether or not we regard these passages
as genuinely octatonic is a matter for debate, but the two examples
should certainly erode our blind faith in The Myth of Scales.

Schenkerian Theory and the Emergence of


Functional Tonality
So far, we have seen how Schenkerian theory explains modal and
exotic inflections as they appear in functional monotonal contexts.

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

163

Through mixture and tonicization, the theory can account for a


wide array of such effects. Surprisingly perhaps, this claim fits in
nicely with Carl Dahlhauss views about nineteenth-century harmonic practice:
Regardless of the milieu being depicted, exoticism and folklorism almost
invariably make do with the same technical devices: pentatonicism, the
Dorian sixth and Mixolydian seventh, the raised second and augmented
fourth, non-functional chromatic coloration, and finally bass drones, ostinatos, and pedal points as central axes.52

In other words, nineteenth-century composers created generically


exotic and modal music; they did not compose music that authentically recreated music from another specific culture.
Now this is an important point because it suggests that, as it
stands, Schenkerian theory cannot explain the behavior of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century music adequately. Indeed, just as
the laws of functional tonal voice leading and harmony must be
modified in order to explain the behavior of much twentiethcentury tonal music, so they must also be altered to explain these
earlier repertories. Let us now see if we can use the simple processes of adding voices and changing harmonic environments
to explain the emergence of triadic composition in the fifteenth
century and the shift from Prima to Seconda Prattica in the seventeenth century.
Although there have been many attempts to explain the rise of
tonality, one of the most provocative has been offered by Don
Randel in his paper, Emerging Triadic Tonality in the Fifteenth
Century.53 Focusing on the origins of perfect authentic cadences,
he claims that triadic tonality came to the fore when contrapuntal textures thickened from three to four voices (see figure 4.10,
Cadences in fifteenth-century music). Randel notes that there are
several ways to cadence in three-voice texturessome involve step
motion in the bass (figures 4.10ab), whereas others involve the
leap of a fifth in the bass (figures 4.10ce). But when a fourth voice
is added, only one cadence satisfies the laws of counterpoint and
that has a leap of a fifth in the bass (figure 4.10f).54 Randel suggests
that it is not anachronistic to label these last two harmonies with
the Roman numerals V and I.55

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 4.10. Cadences in fifteenth-century music. From Randel, Emerging


Triadic Tonality in the Fifteenth Century, Exx. 1ae and Ex. 2.

Obviously, Randels general observation about the addition of a


voice is perfectly in sync with the arguments presented in chapter 1.
Indeed, his paper was an important stimulus for this discussion. But
it is important to stress that triadic tonality is not quite the same
thing as functional tonality; on the contrary, the latter not only
requires that triads are the norm, but it also requires that these
triads are related functionally according to the system of Stufen

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

165

established for the major-minor system in figure 1.11. This amounts


to shifting from the The Triadic Constraint to The Stufe Constraint. Now, this change in harmonic environment has several
implications for Randels argument. For one thing, it prevents us
from classifying the progression in figure 4.12f as tonal in a functional sense; in such contexts, the alto line normally lands on  3,
not 5 in the final chord. For another, The Stufe Constraint
excludes progressions like IIII6 from occurring in tonal contexts;
such chord successions violate the functionality of Common-Practice
music. Since The Stufe Constraint is more restrictive than The
Triadic Constraint, it seems that there is more to functionality
than the simple addition of voices; other constraints are required,
and these require subtle changes in the laws of counterpoint. To
cite an obvious case in point, since we know that sequences are far
more common in tonal music than in modal music and since we
saw in chapter 3 that they can be derived from strings of parallel
thirds or sixths that ascend or descend by step in a single direction,
we can surmise that functional tonality emerged as composers
began to experiment with these new contrapunttal configurations.
In other words, although Randel may be right that some aspects of
functional tonality began to emerge even before 1500, it is not
clear that all aspects were present. Certainly we can frequently find
cadential progressions like those shown in figure 4.10f, but it does
not follow that they operate within the larger array given in figure
1.11. Until we are sure that they do, we should be cautious about
using Roman numeral analysis for this repertory.
Using the same arguments, we can also clarify the meaning of
Tinctoriss term res facta. Although this term has been the subject
of considerable controversy, Bonnie Blackburn has given a particularly careful reading of Tinctoriss texts.56 She suggests that
Tinctoris specifically associated the term counterpoint with twovoice textures either in note-against-note or florid style.57 According
to her:
[R]es facta differs from counterpoint in that it consists of three, four, or more
parts . . . and these parts are mutually bound to each other according to the
law and order of concords, that is each part must follow the rules of counterpoint with respect to each other part, which is not true of counterpoint, in
which the added voice or voices need only be consonant with the tenor.58

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Explaining Tonality

Blackburn concludes that the differences are matters of compositional procedure; counterpoint is successive whereas res facta
may be composed simultaneously or successively.59 Nevertheless,
when Tinctoris claimed that res facta has three, four, or more
parts that are mutually bound to each other, he may have implied
that res facta is controlled, not by The Consonance Constraint,
but by The Triadic Constraint. As we saw in chapter 1, this condition allows us to explain why the interval of a fourth can behave as
a consonance or as a dissonance. Tinctoris made this point perfectly
clear in Liber de arte contrapuncti.60 For him, the distinction between
res facta and counterpoint seems to hinge on changing from one
harmonic environment to another, rather than on changing from
successive to simultaneous composition. This suggests that Tinctoris was already aware that the behavior of contrapuntal lines
changes according to the number of lines and the harmonic environment in which they appear.
Adding voices and changing harmonic environments have an
impact on the transition from Prima to Seconda Prattica around
1600. When we think about this topic, it is important to remember
that Fuxian species counterpoint is an abstraction from actual
musical practice; this is as true of sixteenth-century modal polyphony
as it is of eighteenth-century functional tonality. One important
difference is that whereas Fuxian counterpoint confines the preexistent material to a single voice, the cantus firmus, sixteenth-century
modal polyphony usually spreads the preexistent material imitatively throughout the entire texture. But other differences arise
because such music seems to conform to some general principles of
modal harmony. One writer who was fully aware of this point was
Knud Jeppesen; when he adapted Fuxian principles to cover Palestrinas style he included brief discussions of modal harmony.61 Other
scholars agree: for example, as Andrew Haigh has shown, each
mode had its characteristic pattern of distribution of harmonies and
cadences, which differed from all the rest.62 Although Haigh does
not present a picture of modal harmony analogous to the one given
for tonal harmony in figure 1.11, we know that the two pictures
would differ in some important respects. According to The Stufe
Constraint, for example, the behavior of each Stufe is the same in
each key; the only difference between one key and another is that

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

167

the individual Stufen are transposed. But, in modal contexts the


behavior of Stufen does change from one mode to another. For
example, whereas diminished triads appear only on VII in major
keys and II in minor keys, they appear on VI in Dorian, V in Phrygian, IV in Lydian, and III in Mixolydian. Furthermore, it is unclear
that modal harmony requires the complex system of chromatic
operations described in chapters 1 and 2. John Clough has even
suggested that there are subtle changes in the behavior of chromaticisms from the Renaissance to the Baroque.63
Once we distinguish modal and tonal harmony, we can clarify
the celebrated debate between Artusi and Monteverdi. In his infamous diatribe against modern music, Artusi complained about nine
extracts from Monteverdis madrigals Cruda Amarilli (Book 5,
1605) and Anima mia perdona (Book 4, 1603). These passages
apparently violate established laws of counterpoint, thereby bringing confusion and imperfection of no little consequence.64 Monteverdi, however, defended his actions on the grounds that he
followed a new way thinking, so-called Seconda Prattica, rather than
the established laws of Prima Prattica.65 Such deviations were motivated by a desire to make the words the mistress of the harmony.66
However, we can offer a slightly different explanation: Monteverdi
did not follow the precepts of Prima Prattica because he was interested in exploring an environment that was richer in its harmonic
functions. In fact, many of the irregular dissonances in Monteverdis music can be explained using the same procedures that
Schenker used in chapter 1. For example, figures 4.11ac (The
Artusi-Monteverdi debate) list the first three passages cited by
Artusi. Figures 4.11df then show how these dissonances arise
either from implied register transfers or from motion between different contrapuntal voices. Furthermore, the passages show a
marked tendency towards the progression I6VII6I and away from
the string IIII6. In short, Artusis criticisms miss the mark because
they interpret Monteverdis music within the wrong harmonic
environment; as we have seen, changing from a modal to a tonal
environment has an enormous effect on voice leading.
The preceding discussion has touched on some of the issues
that arise in formulating an appropriate set of laws of voice leading
and harmony for modal music. We have seen not only that the laws

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 4.11. The Artusi-Monteverdi debate. From Strunk, Source Readings in


Music History, p. 395.

governing modal voice leading and harmony are different from


those governing functional monotonality, but also that they are different from those governing Fuxian strict counterpoint. This suggests that strict counterpoint, modal counterpoint, and functional
tonality can be connected along the lines shown in figure 4.12
(Renaissance modal polyphony and functional tonality). Figure
4.12 makes no claims about whether or not we can express the laws
of modal counterpoint recursively as prototypes/transformations
and whether pieces in a particular mode can be generated from
specific prototypes. Recent work by Panayotis Mavromatis gives us
good reason to be optimistic, but until we have pinned down the
precise laws of voice leading and harmony for modal music, we

Schenker and The Myth of Scales

169

Figure 4.12. Renaissance modal polyphony and functional tonality.

cannot hope to deal with the issue adequately.67 In the meantime,


we can be content to know that Schenkerian theory has at least
given us a theoretical framework within which to tackle the problem.
To sum up, Schenker rejected The Myth of Scales not because
scales and modes are irrelevant to music theory, but rather because
they have only limited explanatory value. Although they provide
us with useful categories for classifying melodic lines, scales and
modes are much less effective at explaining how melodic lines
behave in functional triadic contexts. Schenkers response to this
shortcoming was simple; instead of deriving music from scales or
modes, he believed that these scales arise from composing out
essential harmonies. They are products, rather than primitives
within the system. This does not mean that major and minor scales
have no part in Schenkerian theory; among other things, their
effect can still be felt in his decision to classify his essential harmonies into seven Stufen. But it does mean that they have little

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Explaining Tonality

explanatory power. Although some will find this concern with parsimony quite liberating, others will find it utterly perverse. After
all, scales and modes are among our most cherished theoretical
concepts. And yet, recent research by music psychologists has also
challenged The Myth of Scales. Mary Louise Serafine, for example, has suggested that scales . . . have figured disproportionately
in music research, chiefly through their influence on the design and
conception of studies.68 David Huron has reached similar conclusions: according to him, In comparison to most of the worlds
music, Western music tends to be highly harmonically oriented.
Where scales provide the basis for predominantly melodic music,
examining the harmonic properties of these scales may be inappropriate.69 It is remarkable that we are only just beginning to realize
the full implications of Schenkers most audacious ideas.

Pleasure is the Law


Although music theorists aim to make their theories as accurate,
broad, consistent, and simple as possible, they are also keen to
apply them to situations or phenomena for which those theories
were not originally intended. By casting the empirical net ever
wider, theorists can not only test the limits of their work, but they
can also open up new avenues of research. Such extensions are
signs of the theorys fruitfulness. And so it is for Schenkerians.
There would seem to be two main ways in which Schenkerians can
achieve these goals. First, they can apply their methods to music
that lies outside Schenkers original core sample. This is not a difficult step to take because Schenker focused his attention on pieces
by a fairly narrow range of composers, from Bach to Brahms; it is
quite easy to think of other composers whose music has many of the
same tonal properties. Second, they can use their explanations of a
works harmony and voice leading to illuminate other aspects of its
composition. In fact, Schenkers own analyses often provide crucial
insights about a works thematic, rhythmic, and formal structure.
This chapter tackles both of these issues by offering Schenkerian
analyses of two early songs by Claude Debussy: Cest lextase langoureuse from the Ariettes oublies (1887, 1903) and La mort des
amants from the Cinq pomes de Charles Baudelaire (188789).
I have chosen these pieces for two reasons. For one thing, although
Schenker dismissed Debussy for delighting in the mediocrity of
French taste, both songs have highly cultivated tonal structures.1
They clearly demonstrate Debussys intimate knowledge of functional monotonality. For another, by focusing on a pair of songs, we
can show how Schenkerian analysis sheds light not only on
Debussys tonal practices, but also on other aspects of his compositional technique. For convenience, the chapter has four main parts.

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Explaining Tonality

Part 1 considers some of the methodological problems that arise


when Debussys music is analyzed from a Schenkerian perspective.
We will see how, in principle at least, the theory deals with parallel
chords, dissonant prolongations, non-functional successions,
extreme chromaticism, modal/exotic inflections, incomplete structures, and parenthetical passages/interpolations. Next, Parts 2 and
3 use these ideas to present Schenkerian analyses of Debussys two
songs Cest lextase langoureuse and La mort des amants. In
particular, we will see how Schenkerian analysis can be fruitfully
used not only to explain many anomalous features of these works,
but also to provide fresh insights about their formal structure and
meaning. Finally, Part 4 suggests how Schenkers ideas might be
expanded to explain some types of twentieth-century music.

The Limits of Schenkerian Theory


For anyone interested in testing the limits of Schenkerian theory,
Debussys music is an ideal subject. Although most of his works can
be classified as tonal in a general sense, they often extend or contradict the specific laws of functional monotonality. As Debussys
contemporaries were quick to point out, his works challenge almost
every aspect of functional voice leading and harmony.2 In terms of
its voice leading, Debussys music often violates traditional laws
prohibiting parallel chords and free dissonances; not only does
it contain strings of parallel triads, sevenths, and ninths, but it
frequently treats dissonances without preparation or resolution.
In terms of its harmony, his music is infused with non-functional
progressions, extreme chromaticism, and modal/exotic inflections.
To complicate matters further, these works often disrupt the principles of tonal closure and continuity through their use of incomplete
structures and interpolations. As a result, they may behave functionally at a local level, but quite differently at a global level.
Debussy was, of course, well aware of these issues; throughout
his letters and journal articles, he launched a bitter campaign against
the value of conventional music theory and what he regarded as its
silly obsession with overprecise forms and tonality. 3 For example,
in a letter to Pierre Lous (22 January 1895), Debussy denounced

Pleasure is the Law

173

accepted notions of chord function, claiming that tonic and dominant had become empty shadows of use only to stupid children.4
Similarly, he rejected traditional distinctions between consonance
and dissonance: Nothing is more mysterious than a consonant
chord! Despite all theories, both old and new, we are still not sure,
first, why it is consonant, and second, why the other chords have to
bear the stigma of being dissonant.5 Elsewhere he scoffed at any
prohibition against parallel sonorities and even proposed that
tonality should be fully chromatic and enriched by other scales.6
According to him, There is no theory. You simply have to listen.
Pleasure is the law.7
When viewed against the backdrop of nineteenth-century tonal
theory, then, Debussys music seems to defy explanation; it is hardly
surprising that contemporary theorists were able only to catalog
and classify each anomaly. But for Schenkerians, the situation is
rather different. Since Schenker explained similar anomalies in the
music by composers of the Common-Practice Period, the main
issue is to decide whether the deviant aspects of Debussys music are
matters of degree or of kind.8 And since we cannot be sure when
Schenkerian theory ceases to be applicable, we must consider each
piece, case by case. With those thoughts in mind, let us now see
how Schenkerian theory explains many of the anomalies found in
Debussys music.
Few aspects of Debussys music are more striking and more problematic than his fondness for parallel chords. Widely discussed by
his contemporaries, parallel triads and sevenths appear throughout
Debussys music, and may even extend for considerable periods of
time. Debussy was not, however, the first composer to indulge in
such practices; on the contrary, we can find examples of the same
phenomenon in various works from the Common-Practice Period.
A particularly good example comes from Chopins Mazurka Op. 30,
no. 4 (see figure 5.1a, Parallel dominant seventh chords). From a
conventional standpoint, this passage is extremely problematic
because it projects a string a parallel dominant seventh chords;
such strings do not normally occur in functional contexts. Yet,
Schenker thought that the passage could be explained as a string of
implied suspensions. His sketch from Der freie Satz, given here as
figure 5.1b, derives the chain of parallel sevenths from an underlying

174
Figure 5.1. Parallel dominant seventh chords.
a. Chopin, Mazurka, Op. 30 no. 4

b. Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 54.6.

c. Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 53.3.

e. Alternative sketch of Chopin, Mazurka, Op. 30, no. 4.

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175

succession 5, 45, 45.9 But this derivation does require clarification.


As Schenker showed in another graph, the passage in question
actually occurs within a larger progression IVI in C minor (see
figure 5.1c).10 The various unfolding symbols suggest that the passage arises from a motion between different polyphonic voices,
especially the soprano D# and the alto F#. This idea is clarified in
figure 5.1d. Here, the unfolding of the sixth D F is filled out
chromatically and supported by a string of parallel thirds and sixths
in the manner described in chapter 3. Since these parallel sonorities are created contrapuntally by combinations of non-harmonic
tones, they do not violate Schenkers revised laws of tonal voice
leading that we discussed in chapter 1.
Another hallmark of Debussys style is his free handling of dissonances. In tonal contexts, dissonances always behave in narrowly
circumscribed ways. They are generally thought to derive from seventh chords with the seventh invariably resolving down by step.
Although the seventh is normally prepared in secondary sevenths,
such as II7 or IV7, this is not always the case for dominant and leadingtone sevenths. Debussy, however, often treated dissonances in bold
new ways: as Ren Lenormand and others have noted, he not only
introduced many new forms of dissonance, but he also used them
without preparation or resolution and even prolonged them for
long periods of time. Once again, we can find precedents for these
licenses in earlier repertories. Take, for example, the opening nine
measures of Bachs Prelude in A, BWV 942. As shown in figure
5.2a (Free dissonances), this remarkable passage is filled with pungent dissonances. For example, on the second beat of m. 1, the right
hand leaps from the consonant tone A to the dissonant D. More
remarkably, perhaps, the final beat of m. 2 contains the triplets
DCB in the right hand against A in the left hand.
While it is hard to explain the dissonances in figure 5.2a in
conventional terms, it is much easier to explain them from a
Schenkerian perspective. This is because Schenker proposed that
all non-harmonic tones ultimately stem from linear motion between
Stufen. Through displacements, ellipses, and motion between voices,
his theory can explain a much wider range of non-harmonic tones
than its rivals.11 Schenker even coined the term Tonkltze to
describe sonorities in which non-harmonic tones are fused with

176
Figure 5.2. Free dissonances.
a. Bach, Prelude in A Minor, BWV 942.

177
Figure 5.2 (continued).
a. Bach, Prelude in A Minor, BWV 942 (continued).

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.2 (continued).


bd. Graphs of Bach, Prelude in A Minor, BWV 942.

harmonic tones.12 Added-sixth chords are a good case in point:


such sonorities arise when the fifth of a triad is elaborated with its
upper neighbor. Since Schenker believed that non-harmonic tones
arise contrapuntally, he accepted that tonal surfaces can be almost
continually dissonant, provided that all non-harmonic tones move
between triadic intervals. Such motion need not, however, be

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179

confined to the surface of the piece; on the contrary, it can be


generated at deep structural levels.
Figures 5.2b to 5.2d present a slightly modified version of
Schenkers sketch of it shown in figure 5.2a.13 According to this
reading, it can be derived from a simple progression in
IV/IVIVV7I in A minor (see figure 5.2b). The opening tonic is
then connected contrapuntally to the V/IV sonority in m. 7 by a
string of passing chords (see figure 5.2c). Finally, figure 5.2d shows
how the striking dissonances mentioned above are created both by
moving from one contrapuntal voice to another and by displacing,
eliding, and subverting the voices in various ways. Schenker had no
doubt whatsoever that the surface of this prelude could be completely explained by the principles of tonal voice leading: on the
contrary, at the end of his essay he claimed that his reading
demonstrates how the necessities of voice-leading prompt the
imagination of a genius to find solutions that not only meet such
needs but transcend them, radiating excellence and beauty in all
directions.14
Along with his use of parallel chords and free dissonances,
Debussy is also famous for his fascination with non-functional
successions. According to conventional wisdom, harmonic progressions are classified as non-functional if they do not follow the scheme:
tonicpre-dominantdominanttonic. Schenker, however, was far
less rigid in his prognosis; although he accepted the functional
priority of I and V, he believed that the behavior of other Stufen
depends primarily on the necessities of voice leading. This approach
proves especially useful for explaining the behavior of non-functional
successions. Take, for example, mm. 6587 from the first movement
of Beethovens Appassionata Sonata (see figure 5.3, Non-functional successions).15 Although the bass projects as a non-functional string of major thirds (AECA), Schenker suggested
that this string is generated from the upper voice counterpoint and
not from some third cycle. According to him, the upper voice
inserts enharmonic material so as to avoid the direct chromatic succession CC. Elsewhere, he also noted that the bass line does not
arpeggiate a single Stufe; it simply transfers the primary note A from
one register to another.16 In other words, the string of major thirds is
produced by the voice leading; it is an effect and not a cause.

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.3. Non-functional successions. Beethoven, Appassionata Sonata,


Op. 57, 1st movement, mm. 6287. From Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 114.8.

Debussys music is no less remarkable for its pervasive use of


chromaticism. Again, this is something that Schenkerian theory is
particularly well equipped to explain.17 As we saw in previous chapters, Schenker treated chromaticism as an essential feature of the
tonal system and even claimed that composers can never write too
chromatically in tonal contexts.18 Schenker explained these chromaticisms in two ways: as mixtures or tonicizations. Through these
processes, he was able to generate almost the entire range of chromatic Stufen directly from I. The only exceptions, in fact, are Stufen
on IV/V and, according to The IV/V Hypothesis, such sonorities can be generated only indirectly from I. Besides claiming that
tonal surfaces can be almost continuously chromatic, Schenker also
recognized that the full range of chromatic tones can be generated
as far back as the deep middleground, provided these tones conform
with the basic principles of tonality. Given this constraint, William
Mitchell was quite right to suggest: The more intense the chromaticism, the greater the need to relate individual sonorities to a
broad context.19 We will refer to this as Mitchells Axiom.
Mitchells Axiom is particularly useful when we are confronted
with bold harmonic experiments, such as those found in a work like
The Representation of Chaos from Haydns Creation. As we saw
in chapter 2, Schenker explained the extraordinary surface of this
work as fallout from a massive fourth-progression in the bass that
extends from m. 1 to m. 40.
Yet, although Schenker was extremely flexible in his handling of highly chromatic music, he frequently criticized many latenineteenth-century composers not for writing too chromatically,
but rather for failing to treat these chromatic elements with sufficient
care and attention. He felt that these composers often failed to

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181

Figure 5.4. Extreme chromaticism. Graph of Reger, Piano Quintet, Op. 64,
mm. 18.

coordinate the harmony and voice leading: they either obscured


the sense of harmony altogether, or they stretched it too thin to
support or sustain with any security the complexities of the voice
leading.20 To illustrate his point, Schenker cited the opening of
Regers Piano Quintet, Op. 64. According to him:
The opening is by far the most flexible part of the first movement. What follows is in many respects more confused. But, I ask: do we really hear C minor
or is it rather in E major? What is the significance, in particular, of mm. 68
in themselves and in relation to the coherence of the whole? Not by chance
would the harmonic movement be difficult to perceive (obviously, considered in the context of E major-minor, it is perhaps as follows: I3II
[Phryg.]IV and finally II3 as if it wants to move to the dominant) the only
question remains: what does the motion of the Stufen tell us,from where
has it come, to where does it go? In what ways do these Stufen want to serve
directly the principal key of C minor and how should the alleged E majorminor finally present itself in relation to C minor? Where is the solution to
this problem? Nowhere in the work are there particulars concerning the
principal key, (and) only with effort do subsequent events refer to preceding
ones, and if one such connection occurs it is too paltry, too trivial, too
short.21

Schenker concludes: There is no plan to the keys; no plan in


the tonicized Stufeneverything is merely a large, homogeneous,
irrational mass. Figure 5.4 gives a possible reduction of mm. 18.
Another important consequence of Schenkers work is that it
offers a radically new way of explaining how modal and exotic
inflections can arise in tonal contexts; whereas conventional
theory explains them as products of some alternative scale system,
Schenkerian theory generates them from mixtures and tonicizations.

182

Explaining Tonality

As suggested in chapter 4, Schenker believed that composers


experimented with modal and exotic materials, not to undermine
the tonal system, but rather to reveal its flexibility and scope. We
adopted this strategy in chapter 4 to explain a wide variety of modal/
exotic pieces from Beethoven to Debussy. The great advantage of
this approach is that it allows us to show how composers can allude
to different modes and scale types within a single composition.
So far, we have considered some of the ways in which Debussy
challenged the local principles of tonal voice leading and harmony.
But these are by no means the only problems posed by his music.
On the contrary, Debussy also challenges the ways in which tonal
relationships are projected at a global level. This issue is important
because we have presumed that Schenkerian theory explains the
behavior of complete, continuous monotonal compositions. By
invoking the terms complete and continuous, we imply that it
may be possible for tonal pieces to be in some sense incomplete
and/or discontinuous. Significantly, Schenker considered both possibilities in his writings.
To begin with, Schenker discussed two ways in which pieces
might be classified as incomplete: those that do not present the
tonic at the opening and those that do not return to the tonic at
the end. He considered pieces of the first type near the end of Der
freie Satz in a section entitled Incomplete transferences of the
Ursatz.22 According to him, tonal compositions sometimes omit
the first tone of the bass arpeggiation. The resulting progression is
closed-off from what precedes it and points only to the forthcoming I.23 Schenker referred to these progressions as auxiliary
cadence progressions and cited the example of Chopins Prelude,
Op. 28, no. 2. As shown in figure 5.5a (Incomplete transference of
the Ursatz), he interpreted the piece as an auxiliary cadence progression in A minor. Schenker also acknowledged that pieces sometimes omit the final tonic. In the case of Bachs short prelude, BWV
999 (see Figure 5.5b), he suggested that the composed-out IV can
only be understood as a prelude.24 Schenker even cited one piece,
Chopins Mazurka, Op. 30, no. 2, in which it is unclear whether the
piece omits the opening or the final tonic. As shown in figure 5.5c,
he could not decide whether the Mazurka is in B or F.25 Another
possibility, however, is to conclude that the Mazurka actually

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183

Figure 5.5. Incomplete transferences of the Ursatz.


a. Chopin, Prelude, Op. 28, no. 2. From Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 110.3.

b. Bach, Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999. From Schenker, Der freie Satz , Fig. 152.6.

c. Chopin, Mazurka, Op. 30, no. 2. From Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 152.7.

progresses from B to F; many theorists refer to this option as


directional tonality or progressive tonality.26 Claiming that a work
moves from one key to another does not mean that the individual
keys necessarily violate the principles of functional tonality; on the
contrary, both keys can still satisfy every local law of tonal voice
leading and harmony. But it does mean that the piece as a whole
cannot be derived from a single tonal progression. In this respect,
directional tonality contradicts The Global Paradigm and challenges the preeminence of monotonality.
As for the matter of discontinuities, Schenker was fully aware
that the global motion of a piece can be sidetracked in various ways.
He made this point perfectly clear near the start of Der freie Satz:
In the art of music, as in life, motion toward the goal encounters obstacles,
reverses, disappointments, and involves great distances, detours, expansions,

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.6. Interpolations in Debussy, La srnade interrompue (Prludes, Book


1, no. 9).

interpolations, and, in short, retardations of all kinds. Therein lies the source
of all artistic delaying, from which the creative mind can derive content that
is ever new.27

Figure 5.6 (Interpolations in Debussy, La srnade interrompue,


Prludes, Book I, no. 9) gives a good example of these phenomena.
Although the piece is basically in B minor, Debussy disrupts the
tonic with two interpolations in D major, mm. 8083 and 8688:
these interpolations not only create violent discontinuities in the
surface of the music, but they actually quote the main theme from
Le matin dun jour de fte (third movement of Ibria).28 Since these
intrusions really belong to another piece, they do not derive from
the preludes tonal prototype. Instead, they illustrate what Graham
George has termed interlocking tonality.29 Since each local key
may still conform to the local laws of tonal voice leading and harmony, the practice of interlocking tonality need not distort our sense
of functionality; it simply undermines our sense of monotonality.

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185

It should be clear from the preceding discussion that, in principle at least, Schenkerian theory has built-in mechanisms for
explaining many anomalies that we typically find in Debussys
music. This is not to say, however, that the theory can necessarily
explain the tonality of every piece by Debussy; but it does mean
that we can determine, case by case, why some of his pieces sometimes sound tonal and sometimes do not. We have also seen that
the explanatory scope of Schenkerian theory is much wider than
many suppose. This point is especially important because tonal
theorists are still debating whether eighteenth- and nineteenthcentury music can actually be explained by a single theory.
Schenker clearly believed that it can. He proposed a comprehensive theory that purports to explain functional monotonal works
from Bach to Brahms. But Gregory Proctor and others think otherwise; they distinguish between two overlapping practices, classical
diatonic tonality, in which chromaticisms arise from the interaction between diatonic scales, and nineteenth-century chromatic
tonality, in which chromaticisms derive from a single chromatic
scale.30
In responding to Proctor, et al., it is important to note that we
have already established a framework for understanding changes in
tonal practice. According to this scheme, tonality is best regarded
as a family of musical languages. These languages conform to the
basic principles that melodies primarily move by step, that they
converge on the tonic at cadences, and that they differentiate
between stable and unstable sonorities. Each language, however,
interprets these principles within a different harmonic environment: strict counterpoint interprets them within an environment
built from consonant and dissonant intervals, modal counterpoint
within an environment built from a limited range of triads, and
functional tonality within an environment built from the full range
of diatonic and chromatic Stufen. Although the practices of tonal
composition clearly changed between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it is unclear that they exist within yet another
harmonic environment. Certainly, nineteenth-century composers
experimented with the principles of directional and interlocking
tonality, but these practices challenge the notion of monotonality
and not principles of functionality, at least as Schenker explained

186

Explaining Tonality

them. The beauty of Schenkerian theory is that it is powerful


enough to explain surfaces that are almost continuously dissonant
and chromatic.31

Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse


Now that we have shown how Schenkerian theory has built-in
mechanisms for explaining many anomalous features of Debussys
style, let us now see how it helps explain the tonality of his two
pieces: Cest lextase langoureuse and La mort des amants.
These songs are an appropriate choice for two reasons. First, they
pose the specific technical problems discussed earlier. In fact, we
will encounter examples of parallel chords, free dissonances,
non-functional successions, extreme chromaticism, modal/exotic
inflections, incomplete structures, and parenthetical passages/
interpolations. We will also see that Schenkerian theory provides
us with ways to explain these phenomena. Second, the two songs
are significant because their texts display many of the essential
ingredients of symbolist poetry. By showing how Debussy used tonal
relationships to highlight the structure and meaning of each poem,
we can see the composers strong ties to symbolist/decadent
aesthetics.
We will begin by looking at Cest lextase langoureuse. Composed in 1887 and published in the set Ariettes oublies (1903), this
song is not only one of Debussys best early compositions, but also
one of his most sophisticated experiments in tonal composition.
The text for this song comes from Verlaines collection Romances
sans paroles (1874).32
Le vent dans la plaine
Suspend son haleine.
(Favart)
Cest lextase langoureuse,
Cest la fatigue amoureuse,
Cest tous les frissons des bois
Parmi ltreinte des brises,

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187

Cest, vers les ramures grises,


Le choeur des petites voix.
O le frle et frais murmure!
Cela gazouille et susurre,
Cela ressemble au cri doux
Que lherbe agite expire . . .
Tu dirais, sous leau qui vire,
Le roulis sourd des cailloux.
Cette me qui se lamente
En cette plainte dormante,
Cest la ntre, nest-ce pas?
La mienne, dis, et la tienne,
Dont sexhale lhumble antienne
Par ce tide soir, tout bas?
Each of the three verses has six lines that rhyme a, a, b, c, c, b, and
each one ends with a complete syntactic unit. Reading through the
poem, one is immediately struck by Verlaines preference for words
containing the sounds s and t. In verse 1, for example, we find
the phrases Cest la fatigue, and Cest tous les frissons; in verse
2, the phrases Cela gazouille and cela ressemble; and in verse 3,
the phrases Cette me and Cest la ntre. These sounds give
Verlaines text an aspirate quality that captures the main subject of
the poem, namely the fatigue of love. Three words stand out in this
regard: extase in verse 1, expire in verse 2, and exhale in verse
3. Their ordering seems to match a more general progression in the
poems meaning from declarative statements about the lovers present feelings to more personal speculations about their future. In
verses 1 and 2, for example, Verlaine compares the lovers shivers to
particular soundsthe faint rustle of trees (les frissons des bois),
the swish of grass ([le] cri doux Que lherbe agite expire), and
the rumble of pebbles rolling under water (sous leau qui vire,
Le roulis sourd des cailloux). But in verse 3, the mood changes, as
the lovers realize that they will probably never share the same experience again.

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.7. Graph of Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse, mm. 118.

When composing Cest lextase langoureuse, Debussy was


clearly intent on projecting the form and meaning of Verlaines
poem. Take, for example, Debussys setting of verse 1 (mm. 118).
Here, Debussy captured the sultry atmosphere of the poem in several different ways. Most obviously, he took as his main motive, the
descending second GF. This gesture, which pervades the piano
and the vocal parts in mm. 110, is the quintessential sigh figure; it
conveys not only the breathlessness of the lovers, but also the
hopelessness of their relationship. Debussy reinforced this idea by
starting the song with an auxiliary cadence progression in E major:
as shown in figure 5.7 (Cest lextase langoureuse, mm. 118), the
opening V9 sonority hangs in mid air for six bars, before resolving,
via a passing seventh on G (mm. 78), onto I in m. 910. Having
set the tone of the song, Debussy develops his material in mm.
1118. Starting in m. 11, the accompaniment includes a syncopated rhythmsixteenth-note, eighth-note, dotted sixteenth-note;
this pattern helps to give the music a gentle lilt that carries through
much of the song. Measures 1118 then move back from the tonic
to the dominant. Figure 5.7 shows that this progression is controlled contrapuntally by a stepwise ascent from G to D in the
upper voice. The motion from D$2B in mm. 1718 is especially
striking because it anticipates a similar motion in verse 3.
Whereas verse 1 establishes the songs main material, verse 2
(mm. 1835) seems to move off in other directions. Motivically, it

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189

Figure 5.8. Graph of Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse, mm. 1835.

focuses on a new chromatic motive. Originally introduced in the


voice on G in m. 24, this gesture returns four times on C in mm.
2833. These statements appear within a more general modulation
from E major to D major. As shown in figure 5.8 (Cest lextase
langoureuse, mm. 1835), the verse starts with a compressed
reprise of the opening but, instead of resolving down to B, C
becomes part of an added-sixth chord on E. Debussy continues to
highlight C in the next few bars by unfolding the fourth CG in
the voice and piano (mm. 2021) and by passing from C through
B to A in the piano (mm. 2224). This passing motion is harmonized by the simple progression C9 to F9, or ii9V9 in B major. But
the song suddenly changes trajectory in m. 24. Indeed, over the
next few bars, there is a massive voice exchange between the voice
part and the right hand of the piano, leading to a repetition of the
chromatic motive on C in m. 28. From that moment on, D asserts
itself as tonic. Although there is no authentic cadence, the sonority
in m. 28 clearly serves as a dominant to the tonic chord in m. 29
with the seventh G (4 ) resolving down by step onto F ( 3). Debussy
reinforces the arrival on D with a plagal cadence IV33I in mm.
3236.
Verse 3 (m. 36ff) then weaves its way gently back to E. At first,
the texture is saturated with the sigh figure and syncopated rhythm,
but in mm. 4446, the voice brings back its line from mm. 34.
This reminiscence leads to two statements of the chromatic motive
in mm. 46 and 47 and to further reminiscences of the sigh figure
and the syncopated motive in m. 48ff. In the meantime, Debussy

190

Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.9. Graph of Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse, m. 36ff.

reestablishes E by means of a common-tone progression built on


the pitch A. Figure 5.9 (Cest lextase langoureuse, m. 36f.) shows
that the harmonies shift effortlessly from D7 (mm. 36 and 38) via B7
(mm. 37 and 39), and G9 (mm. 40 and 42), to C13 (m. 41), before
arriving back on B7 in mm. 4445. At this point, however, Debussy
transfers A into the upper register for the return of the opening gesture. He even recalls the chromatic passing motion CBB in the
inner voice as BBC. Although there is no doubt that the tonic
returns in m. 46, its effect is undercut by the lingering presence of
the added-sixth C and the return of the chromatic motive. It is
only after the motive is expanded in the bass as GFE (mm.
4852) that the song lands on a pure tonic triad. Perhaps because
Verlaines final question is rhetorical, Debussy replaces the final
question mark with a full stop.
It should be clear from the preceding discussion that Debussy
went to elaborate lengths to articulate the form of Verlaines poem
both motivically and tonally. But we are still left to wonder how his
setting conveys the poems overall progression from ecstasy to
ennui. To address this issue, let us now put our observations into a
wider perspective. As we saw earlier, the song has two main
motives: the sigh figure, which dominates verses 1 and 2, and the
chromatic motive, which comes to the fore in verse 2. Despite their
obvious differences, these gestures are, in fact, closely related; we

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191

Figure 5.10. Evolution of The Sigh Figure in Debussy, Cest lextase


langoureuse.

Figure 5.11. Global view of Debussy, Cest lextase langoureuse.

can see these connections at the start of the song. After Debussy
has introduced the sigh figure in mm. 16, he ends the voice part
with the descent CBB (mm. 79). This descent not only
implies that mm. 110 are a giant version of the sigh figure, but it
also anticipates the downward spiral of the chromatic motive. This
possibility becomes clearer in mm. 2223, when the piano part
descends from C through B to A. And, when the chromatic
motive eventually appears on C, it descends first to A (mm. 28,
30, and 32) and then to A (mm. 3334). The arrival onto A is
important because it gives rise to the common-tone progression in
mm. 3645. It subsequently resolves down by step through G to F
in m. 45, eventually reaching E in m. 48. In other words, the gradual transformation of the sigh figure into the chromatic motive
inscribes an overall melodic descent from C, through B and A
to A and from A through G and F to E. This process is summarized in figure 5.10 (Evolution of the sigh figure in Cest lextase
langoureuse).
The significance of this point becomes even clearer when we
compare figure 5.10 with the Schenkerian graph given in figure 5.11

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Explaining Tonality

(Global view of Cest lextase langoureuse). Significantly, this


sketch suggests not only that Cest lextase langoureuse can be
derived from a 5 -line prototype, but also that the main events of the
middleground are marked by the emergence of the chromatic
motive. For example, the chromatic descent CBB in mm. 79
serves as an upper neighbor to the headtone B. Starting in m. 20, C
is restored as an incomplete upper neighbor to B; it is then prolonged by the passing motion CBA in mm. 2223, before
descending chromatically through C, B and B to A in mm. 3435.
Once A is reached in the upper line, it is subsequently prolonged by
common-tone harmonies until mm. 4445. A eventually resolves
down by step through G to F, reaching E in bar 48. Significantly,
the song reaches cadences on E in the piano at m. 46, two bars
before it reaches E in the voice. This disjunction is remarkable
because it undermines our sense of closure at the end of the song;
just as the long descent conveys the lovers desire for satisfaction, so
the conflict between harmonic and melodic closure suggests that
reality never lives up to expectation.

Debussy, La mort des amants


Debussy faced many of the same compositional issues when setting
Baudelaires poem La mort des amants. He apparently completed
this song between 1887 and 1889, just after Cest lextase, and
published it in the set Cinq pomes de Baudelaire in February 1890.
The text for this song comes from Baudelaires incomparable
collection Les fleurs du mal (1861).33
Nous aurons des lits pleins dodeurs lgres,
Des divans profonds comme des tombeaux,
Et dtranges fleurs sur des tagres,
closes pour nous sous des cieux plus beaux.
Usant lenvi leurs chaleurs dernires,
Nos deux coeurs seront deux vastes flambeaux,
Qui rflchiront leurs doubles lumires
Dans nos deux esprits, ces miroirs jumeaux.

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193

Un soir fait de rose et de bleu mystique,


Nous changerons un clair unique,
Comme un long sanglot, tout charg dadieux;
Et plus tard un Ange, entrouvrant les portes,
Viendra ranimer, fidle et joyeux,
Les miroirs ternis et les flammes mortes.
This wonderful sonnet contains two quatrains that rhyme a, b, a, b,
followed by a sestet that rhymes c, c, d, e, d, e. Though it describes
the union of two lovers, the poem is one of several texts concerned
with the nature of death. In typical decadent fashion, Baudelaire
implies that the inevitable consequence of sexual pleasure is that it
ends; to underscore this fact, he wrote the poem entirely in the
future tense. Baudelaire compares the human soul to a mirror (nos
deux esprits, ces miroirs jumeaux) and the heart to a flame (Nos
deux coeurs seront deux vastes flambeaux); as the poem unfolds,
he reminds us that mirrors tarnish and that flames can be extinguished. According to him, it is only by the intervention of a new
lover, in the guise of an Angel, that the protagonists can rekindle
their passions. This rather pessimistic message is not dissimilar to
that of Cest lextase langoureuseit suggests that the lovers will
achieve true satisfaction only in the future, never in the present.
In setting La mort des amants, Debussy was again very careful
to highlight the works intricate poetic structure. The first quatrain
introduces the songs main thematic and tonal material. The song
has two main motives, both of which appear in the opening measures: an arpeggiated figure in the upper register of the piano
(see figure 5.12a, motive X) and a chromatic gesture in the lower
register DEEFF (mm. 12) and B/DC/ED/F (m. 3) in
the lower register (see figure 5.12b, motive Y). The arpeggiated figure is especially interesting because it bears a striking similarity to
the main theme of the piano piece Clair de lune from Debussys
Suite bergamasque (see figure 5.12c).34 The first quatrain also establishes the songs principal tonality G. As shown in figure 5.12d,
the piece actually opens with an auxiliary cadence progression in
G (mm. 15). This progression leads contrapuntally to an authentic cadence in G (mm. 78). This cadence is interesting on several

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.12. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 112.


a. Motive X.

b. Motive Y.

c. Debussy, Clair de lune, Suite bergamasque.

counts. For one thing, the piano includes a variant of the chromatic
line that rises from B, through C, D and D, before resolving down
from E to D. This gesture becomes important later in the song.
For another, Debussy captures the image of a tomb in mm. 78 by
plumbing the depths of the vocal register. By the end of the quatrain, however, the music moves from G to the dominant D; this

Pleasure is the Law

195

Figure 5.12 (continued).


d. Graph of Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 112.

modulation is confirmed by a perfect authentic cadence in D at


m. 12. This cadence is beautifully prepared by a whole-tone chord
in m. 11; besides intensifying the upcoming cadence, this striking
sonority allows Debussy to bring back the chromatic line from mm.
12, this time starting on E in m. 11.
The second quatrain of La mort des amants (mm. 12/1318)
begins very much like the first; the arpeggiated figure appears in the
upper register of the piano with the chromatic line (DEEF) in
counterpoint underneath. As the music unfolds, the chromatic line
becomes increasingly prominent and it leads inexorably up from D
(m. 12) through E, F, F, G, G, A, A, and B to B/C (m. 18). At
the same time, the vocal line stands out for its ingenious word
painting (see figure 5.13a, Mirroring in the melody): when the text
describes how lovers hearts will be reflected in each others souls,
the melodic line mirrors itself, descending first from D through B
to F, E, and D (m. 16), and then ascending from D through E, F,
and A back to D (m. 17). For the most part, the second quatrain
prolongs the dominant; as shown in figure 5.13b (Graph of La mort
des amants, mm. 1218), it is reaffirmed as a local tonic in mm.
1415 by a simple VI progression. In m. 18, however, the music
seems to point back to G; as it stands, the minor seventh AC
EG would seem to serve as II7 of G.
But, instead of cadencing on G at the start of the final sestet,
Debussy respells A/C enharmonically as G/B and immediately
thrusts the first half of the sestet (mm. 1929) in the direction of E

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.13. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 1218.


a. Mirroring in the melody.

b. Graph of Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 1218.

major, with a perfect authentic cadence emphatically reached in


mm. 2223 (see figure 5.14a, Graph of La mort des amants, mm.
1929). Significantly, the use of the rising chromatic motive
CDEEF at the cadence in mm. 2223 not only recalls the
previous arrival on G in mm. 78, but it also anticipates the
cadence in mm. 1036 of the Prlude lAprs-midi dun faune (see
figures 5.14b and 5.14c). Once E major has been firmly established,
Debussy develops the cadence motive against a rising chromatic
line BBCDDEEFGABC in the bass (mm. 2226).
Motivically, Debussy places the sigh figure on the downbeat, to
convey the charged meaning of Baudelaires text comme un long
sanglot, tout charg dadieux. Katherine Bergeron has noted that
this passage seems to recall the Good Friday music from Act 3
of Wagners Parsifal (see figure 5.14d).35 Given the complex
erotic/religious nature of Wagners opera, this allusion seems to resonate with Baudelaires subsequent reference to the angel. In any
case, the passage culminates with a return to A7 in m. 29, spelled
this time as GCDF.

Pleasure is the Law

197

This chord prepares for the second half of the final sestet (mm.
3045). Starting in m. 30, Debussy shifts the direction of the harmony yet again by recalling the opening arpeggiated figure this
time transposed into the context of C major (see figure 5.15a,
Graph of La mort des amants). Unlike the opening, however, he
omits the chromatic gesture entirely and immediately transposes
the arpeggiated figure into the context of E major. Nevertheless, in
m. 38, he returns to A7 for the word ranimer and again in m. 41
for the last line of text. This last recollection finally leads to an
emphatic cadence in the tonic. To reinforce the sense of closure,
Debussy even accompanies the final line of the sonnetLes
miroirs ternis et les flammes morteswith a descending chromatic
line. This line mirrors the rising lines in mm. 12 and 1318 (see
figures 5.15b-d). Debussy rounds off the song with a short coda for
the piano; we hear our last statements of the arpeggiated figure and
chromatic gesture over a tonic pedal.
So far, we have seen how Debussy managed to articulate the
subtle subdivisions in Baudelaires text, but we are still left to see
how he managed to convey its pessimistic message that true satisfaction is something that cannot be achieved in the present.
Whereas Debussy created the sense of ennui in Cest lextase langoureuse by initiating the long chromatic descent in the upper
line but by failing to coordinate melodic and harmonic closure at
the end, he produced similar effects in La mort des amants by the
use of incomplete progressions and parenthetical passages/interpolations. These points are readily apparent in figure 5.16 (Global
view of La mort des amants), a Schenkerian reading of the entire
song. This sketch highlights the fact that the song opens with an
auxiliary cadence progression V^43%I in G and that the first quatrain subsequently modulates to the dominant. The long chromatic
ascent in the lower register from D to B/C in the second quatrain
creates a sense of sexual tension that seems to require resolution
through a cadence in G in m. 19. But, though the progression arrives
on the expected predominant ii7 in m. 18, the final sestet systematically delays this cadence with one digression after another: in
mm. 1929, Debussy interpolates a passage in E major that conjures
up images of Parsifal and anticipates the Prlude lAprs-midi
dun faune; in mm. 3040 he inserts sequential statements of the

198

Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.14. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 1929.


a. Graph of Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 1929.

b. Motive Y at cadence in La mort des amants, mm. 2023.

c. Motive Y in cadence in Prlude a lAprs-midi dun faune, mm. 1036.

opening material. Each digression is framed by seventh chords on


A/G: the first is framed by the sonorities in mm. 18 and 29 and
the second by those in mm. 29, 38, and 41. It is only after this last
version that Debussy lets the sonority lead to a conclusive cadence
in G. Once we reach G, Debussy finally gives us the main theme
against a stable tonic chord.
The preceding analyses of Cest lextase langoureuse and
La mort des amants have suggested just how sensitive Debussy

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199

Figure 5.14 (continued).


d. Wagner, Parsifal, Good Friday cadence, Act 3.

was to the pessimistic overtones of both texts. By insisting that the


reality of the present never lives up to our expectations, both poems
express a central theme in symbolist/decadent aesthetics. But of all
the texts dealing with this topic, why did Debussy set these particular poems? We can, I think, offer a couple of answers. On the one
hand, both poems are mentioned explicitly or implicitly in one of
the most famous symbolist texts of the periodJ. K. Huysmans
sensational book rebours (1884). This lurid novel, which scandalized Parisian society, describes the decadent lifestyle of Huysmans alter ego, Duc Jean Floressas des Esseintes. He is the modern
man par excellence, . . . painfully conscious that his pleasures are
finite, his needs infinite.36 Though fixated with sex, Des Esseintes
was concerned less with celebrating sexual pleasure per se and more
with confessing his most perverse thoughts. Such confessions were
ultimately motivated by a sense of Catholic guilt and misogyny. As
Jean Pierrot points out, If the decadents discovered sexuality, however, it was only for the most part to reject it, or at least to reject its
normal forms.37 Given these facts, it is hardly surprising that Des
Esseintes adored the works of Baudelaire; after all, Baudalaires

200
Figure 5.15. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 3045.
a. Graph of Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 3042.

b. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 3943.

c. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 15.

Pleasure is the Law

201

Figure 5.15 (continued).


d. Debussy, La mort des amants, mm. 1618.

Figure 5.16. Global view of Debussy, La mort des amants.

works are full of misogynist overtones. More to the point, however,


Des Esseintes was so enamored of La mort des amants that he
had it copied on vellum and hung over his mantle piece. He also
adored Verlaine and, though he did not mention Cest lextase
langoureuse by name, his description of the poets work bears a
striking similarity to that text.38 And Verlaine, of course, had an
infamous homosexual liaison with Rimbaud. It is surely not by
chance, then, that Debussys interest in the poetry of Verlaine
and Baudelaire blossomed in 188485 after reading rebours.39
Another reason why these texts may have spoken so directly to
Debussy around 1887 is that he was recovering from his notorious
affair with Mme Blanche de Vasnier. Debussy first met the aspiring
singer and her husband in the early 1880s; he became her accompanist and she became his inspiration. Before leaving for Rome in

202

Explaining Tonality

1885, Debussy even gave her a collection of thirteen songs, commonly known as The Vasnier Songbook. But by the time he
returned to Paris for good in 1887, the affair was apparently over;
Marcel Dietschy has even suggested that in 1888, when Debussy
inscribed the copies of the Ariettes oublies to Mme Vasnier, in
grateful homage, he did so as a last farewell to a past love.40

Schenkerian Theory and Twentieth-Century Music


Up until now, our discussion has tried to demonstrate the fruitfulness of Schenkers ideas by using them to explain the tonal structure of Debussys music. Although the two songs, Cest lextase
langoureuse and La mort des amants, certainly challenge the
limits of Schenkerian theory, they still lie within its outer reaches;
they mark, if you will, a boundary point at which the theory starts
to break down. We are left to wonder, however, what happens
when we try to analyze music that is even more remote tonally. Can
we use Schenkerian methods to account for the behavior of music
that is no longer built from functional triads? Can Schenkerian
theory be adapted to provide accurate explanations of music composed in the twentieth century? If so, how?
As we begin to answer these questions, it is important to note
that they are still matters of fierce debate. Robert P. Morgan has
suggested, in fact, that this conflict stems in part from tensions
within Schenkers own writings.41 According to him, there is no
doubt that Schenker despised twentieth-century music, especially
for the way it breaks down the distinction between consonance and
dissonance. For Schenker, this distinction was absolute; in Der freie
Satz, he insisted that, since dissonances are always derivative, they
can never serve as goals of motion and can never be prolonged in
their dissonant state.42 And yet, Morgan also claims that Schenker
contradicted himself in two ways. For one thing, Schenker violated
his own prohibition against dissonant prolongations. Morgan
points out that Schenker not only included composed-out seventh
chords in his graphs, but he also inserted a paragraph on seventhprogressions in Der freie Satz.43 Some of these graphs are shown in
figures 5.17a-e (Prolonged dominant-seventh chords). For another,

203
Figure 5.17. Prolonged dominant-seventh chords.
a. Haydn, Piano Sonata in E-flat Major (Hob. XVI:49), 1st movement, development section. From Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 62.1.

b. Beethoven, Leonore Overture No. 3, Adagio. From Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 62.2.

c. Beethoven, Piano Sonata, Op. 81a, 1st movement, development section. From
Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 62.4.

d. Bach, Prelude in C Major, WTC I, m. 24ff. From Schenker, Der freie Satz, Fig. 62.5.

e. Beethoven, Symphony No. 3, 1st movement, development section. From Schenker,


Der freie Satz, Fig. 62.10.

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Explaining Tonality

Schenker may have designed his methods to explain music from


Bach to Brahms, but he also used them to analyze music from
Stravinskys Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments.44 According
to Morgan, this analysis unwittingly provided the foundation for
a theory of twentieth-century tonal structure based on dissonant
tonics. 45
Meanwhile, other experts, such as Edward Laufer, have warned
against reading too much into the Stravinsky analysis; they insist
that the task of building a theory of prolongation for twentiethcentury music is fraught with technical difficulties.46 For example,
although Laufer admits that twentieth-century music behaves
linearly and may even have a background of some sort, he
concedes:
There is no triad to be prolonged: some contextually derived associative
sonority must take its place. The concepts of consonance and dissonance, as
technically defined, therefore cannot exist, nor can, strictly speaking, the
notions of passing and neighbor notes where these were dissonant events.
Their attendant constraints, which provided motion and delays, must be
compensated for by other kinds of embellishing and traversing motions.
There is probably no generalized fundamental line: it could not now be
diatonic.47

Laufer adds, rather pessimistically, If there is no technically consistent, non-speculative basis, then anything goes, and likewise
nothing.48
We can respond to these arguments in several ways. To begin
with, Morgan exaggerates the contradictory nature of Schenkers
work. His first contradiction is, in fact, more apparent than real. In
chapter 1 we saw that, through The Stufe Constraint, Schenkerian
theory actually relies less on distinguishing consonances from dissonances and more on distinguishing harmonic tones from nonharmonic tones. This allows for dissonant harmonic tones (for
example, VII Stufen in major keys and II Stufen in minor keys) as
well as consonant non-harmonic tones (e.g, 56 motions). More to
the point, however, it is also clear from the sketches in figure 5.17
that dominant-seventh chords can be prolonged in some ways, but
not in others. If we classify Schenkerian transformations along the
lines shown in chapter 2, then it seems that dominant-seventh

Pleasure is the Law

205

chords can indeed be horizontalized and that the horizontalized


tones can be filled with passing or neighbor tones. Most of the
graphs in figure 5.17 also suggest that so-called seventh-spans actually arise, not from composing out the members of a single Stufe,
but rather from filling in the space between an inner voice and an
upper voice that descends by step (for example, figure 5.17b). But
these graphs do not show cases in which prolonged dominantseventh chords can be harmonized to create new Stufen. This suggests that composed-out dissonances cannot produce new levels. In
other words, Morgan exaggerates the inconsistencies in Schenkers
work because he treats prolongation as a single process; as we have
seen, prolongations come in several distinct flavors.
Morgan also claims that Schenker was contradictory in his
views about twentieth-century music and that his analysis of
Stravinskys Concerto for Piano and Winds sets a precedent for
composing out dissonant tonics. To see what this means, Figure
5.18 (Schubert, Die Stadt, Schwanengesang, No. 11) compares
Morgans analysis (figure 5.18a) with Schenkers (figure 5.18b).
According to Morgan, the most striking feature of this song is the
diminished-seventh chord CEFA; this sonority controls the
introduction, verse 2, and the coda. Although Morgan admits that
this referential sonority is subordinate to the C-minor harmony
governing verses 1 and 3, he treats the diminished-seventh underlying verse 2 as a dissonant tonic and claims it seems almost
completely stable. Morgan believes that such dissonant tonics foreshadow the future; he cites various other examples by Schubert,
Liszt, Wagner, and Scriabin, in which augmented triads, diminished sevenths, and other dissonances seem to act as stable goals of
motion.
With regards to Morgans analysis, there are significant differences between his concept of prolongation and the one advocated by Schenker (figure 5.18b). As we saw in chapter 2, The
Recursive Model is based on two crucial ideas: 1) all complex
tonal progressions are transformations of simple tonal prototypes;
and 2) whenever a prototype is transformed the resulting progression conforms to the same laws of tonal voice leading and harmony as the prototype itself. Morgan clearly endorses the first
idea, but not the second; although he treats complex surfaces as

206

Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.18. Schubert, Die Stadt, Schwanengesang, no. 11.


a. Morgans analysis. From Morgan, The dissonant prolongation.

b. Schenkers analysis. From Der freie Satz, Fig. 103.4.

prolongations of simple progressions, he does not try to connect


the process of generation with any general laws of voice leading.
In other words, his analysis shows how a given referential sonority
is projected from one level to another, but not how these sonorities are transformed contrapuntally to create new sonorities.
Furthermore, Morgan is unable to generalize beyond the specific
piece in question; he cannot predict what sonorities will be referentially significant in any given piece or how those sonorities
generate any new material. In other words, Morgans approach
may help us describe the main features of a given piece, but it cannot explain why that piece behaves like other pieces of the same
class or kind.

Pleasure is the Law

207

These are the very problems that Laufer touches on in the passage cited earlier. In particular, he notes that, whereas functional
music prolongs triads, twentieth-century pieces may derive from
other contextually derived harmonies. He also insists that without
a clear distinction between consonance and dissonance, it is hard
to define any general principles governing contrapuntal motion.
And Laufer doubts that pieces can be generated from any generalizable prototypes. But whereas Laufer does not indicate how we
might overcome these problems, chapters 1 and 2 offer some basic
guidelines. Our first step might be to isolate certain specific repertories of Post-Tonal music. These repertories should be aurally
distinct from one another. Our next step might be to look for general laws that cover the local and global behavior of the constituent
lines and chords. Ideally, these laws will cover six areas: 1) how
individual lines move and reach closure; 2) how polyphonic lines
move in relation to one another, 3) how unstable tones behave
in relation to stable tones; 4) how stable harmonies are distinguished from unstable harmonies; 5) how successive harmonies are
arranged to create idiomatic progressions; and 6) how stable harmonies are inflected coloristically. Just as the precise laws of step
motion, melodic convergence, and vertical alignment must be
modified when we shift from the intervallic world of strict counterpoint to the triadic world of functional monotonality, so they must
be different when we shift to some new non-triadic context. These
new harmonic environments might be based on seventh chords,
quartal harmonies, or even more complex pitch-class sets. This
point is shown in figure 5.19 (Functional tonality and twentiethcentury tonal practices).
Once we have discovered appropriate laws of voice leading and
harmony for each repertory, we can try to represent them as a
system of prototypes, transformations, and levels. In some cases, the
prototypes and transformations will look a lot like tonal transformations, but there is no reason to suppose that they will always be
analogous. Nor should we expect that we can necessarily assume
these laws can be reformatted as a recursive and rule preserving system; as we saw in chapter 1, even Fux was unable to formulate the
laws of strict counterpoint in such a fashion. But, while it is premature to speculate about what these new prototypes, transformations,

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 5.19. Functional tonality and twentieth-century tonal practices.

and levels will look like, there is no a priori reason why such new
theories cannot be found for many types of twentieth-century
music. To paraphrase Laufer, the resulting theories will not be
Schenkers, but they will still owe much to him.49

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory


Ever since the birth of their discipline, music theorists have
endeavored not only to find specific concepts, laws, and procedures
to explain musical phenomena, but also to connect them with concepts, laws, and procedures in other domains. This process is known
as naturalizing music theory.1 The reasons for undertaking such a
task are clear enough; naturalizing music theory allows us to see
how our knowledge of music coheres with our knowledge in other
domains. We want our theories to be coherent because we know
that our understanding of music is shaped by many external factors.
Furthermore, as we saw in the Introduction, coherence provides us
with a concrete criterion for choosing between theories that are
otherwise equivalent on evidential and systemic grounds. If we are
confronted with two theories that are equally accurate, equivalent
in explanatory scope and predictive power, and equally consistent
and parsimonious, then we will prefer the one that is most coherent
with related disciplines.
Attempts to ground music theory conceptually have traditionally taken one of two main tacks (see figure 6.1, Naturalizing music
theory). Many theorists have tried to connect their explanations of
music with the acoustic properties of notes. Up until the seventeenth century, they grounded their work in string divisions, but in
the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth ceturies, they have
turned their attention to the nature of the overtone series. More
recently, however, an increasing number of theorists have moved
away from acoustics and have tried to support their work with
appeals to the principles of music psychology. This strategy presumes that our theoretical concepts and analytical methods should
reflect the ways in which human beings actually listen to and think
about music.

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 6.1. Naturalizing music theory.

As it happens, Schenker and his followers have set about naturalizing their theory in both ways. Schenker himself picked the
acoustic route; throughout his career, from the Harmonielehre to
Der freie Satz, he connected the principles of tonality to the physical properties of the overtone series. As he explained, [T]herefore
art manifests the principle of the harmonic series in a special way,
one which lets The Chord of Nature shine through.2 In fact, we
find the same basic arguments at the start of Der freie Satz as we
do in the opening of the Harmonielehre, some thirty years earlier.
Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, meanwhile, have developed a
theory of pitch prolongation which, though similar to Schenkers,
is purportedly based on listener psychology. According to them, a
successful theory of music provides a formal description of the musical intuitions of a listener who is experienced in a musical idiom.3
Influential as the writings of Schenker and Lerdahl/Jackendoff
may have been, this chapter proposes a rather different way to naturalize Schenkerian theory. Like Lerdahl and Jackendoff, this alternative model takes the psychological tack; unlike them, however, it
places greater emphasis on the relationship between listening and
composing, and on the ways in which we acquire our knowledge
of tonal relationships. This change of focus has important consequences for the testability of the theory; by shifting our attention to
the connections between composition and listening and to the
ways in which musicians gain their expertise, we will inevitably
draw on quite different types of evidence than those offered by
Lerdahl and Jackendoff.

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

211

Naturalizing Schenkerian Theory


There can be little doubt that Schenker took the task of naturalizing tonal theory very seriously. This is readily apparent from his
desire to show that all of the masterworks manifest identical laws
of [tonal] coherence.4 Besides unearthing these fundamental laws
of tonality, Schenker wanted to link them to the physical properties of sound. On the one hand, he tried to relate specific transformations to various natural processes. In fact, he frequently
claimed not only that individual tones expressed a natural urge to
be tonicized, but also that tonalities have an inherent tendency to
change from major to minor or vice versa. Later, in Der freie Satz,
Schenker maintained that each prototype composes out the socalled Chord of Nature (Der Naturklang): according to him, The
Chord of Nature was the fundamental unifying element in functional monotonal music. We will refer to this as The Chord of
Nature Argument.
To see just how important natural processes were to Schenkers
thinking, we need only consider his attempts to generate the major
system from the overtone series.5 Schenker discussed the origins of
the major system most extensively at the start of his Harmonielehre.
Figure 6.2 (Schenkers derivation of the major system from The
Chord of Nature) summarizes the main components of his argument. To begin with, since Schenker believed that only the first
five overtones of any given note are audible, he proposed that the
major triad must be the fundamental element of the tonal system
(figure 6.2a). He referred to this fundamental triad as The Chord
of Nature. Since the fifth is the strongest interval after the octave,
Schenker then used this interval to create a cycle of fifths above
the tonic pitch (figure 6.2b). Next, he claimed that since, if
sounded, each member of this cycle will produce its own overtone
series, the cycle can be rewritten as a chain of major triads (figure
6.2c). To counteract the outward motion of the natural cycles in
figures 6.2b and 6.2c, Schenker proposed that the Artist construes another cycle of fifths that descends back to the fundamental
(figure 6.2d). This descending cycle likewise implies triads on each
of its members (figure 6.2e). After compressing the outward and
inward cycles into an octave (figure 6.2f), the subdominant triad is

212
Figure 6.2. Schenkers derivation of the major system from The Chord of
Nature.
a. Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 18.

b. Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 19.

c. Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 20.

d. Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 29.

e. Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 29.

f. Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 30.

g. Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 34.

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

213

Figure 6.2 (continued).


h. Schenker, Harmonielehre, Ex. 35.

produced by a fifth under the tonic (figure 6.2g). Schenker then


asserted that the content of the more distant fifths, starting with
the second fifth, is tempered and modified by the content of the
fundamental and by the fifths immediately above and below.6 This
process eliminates the chromatic pitches shown in figures 6.2c6.2g
and produces the diatonic major system (figure 6.2h).
Although Schenker placed great stock on The Chord of
Nature Argument, his derivation of the major system hardly stands
up to close scrutiny. As Suzannah Clark rightly points out, this
derivation hinges on what Schenker regarded as The Mysterious
Five.7 According to him, whereas Nature . . . knows only the fifth
that appears in the overtone series, and no other kind of fifth,
Man . . . is led to the fifth (as well as other intervals) in various
applied ways.8 The snag is that magic numbers have very dubious
explanatory status. Why should we pick one magic number over
another? Why not three or seven? Once magic numbers are
removed, Schenker was unable to offer any compelling reasons why
the ascending cycle in figure 6.2c stops at VII, or why the descending cycle in figure 6.2g should extend beyond the tonic to the subdominant. And his explanation of why the chromatic triads are
eliminated from figures 6.2g and 6.2h seems strained to say the
least: why should the content of more distant fifths be tempered by
more immediate ones?
Stepping back from figure 6.2, Schenkers naturalism leads
to several other difficulties. For example, Schenker was surely on
the right track when he noted that tones have lives of their own,
more independent of the artists pen . . . than one would dare to
believe.9 After all, a perfect authentic cadence sounds conclusive
quite independently of who wrote it. And yet, the distinction
between the products of Nature and those of the Artist seems
arbitrary to say the least. There is something particularly odd about
claiming that the natural minor system is artificial: what does it

214

Explaining Tonality

mean to say that Beethovens Eroica Symphony is more natural


than his fifth symphony? Unfortunately, Schenker did not answer
this question; he simply denied that it is possible to derive the
minor system from any natural process.
Besides forcing him to regard the minor system as inferior to the
major system, Schenkers naturalism also led him to the equally
dubious notion that non-triadic music is necessarily inferior to
functional triadic music. By denying the value of music outside the
domain of the so-called Common-Practice Period, Schenker
blithely cast aside large repertories of World music, as well as Western art music from earlier or later periods. It is small wonder, then,
that Joseph Kerman has accused Schenker of viewing music history
as an absolutely flat plateau flanked by bottomless chasms.10
Schenkers blindness on this issue is utterly entwined with his
impoverished form of naturalism.
One obvious way to avoid these problems is to stop grounding
our theory of functional monotonality in some culturally independent phenomenon, such as the overtone series or The Chord of
Nature, and acknowledge that the theory is intended to explain
and predict the properties of one particular type of music. By linking the theory to specific pieces produced by particular communities, we can regard the laws of tonal voice leading and harmony not
as absolute truths, fixed for all times and all people, but rather as
empirical generalizations that apply to some historically and culturally defined corpus for analysis. Having taken this step, we can then
explain the significance of the major and minor systems in very
different ways. For example, instead of deriving the major system
from the overtone series and the minor system by analogy, we could
show empirically that in functional monotonal music of the Common-Practice Period the most common triads are those that are
diatonic to a particular key: in C major, the most common chords
will be major triads on C, F, and G, minor triads on D, E, and A and
diminished triads on B; and in C minor, they will include minor
triads on C, F, and G, major triads on E, A, B, G (at cadences),
and diminished triads on D. In other words, we can reject figures
6.2ag and still keep figure 6.2h. In fact, such a count has already
been performed by H. Budge.11 If we treat tonality as a property of
some specific culture and time period, then we have taken the first

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

215

steps down the psychological route mentioned earlier and we can


begin to engage Lerdahl and Jackendoffs brand of naturalism.
When we discuss the work of Lerdahl and Jackendoff, it is
important to stress that they do not set out to defend Schenkerian
theory per se. Rather, they attempted to produce a psychologically
grounded theory of tonality that happens to resemble Schenkerian
theory in many ways. These similarities range from sharing a common concern with hierarchy to adopting some of the same transformations and prototypes. Yet, Lerdahl and Jackendoff are quick to
spot the differences between their work and Schenkers. As they
explain:
Schenker can be construed (especially in Der freie Satz) as having developed
a proto-generative theory of tonal musicthat is, having postulated a limited set of principles capable of recursively generating a potentially infinite
set of tonal pieces. But, remarkable and precursory though his achievement
was, he did not develop a formal grammar in the sense one would expect
nowadays of a generative theory. Moreover, his orientation was not psychological (as that of generative linguistics is), but artistic; the chief purpose of
his theory was to illuminate structure in musical masterpieces.12

Though they aspire to fulfill the same tasks, Lerdahl and Jackendoff
concede that their focus is primarily on musical cognition.
So what aspects of human cognition do Lerdahl and Jackendoff
use to support their theory of tonality? In fact, they mostly borrow
from two quite separate traditions of cognitive psychology. On the
one hand, Lerdahl and Jackendoff base many of their hypotheses on
the principles of Gestalt psychology. They do so for several reasons.
Like Gestalt psychologists, Lerdahl and Jackendoff are keen to treat
perception as a dynamic process; they believe that it relies on the
active, though often unconscious, participation of the person, as
well as on the recognition that our local perceptions are guided by
global concerns.13 Gestalt psychologists also implied that our mental representations of music consist not only of lists of pitches, but
also of abstract relations among them.14 These ideas are clearly crucial to Lerdahl and Jackendoffs work, especially their discussion of
archetypes. On a more specific level, Lerdahl and Jackendoff also
connect many of their preference rules to particular Gestalt principles. For example, they specifically invoke the Law of Prgnanz

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Explaining Tonality

along with the principles of continuity, proximity, similarity, inclusiveness, and closure.15
Principles of Gestalt Psychology
Law of Prgnanz:

Psychological organization will be as good as


conditions allow. All cognitive experiences will
tend to be as organized, symmetrical, meaningful, simple, and regular as they can be, given the
pattern of brain behavior at any given moment.
Principle of proximity:
When stimuli are close together they tend to be
grouped together as a perceptual unit.
Principle of inclusiveness: When there is more than one figure, we are
most likely to see the figure that contains the
greatest number of stimuli.
Principle of similarity:
Objects that are similar in some way tend to
form perceptual units.
Principle of continuity:
Once patterns in stimuli are established, we
expect them to continue.
Principle of closure:
Incomplete figures in the physical world are
perceived as complete figures.

They support their case with more recent research by Shiman,


Shepard, Marr, and others.16
On the other hand, Lerdahl and Jackendoff draw extensively on
the field of generative linguistics. As they make perfectly clear, they
set out to build a theory that is analogous to the grammatical models
proposed by Noam Chomsky and others.17 Such models attempt to
characterize what human beings know, often unconsciously, when
they speak a language. They want to explain how humans are able
to understand and create an indefinitely large number of sentences,
most of which they have never heard before. Chomsky and others
model this knowledge by a formal system of principles or rules
called a grammar; each grammar describes or generates the possible
sentences in the language.18 Lerdahl and Jackendoff do recognize
that there are important differences in methodology between music
theory and linguistic theory; however they adopt much of the same
formalisms as their linguistic models.
Despite its extraordinary impact on contemporary music theory,
Lerdahl and Jackendoffs work is not immune from criticism. To
begin with, they certainly show important connections between

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

217

formalism and mental representation, but they seem to tailor their


formalism to fit Chomskyan models, rather than adjust their formalism to fit the peculiarities of tonal music. As a result, they fail to
capture certain essential features of the listening experience. Take,
for example, their insistence that functional tonality can be represented by a strict context-free grammar. Although many aspects of
tonal music can indeed be represented in this way, it is clear that
others cannot. Imagine, for example, the simple pattern in C major
with the stepwise descent  3 2 1 in the soprano and the progression IVI in the other voices. If tonal grammar is, indeed, context
free, then it should be possible to compose out the initial tonic
Stufe with a motion to  3/VI. The problem is that, when considered
within the context of the progression from I to V, the  3/VI Stufe
creates parallel octaves and fifths with the adjacent  2/V Stufe. In
other words, how we compose out a given Stufe depends in part on
the context in which that Stufe appears. As we saw in chapter 3,
this issue becomes very important in the generation of sequences; it
is striking to see that Lerdahl and Jackendoff run into consistent
problems when they grapple with sequential passages. As shown in
figure 6.3 (Lerdahl and Jackendorffs derivation of Bachs Prelude
in C, WTC I), their prolongational reductions often contain parallel perfect octaves and fifths between successive Stufen. Since such
parallels are not directly audible at the surface of the music, their
reduction does not seem to conform with the way people actually
hear the passage. If Lerdahl and Jackendoff are unable to capture
this basic intuition about tonal music, it is hardly surprising that
Schenkerians often find their analyses of more complex passages
arid from an interpretative perspective.19
Other difficulties stem from Lerdahl and Jackendoffs rather
narrow conception of what a theory of tonality should do; they go
too far in distinguishing between the activities of listening and
composing, and they do not go far enough in discriminating
between different levels of expertise. In the first case, we have
already seen that, whereas Schenker saw his goal in compositional
terms as creating a production system for generating an infinite
number of tonal pieces, they see their goal in psychological terms as
a means for describing how people represent tonal relationships
when they listen. There are good reasons, however, why we should

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Explaining Tonality

Figure 6.3. Lerdahl/Jackendoffs derivation of Bach, Prelude in C, WTC I. From


Lerdahl and Jackendoff, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, p. 262.

not separate these activities too sharply. For one thing, we have
absolutely no reason to suppose that when expert composers listen
to music, they process their knowledge in different ways than when
they compose. On the contrary, the evidence suggests that expert
listening requires similar mental representations to expert composition.20 For another, although ordinary listeners are unable to comprehend immediately every aspect of an expert composition, such
as Beethovens Eroica symphony, they can still appreciate some of

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

219

its features; if not, then it is hard to understand why they are able to
recognize and value exceptional feats of musicianship.
In the second case, Lerdahl and Jackendoff focus their thoughts
exclusively on the experienced listener; they pay little or no
attention to explaining how experienced listeners actually acquire
and even refine their knowledge. This omission is most serious
with respect to their claims about the audibility of long-range
tonal motion. Although they seem to attribute the ability to hear
prototypes to all experienced listeners, there is good reason to
suppose that this is not actually the case. Nicholas Cook, for
example, has conducted experiments to show that music students
do not hear tonal closure on a large scale.21 Such a result is hardly
surprising given the fact that expert Schenkerians often disagree
when picking the prototype for a given piece. As Robert West,
Peter Howell, and Ian Cross stress, Lerdahl and Jackendoffs
model may overestimate the perceptual and cognitive propensities
as well as powers of even musically educated listeners. In fact, the
features used to pattern a piece of music on a single hearing may
well differ from those used if the listener is given time to study a
piece.22 To make matters worse, Lerdahl and Jackendoff make
no effort to interface their theory with traditional approaches to
analysis and theory; they completely ignore the idea that their
theory should be coherent with what we already know from these
areas.
To negotiate these problems, it is useful to reconsider the topics
discussed in chapters 1 and 2. As we saw earlier, Schenkerian theory can be boiled down to four basic claims. First, the laws of strict
counterpoint must be transformed to explain the behavior of tonal
voice leading. This is The Heinrich Maneuver. Second, the laws
of tonal voice leading and harmony are interdependent. We
referred to this as The Complementarity Principle. Third, any
complete, continuous tonal progression can be derived recursively
from a simple string of essential lines and essential harmonies using
a finite set of transformations. We referred to this as The Recursive
Model. Fourth, any complete, continuous, monotonal composition
can be derived recursively from a single prototypical string of essential lines and essential harmonies, using a finite set of transformations. This is The Global Paradigm.

220

Explaining Tonality

If we think of these four claims as forming a single schema, then


they provide us with a mechanism both for connecting listening
with composition and for explaining how ordinary people acquire
the necessary skills to become experts (see figure 6.4, Learning
curve for expertise at functional monotonal composition). This figure suggests that, whereas ordinary listening might simply involve
understanding The Heinrich Maneuver and The Complementarity Principle, the process of composition requires that a person can
internalize the relevant laws of tonal voice leading harmony as a set
of prototypes, recursive transformations, and levels. In this sense,
The Recursive Model and The Global Paradigm are especially
important to composers. Furthermore, progressing from the first
claim to the last would seem to require greater and greater levels of
expertise. For example, the laws of voice leading implied at the top
of figure 6.4 reflect certain basic intuitions about melodic motion
and closure, the relative motion of lines, and the relative stability
of vertical intervals, whereas the ability to perceive lines and chords
together might require a certain level of training. Similarly, recognition of prototypes and transformations would seem to demand
intimate knowledge of specific repertories, but the capacity to control an entire tonal piece would seem to involve a profound understanding of large-scale organization. This again seems to be a sign of
expert behavior.
In other words, figure 6.4 provides us with a simple mechanism
for explaining how people acquire expertise at understanding and
composing functional monotonal music. And there are other
bonuses too. Significantly, figure 6.4 reflects the order in which
Schenker actually developed his theory. In fact, he outlined the
basic elements of The Heinrich Maneuver and The Complementarity Principle before 1914 in his Harmonielehre and Kontrapunkt,
he developed The Recursive Model in his editions of the late
Beethoven sonatas from 1913 to 1920, and he explained The Global
Paradigm in his writings of the 1920s and 1930sDer Tonwille,
Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, Fnf Urlinie-Tafeln, and Der freie Satz.
Figure 6.4 also fits with the broad outline of traditional theory
instruction. For example, counterpoint is ideally taught first, and
large-scale form last. But we are still left with some basic questions:
To what extent does this model map onto the things we know

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory


Figure 6.4. Learning curve for expert monotonal composition.

221

222

Explaining Tonality

about music cognition? How might we go about testing the models


cognitive implications? In the remainder of this chapter, we will
begin to offer answers to these two provocative questions.

Schenkerian Theory as a Model of Expert Functional


Monotonal Composition
Before we consider some of the specific ways in which figure 6.4
maps onto recent research in music psychology, it is important to
stress that there are important methodological differences between
the goals of music theory and those of experimental/cognitive psychology. Whereas the former is concerned with explaining the
behavior of specific pieces or repertories of music that exist in the
external world, the latter is concerned with explaining the internal
mental processes that allow human beings to create or understand
such music. Although these two activities may be related, the connections may not always be direct, and the manner of testing the
respective theories may not always be identical. It is also important
to remember that just as we can explain musical structures at different levels, so we can also explain psychological processes at different levels.23 These levels range from the psycho-acoustic level of
explaining how people actually hear individual sounds to the
higher cognitive levels of explaining how people understand complex musical structures, such as themes, harmonies, and forms.
Again, we cannot assume that these different levels of explanation
map onto one another in any simple way.
Although there has been no systematic attempt to examine
Schenkerian theory from a psychological perspective, many specific laws of tonal voice leading and harmony have already been
confirmed by psychological experiments.24 To begin with, consider
the laws of melodic motion. In chapter 1, we saw that tonal
melodies usually begin on 8, 5, or  3 and reach maximum closure on
 2 1; that they primarily move by step; and that, if leaps occur, then
they do so when the melody shifts from one harmonic tone to
another or from one contrapuntal voice to another. Research by
Carol Krumhansl, J. J. Bharucha, and others have shown that, in
tonal contexts, listeners do indeed perceive pitches of the tonic

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

223

triad as more stable than others, and that unstable tones generally
move by step onto stable or anchored tones.25 Leonard Meyer,
Eugene Narmour, and others have also shown that listeners expect
leaps to be followed by step motions, though their explanations of
gap filling is not immune from criticism.26 As Diana Deutsch has
shown, pitch proximity may be an advantage in processing efficiency; this suggests that it might be tied to the Gestalt Law of
proximity.27 The issue of melodic closure is less clear cut. Burton
Rosner and Eugene Narmour have shown that  2 1 does indeed
produce strong melodic closure, but they also note that listeners
showed no closure preference for a VI progression with scale steps
28
 2 1 over those with 7 1 or  2 3. This result essentially confirms
the closure rules for other polyphonic voices, but it does not give a
preference to  2 1 in the soprano. To account for the latter, we must
remember that, globally, well-formed melodies tend to rise before
falling to a cadence. Although this is an important aspect of what
Schenker referred to as melodic fluency, there does not seem to be
any experimental evidence to support this view.
Similarly, we can find some support for the laws of relative
motion. In chapter 1, we noted that at points of maximum closure,
the soprano voice normally ends on  2 1, the alto ends 7 1, the
bass 5 1, and the tenor 5 3; that the soprano and bass essentially move in contrary motion or parallel thirds and sixths; that
parallel perfect octaves and fifths do not occur when two essential
lines move in the same direction; and that, if parallel perfect
octaves and fifths do occur, then they arise from doubling and
figuration or from combinations of non-harmonic tones. As mentioned above, Rosner and Narmour have effectively confirmed the
first law, even though they do not give preference for  2 1 as a
soprano. Unfortunately, less attention has been paid to the predominance of contrary motion and the lack of parallel perfect octaves
and fifths. There does not appear to be a systematic study of whether
people hear permissible parallel octaves and fifths as our laws
suggest.
In chapter 1, we also suggested that melodies generally move
between triadic tones and that if non-harmonic tones occur, then
they move by step between harmonic tones or by leap between contrapuntal lines. The discussion of unstable tones by Krumhansl,

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Explaining Tonality

Bharucha, et al., is not confined to harmonic tones; it also covers


non-harmonic tones. Again, they show that unstable tones generally
move by step onto the anchoring tones, that stable tones are perceived to be more closely related to each other than unstable tones,
and that unstable tones are perceived to be more closely related
when the stable tone follows the unstable tone than vice versa.29
Unfortunately, there seems to have been little attempt to investigate the relative stability of different types of non-harmonic tones.
As for the laws of tonal harmony, we identified several specific
laws of harmonic classification. These laws stated that tonal music
is essentially built from seven diatonic triads and that these triads
must contain the third and normally double the root, then the fifth,
and then the third. In a series of experimental studies, Krumhansl,
Bharucha, and others have shown that, in tonal contexts, composers
and listeners favor the diatonic over chromatic triads, and that they
regard the tonic, dominant, and subdominant as the most stable of
these diatonic triads. Rosner and Narmour, however, have raised
doubts about the functional claim that the seven triads fulfill just
three harmonic functions; they suggest that VII triads do not normally substitute for V.30 No reference to any psychological studies of
the doubling laws have been found.
When we turn to the laws of harmonic progression, we find
strong confirmation for our basic law, namely that maximum closure
occurs when the dominant moves to the tonic. To quote Rosner
and Narmour:
[L]isteners never equated the harmonic closure of perfect authentic cadences
with that of plagal ones. In comparing isolated chord pairs, subjects always
judged VI (in whatever guise) significantly more closed than IVI. In terms
of closure, listeners even preferred IIII progressions with scale steps 78 in
the soprano over IVI, albeit weakly.31

They add that, in formulating a generative structural constant like


the Ursatz, Schenker appears to have been quite correct to isolate
the VI progression over all others.
The situation is much the same for our laws of chromatic generation. In fact, there is considerable experimental support for the
notion that tonal music is fundamentally diatonic. Krumhansl and
Bharucha have stressed that, although diatonic tones are generally

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

225

considered more stable than nondiatonic tones, a nonchord tone


that is nondiatonic but anchored is more stable that one that is diatonic but not anchored.32 Unfortunately, we do not have similar
support for the notion that chromaticisms arise from mixtures and
tonicization; there appear to be no published systematic studies of
this point. This is not the case for The IV/V Hypothesis: according to Krumhansl, listeners do indeed hear a disjunction when two
triads a tritone apart are presented simultaneously. In the case of
triads on C and F, she observes:
The tendencies of unstable tones in these keys would often work in opposition. The tone F, for example, would be highly unstable in the key of C
major (with a strong tendency to resolve to G), but would be the most stable
tone in F major. Similarly, the tone C would be highly unstable in the key
of F major (with a strong tendency to resolve to C), but would be the most
stable tone in C major.33

In other words, it is hard to understand either triad in the context


of the other.
Stepping back from the individual laws, there is some evidence
to support The Heinrich Maneuver per se. Although music psychologists do not seem to be interested in testing the similarities
and differences between strict counterpoint and tonal composition,
David Huron has provided a wealth of experimental support for the
psychological bases of traditional laws of counterpoint.34 In particular, he suggests that the laws of voice leading are, indeed, different
in monophonic, homophonic, and polyphonic repertories. And
with regard to The Complementarity Principle, Bharucha claims
that listeners tend to hear tonal melodies in relation to some underlying chord progression. As he puts it:
The melodies used in the first two experiments were thought to imply
chords but were never explicitly accompanied by them. Subjects abstracted
an underlying chord from the melody, in line with Schenkers theory. The
explicit sounding of a chord was avoided to test the view that harmonic considerations are decisive even for melodies heard alone. This has been borne
out, even for the musically untrained.35

Such statements fit in well with Hurons observation, quoted at the


end of chapter 4, that tonal music is more harmonically driven
than other types of music.

226

Explaining Tonality

Just as we can be optimistic about the psychological basis of our


specific laws of tonal voice leading and harmony, as well as the
precise dynamics of The Heinrich Maneuver and The Complementarity Principle, so we also have good reason to be optimistic
about the cognitive significance of The Recursive Model and The
Global Paradigm. There is good reason to suppose that ordinary
people are able to abstract prototypes from complex surfaces and
that as they gain expertise, so they are able to abstract them across
longer and longer spans. And there is good reason to suppose that
expert composers are indeed able to abstract a single prototype
across a complete, continuous monotonal piece.
The notion of prototypes has become a staple in psychological
research at least since the early 1970s.36 It has likewise attracted
considerable attention from music psychologists, such as Diana
Deutsch and John Feroe, John Sloboda, Mary Louise Serafine, and
others.37 For the present purposes, two studies are of particular
interest. John Sloboda and David Parker have shown that when
people memorize well-formed tonal melodies they build a simplified
mental model of the underlying structure and then fill in structurally marked slots according to general constraints about what is
appropriate to the piece or genre. They also suggest that different
levels of structure are available to people with different amounts of
expertise: musicians code harmonic relationships that seem less
accessible to non-musicians.38
Mary Louise Serafine, meanwhile, has supported the notion
that the capacity to perceive prototypes increases with experience.39 After a series of experiments involving short, unaccompanied melodies, she concluded that simple underlying structures
were accessible to subjects at age 8 and above, but examples of the
more complicated structures involved in harmony and compound
melody yielded equivocal findings.40 This having been said, it is
one thing to claim that people understand tonal music using prototypes and quite another to claim that they are doing so using the
specific prototypes and transformations posited by Schenkerian
theory; no extensive research appears to have been conducted to
confirm the latter.
Researchers in human cognition have also argued that, as people
gain expertise in specific domains, so they rely more and more on

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

227

prototypes. Starting in the 1960s, psychologists discovered that,


whereas novice chess players simply learn rules for moving individual
pieces, grand masters conceive of games according to large meaningful patterns. For example, Adrian De Groot, and later William Chase
and Herbert Simon, have shown that grand masters can reproduce
complex patterns of chess pieces in short periods of time when these
patterns belong to games, but not when they are randomly placed on
the board.41 Grand masters apparently do so by comparing the pieces
to a library of prototypical games or portions of games that they have
stored in a highly organized way in their long-term memories. This
library of successful games and portions of games allows them to
consider strings of moves in one go, thereby streamlining their play
considerably. More recently, Michelene Chi and Robert Glaser have
noted that the results of De Groot, Chase, and Simon have been
replicated in other domains, from reading circuit diagrams and architectural plans, to recalling computer programs. They also stress that
this ability reflects more sophisticated ways of organizing knowledge
rather than superior perceptual capacity.42
For his part, John Sloboda has drawn attention to the role
global prototypes play in composing music. As he explains, [T]he
art of composition lies, in part, in choosing extensions of initial
thematic ideas that honour superordinate constraints.43 Without
such overall mental images, it is hard to explain how expert composers are able to produce large quantities of music so fast, how they
are able to recall several pieces at once, and how they can recall
pieces out of order. Sloboda gives such global prototypes a prominent place in his overview of the processes of musical composition.
This is shown in figure 6.5 (Slobodas diagram of typical compositional resources and processes). It is clear from the arrows in figure
6.5 that Sloboda does not regard these plans as absolutely fixed: on
the contrary, he concedes that they can . . . be changed in light of
the way a particular passage turns out. 44 Yet he nonetheless
regards them as fundamental to the way expert composers work.
Sloboda supports his claims with four main types of evidence.
First, he turns to composers own workings. To quote him:
[S]ketches and notebooks, if datable, can show how a composition grew
and changed over the time during which it exercised the composers

228

Explaining Tonality

Figure 6.5. Slobodas Diagram of typical compositional resources and processes.


Adapted from Sloboda, The Musical Mind, p. 118.

mind. . . . Even where sketches do not exist we can sometimes discover


something about the compositional sequence from the final manuscript.45

Sloboda finds evidence of global plans in the workings of specific


pieces by Beethoven, Stravinsky, and Mozart. Although he does not
actually say so, composers sometimes leave explicit outlines of entire
movements or pieces. For example, Lewis Lockwood has noted that,
in Beethovens sketchbooks, incipits of movements often appear,
sometimes connected by words showing briefly what the intended
order of sections or movements is to be.46 Among the best examples
are those for the String Quartet in C Minor, Op. 131.47 Of course,
it is important to stress that composers workings do present a number of technical problems for the researcher; these are problems
that often cut across the boundaries between cognitive psychology,
music theory, and historical musicology. But the potential value of
such documents is still enormous.48
Second, Sloboda supports his case with evidence from composers
personal testimonies, citing four letters by Richard Strauss (1949),

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

229

Beethoven (1822), Mozart (1789?), and Roger Sessions (1941).


Of these, perhaps the most interesting is the one attributed to
Mozart, which explicitly mentions the idea that composers have an
overall mental image of the entire work when they write. The letter
states: [A]ll this fires my soul, and provided I am not disturbed, my
subject enlarges itself, becomes methodized and defined, and the
whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my
mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a beautiful statue,
at a glance.49 What is most interesting is that Schenker himself cited
this famous letter in par. 301 of Der freie Satz, along with other comments by C. P. E. Bach, Haydn, Beethoven, and Brahms, that also
confirm the notion of some sort of global paradigm. Just as there are
problems dealing with composers workings, so there are problems
dealing with their personal testimonies. For example, the authenticity of the Mozart letter quoted by Sloboda and Schenker has been
disputed; most musicologists now accept that it is a forgery. Ironically,
although the letter may be phony, Oswald Jonas and Otto Erich
Deutsch still claim that it sounds as if it had been written by Mozart!50
Third, Sloboda appeals to direct observations of individual
composers working in real time. In particular, he relies on a verbal
protocol obtained from an unnamed composer who was given the
problem of writing a piano fugue, as well as on one Sloboda himself
used in composing a choral work.51 Verbal protocols are statements
by an expert of what they are doing, while they are doing it; though
they are by no means easy things to deal with, such statements
have, in fact, become essential tools in research concerning problem solving. Although Sloboda provides few details of the fugue
protocol, he notes that his own protocol emphasizes an interplay
between local and global concerns:
All the way through the protocol I find myself using some feature of melody or
harmony in previously written material as the starting point for a continuation.
On the other hand, there are many cases in which super-ordinate considerations of harmony and structure prescribe changes which modify or overwrite
the essentially imitative strategies which generate the first continuations.52

Sloboda ends by suggesting some of the ways in which protocols


can be developed to generate more fruitful scientific research into
composition.

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Explaining Tonality

Fourth, Sloboda cites the results of research into the process of


improvisation. This time, however, his remarks about global plans
are somewhat equivocal: when comparing improvisation to the task
of telling stories, Sloboda again stresses the importance of some
overall scheme, but when discussing the nature of jazz improvisation, he suggests that in improvisation the crucial factor is the
speed at which the stream of invention can be sustained, and the
availability of things to do which do not overtax the available
resources.53 As it happens, there is considerable evidence that classical composers traditionally learned their craft by improvising pieces
from global prototypes. A recent paper on the origins of the keyboard prelude by Panayotis Mavromatis has shown that fifteenthcentury organists were taught to compose and improvise by learning
to elaborate simple polyphonic prototypes or fundamenta.54 Sixteenthcentury Italian preludes draw on similar prototypes based on
so-called intonatione. Mavromatis demonstrates how these same
prototypes can be found in preludes written by seventeenth- and
eighteenth-century composers such as Buxtehude and Bach. Similar observations have been made by Richard Hudson in his research
on mode in guitar music from the early seventeenth century.55
As it happens, the work of Mavromatis and Hudson confirms
Schenkers own claims about the role global prototypes play in
improvisation:
The ability in which all creativity beginsthe ability to compose extempore, to improvise fantasies and preludeslies only in a feeling for the background, middleground, and foreground. Formerly such an ability was
regarded as the hallmark of one truly gifted in composition, that which distinguished him from the amateur or the ungifted.56

Schenker went on to stress that studying the fantasies, preludes,


cadenzas, and embellishments of the expert composers should be a
high priority for all music instruction.57 He even claimed that
improvisation provides a crucial means of developing a composers
musical memory.58 We can even go further to suggest that improvisation plays a central role in the process of internalization; by creating new pieces on the fly, budding composers are able to internalize
the declarative laws we outlined in chapter 1 into the procedural
form of an Ursatz, recursive transformations and levels.

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

231

Figure 6.6. Schenkers account of expert monotonal composition. From Schenker,


Der freie Satz, Fig. 13.

As it stands, then, we have good reason to believe that the


schema in figure 6.4 gives us a plausible account of how, through
increased expertise, ordinary listeners can become expert composers of functional monotonal music. It suggests that, as children,
human beings develop the basic notions of step motion, convergence on the tonic, and motion between stable tones. These
notions may be linked to even more basic cognitive capacities, such
as the Gestalt principles of continuity, proximity, similarity, inclusiveness, and closure. The ability to perceive lines and chords
together and to recognize prototypes seems to demand more extensive exposure to specific repertories. The capacity to comprehend
tonalities across entire compositions would seem to require even
higher levels of expertise. For the record, the schema presented in
figure 6.4 stands in direct contrast to Schenkers own account of
expert composition. According to him, genius is born, not made:
The master composer enters the scene in isolated instancesthe
man of moderate ability is always there. Never can there be a connection between them!59 To underscore this point, Schenker
included his own illustration, given here as figure 6.6 (Schenkers
account of expert monotonal composition). Here he insisted that
there is no way to bridge the gap between the capacities of the average person (Durchschnitt) and those of the genius (Genie). Unfortunately, Schenkers example was cut from Oswald Jonass second
edition of Der freie Satz and hence from Ernst Osters subsequent
English translation.
This chapter has considered the role coherence plays in building
and testing music theories. We have taken the cognitive path to
naturalization because knowledge of music does not exist in the
environment; it exists in our heads and is shaped by the basic
processes of human cognition. Of course, our knowledge of music
theory is also shaped by knowledge drawn from other areas, such as

232

Explaining Tonality

Figure 6.7. The scope of music theory.

acoustics, cultural and biographical information, aesthetics, and so


forth. We can convey this in the simple chart given in figure 6.7
(The scope of music theory). Following the traditional division of
music theory into musica practica and musica speculativa, the chart
lists four practical areas that inform and are informed by such
knowledge of music theorycomposition, performance, music
history, and analysisand below it suggests four speculative areas
that do the sameacoustics, cognitive studies, social studies, and
aesthetics. Notice how each arrow points in two directions; this
suggests there is a constant flow of knowledge from one discipline
to the other.
In a very general way, the chart shown in figure 6.7 conforms to
the image of research in music theory outlined at the start of this
book. In the Introduction, we suggested that music theory is always
open-ended; music theorists do not begin with a blank slate, they
do not have foolproof methods, and they do not reach definitive
solutions. Instead, they plunge in medias res. They always start
working within the context of an existing music theory, even if
they know some portions of that theory are surely wrong. They
then try to overcome certain specific problems, using the rest of the
theory to support their work. As they fix one problem, so another
appears; bit-by-bit the theory becomes transformed into something
ever new. And so it is on a higher level with the chart shown in
figure 6.7. Music scholarship is always open ended; composers,
performers, historians, and theorists all rely on received knowledge
from other areas, even though they know that some this information is probably false. As they try to solve problems within their

Renaturalizing Schenkerian Theory

233

own area of interest, so they take for granted any received knowledge they might have from these other disciplines. As problems are
solved in one area, others will appear; gradually music scholarship
as a whole becomes transformed into something new. In this respect,
our knowledge of music theory is part of a more general fabric of
knowledge that Quine and Ullian refer to as The Web of Belief.60
As we propose the chart given in figure 6.7, it is important to
stress that, although music theory is placed at the center, this does
not mean that it necessarily has any epistemic priority over the
other areas of inquiry. On the contrary, music theory appears at the
center simply because it happens to be that area of inquiry that I
have chosen to discuss in this particular book; scholars working in
other areas will place their own discipline center stage and the
other disciplines on the peripheries. This is as it should be. After
all, figure 6.7 does not present a hierarchy of knowledge about
music; it simply shows a network in which ideas from one domain
flow to another. This last point is important at the present time
because scholars are constantly trying to prioritize one area of
research over another. On the one hand, many historians criticize
music theorists for ignoring the cultural context of the works they
analyze; they insist that unless such knowledge is taken into account,
music cannot be understood adequately. On the other hand, many
music theorists criticize historical musicologists for offering superficial analyses of musical compositions; they insist that there is more
to understanding a piece than understanding the cultural circumstances from which it came.61 By presenting figure 6.7 as a network
rather than a hierarchy, I claim that there is no a priori reason for
prioritizing one domain over another. Each discipline can offer
valuable insights about the nature of music; we should all learn to
respect these differences and look for constructive ways for allowing scholars working in one domain to communicate with those
working in another.

Conclusion
In his well-known essay The Americanization of Heinrich
Schenker, William Rothstein claims that, however they choose to
regard their work, Schenkerians must eventually meet the challenge posed by the scientific theorists.1 During the course of this
book, we have seen one way in which this challenge might be met.
We have seen that Schenkerian theory is explanatory insofar as it
explains why certain notes appear in particular tonal contexts, why
these notes behave in some ways and not in others, and how we can
actually generate specific tonal relationships. It does so by invoking
an appropriate set of concepts and covering laws, which it represents in procedural form as a system of prototypes, transformations,
and levels. When picking one analysis over another, Schenkerians
are guided by some of the same criteria as scholars working in the
natural and social sciences, namely, they are motivated by a desire for
accuracy, scope, consistency, simplicity, fruitfulness, and coherence.
Besides accepting Rothsteins challenge, this book has responded
to some of the other issues outlined in the Preface. We have avoided
the cabalistic image of Schenker abhorred by Dunsby by showing
how Schenkerian theory is based on explicit laws of tonal voice leading and harmony. Since these laws are testable intersubjectively, we
can not only reject Schenkers appeal to magic numbers or other
mystical forces, but we can also counter the charge of circularity as
leveled by Narmour. As mentioned earlier, the explanatory laws
underpinning Schenkerian theory were actually discovered empirically in the Harmonielehre and Kontrapunkt I, long before Schenker
formulated his concept of a single tonal prototype. By the same
token, we have eliminated some of the inconsistencies discussed by
Benjamin. What is most remarkable is that we did so by using some
of Schenkers own ideas. This does not mean that we have necessarily resolved every anomaly in Schenkers work, but it does mean that
we have overcome one particularly pressing problem.
In addition to shoring up the methodological foundations of
Schenkerian theory, we have also clarified several other areas of

Conclusion

235

debate. For one thing, we have responded to Laufers claim about


the completeness of Schenkers concepts. By grounding Schenkerian theory in a set of covering laws, we have been able to show why
it posits just three forms of prototype, why it proposes a finite number of transformations, and why it orders the generative levels in
some ways but not in others. We have also placed some definable
limits on what kinds of music this theory can explain. In chapters 4
and 5 we specified what some of these limits might be and have suggested how, in principal, other repertories conform to related sets of
covering laws. This move allows us to counter Kermans charge that
Schenkerian theory necessarily sets functional tonality apart from
the more general history of Western music. Finally, we have indicated that the interrelationship between hearing, performing, and
composing is a lot more complex than many experts seem to
suppose. Schenkerian theory does not simply model how ordinary
people hear a piece of music; rather it tries to identify what types
of internalized knowledge expert composers use when they try to
create successful monotonal music.
When reconstructed in the preceding manner, Schenkers intellectual achievements do indeed seem formidable and go well beyond
those of any other twentieth-century music theorist. And yet, there
is no reason to suppose that the theory discussed in the Neue
musikalischen Theorien und Phantasien is beyond refinement or extension. Indeed, if we take the image of Neuraths boat seriously, then
we can safely assume that Schenkers work has its own share of leaks
and that it is our job to find and patch them. By way of conclusion,
it is worth mentioning a few obvious areas in need of patching.
To begin with, chapter 1 showed how Schenker refined the
traditional laws of strict counterpoint and functional harmony in
order to provide more accurate explanations of how lines and chords
behave in functional tonal music. These new laws may indeed be
more powerful than their predecessors, but they should not be taken
as the final word. Take, for example, the case of so-called direct
chromatic successions. Although Schenker admitted that such successions can sometimes occur in functional contexts, he nonetheless
conceded that they are often avoided. What he did not do, however,
was to propose a general law to explain why direct chromatic successions are possible in some situations, but not in others. If we are able

236

Explaining Tonality

to discover such a law, then we might be able to offer fresh insights


about music not only from the Common-Practice Period, but also
from the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Similarly, chapter 2 demonstrated how Schenker reformulated
his revised laws of tonal voice leading and harmony as a system of
prototypes, transformations, and levels. By subsuming the theories
of tonal voice leading and harmony within a single framework,
Schenker was able to expand the scope of tonal theory considerably. But this is by no means the only way to achieve such a goal.
One could, for example, unify the theory of functional monotonality with general theories of tonal rhythm and tonal form. These
endeavors are well underway: on the one hand, Carl Schachter,
William Rothstein, and others have been busy trying to link
Schenkerian theory to a theory of tonal rhythm; on the other hand,
Joel Galand, Charles Smith, Janet Schmalfeld, and others have
been connecting Schenkerian theory to a theory of tonal form.2
Both of these projects hold great promise for the future.
In chapter 3 we addressed the issue of consistency. In particular,
we overcame certain inconsistencies in Schenkers treatment of
parallel perfect octaves and fifths by invoking his own discussion of
combined linear progressions. This strategy proved extremely useful
in generating sequences. But this is surely one of many contradictions in Schenkers work. To eliminate the others, we must have a
clear idea of what these other contradictions are and why they
occur. One obvious way to do so is by formalizing the theory on the
computer. Building on the work of Kassler, Snell, Smoliar, and
others, Panayotis Mavromatis and I have set about this very task by
implementing Schenkerian theory as a definite clause grammar in
Prolog. This implementation was possible only by thinking about
Schenkerian theory as a set of declarative rules, like those described
in chapter 1, and by reformatting them as a production system,
in the manner described in chapter 2. Of course, other implementations can surely be devised, depending on how the theory is
reconstructed.
In the same vein, chapter 4 illustrated one way in which
Schenkerian theory simplifies our understanding of tonal relationships: by showing how modal and exotic phenomena can be generated by the processes of tonal transformation, it is able to reduce

Conclusion

237

the number of theoretic systems enormously. Once again, other


examples of simplification can surely be found. For example, we
might find ways to simplify Schenkers notion of composing out
and reduce the total number of transformations. In this respect, the
concept of reaching over, which we discussed in chapter 2, seems
to be a prime target; Schenkers account of the term in Der freie Satz
is particularly obscure. Yet again, the computer promises to be a
powerful tool in helping us streamline the theory even further.
As for the matter of fruitfulness, chapter 5 tackled this issue in
two different ways: on the one hand, it explained the tonality of
music that lies outside Schenkers original corpus, and on the other,
it used our explanations of a works tonal structure to shed light
on other aspects of its composition. In the first case, we used
Schenkerian theory to analyze two works by Debussy, a composer
whose music Schenker despised intensely. We saw that the theory
has built-in mechanisms for explaining many anomalous features of
Debussys style and that these mechanisms can be extended to
explain the tonality of music composed after Debussys death. In
the second case, by analyzing two songs from a Schenkerian perspective, we were able to shed new light on Debussys approach to
text setting. These insights tied in nicely with what we know about
Debussys interest in symbolist aesthetics.
Finally, chapter 6 described how Schenkerian theory is indeed
coherent with recent research in music cognition. This discussion
implied that there is much to be gained from grounding our music
theories cognitively. The chapter closed by suggesting that our image
of Schenkerian theory offers a plausible account of how ordinary
listeners can become expert composers of functional monotonal
music; it required both the learning of explicit laws and the internalization of these laws in some procedural form. This model is, in
effect, a model of how people learn to master functional monotonal
composition. Since this model has extraordinary implications both
for music psychology and music pedagogy, it clearly needs to be tested
in a systematic manner.
Although we cannot predict how Schenkerian theory will
develop over time, there is every reason to suppose that it will
continue to have an enormous impact on the ways in which we
think about tonal music. Obviously, historians must continue to

238

Explaining Tonality

investigate the origins and development of Schenkers thought. It


is, after all, vital that we have an accurate picture of where his
ideas came from and why they evolved as they did. Similarly, analysts must continue to produce Schenkerian readings of individual pieces. Strange as it may seem, we still lack extensive analyses
of many central works in the tonal canon. In this way, we can
enhance our understanding of the tonal system with a more complete picture of tonal practices. And theorists must continue to
prod and poke at Schenkers ideas. In this respect, our role in history is no different from his; where Schenker patched the leaks in
traditional theories of tonal voice leading and harmony, so we
must patch the leaks in Schenkers theory of functional monotonality. As we replace each plank, so we will expose new and perhaps more profound problems. It is testimony to Schenkers
brilliance as a thinker that he was able to steer the discipline of
music theory in a new direction.

Notes
Preface
1. For detailed lists of Schenkers works and works about Schenker, see
David Beach, A Schenker Bibliography, Journal of Music Theory 13, no. 1
(1969): 237; David Beach, A Schenker Bibliography 19691979, Journal of
Music Theory 23, no. 2 (1979): 27586; David Beach, The Current State of
Schenkerian Research, Acta Musicologica 57 (1985): 275387; Larry Laskowski,
Heinrich Schenker: An Annotated Index to His Analyses of Musical Works (New
York: Pendragon Press, 1978); Nicholas Rast, A Checklist of Essays and Reviews
by Heinrich Schenker, Music Analysis 7, no. 2 (1988): 12132; Benjamin McKay
Ayotte, Heinrich Schenker: A Guide to Research (New York: Routledge, 2004);
and David Carson Berry, A Topical Guide to Schenkerian Literature: An Annotated
Bibliography with Indices (New York: Pendragon, 2004).
2. Heinrich Schenker, Neue musicalische Theorien und Phantasien, vol. 1:
Harmonielehre (Stuttgart and Berlin: Cotta, 1906); in English as Harmony, ed.
Oswald Jonas and trans. Elisabeth Mann Borgese (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1954).
3. Heinrich Schenker, Neue musicalische Theorien und Phantasien, vol. 2:
Kontrapunkt I (Stuttgart and Berlin: Cotta, 1910); Kontrapunkt II (Vienna: Universal, 1922); in English as Counterpoint I and II, ed. John Rothgeb and trans.
John Rothgeb and Jrgen Thym (New York: Schirmer, 1987), corrected ed.
(Ann Arbor, MI: Musicalia Press, 2001).
4. Heinrich Schenker, Neue musicalische Theorien und Phantasien, vol. 3:
Der freie Satz (Vienna: Universal, 1935), 2nd ed. (Vienna: Universal, 1956); in
English as Free Composition, ed. and trans. Ernst Oster (New York: Longman,
1979).
5. Heinrich Schenker, Der Tonwille, vols. 110 (Vienna: A. Guttman,
192124); in English as Der Tonwille Pamphlets in Witness of the Immutable Laws of
Music, 5 vols., vol. 1 ed. William Drabkin (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2004); Das Meisterwerk in der Musik, vols. 13 (Munich: Drei Masken Verlag,
1925, 1926, 1930); in English as The Masterwork in Music 13, ed. William
Drabkin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994, 1996, 1999); and Fnf
Urlinie-Tafeln (Vienna: Universal, 1932), in English as Five Graphic Analyses, ed.
Felix Salzer (New York: Dover, 1969).
6. Milton Babbitt, The Structure and Function of Music Theory, College
Music Symposium 5 (1965): 4960; Allan Keiler, The Syntax of Prolongation I,
In Theory Only 3, no. 5 (1977): 327; Allan Keiler, The Empiricist Illusion:
Narmours Beyond Schenkerism, Perspectves of New Music (1978): 16195; Allan
Keiler, On Some Properties of Schenkers Pitch Derivations, Music Perception 1,

240

Notes, pp. xviixix

no. 2 (198384): 200228; Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, A Generative Theory
of Tonal Music (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983).
7. For example, see Michael Kassler, Explication of the Middleground of
Schenkers Theory of Tonality, Miscellanea Musicologica 9 (1977): 7281; James
Snell, Design for a Formal System for Deriving Tonal Music (Masters thesis,
SUNY Binghamton, 1979); and Stephen Smoliar, A Computer Aid for
Schenkerian Analysis, Computer Music Journal 4 (1980): 4159.
8. Jonathan Dunsby, Recent Schenker: The Poetic Power of Intelligent
Calculation (or the Emperors Second Set of New Clothes), Music Analysis 18,
no. 2 (1999): 263.
9. William Benjamin, Schenkers Theory and the Future of Music, Journal
of Music Theory, 25, no. 1 (1981): 163.
10. William Rothstein, Review: Articles on Schenker and Schenkerian
Theory in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Journal of
Music Theory 45, no. 1 (2001): 206.
11. See, for example, Matthew Brown, Review: Hedi Siegel ed., Schenker
Studies and Allen Cadwallader ed., Trends in Schenkerian Research, Music Theory
Spectrum 13, no. 2 (1991): 26573.
12. Edward Laufer, Review: Heinrich Schenker, Free Composition (Der freie
Satz), trans. Ernst Oster, Music Theory Spectrum 3 (1981): 161.
13. Laufer, Review: Heinrich Schenker, Free Composition, 15961.
14. Joseph Kerman, Contemplating Music (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 85.
15. Felix Salzer, Structural Hearing (New York: Boni, 1952).
16. Eugene Narmour, Beyond Schenkerism (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1977).
17. Schenker, Further Consideration of the Urlinie: I, The Masterwork in
Music I (1925), trans. John Rothgeb, 105.
18. Benjamin, Schenkers Theory and the Future of Music, 160. Benjamin
is not alone is claiming that Schenker graphs can be regarded as music. For
example, to quote Arthur Maisel, Schenker was a superior music theorist
because he grew more and more to think of music as music: the graphs are
musicnot words, not pictures, not anything else. Arthur Maisel, Talent and
Technique: George Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue, in Trends in Schenkerian
Research, ed. Allan Cadwallader (New York: Schirmer, 1990), 69.
19. I am not the only person to hold this view. For example, William
Rothstein distinguishes between notes, which he regards as musical entities
represented in a score, and tones, which he treats as analytical abstractions
inferred from the piece. According to him, The tradition of Schenkerian
graphing has been that only tones, not notes, are shown in graphs, even at foreground levels. See William Rothstein, On Implied Tones, Music Analysis 10,
no. 3 (1991): 295.
20. For an extensive discussion of this point, see Matthew Brown, Debussys
Ibria: Studies in Genesis and Structure (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003).

Notes, pp. 26

241

Introduction
1. For a summary of The Classical Theory of Concepts, see two articles by
Edward E. Smith, Concepts and Thought, in The Psychology of Human Understanding, ed. Robert J. Sternberg and Edward E. Smith, 1949 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1988); and Concepts and Induction, in Foundations of Cognitive Science, ed. Michael L. Posner, 5025 (Cambridge, MA: MIT
Press, 1989); see also Alvin I. Goldman, Philosophical Applications of Cognitive
Science (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993), 126ff.
2. See Matthew Brown and Douglas J. Dempster, The Scientific Image of
Music Theory, Journal of Music Theory 33 (1989): 65106; and Brown and
Dempster, Evaluating Music Analyses and Theories: Five Perspectives, Journal
of Music Theory 34 (1990): 24779.
3. See Smith, Concepts and Induction, 505ff.
4. Goldman, Philosophical Applications of Cognitive Science, 128.
5. Ibid., 128.
6. See Schenker, Counterpoint II, part 6, chap. 3, par. 17, pp. 23542; and
Free Composition, par. 172, p. 62.
7. For a long discussion of the role concepts play in music theory, see Mark
DeBellis, Music and Conceptualization (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1995).
8. For general accounts of these problems, see John Losee, A Historical
Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1993); William Bechtel, Philosophy of Science: An Overview for Cognitive Science
(Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1988); Robert Klee, Introduction to the Philosophy of
Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); Philip Kitcher, Explanatory
Unification and the Causal Structure of the World, in Scientific Explanation, ed.
Philip Kitcher and Wesley C. Salmon, 410505, Minnesota Studies in the
Philosophy of Science 13 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989);
Philip Kitcher, The Advancement of Science (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1993); David Papineau, Philosophy of Science, in The Blackwell Companion to
Philosophy, ed. Nicholas Bunnin and E. P. Tsui-James, 290324 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1996); Wesley Salmon, Four Decades of Scientific Explanation, in Scientific Explanation, ed. Philip Kitcher and Wesley C. Salmon, 3219, Minnesota
Studies in the Philosophy of Science 13 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1989); Martin Curd and J. A. Cover, Philosophy of Science: The Central
Issues (New York: Norton, 1998).
9. The classic presentation of this problem has been offered by Henry
Kyburg. According to him, we could explain why a sample of salt dissolves by
claiming that it does so because a magician in a funny hat has cast a spell on the
salt. If we assume that all samples of salt hexed by the particular spell dissolve in
water, then this explanation conforms to Hempel and Oppenheims version of
The Covering-Law Model. The snag, of course, is that the magicians spell has
nothing to do with the solubility of salt in water; there must be some way of

242

Notes, pp. 712

excluding accounts like this one. For details, see Henry Kyburg, Comment,
Philosophy of Science 35 (1965): 14751.
10. Nelson Goodman, The Problem of Counterfactual Conditionals,
Journal of Philosophy 44 (1947): 11328.
11. To quote Peter Railton, Where the orthodox covering-law account of
explanation propounded by Hempel and others was right has been in claiming
that explanatory practice in the sciences is in a central way law-seeking or nomothetic. Where it went wrong was in interpreting this fact as grounds for saying
that any successful explanation must succeed either in virtue of explicitly invoking covering laws or by implicitly asserting the existence of such laws; Peter
Railton, Probability, Explanation, and Information, Synthese 48 (1981):
24849, cited in Salmon, Four Decades of Scientific Explanation, 162.
12. Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim, Studies in the Logic of Explanation,
Philosophy of Science 15 (1948): 13575.
13. For an extensive discussion of the relevance of functional explanations
to music theory, see John Brackett, Philosophy of Science as Philosophy of
Music Theory (Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 2003).
The classic defense of historical narratives can be found in Michael Scriven,
Definitions, Explanations, and Theories, in Concepts, Theories, and the MindBody Problem, ed. H. Feigl, M. Scriven, and G. Maxwell, 99195, Minnesota
Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota
Press, 1958); and Wesley Salmon, Scientific Explanation and the Causal Structure of
the World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984).
14. See Carl Hempel, The Logic of Functional Explanation, in Aspects
of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science, 297330
(New York: Free Press, 1965).
15. Sylvain Bromberger, An Approach to Explanation, in Analytic Philosophy, ed. R. J. Butler, 72105 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1968). Brombergers original
argument concerns a flagpole. Imagine a flagpole of height h casts a shadow of
length l. Knowing the length of the shadow, the angle of elevation of the sun
(initial conditions), the laws of light propagation and elementary geometry, we
can deduce the height of the flagpole. Although such an argument is deductively
valid and follows The Covering-Law Model, it does not constitute an explanation because the flagpole causes the shadow and not vice versa. See also Hempel,
Aspects of Scientific Explanation, 42930.
16. For an extensive discussion of the role causality plays in scientific theories,
see Judea Pearl, Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2000), especially the epilogue entitled The Art and Science of
Cause and Effect, 33158. Stathis Psillos gives a nice survey of the philosophical problems posed by the concept of causation in his recent book, Causation and
Explanation (Chesham, Bucks.: Acumen, 2002).
17. W. V. Quine and J. S. Ullian, The Web of Belief (New York: McGraw-Hill,
1978), 87.
18. Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law (New York: Modern
Library, 1994), 150.

Notes, pp.1217

243

19. See Losee, A Historical Introduction, 158ff.; Bechtel, Philosophy of


Science, 22ff.
20. The claim that Handel, J. S. Bach, Scarlatti, C. P. E. Bach, Haydn,
Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, and Brahms
wrote music that is quintessentially tonal does not mean that their music is typical tonal music. Indeed, one might argue that it is precisely because their music is
in many respects untypical that it has been canonized. Having said this, their
music did serve as a benchmark to which other composers continually aspire. As
we will see in chapter 6, this fact suggests that what Schenkerian theory models
is not tonal music in general, but an expert composers internalized knowledge of
functional monotonality. It is also worth mentioning that within the repertory of
music written by Handel, J. S. Bach, Scarlatti, C. P. E. Bach, Haydn, Mozart,
Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, and Brahms, Schenkers
sample of pieces seems to have been more or less random.
21. See R. G. Swinburn, The Paradoxes of Confirmationa Survey,
American Philosophical Quarterly 8 (1971): 31830.
22. David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, 2nd ed.,
reprint (La Salle IL: Open Court Press, 1966), 46.
23. This original version of this paradox presumes that the claim If X is a
raven, then it is black is logically equivalent to the claim that If X is not black,
then it is not a raven. This equivalence suggests that the claim ravens are black
is confirmed by appealing to any other object that is not black, such as a red shoe.
24. See Nelson Goodman, The New Riddle of Induction, in Fact, Fiction,
and Forecast, 2nd ed. (Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1965). For an extensive
discussion of the issue, see Douglas Stalker, ed., Grue: The New Riddle of Induction
(Chicago: Open Court Press, 1994). According to Goodmans classic formulation of the problem, an object is grue if it is green before time t and blue after t. If
t is the year 2005 and prior to that date we observe an object that is green, then
we cannot assume conclusively that it is indeed green and not grue.
25. Simon Blackburn, Entrenchment, Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 121.
26. Losee, A Historical Introduction, 21113; Quine and Ullian, The Web of
Belief, 8789.
27. W. V. Quine, Two Dogmas of Empiricism, in From a Logical Point of
View (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953), 41.
28. Klee, Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, 62.
29. Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, rev. ed. (New York: Harper
and Row, 1968).
30. Karl Popper, The Place of Mind in Nature, in Mind in Nature, ed.
Richard Q. Elvee (New York: Harper & Row, 1982), 32.
31. Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge, 3rd ed. (London: Routledge, 2002), 48.
32. For a lively account of the problems of demarcation between science
and non-science, see Patrick Grim, ed., Philosophy of Science and the Occult
(Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1982).

244

Notes, pp. 1720

33. R. D. Tweney, M. E. Doherty, and C. R. Mynatt, On Scientific Thinking


(New York: Columbia University Press, 1981). See also Bechtel, Philosophy of Science, 37; and K. I. Manktelow and D. E. Over, Inference and Understanding: A Philosophical and Psychological Perspective (London: Routledge,
1990), 133.
34. Papineau, Philosophy of Science, 294.
35. Otto Neurath originally referred to this image in his article Protokollstze, Erkenntnis 3 (1932): 2048. This essay is translated by George Schick as
Protocol Sentences, in Logical Positivism, ed. A. J. Ayer, 199208 (New York:
Free Press, 1959). Quine mentions Neuraths account in his Identity, Ostension,
and Hypostasis, in From a Logical Point of View, 6579 (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1961; 2nd ed. 1980). It became a mainstay of Quines
later writings. For details see Matthew Brown, Adrift on Neuraths Boat: The
Case for Naturalized Music Theory, Journal of Musicology 15, no. 3 (1997):
33042, esp. 330 and 33738.
36. W. V. Quine, What Price Bivalence? in Theories and Things (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), 31.
37. Ibid.
38. My six criteria follow those listed by Thomas Kuhn in his essay, Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice, in The Essential Tension (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1977), 32039. I have simply refined his notion of
consistency. According to him, a theory should be consistent, not only internally or with itself, but also with other currently accepted theories applicable to
related aspects of nature. (32122). I use the term consistency to refer to
Kuhns internal consistency and coherence to refer the idea of external consistency with other theories. Although Quine and Ullians list is slightly different
from the one presented by Kuhn, it captures many of the same ideas; see The Web
of Belief, 6482. For a handy discussion of Kuhns views and the role of epistemic
values in general, see Curd and Cover, Philosophy of Science, 83253. See also
Hilary Putnam, The Philosophers of Sciences Evasion of Values, in The Collapse of the Fact/Value Dichomoty and Other Essays (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 2002), 13545.
39. See Norwood Hanson, Patterns of Discovery (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1958); Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd
ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996); P. K. Feyerabend, Against
Method (London: New Left Books, 1975).
40. This paraphrase is cited by Alfred Ayer, Philosophy in the Twentieth
Century (New York: Random House, 1982), 157. Although Quine could not
remember where this quote came from, he agreed with its message (personal communication).
41. W. V. Quine, Five Milestones of Empiricism, in Theories and Things, 71.
42. For a summary of the debate between Paul Churchland and Jerry
Fodor on theory-laden observation, see DeBellis, Music and Conceptualization,
80116.

Notes, pp. 2025

245

43. See Richard Boyd, The Current Status of Scientific Realism, in Scientific Realism, ed. Jarrett Leplin (Berkeley: University of California Press,
1984), 53.
44. For a classic account of Theory Reduction, see Ernst Nagel, The Structure of Science: Problems in the Logic of Scientific Explanation, 2nd ed. (Indianapolis,
IN: Hackett, 1979), 33697.
45. Graham Chapman et al., The Complete Monty Pythons Flying Circus: All
the Words (New York: Pantheon, 1989), 2:11820.
46. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.
47. Kitcher, Explanatory Unification and the Causal Structure of the
World, 477.
48. Kuhn, Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice, 322.
49. According to Feynman, Every theory that you make has to be analyzed
against all possible consequences, to see if it predicts anything else as well.
Feynman, The Character of Physical Law, 32.
50. Kuhn, Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice, 322.
51. Although this notion does not appear in this form in the writings of
William of Ockham (ca. 12851347), it can be traced back as far as Aristotle, see
Robert Audi, ed., The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1995), 545.
52. See W. V. Quine, Atoms, in Quiddities: An Intermittently Philosophical
Dictionary (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 12.
53. Quine and Ullian, The Web of Belief, 71.
54. See Robert L. Causey, Unity of Science (Dordrecht: D. Reidel, 1977).
55. Salzer, Structural Hearing.
56. Richard Taruskin, Review: Kevin Korsyn, Towards a Poetics of Musical Influence, and Joseph N. Straus, Remaking the Past, Journal of the American
Musicological Society 46 (1993): 125.

Chapter 1
1. Schenker, Harmony, par. 88, p. 159. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.
2. For example, in Counterpoint I, he noted, The phenomena of [tonal]
composition, then, are invariably to be understood only as [transformations] the
prolongations of those principles. Schenker, Counterpoint I, introduction, p. 13.
Similarly, at the end of Counterpoint II, he claimed that tonal relationships can
be treated as prolongations of the fundamental laws. Schenker, Counterpoint II,
part 6, introduction, p. 176. For rather different interpretations of this passage,
see Joseph Dubiel, When You Are a Beethoven: Kinds of Rules in Schenkers
Counterpoint, Journal of Music Theory 34 (1990): 291340, esp. 29293; and
Robert Snarrenberg, Schenkers Interpretative Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1997), 953.

246

Notes, pp. 2543

3. For example, according to Kirnberger, What is forbidden in strict style


is not only permissible in freer style but often sounds very good because the
expression is often assisted by such deviations from the rules. This is particularly
true in situations where disagreeable passions are to be expressed. Kirnberger,
The Art of Strict Musical Composition, trans. David Beach and Jrgen Thym (New
Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982), 152.
4. Johann Joseph Fux, Gradus ad Parnassum (Vienna: Johann Peter van
Ghelen, 1725); ed. and trans. Alfred Mann as The Study of Counterpoint, rev. ed.
(New York: Norton, 1973).
5. See Alfred Mann, Theory and Practice: Great Composers as Teachers and
Students (New York: Norton, 1987).
6. Joel Lester, Compositional Theory in the Eighteenth Century (Cambridge,
MA: Harvard University Press, 1992), 2631.
7. Ibid., 3334.
8. David Lewin, An Interesting Global Rule for Species Counterpoint,
In Theory Only 6 (1981): 1944. Lewin states his law on pp. 22 and 25.
9. Ibid., 24.
10. According to Mann, The repetition of a tonethe only way of using
oblique motion in the first speciesmay occur occasionally in the counterpoint;
however, the same tone should not be repeated more than once. See Fux, The
Study of Counterpoint, 29n.
11. See ibid., 50n.
12. Theorists disagree about whether or not neighbor notes should be
included in third species. Fux generally did not include them, though he
included a lower neighbor in at least one example; see the penultimate measure
of Fig. 132 in Fux, The Study of Counterpoint, 92. Mozart seems to have followed
this practice, including lower neighbor tones in third species, especially at
cadences; see H. Hertzmann, B. B. Oldman, D. Heartz, and A. Mann, eds., Thomas
Attwood: Theorie- und Kompositionsstudien bei Mozart, in Wolfgang Amadeus
Mozart. Neue Ausgabe smtlicher Werke X: 30/i (Kassel: Brenreiter, 1965),
5361. Schenker, however, argued against their use.
13. Fux, The Study of Counterpoint, 5556. Fuxs distinction is quite different, of course, from Kirnbergers distinction between essential and unessential
dissonances.
14. Ibid., 139.
15. Ibid., 71.
16. Schenker, Harmony, par. 88, p. 159. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.
17. Ibid.
18. Ibid., par. 85, p. 155. Used by permission of the University of Chicago
Press, 1954.
19. For details, see Matthew Brown, The Diatonic and the Chromatic in
Schenkers Theory of Harmonic Relations, Journal of Music Theory 30 (1986):
134.

Notes, pp. 4456

247

20. For an extensive discussion of position finders, see Richmond Browne,


Tonal Implications of the Diatonic Set, In Theory Only 5 (1981): 321.
21. Matthew Brown, Douglas J. Dempster, and Dave Headlam, The
IV(V) Hypothesis: Testing the Limits of Schenkers Theory of Tonality, Music
Theory Spectrum 19 (1997): 15583.
22. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 1, par. 20, pp. 94100.
23. Schenker, The Prelude of Bachs Partita No. 3 for Solo Violin [BWV
1006], trans. John Rothgeb, The Masterwork in Music 1 (1994), 47.
24. For example, see Schenkers graph of Beethovens Rondo a capriccio, Op.
129, esp. mm. 302316, in Free Composition, Fig. 134.6.
25. See Schenkers discussion of the theme in The Masterwork in Music 3
(1999), 11ff.
26. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 161, p. 56.
27. Schenker, Brahmss Study, Octaven und Quinten, 166.
28. Ibid., 3031 and 15658.
29. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 164, p. 59.
30. Schenker, Brahmss Study, Octaven und Quinten, 15456.
31. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 161, p. 56.
32. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 2, chap. 1, par. 2, p. 111.
33. Schenker, Counterpoint II, part 3, chap. 1, par. 3, p. 3.
34. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 2, chap. 4, par. 10, p. 283.
35. Schenker discussed the derivation of neighbor tones in Counterpoint II,
part 3, chap. 3, par. 2, pp. 7677. He dealt with suspensions in Counterpoint I,
part 2, chap. 4, par. 45, pp. 26667.
36. Schenker, Laws of the Art of Music, trans. Robert Snarrenberg, Der
Tonwille 1 (1922): 51.
37. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 66 and 10612, pp. 32 and 4243.
38. Ibid., par. 5, p. 12.
39. Ibid., par. 164, p. 59.
40. John Rothgeb, Strict Counterpoint and Tonal Theory, Journal of
Music Theory 19 (1975): 278.
41. Schenker, Generalbasslehre (ms.), 47, trans. John Rothgeb in Schenkerian
Theory: Its Implications for the Undergraduate Curriculum, Music Theory Spectrum 3 (1981): 146.
42. For details, see Matthew Brown, A Rational Reconstruction of
Schenkerian Theory, (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1989), 212ff.; Donald G.
Traut, Counterpoint, Form, and Tonality in the First Movement of Stravinskys
Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, Masters thesis (L.S.U., 1995),
4851; and Donald G. Traut, Revisiting Stravinskys Concerto, Theory and
Practice 25 (2000): 6586.
43. Schenker, Counterpoint I, introduction, part V, p. 16.
44. Ibid.
45. Schenker, Harmony, par. 54, p. 121. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.

248

Notes, pp. 5765

46. See Brown, A Rational Reconstruction, 86. I would like to thank


Andrew Cohen for helping me formulate The Complementarity Principle.
47. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 2, chap. 1, par. 2, p. 112. Indeed, as he put
it in the preface, at the start of all musical technique is derived from two basic
ingredients: voice leading and the progression of Stufen. Counterpoint I, preface,
p. xxv.
48. Schenker, Counterpoint II, part 3, chap. 1, par. 14, p. 10.
49. Schenker, Counterpoint I, preface, p. xxxi.
50. Ibid., part 1, chap. 2, par. 23, p. 105.
51. Ibid., part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, p. 23.
52. Ibid., part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, p. 24.
53. For general discussions of Schenkers rejection of functional equivalence, see Robert Wason, Viennese Harmonic Theory from Albrechtsberger to
Schenker and Schoenberg (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 1985), 12627; Brown, A
Rational Reconstruction, 19299; and Matthew Brown and Robert Wason,
Review of Heinrich Schenker, Counterpoint, translated by John Rothgeb and
Jrgen Thym, Music Theory Spectrum 11 (1989): 23239, esp. 23738. Another
area of concern is that of substitution. Obviously, the notion of functional equivalence presupposes the notion that some chords can be substituted for another.
But it is not clear that adequate guidelines are given about when a substitution
can take place. For example, the following chords are treated as equivalent
I/VI, IV/II, and V/VII. Now imagine a simple progression III6VI. Suppose we
substitute the opening I with a VI, the penultimate V with a VII6 and the final I
with another VI. Instead of having an unambiguous progression in C major, we
would produce a modal progression in A minor!
54. Schenkers notation in Free Composition of Figs. 15.2cd, 15.3c, 15.6,
16.2c, 16.3c, 16.5, and 18.3 seems to confirm this point.
55. For a different interpretation, see Eytan Agmon, Functional Harmony
Revisited: A Prototype-Theoretic Approach, Music Theory Spectrum 17 (1995):
196214.
56. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 84, p. 35.
57. Ibid., par. 79, p. 35.
58. See, for example, Schenkers discussion of direct chromatic successions
in Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 2, par. 4, p. 46ff.; and Free Composition, par. 249,
pp. 9192.
59. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 250, p. 92.
60. Ibid., par. 249, p. 91.
61. Ibid., par. 233 and 249, pp. 83 and 9192.
62. Ibid., par. 194, p. 71.
63. Ibid.
64. Brown, Dempster, and Headlam, The IV/V Hypothesis, 15583.
65. Schenker, Counterpoint I, preface, p. xxxi. Emphasis in original.
66. Quine, Quiddities, 8.
67. Ibid.

Notes, pp. 6774

249

Chapter 2
1. Besides Free Composition, Schenker also used this motto starting with
vol. 1 of Der Tonwille (1921) and in each part of Counterpoint II.
2. See Schenker, Free Composition, par. 45, p. 25.
3. See ibid.
4. For example, Schenker claimed that his principles of reduction are
analogous to those traditionally under the rubric of diminution theory, see Free
Composition, par. 49, p. 26.
5. See ibid., par. 28, p. 17.
6. In Harmony, Schenker mainly reduced passages to fairly local prototypes.
Yet, there are times when he was also thinking in wider terms. For example, in
par. 131, he claimed: In the form of established keys we have the same progression of Stufen, albeit at a superior level. For the sake of the construction of content
in a larger sense, the natural element of Stufengang is elevated correspondingly.
Harmony, par. 131, p. 246 (used by permission of the University of Chicago Press).
For a general discussion of Schenkers views, see Matthew Brown, The Diatonic
and the Chromatic in Schenkers Theory of Harmonic Relations, Journal of
Music Theory 30 (1986): 1416; Carl Schachter Analysis by Key: Another Look
at Modulation, Music Analysis 6, no, 3 (1987): 289318; and Rothstein,
Review: Articles on Schenker and Schenkerian Theory in The New Grove
Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Journal of Music Theory 45, no. 1
(2001): 2089.
7. See also Schenker, Beethoven neunte Sinfonie (Vienna: Universal, 1912),
ed. and trans. John Rothgeb as Beethovens Ninth Symphony (New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press, 1992); and Schenker, ed., Beethoven Piano Sonata, Op. 109
(Vienna: Universal, 1913); Beethoven Piano Sonata, Op. 110 (Vienna: Universal,
1914); Beethoven Piano Sonata, Op. 111 (Vienna: Universal, 1915); Beethoven
Piano Sonata, Op. 101 (Vienna: Universal, 1920). For an excellent general history,
see William Pastille, The Development of the Ursatz in Schenkers Published
Works, in Trends in Schenkerian Research, ed. Allan Cadwallader, 7185 (New
York: Schirmer, 1990); and William Pastille, Heinrich Schenker, Anti-Organicist,
19th-Century Music 8, no. 1 (1984): 3435.
8. Pastille, The Development of the Ursatz, 7476.
9. See Schenker, Free Composition, par. 8, p. 12, and par. 26870, pp. 1078.
10. For example, according to Schachter, Schenker conceives of the fundamental structure as a kind of second-species counterpoint with dissonant passing
tones, rather than as a first-species counterpoint restricted to consonances.
Schachter, A Commentary on Schenkers Free Composition, Journal of Music
Theory 25, no. 1 (1981): 126. More recently, Robert Snarrenberg refers to
Schenkers theory as a second-species model of tonality; see Snarrenberg,
Competing Myths: The American Abandonment of Schenkers Organicism,
in Theory, Analysis and Meaning in Music, ed. Anthony Pople (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1994), 39, 54.

250

Notes, pp. 7479

11. See, for example, par. 84 (p. 154) of Schenkers Harmony, entitled The
Lack of Stufen in Strict Counterpoint.
12. Peter Westergaard, An Introduction to Tonal Theory (New York: Norton,
1975), 426n. For a very helpful survey of Westergaards work, see Stephen Peles,
An Introduction to Westergaards Tonal Theory, In Theory Only 13, no. 14
(1997): 7393.
13. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 69, p. 32.
14. For a recent survey of the relevant literature, see David Smyth,
Schenkers Octave Lines Reconsidered, Journal of Music Theory 43, no. 1
(1999): 10133.
15. David Neumeyer, The Urlinie from 8 as a Middleground Phenomenon, In Theory Only 9, no. 56 (1987): 325; David Neumeyer, The Ascending
Urlinie, Journal of Music Theory 31, no. 2 (1988): 271303; and David Neumeyer,
The Three-Part Ursatz, In Theory Only 10 (1987): 329, esp. 3.
16. See Susan Tepping, An Interview with Felix-Eberhard von Cube,
Indiana Theory Review 6 (198283): 77103.
17. The same point can be used to counter Peter Westergaards charge that
3-lines are conceptually superior to 5 - and 8-lines, see An Introduction to Tonal
Theory, 426n.
18. Robert Joseph Lubben, Schenker the Progressive: Analytic Practice in
Der Tonwille, Music Theory Spectrum 15 (1993): 65ff.
19. Eugene Narmour, Beyond Schenkerism (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1977).
20. Schenker explained this point very nicely at the opening of Counterpoint
II: Now the triad reaches us by both routes, but with only this difference of effect:
in their vertical dimension, it sounds in its complete, palpable, physical totality, so
to speak, while the horizontal dimension unrolls step by step, through the detour
of melodic evolution. Schenker, Counterpoint II, part 3, chap. 1, par. 2, p. 2. Significantly, he anticipated this idea in the Harmony by claiming 1) that the concept of an interval is bound to and limited by the concept of its harmonizability
and 2) that the harmonic element has to be pursued in both directions: the horizontal as well as the vertical. Schenker, Harmony, par. 76, p. 134.
21. Schenker confirms the idea that neighbor motion implies a prior repetition in Free Composition, par. 108, p. 42.
22. According to Schenker, The descending linear progression always signifies a motion from the upper to the inner voice; ascending linear progression
denotes a motion from the inner voice to the upper voice. See Schenker, Free
Composition, par. 203, p. 73.
23. For discussions of mentally retained tones, see Schenker, Counterpoint
II, part 3, chap. 2, par. 2, esp. pp. 57ff.; Schenker, Further Considerations of the
Urlinie: II, trans. John Rothgeb, The Masterwork in Music 2 (1996), 3ff.; and
Schenker, Free Composition, par. 93 and 204, pp. 3839 and 73, etc. William
Rothstein considers the term in detail in his thesis, Rhythm and the Theory of
Levels (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1981), 91ff.

Notes, pp. 8093

251

24. For clarification of Schenkers views, see Further considerations of the


Urlinie: II, trans. John Rothgeb, The Masterwork in Music 2 (1996), 122.
25. For an extensive discussion of implied tones, see William Rothstein,
On Implied Tones, Music Analysis 10, no. 3 (1991): 289328.
26. Although Schenker did not include this transformation in Parts II and
III of Free Composition, he used it freely in his graphs. For an extensive discussion of displacement, see Rothstein, Rhythm and the Theory of Structural
Levels.
27. Matthew Brown, A Rational Reconstruction of Schenkerian Theory
(Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1989), 12829. The argument runs as follows.
Imagine that a soprano voice moves from the note S1 to the note S2 and an alto
moves from the note A1 to the note A2. The notes of these voices can be connected in many ways. If S1 is linked to A1 (or A1 to S1) or S2 to A2 (or A2 to S2),
then the result is an unfolding . If S1 is joined to A2 and A1 to S2, then the result is
a voice crossing or a voice exchange. If S1 is separate from A2 but A1 is bound to
S2, then the result is motion from an inner voice. Finally, if A1 is separate from S2
but S1 is linked to A2, then the result is motion to an inner voice or reaching over.
28. Schenker, Free Composition, chap. 1, section 3, pp. 56.
29. These are adapted from Ibid., Figures 1418, par. 5376, pp. 2934.
30. Ibid., par. 55, pp. 2930.
31. Ibid., par. 56, p. 30.
32. Ibid., par. 56, p. 30. Emphasis in original.
33. Ibid., par. 65, p. 31.
34. Ibid., par, 189, p. 69. Emphasis in original.
35. Ibid., par. 94, p. 39.
36. Ibid.
37. See Bryce Rytting, Structure vs. Organicism in Schenkerian Analysis,
(Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1996).
38. Oster adds one in Free Composition.
39. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 18687.
40. Ibid., par. 18990.
41. See ibid., par. 304.
42. See ibid., pp. xxiii and xxiv.
43. Babbitt, The Structure and Function of Music Theory, College Music
Symposium 5 (1965): 5960.
44. See Schenker, Free Composition, par. 254, p. 100. See also ibid., par. 30,
and the section on diminution, par. 25166. For a general discussion of the
concept, see Charles Burkhart, Schenkers Motivic Parallelisms, Journal of
Music Theory 22, no. 2 (1978): 14575.
45. Schenker published his graph of this remarkable piece in his essay
The Representation of Chaos from Haydns Creation, trans. William Drabkin,
The Masterwork in Music 2 (1996), 97105.
46. Donald Francis Tovey, The Creation, in Essays on Musical Analysis,
vol. 5 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1937), 11446.

252

Notes, pp. 96121

47. David Beach, A Recurring Pattern in Mozarts Music, Journal of Music


Theory 27, no. 1 (1983): 129.
48. Charles Burkhart, Anthology for Musical Analysis, 4th ed. (New York:
Harcourt Brace, 1986), 284. See also Schachter, Analysis by Key, 298; and
Carl Schachter, The Sketches for Beethovens Sonata for Piano and Violin,
Op. 24, Beethoven Forum 3 (1994): 10725. It must be stressed, however, that
Mozart was by no means the only composer to use this strategy; not only does
Heinrich Koch hint at this procedure, but Joel Galand gives a good example
from Haydns Symphony 85 in his excellent article, Form, Genre, and Style
in the Eighteenth-Century Rondo, Music Theory Spectrum 17, no. 1 (1995):
3739.
49. For an excellent overview of Beethovens knowledge of Mozarts music
and possible models, see Lewis Lockwood, Beethoven before 1800: The Mozart
Legacy, Beethoven Forum 3 (1994): 3952.
50. Joseph Kerman, ed., Ludwig Beethoven: Autograph Miscellany from circa
1786 to 1799: British Museum Additional Manuscript 29801, ff. 39162 (London:
British Museum, 1967), vol. 1 (facs.), fol. 88r, vol. 2 (transcription), p. 228, and
comment on p. 293.
51. Schachter, Analysis by Key, 289.
52. They also demonstrate Schenkers claim that, although all tonal masterworks are based on the same laws of tonal voice leading and harmony, they do so
in extremely diverse ways. See Schenker, Free Composition, appendix H, p. 160;
originally part 1, chap. 1, section 4, p. 6.
53. Ibid., par. 29, p. 18.

Chapter 3
1. Quine, Quiddities, 162.
2. Quine and Ullian, The Web of Belief, 100.
3. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part IV, p. 14.
4. Ibid., part IV, p. 16.
5. Benjamin, Schenkers Theory and the Future of Music, 163.
6. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 161, p. 56.
7. For a comprehensive account of sequences in general, see Adam Ricci,
A Theory of the Harmonic Sequence (Ph.D. diss., University of Rochester,
2004).
8. Benjamin, Schenkers Theory and the Future of Music, 160.
9. As Alfred Mann observes, The forming of sequences (the so-called
monotonia) ought to be avoided as far as possible. See Fux, The Study of Counterpoint, ed. and trans. Alfred Mann (New York: Norton, 1973), 54.
10. Whereas Figures 91 and 92 of Gradus ad Parnassum conform to 5-line
paradigms, Figure 98 composes out a 3-line, 3 4 321.
11. Fux, The Study of Counterpoint, 98.

Notes, pp. 122128

253

12. According to Schenker, the Stufen IIVVIIIIIVIIIVI simply


define D minor without any tendency to sequence or modulate. Schenker,
Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, p. 26.
13. Schenker, The Organic Nature of Fugue, trans. Hedi Siegel, The Masterwork in Music 2 (1996), 48n.
14. To quote him: One cannot speak of melody and idea in the work of
the masters; it makes even less sense to speak of passage, sequence, padding,
or cement as if they were terms that one could possibly apply to art. Drawing a
comparison to language, what is there in a logically constructed sentence that
one could call cement? How does one distinguish an idea from cement?
Schenker, Free Composition, par. 50, p. 27.
15. Schenker, Counterpoint II, part 6, chap. 1, par. 2, p. 180.
16. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 22129, pp. 7882.
17. According to Schenker, double counterpoint therefore takes its place
in the ranks of such fallacious concepts as the ecclesiastical modes, sequences,
and the usual explanation of consecutive fifths and octaves. Schenker, Free
Composition, par. 222, p. 78.
18. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 221, p. 78.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid., par. 224, p. 79.
21. Rothstein, Review: Articles on Schenker and Schenkerian Theory in
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Journal of Music
Theory 45, no. 1 (2001): 20910.
22. See Schenker, Free Composition, par. 215.
23. Schenker, Bachs Little Prelude No. 1 in C Major, BWV 924, trans.
Joseph Dubiel, in Der Tonwille ed. William Drabkin, 1:14144 (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004). For a catalog of Schenkers analyses of this Prelude, see
Larry Laskowski, Heinrich Schenker: An Annotated Index of His Analyses of Musical
Works (New York: Pendragon Press), 2223. Perhaps the most significant difference between the reading in Der Tonwille and the reading in Free Composition is
that in the former, he treated mm. 17 as an ascending fourth span GABC,
but in the latter, he regarded them as an ascending sixth span. This change
reflects Schenkers growing commitment to the three basic forms of the Ursatz
and the codification of his voice-leading transformations, especially that of
unfolding.
24. Schenker included his sketch of the prelude in his general discussion of
unfolding. See Free Composition, par. 14042. He noted Bachs decision to support
the bass arpeggiation with unfoldings in the upper voices in Free Composition,
par. 243, p. 87ff. Elsewhere Schenker mentioned that the Prelude is a perfect
example of a one-part form. See Free Composition, par. 307, p. 131.
25. See Schenker, Free Composition, par. 224.
26. To quote Schenker, At the same time, interpolation of the fifthprogressions serves to remove consecutive fifths. Schenker, Bachs Little Prelude,
141. See also Schenker, Free Composition, par. 283, pp. 11617.

254

Notes, pp. 130143

27. Schenker, Harmonielehre, ex. 36 (subdominant fifth), and p. 416 (pedal


point).
28. Schenker, The Organic Nature of Fugue, 48ff. Schenkers analysis was
printed earlier as Joh. Seb. Bach: Wohltermperiertes Klavier, Band I, Praeludium C-Moll, Die Musik 15, no. 9 (June 1923): 64151; on the differences
between the two essays, see Siegels note on p. 48 of The Organic Nature of
Fugue.
29. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 221 and 224, fig. 95e4.
30. Schenker specifically draws parallels between the two preludes; see
The Organic Nature of Fugue, 50n40.
31. Schenker, The Prelude of Bachs Partita no. 3 for Solo Violin [BWV
1006], trans. John Rothgeb, The Masterwork in Music 1 (1994), 4041.
32. See Schenker, Free Composition, par. 43, 77 (especially Fig. 19b), and
100101 (especially Fig. 27ab).
33. David Smyth, Schenkers Octave Lines Reconsidered, Journal of Music
Theory 43, no. 1 (1999): 10133.
34. See Schenker, Bachs Little Prelude No. 1 in C Major, 142.
35. Schenker, Further Consideration of the Urlinie: I, trans. John
Rothgeb, The Masterwork in Music 1 (1994), 1045.
36. Schenker, Further Consideration of the Urlinie: I, 105.
37. Schenker, Free Composition, chap. 1, sec. 4, p. 6.

Chapter 4
1. Schenker, Free Composition, introduction, xxiii. I have changed Osters
wording slightly.
2. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 2, par. 1, 3334. Emphasis in
original.
3. See Schenker, Elucidations, in The Masterwork in Music 1 (1994),
11314.
4. See ibid., 113.
5. This maxim is usually translated as entities should not be multiplied
beyond necessity.
6. Paul M. Churchland, Ontological Status of Observables, in Images of
Science: Essays on Realism and Empiricism, ed. Paul M. Churchland and Clifford
A. Hooker, 4041 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985).
7. Ibid.
8. For a helpful discussion, see Leeman L. Perkins, Modal Strategies in
Okeghems Missa Cuiusvis Toni, in Music Theory and the Exploration of the Past,
ed. Christopher Hatch and David Bernstein, 5971 (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1993), esp. 6061.
9. William J. Mitchell, Elementary Harmony, 3rd ed. (Engelwood Cliffs,
NJ: Prentice Hall, 1965), 5.

Notes, pp. 143146

255

10. Edward Aldwell and Carl Schachter, Harmony and Voice Leading, 3rd ed.
(Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2003), 7.
11. Pieter Van den Toorn, The Music of Igor Stravinsky (New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press, 1983), 460n14.
12. Richard Taruskin, Chez Petrouchka: Harmony and Tonality chez
Stravinsky, 19th-Century Music 10, no. 3 (1987): 267.
13. Ibid.
14. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, pp. 2021. The purpose
of this digression was twofold: on the one hand, it allowed him to attack theorists
who used modes and scales to explain the behavior of tonal relationships (for
example, Capellan, Polak, Riemann, and Dittrichs); on the other, it allowed him
to criticize composers who tried to expand the sphere of tonality by writing in
modal or exotic styles (for example, Saint-Sans, Busoni).
15. Scholars have generally underestimated the importance of Schenkers
comments on mode. Roger Sessions did broach the question of mode in his short
review article, Heinrich Schenkers Contribution, Modern Music 12 (1935):
17075, but failed to appreciate Schenkers great insight that the properties of harmonic systems do not depend on the properties of scales. So far as I can tell, nobody
has ever stressed the significance of this claim. Nevertheless, several Schenkerians
have undertaken analytical studies of modal music. See, for example, Peter
Bergquist, Mode and Polyphony around 1500: Theory and Practice, Music Forum
1 (1967): 9961; William J. Mitchell, The Prologue to Orlando di Lassos
Prophetiae Sibyllarum, Music Forum 2 (1970): 26473; Saul Novack, Fusion of
Design and Tonal Order in Mass and Motet: Josquin Desprez and Heinrich Isaac,
Music Forum 2 (1970): 187263; Saul Novack, The History of Phrygian Mode in
the History of Tonality, Miscellanea Musicologica 9 (1977): 82127; Saul Novack,
The Analysis of Pre-Baroque Music, in Aspects of Schenkerian Theory, ed. David
Beach, 11333 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983); Felix Salzer,
Tonality in Early Medieval Polyphony: Towards a History of Tonality, Music
Forum 1 (1967): 3498; Felix Salzer, Heinrich Schenker and Historical Research:
Monteverdis Madrigal Oim, se tanto amate, in Aspects of Schenkerian Theory,
ed. David Beach, 13352 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983); Carl
Schachter, Landinis Treatment of Consonance and Dissonance: A Study in Fourteenth-Century Counterpoint, Music Forum 2 (1970): 13086; Lori Burns, Bachs
Modal Chorales, Harmonologia Series, 9 (Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon, 1995). Jonas
summarizes some of Schenkers arguments in his Introduction to the Theory of Heinrich Schenker, ed. and trans. John Rothgeb (New York: Longman, 1982), 2731.
16. To quote him: And thus countless systems are assumed in a situation in
which even one system in the strict sense of the word is impossible from the outset, since the all too modest tonal material is simply not differentiated enough.
For that reason, the so-called systemsagain exactly as in the earliest period of
Western musicare of value at most only as mechanical-descriptive tools and
can apply only to the horizontal dimension at that. Schenker, Counterpoint I,
part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, p. 21.

256

Notes, pp. 146156

17. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, pp. 20 and 39. In Harmony, he wrote, Hence there is no violence against the spirit of History in the
assumption that the old church modes, though they had their undeniable right
to existence, were nothing but experimentsexperiments in word and fact, i.e.,
in theory as well as practicewhence our art benefitted especially in so far as
they contributed decisively to the clarification, e contrario, of our understanding
of the two main systems. Harmony, par. 28, p. 59.
18. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 2, par. 1, p. 39.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid., part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, p. 20.
21. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 4, pp. 1112.
22. Schenker, Harmony, par. 41, p. 87.
23. These arrows are missing from Mann Borgeses translation.
24. Schenker, Harmony, par. 48, p. 93. Schenkers student Oswald Jonas
went one step further to explain how Phrygian and Lydian effects can also be created. According to him, these effects can arise when diminished triads are added
to the mix: in Phrygian mode the tonic and subdominant triads are minor and
the dominant triad is diminished, and in Lydian mode tonic and dominant triads
are major and the subdominant triad is diminished. Jonas, Introduction to the
Theory of Heinrich Schenker, 28.
25. Schenker, Harmony, par. 40, p. 86. Used by permission of the University
of Chicago Press. Translation modified slightly.
26. Ibid., par. 30, p. 76. Used by permission of the University of Chicago
Press. Translation modified slightly.
27. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, p. 21.
28. Ibid., part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, p. 28. Emphasis in original.
29. Schenker, Harmony, par. 2630, 3852, pp. 5576, 84115.
30. Numerous other examples of modal works can be found in ibid., par.
2630, pp. 5576.
31. Barry Cooper, Beethoven and the Creative Process (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 56.
32. Schenker, Harmony, par. 29, p. 65.
33. Ibid., par. 29, p. 63. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.
34. Ibid., par. 29, p. 66. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.
35. Ibid., par. 29, pp. 6263.
36. Significantly, Kevin Korsyn never bothers to mention Schenkers discussion of the passage in J. W. N. Sullivan and the Heiliger Dankgesang,
Beethoven Forum 2 (1993): 13374.
37. Schenker, Harmony, par. 29, pp. 6061. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.
38. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 2, par. 4, p. 57.
39. Ibid., part 1, chap. 2, par. 6, p. 57.
40. Schenker, Harmony, par. 29, p. 67. Used by permission of the University
of Chicago Press.

Notes, pp. 156166

257

41. Ibid., par. 29, pp. 6768. Used by permission of the University of
Chicago Press.
42. Ibid., par. 29, p. 68. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.
43. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 2, par. 1, p. 36. Schenkers discussion can be found on pp. 3439, Ex. 1314.
44. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 251, pp. 9596, Fig. 116.
45. Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 1, chap. 1, par. 5, p. 28.
46. Schenker, Chopin: Etude in G major, Op. 10, No. 5, trans. Bent, The
Masterwork in Music 1 (1925/1994), 97.
47. Arnold Schoenberg, Harmonielehre (Vienna: Universal, 1911, 3rd ed.
1922), chap. 20, trans. Roy E. Carter as Theory of Harmony (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1978), 39098; and Donald Francis Tovey, Harmony, in
The Forms of Music (Cleveland: Meridian, 1956), 69.
48. Matthew Brown, Tonality and Form in Debussys Prlude LAprsmidi dun faune, Music Theory Spectrum 15, no. 2 (1993): 12743.
49. Burkhart, Schenkers Motivic Parallelisms, Journal of Music Theory
22, no. 2 (1978): 157.
50. Van den Toorn, The Music of Igor Stravinsky, 73.
51. Ibid.
52. Carl Dahlhaus, Nineteenth-Century Music, trans. J. Bradford Robinson
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), p. 306.
53. Don Randel, Emerging Triadic Tonality in the Fifteenth Century,
Musical Quarterly 57 (1971): 7386. See also Robert W. Wienpahl, The Evolutionary Significance of 15th Century Cadential Formulae, Journal of Music
Theory 4, no. 2 (1960): 13152. Helen E. Bush, The Recognition of Chordal
Formation by Early Theorists, Musical Quarterly 32 (1946): 238.
54. Randel, Emerging Triadic Tonality in the Fifteenth Century, 7879,
exx. 12.
55. Ibid.
56. Ernest T. Ferand, What is Res Facta? Journal of the American Musicological Society 10 (1957): 12974; Margaret Bent, Res facta and Cantare Super
Librum, Journal of the American Musicological Society 36, no. 2 (1983): 37191;
Bonnie J. Blackburn, On Compositional Process in the Fifteenth Century,
Journal of the American Musicological Society 40, no. 2 (1987): 21084.
57. Blackburn, On Compositional Process in the Fifteenth Century, 252.
As she notes, Tinctoris gave two definitions of counterpoint, one in the Terminorum musicae diffinitorium (Treviso, ca. 1495) and the other in chapter 1 of the
Liber de arte contrapuncti (1477).
58. Blackburn, On Compositional Process in the Fifteenth Century, 252.
59. Ibid., 254.
60. For details, see ibid., 253 (emphasis in original). Incidentally, Jeppesen also
notes that repetitions are much more common in res facta than they are in noteagainst-note counterpoint for two voices. Knud Jeppesen, Counterpoint: The Vocal
Style of the Sixteenth Century, trans. Alfred Mann (New York: Dover, 1992), 12.

258

Notes, pp. 166173

61. Jeppesen, Counterpoint, 14, 81, 83, and 97103.


62. Andrew C. Haigh, Modal Harmony in the Music of Palestrina, in
Essays on Music in Honor of Archibald Thompson Davison (Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 1957), 114.
63. John Clough, The Leading Tone in Direct Chromaticism: From
Renaissance to Baroque, Journal of Music Theory 1, no. 1 (1957): 221; and
Clough, Indirect Chromaticism in the Renaissance, Journal of Music Theory 3,
no. 1 (1959): 14750.
64. G. M. Artusi, LArtusi, ovvero, Delle imperfezioni della moderna musica
(Venice: 1600), trans. Oliver Strunk in Source Readings in Music History, 3344
(New York: Norton, 1950).
65. Giulio Cesare Monteverdi, reply in Claudio Monteverdis Scherzi Musicali (Venice: 1607) trans. Oliver Strunk in Source Readings in Music History,
4552 (New York: Norton, 1950).
66. Monteverdi, Scherzi Musicali, 47.
67. Panayotis Mavromatis, The Early Keyboard Prelude as an Agent in the
Formation of Schenkerian Background Prototypes, Paper delivered at the Third
International Schenker Conference, Mannes College of Music, March 12, 1999.
68. Mary Louise Serafine, Music as Cognition: The Development of Thought in
Sound (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 56.
69. David Huron, Interval-Class Content in Equally Tempered Pitch-Class
Sets: Common Scales Exhibit Optimum Consonance, Music Perception 11
(1994): 303.

Chapter 5
1. Schenker, Miscellanea: Thoughts on Art and Its Relationships to the
General Scheme of Things, trans. Ian Bent, The Masterwork in Music 3 (1997), 71.
2. Ren Lenormand, tude sur lharmonie moderne (Paris: Monde musical,
1913).
3. Claude Debussy, Music in the Open Air, La Revue blanche, 1 June
1901, reprinted in Debussy on Music, coll. Franois Lesure, ed. and trans. Richard
Langham Smith (New York: Knopf, 1977), 41.
4. Claude Debussy, Debussy Letters, ed. Franois Lesure and trans. Roger
Nichols (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987), 7677.
5. Claude Debussy, A propos de Muguette, Gil Blas, 23 March 1903,
reprinted in Debussy on Music, 155. I have retranslated the terms parfait and
imparfait.
6. Debussy, Conversations, 1890, reprinted in Debussy: Prelude to The
Afternoon of a Faun, ed. William Austin, Norton Critical Scores (New York:
Norton, 1970), 130. For a facsimile of Maurice Emanuels transcription of these
conversations, see Lon Vallas, Claude Debussy: His Life and Works, trans. Maire
OBrien and Grace OBrien (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933), 84.

Notes, pp. 173180

259

7. Debussy, Conversations, 1890, 131.


8. The most important early attempts to explain the tonality of Debussys
music from a Schenkerian perspective can be found in Adele Katz, Challenge to
Musical Tradition (New York: Knopf, 1945), and in Felix Salzer, Structural Hearing: Tonal Coherence in Music (New York: Boni, 1952). For recent discussions of
this issue see, Annie K. Yih, Analyzing Debussy: Tonality, Motivic Sets and the
Referential Pitch-Class Specific Collection, Music Analysis 19, no. 2 (2000):
20329; and Boyd Pomeroy, Debussys Tonality: A Formal Perspective, in
The Cambridge Companion to Debussy, ed. Simon Trezise, 15578 (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2003). In my opinion, the main shortcoming of
these studies is that they all fail to establish in any precise way what the limits of
Schenkerian theory may or may not be.
9. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 16264, pp. 5760, Fig. 54.6. See also
Schenker, Counterpoint I, Ex. 184. Incidentally, Lenormand cites this celebrated
passage as well; see Etude sur lharmonie moderne, 27.
10. Schenker, Free Composition, Fig. 53.3.
11. To quote Schenker: Thus the preparation [of a suspension] itself can be
elided and the dissonances placed on the strong beat in its absence. Dissonant
chords thereby arise, for which in certain circumstances a purely implicit preparation
though the preceding harmony can be assumed; otherwise the apparently free dissonance must be understood as the clearly established internal element of a latent
passing motion. In the latter case, the elided consonance that would initiate the
passing motion is to be inferred from and supplied by the harmony belonging to the
dissonance itself. In this way we arrive at so-called free-suspensions, and it may be
that the ultimate origin of seventh-chords is best explained with reference to the
elision of a preparation or the consonant beginning of a passing-tone motion.
Schenker, Counterpoint I, part 2, chap. 4, par. 10, p. 283 (emphasis in original).
12. See Oswald Jonas, Introduction to the Theory of Heinrich Schenker ed. and
trans. John Rothgeb (New York: Longman, 1982), 120ff.
13. Schenker, Bach: Twelve Short Preludes, No. 12 [BWV 942], trans.
Hedi Siegel, in The Masterwork in Music 1 (1994), 6266.
14. Ibid., 66.
15. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 249, p. 92, Figure 114.8. For a rather
different account of the problem, see Howard Cinnamon, Tonic Arpeggiation
and Successive Equal Third Relations as Elements of Tonal Evolution in the
Music of Franz Liszt, Music Theory Spectrum 8 (1986): 124.
16. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 230, p. 82, Figure 100.6.
17. See Brown, The Diatonic and the Chromatic in Schenkers Theory of
Harmonic Relations, Journal of Music Theory 30 (1986): 134.
18. Schenker, Harmony, par. 156, p. 290. In Free Composition, he expressed
the same idea as follows: A truly well established tonality (or Tonalitt) can
guide even the greatest possible range of chromatic elements back to the fundamental triad. Schenker, Free Composition, p. 5. I have changed Osters translation, which reads: A firmly established tonality can guide even a large number

260

Notes, pp. 180186

of chromatic phenomenon back to the basic triad. Oster, trans., Free Composition, Introduction, p. xxiii. According to Schenker: Chromaticism is an element
which does not destroy diatony (or Diatonie), but which rather emphasizes and
confirms it. Schenker, Harmony, par. 155, p. 288. Used by permission of the
University of Chicago Press.
19. William J. Mitchell, The Tristan Prelude: Techniques and Structure,
Music Forum 1 (1967): 203.
20. Schenker, Harmony, par. 89, p. 174. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press. Translation changed slightly.
21. Schenker, Harmonielehre, par. 89, pp. 22022, Fig. 173. Unfortunately,
this extract is one of many passages omitted from Mann Borgeses English translation. Schenker repeated his general criticisms of Regers music in a comment
dated June 1911: One thinks, for instance of Regers silly way of writing: with
Reger, chord leads to chord, unsubstantiated by any sort of motive, and consequently the succession of chords has only an external effect. Insubstantial phenomena simply unload themselves at the outer doors of our consciousness. Only
substantial on the other hand, are able to penetrate into the depths. See
William Pastille, Review: Hellmuth Federhofer, Heinrich Schenker: Tagebchern
und Briefen, Journal of the American Musicological Society 39 (1986): 673.
22. See Schenker, Free Composition, par. 24445, p. 88ff.
23. See ibid., par. 244, p. 88.
24. Ibid., par. 307, p. 131.
25. See ibid.
26. For discussions of the term directional tonality or progressive tonality, see William Kinderman, Introduction, in The Second Practice of NineteenthCentury Music, ed. William Kinderman and Harald Krebs (Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press, 1996), 9.
27. Schenker, Free Composition, chap. 1, section 3, p. 5.
28. See Brown, Debussys Ibria: Studies in Genesis and Structure (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2003), 13556.
29. Graham George discusses the concept of interlocking tonality in his
book, Tonality and Musical Structure (London: Faber, 1970). For a brief discussion
of Georges work, see Kinderman, Introduction, in The Second Practice of Nineteenth-Century Music, 9.
30. See, for example, Gregory Proctor, Technical Bases of NineteenthCentury Chromatic Tonality, (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1978); and
Kinderman and Krebs eds., The Second Practice of Nineteenth-Century Music. To
quote Proctor, in classical diatonic tonality, chromaticism is defined as the interaction of different diatonic scales, but in nineteenth-century tonality, there is
but one chromatic scale from which all diatonic scales are derived as subsets.
Proctor, Technical Bases of Nineteenth-Century Chromatic Tonality, iiiiv.
31. For another response to these issues, see Robert P. Morgan, Are There
Two Practices in Nineteenth-Century Music? Journal of Music Theory 43, no. 1
(1999): 13563.

Notes, pp. 186202

261

32. For a discussion of the text, see Margaret G. Cobb, ed., The Poetic
Debussy: A Collection of His Song Texts and Selected Letters, 2nd ed., Eastman
Studies in Music (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 1994), 1023.
For another reading of the piece, see Wallace Berry, Musical Structure and Musical
Performance (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), 144216.
33. For a discussion of the text, see Cobb, ed., The Poetic Debussy, 12223.
34. To cement the connections, both pieces contains the same chromatic
inflection 5 6 DE in La mort des amants and AB in Claire de lune.
35. Katherine Bergeron, The Echo, the Cry, the Death of Lovers, 19thCentury Music 18, no. 2 (1994): 13650.
36. Robert Baldick, Introduction, in Huysmans, Against Nature, trans.
Robert Baldick (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1959), 13.
37. Jean Pierrot, The Decadent Imagination, 18801900, trans. Derek
Coltman (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 12324.
38. According to Des Esseintes, [Verlaine] alone had possessed the secret
hinting at certain strange spiritual aspirations, of whispering certain thoughts, of
murmuring certain confessions so softly, so quietly, so haltingly that the ear that
caught them was left hesitating, and passed on to the soul a languor made all the
more pronounced by the vagueness of these words that were guessed rather than
heard. Huysmans, Against Nature, 186.
39. See Marcel Dietschy, A Portrait of Debussy, ed. and trans. William
Ashbrook and Margaret G. Cobb (Oxford: Oxford Univerisity Press, 1990), 42.
40. See ibid., 49.
41. See Morgan, The Dissonant Prolongation. Several other writers have
noticed this inconsistency, among them Carl Schachter, A Commentary on
Schenkers Free Composition, Journal of Music Theory 25, no. 11 (1981):
13637; William Clark, Heinrich Schenker on the Nature of the Seventh
Chord, Journal of Music Theory 26, no. 2 (1982): 22159; Allen Forte and
Steven E. Gilbert, Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis (New York: Norton,
1982), 24445; Jonas, Introduction to the Theory of Heinrich Schenker, 12022.
The most notorious analyses appear in Schenker, Free Composition, Fig. 62, 14,
and par. 215.
42. For example, in the Preface to Counterpoint I, he noted: In comparison
with the works of our masters, todays compositions have to be considered musically
too simple, even far too simple and primitive. Despite heaviest orchestration,
despite noisy and pompous gestures, despite polyphony and cacophony, the
proudest products of Richard Strauss are inferiorin terms of true musical spirit
and authentic inner complexity of texture, form, and articulationto a string
quartet by Haydn, in which external grace hides the inner complexity, just as
color and fragrance of a flower render mysterious to humans the undiscovered,
great miracles of creation. Schenker, Preface, Counterpoint I, xxi.
43. To quote Schenker, The dissonant passing tone, including the passing
seventh, is itself a means of composing-out. Therefore, as long as it retains its dissonant quality, it cannot at the same time give rise to further composing-out; only

262

Notes, pp. 204214

the transformation of the dissonance into a consonance can make composing-out


possible. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 169, p. 61.
44. Schenker, Further Considerations of the Urlinie: II, trans. John
Rothgeb, The Masterwork in Music 2 (1996), 1718. See also Donald G. Traut,
Counterpoint, Form, and Tonality in the First Movement of Stravinskys Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments (M.A. thesis, Louisiana State University,
1995); and Traut, Revisiting Stravinskys Concerto, Theory and Practice 25
(2000): 6586.
45. Morgan, The Dissonant Prolongation, p. 53.
46. For a handy overview of the different positions, see James Baker,
Schenkerian Analysis and Post-Tonal Music, in Aspects of Schenkerian Theory,
ed. David Beach, 15386 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983), esp.
15368.
47. Edward Laufer, Review: Heinrich Schenker, Free Composition (Der freie
Satz), translated by Ernst Oster, Music Theory Spectrum 3 (1981): 161.
48. Ibid.
49. Ibid.

Chapter 6
1. See Matthew Brown, Adrift on Neuraths Boat: The Case for a Naturalized Music Theory, Journal of Musicology 15, no. 3 (1997): 33042; Douglas
Dempster, Aesthetic Experience and Psychological Definitions of Art, Journal of
Aesthetics and Art Criticism 11, no. 2 (1985): 15365; and Dempster, Renaturalizing Aesthetics, Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 21, no. 3 (1993): 35161.
2. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 1, p. 10.
3. Fred Lerdahl and Ray Jackendoff, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music
(Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1983), 5 (emphasis in original).
4. Schenker, Free Composition, Appendix H, p. 160.
5. See Schachter, A Commentary on Schenkers Free Composition, Journal of Music Theory 25, no. 1 (1987): 119.
6. Schenker, Harmony, par. 18, p. 40. Used by permission of the University
of Chicago Press. Translation slightly changed.
7. In response to my claims that Schenkers generation of the major system
is based on ad hoc and arbitrary assumptions, Suzannah Clark notes In each of
these cases, the factor Brown has missed is the Mysterious Five. Suzannah Clark,
Schenkers Mysterious Five, 19th-Century Music 23, no. 1 (1999): 87.
8. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 16, p. 14.
9. Schenker, Harmony, Preface, p. xxv. Used by permission of the University of Chicago Press.
10. Joseph Kerman, Contemplating Music (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985), 85. It is worth noting, however, that Schenker did not necessarily
believe that tonal composition was exhausted; see Schenker, Harmony, par. 8, p. 21.

Notes, pp. 214224

263

11. H. Budge, A Study of Chord Frequencies (New York: Bureau of Publications, Teachers College, Columbia University, 1943).
12. Lerdahl and Jackendoff, A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, 33738.
13. Ibid., 303.
14. Ibid., 111.
15. Ibid., pp. 304, 336, 40, and 41.
16. Ibid., 3067.
17. Ibid., 5.
18. Ibid.
19. According to David Neumeyer, Lerdahl and Jackendoffs prolongational reduction . . . has achieved no success at all, to judge from adoption of its
methods in the literature (outside of Lerdahl himself). He continues, the care
of its grounding and the logic of its method are matched only by its aridity as an
interpretative practice. David Neumeyer and Julian L. Hook, Review: Analysis
of Tonal Music: A Schenkerian Approach, by Allen Cadwallader and David
Gagn, Intgral 11 (1997): 22021.
20. Sloboda and Parker insist that such mental images are required for
memorizing and performing as well, see John A. Sloboda and David H. Parker,
Immediate Recall of Melodies, in Musical Structure and Cognition, ed. Peter
Howell, Ian Cross, and Robert West, 14367 (London: Academic Press,
1985).
21. Nicholas Cook, The Perception of Large-Scale Tonal Closure, Music
Perception 5, no. 2 (1987): 197206.
22. Robert West, Peter Howell, and Ian Cross, Modeling Perceived Musical Structure, in Musical Structure and Cognition, ed. Peter Howell, Ian Cross,
and Robert West (London: Academic Press, 1985), 46. They cite the work of
L. Cuddy and H. I. Lyons, Musical Pattern Recognition: A Comparison of
Listening to and Studying Tonal Structures and Tonal Ambiguities, Psychomusicology 1 (1981): 1533.
23. For some very perceptive remarks about levels of explanation, see David
Marr, Vision (New York: Freeman, 1982).
24. This point has been made by David Butler in A Musicians Guide to
Perception and Cognition (New York: Schirmer, 1992), 162.
25. J. J. Bharucha, Anchoring Effects in Music: The Resolution of Dissonance, Cognitive Psychology 16 (1984): 485518.
26. See, for example, Leonard B. Meyer, Explaining Music: Essays and Explorations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978); and Eugene Narmour,
Beyond Schenkerism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977).
27. Diana Deutsch, Delayed Pitch Comparisons and the Principle of Proximity, Perception and Psychophysics 23 (1978): 22730.
28. Burton S. Rosner and Eugene Narmour, Harmonic Closure: Music
Theory and Perception, Music Perception 9, no. 4 (1992): 407.
29. Carol Krumhansl, The Psychological Representation of Musical Pitch
in a Tonal Context, Cognitive Psychology 11 (1979): 34674.

264

Notes, pp. 224228

30. Rosner and Narmour, Harmonic Closure, 408.


31. Ibid., 407.
32. Bharucha, Anchoring Effects in Music, 507.
33. Carol Krumhansl, Cognitive Foundations of Musical Pitch (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1990), 236.
34. David Huron, Tone and Voice: A Derivation of the Rules of VoiceLeading from Perceptual Principles, Music Perception 19, no. 1 (2001): 164. For
a rare discussion of modal music, see J. E. Youngblood, Style as Information,
Journal of Music Theory 2 (1958): 2435.
35. Bharucha, Anchoring Effects in Music, 507.
36. For a general survey of prototypes, see Edward E. Smith, Concepts and
Thought, in Foundations of Cognitive Science, ed. Robert J. Sternberg and Edward
E. Smith, 1949 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988).
37. Diana Deutsch and John Feroe, The Internal Representation of Pitch
Sequences in Tonal Music, Psychological Review 88 (1981): 50322; Eugene
Narmour, Some Major Theoretical Problems Concerning the Concept of Hierarchy in the Analysis of Tonal Music, Music Perception 1 (1983): 12999; John
Sloboda, The Musical Mind: The Cognitive Psychology of Music (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1985); J. P. Swain, The Need for Limits in Hierarchical Theories of Music, Music Perception 4 (1986): 12148; M. L. Serafine, N. Glassman,
and C. Overbeeke, The Cognitive Reality of Hierarchic Structure in Music,
Music Perception 6 (1986): 397430; L. Cuddy and B. Badertscher, Recovery of
the Tonal Hierarchy, Perception and Psychophysics 41 (1987): 60920; Mary
Louise Serafine, Music as Cognition: The Development of Thought and Sound
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985); Nicola Dibben, The Cognitive Reality of Hierarchic Structure in Tonal and Atonal Music, Music Perception 12, no. 1
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38. Sloboda and Parker, Immediate Recall of Melodies, 160.
39. Serafine, Music as Cognition, 21322.
40. Ibid., 222.
41. A. D. De Groot, Thought and Choice in Chess (The Hague: Morton,
1965); W. G. Chase and H. A. Simon, Perception in Chess, Cognitive Psychology
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42. For a handy survey of the current state of research in expertise, see
Michelene Chi and Robert Glaser, Overview, in The Nature of Expertise, ed.
Michelene T. H. Chi, Robert Glaser, and Marshall J. Farr (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1988), xvii.
43. Sloboda, The Musical Mind, 116.
44. Ibid., 116.
45. Ibid., 102.
46. Lewis Lockwood, The Beethoven Sketchbooks and the General State of
Sketch Research, in Beethovens Compositional Process, ed. William Kinderman,
North American Beethoven Studies 1 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press,
1991), 8.

Notes, pp. 228233

265

47. See Robert Winter, Compositional Origins of the String Quartet in C Sharp
Minor, Op. 131 (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 1982).
48. For an extensive discussion of these issues, see Matthew Brown, Composers Revisions and the Creative Process, College Music Symposium 33/34
(1993/94): 9395.
49. From Edward Holmes, Life of Mozart (London: Everyman, 1924), 255ff.
See also Emily Anderson, The Letters of Mozart and His Family, 3rd ed. (London:
Macmillan, 1985), xix.
50. Schenker, Der freie Satz, ed. Oswald Jonas, 2nd ed. (Vienna: Universal,
1956), par. 301, p. 198; and Otto Erich Deutsch, Spurious Mozart Letters Music
Review 25 (1964): 121.
51. W. R. Reitman, Cognition and Thought (New York: Wiley, 1965). For
general accounts of verbal protocols, see K. Anders Ericsson and Herbert A.
Simon, Protocol Analysis: Verbal Reports as Data (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press,
1984); and Alan Lesgold, Problem Solving, in The Psychology of Human
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Cambridge University Press, 1988).
52. Sloboda, The Musical Mind, 137.
53. Ibid., 149.
54. Mavromatis, The Early Keyboard Prelude as an Agent in the Formation of Schenkerian Background Prototypes, Paper delivered at the Third International Schenker Conference, Mannes College of Music, March 12, 1999.
55. Richard Hudson, The Concept of Mode in Italian Guitar Music during
the First Half of the 17th Century, Acta Musicologica 42 (1970): 16383.
56. Schenker, Free Composition, Chap. 1, Section 4, p. 6.
57. Ibid., chap. 1, section 4, p. 7.
58. Ibid., par. 301, p. 128. As he put it: But genius, the gift for improvisation and long-range hearing, is requisite for greater time spans. Short-range hearing is incapable of projecting large spans, because it does not perceive those
simpler elements upon which far-reaching structure is to be based. Yet the
geniuss ability to encompass even the largest spans is not unduly astonishing.
Anyone who, like the genius, can create the smallest linear progressions of
thirds, fourths, and fifths abundantly and with ease, need only exert a greater
spiritual and physical energy in order to extend them still further through larger
and larger spans, until the single largest progression is attained: the Urlinie.
Schenker, Free Composition, par. 30, pp. 1819. For an extended discussion of
improvisation, see Schenker, The Art of Improvisation, trans. Kramar, The
Masterwork in Music 1 (1994), 219.
59. Schenker, Free Composition, par. 51, p. 27.
60. Quine and Ullian, The Web of Belief (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970),
especially chap. 2, pp. 919.
61. For an interesting discussion of this and related issues, see Kevin
Korsyn, Decentering Music: A Critique of Contemporary Musical Research (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2003), especially 6190.

266

Notes, pp. 234236

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of Structural Levels; Rothstein, Phrase Rhythm in Tonal Music (New York:
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Musical Form and Fundamental Structure: An Investigation of Schenkers
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Index
IV/V Hypothesis, The, 45, 6364,
180, 225
accented neighbor tone, 5456
accented passing tone, 6, 5456
accuracy, xiv, 2, 18, 1920, 22, 23,
2565, 234, 235
acoustics, 20910, 21115
addition (of a linear progression),
8081
adjacent seventh chords, 5354
Agmon, Eytan, 248n55
Aldwell, Edward, 143, 255n10
Anderson, Emily, 265n49
Anstieg. See preliminary ascent
appoggiatura, 5556
Aristotle, 245n51
arpeggiation (Brechung), 7778, 83,
8384
Artusi, Giovanni Maria, 167, 258n64
Artusi/Monteverdi Debate, The,
16768
Audi, Robert, 245n51
Ausfaltung. See unfolding
Auskomponierung. See composing out
Aussensatz. See outer-voice
counterpoint
auxiliary cadence progression, 18283,
188, 193, 197,
Ayer, Alfred, 244n40
Ayotte, Benjamin McKay, 239n1
Babbitt, Milton, xiv, xix, 92, 239n6,
251n43
Babbitt, Milton, works by: Philomel,
14
Bach, Carl Philipp Emanuel, xiii, 13,
69, 229
Bach, Johann Sebastian, xiii, 13, 171,
185, 204, 230

Bach, Johann Sebastian, works by:


Chorale, Gelobet seist du Jesu
Christ, 158
Chorale, Ich bins, ich sollte
bssen, 49, 89
Minuet II, French Suite I, BWV
812, 100, 13436
Prelude in A, BWV 942,
17578
Prelude in C Major, BWV 924,
12630, 137
Prelude in C Major, WTC I,
21718
Prelude in C Minor, BWV 999,
18283
Prelude in C Minor, WTC I, BWV
847, 13033
Prelude, Partita No. 1 for Violin,
BWV 1006, 13334
Sarabande and Double, Partita
No. 1 for Violin, BWV 1002,
4647
Bacharach, Burt, 14, 15
background (Hintergrund), 69, 91. See
also tonal prototypes
Badertscher, B., 264n37
Baker, James, 262n46
Baldick, Robert, 261n36
bass arpeggiation (Bassbrechung), 69,
73, 74, 86, 147, 182
Bassbrechung. See bass arpeggiation
Baudelaire, Charles, 192202
Baudelaire, Charles, works by: Les
fleurs du mal, 192
Beach, David, 96, 239n1, 246n3,
252n47
Bechtel, William, 241n8, 243n19
Beethoven, Ludwig van, xiii, 13, 14,
27, 182, 228, 229

282

Index

Beethoven, Ludwig van, works by:


Appassionata Sonata, 17980
Eroica Symphony, 20, 46, 214, 218
Heiliger Dankgesang, String
Quartet, Op. 132, 15154, 157
Kafka Papers, 96
Piano Sonata, Op. 2, no. 3, mvt.
1, 48
Piano Sonata, Op. 22, mvt. 4, 34
Piano Sonata, Op. 81a, mvt. 1,
5556
Piano Sonata, Op. 101, 70
Piano Sonata, Op. 110, 6970
Schottische Lieder, 158
Six Variations, WoO 70, 24
Sonata for violin and piano,
Op. 24, 96
String Quartet, Op. 59, no. 1, 63
String Quartet, Op. 131, 228
Waldstein Sonata, 9
Benjamin, William, xv, 100, 234,
240n9, 240n18, 252n5, 252n8
Bent, Margaret, 257n56
Berardi, Angelo, 27
Bergeron, Katherine, 196, 261n35
Bergquist, Peter, 255n15
Berry, David Carson, 239n1
Berry, Wallace, 261n32
Bharucha, J. J., 222, 22324, 225,
263n25, 264n32, 264n35
Blackburn, Bonnie, 16566, 257n56,
257n59
Blackburn, Simon, 243n25
Bononcini, Giovanni Maria, 27
Boyd, Richard, 20, 245n43
Brackett, John, 242n13
Brahms, Johannes, xiii, 13, 171, 185,
204, 229
Brahms, Johannes, works by:
Hungarian Dances, 158;
Vergangen ist mir Glick und
Heil, 15457, 161. See also
Schenker, ed., Oktaven und
Quinten

Brechung. See arpeggiation


Bromberger, Sylvain, 10, 242n15
Brontosaurus, Theory of, 2021
Brown, Matthew, xviii, 45, 63,
240n11, 240n20, 241n2, 244n35,
246n19, 247n21, 247n42, 248n46,
248n53, 248n64, 249n6, 251n27,
257n48, 259n17, 260n28, 262n1,
262n7, 265n48
Browne, Richmond, 247n20
Budge, H., 214, 263n11
building theories, 1218
Burkhart, Charles, 251n44, 252n48,
257n49
Burns, Lori, 255n15,
Bush, Helen E., 257n53
Butler, David, 263n24
Buxtehude, Dietrich, 230
cadence patterns, 29, 30, 31, 34,
3639, 4243, 58, 62, 69, 103, 116,
117, 16365
Cadwallader, Allan, xix
cantus firmus, 2938, 68, 7072,
11721, 140, 146
causality, 10, 242n16
Causey, Robert, 245n54
changing note, 53
Chapman, Graham, et al., 245n45
Chase, William, 227, 264n41
Cherubini, Luigi, 49
Chi, Michelene, 227, 264n42
Chomsky, Noam, xivxv, 21617
Chopin, Frederic, xiii, 13
Chopin, Frederic, works by:
Etude, Op. 10 no. 5, 158
Mazurka, Op. 24 no. 2, 154
Mazurka, Op. 30 no. 2, 18283
Mazurka, Op. 30 no. 4, 5354,
17375
Mazurka, Op. 41 no. 2, 6263
Prelude, Op. 28 no. 2, 18283
Chord Function vs Chord Derivation,
5961

Index
Chord of Nature (Der Naturklang),
210, 211
Chord of Nature Argument, The,
21013, 214
Choron, Alexandre-tienne, xiii
chromaticism, 30, 33, 57, 58, 6164,
68, 11215, 141, 14451, 152,
16062, 167, 172173, 18082,
18586, 22425
Church modes, 29, 141, 14658,
18182
Churchland, Paul, 141, 244n42,
254n6, 254n7
circular reasoning, xvi, 7576
Clark, William, 261n41
Clarke, Suzannah, 213, 262n7
Classical Theory of Concepts, The, 23
Clough, John, 167, 258n63
Cobb, Margaret, 261n32, 261n33
Cohen, Andrew, 248n46
coherence, xiv, 2, 1819, 2223,
20933, 234, 237
combined linear progressions, 103,
123, 126, 130, 136. See also parallel
linear progressions
Complementarity Principle, The, 27,
5665, 98, 13637, 219ff., 22526
complete/incomplete progressions,
172, 18283, 186, 197. See also
incomplete transference of the
Ursatz; interruption
(Unterbrechung)
completeness of Schenkerian theory,
18, 8283, 235
composing out
(Auskomponierung)/prolongation,
6498, 138, 147. See also
transformations
composing vs listening, 13739, 210,
21722
concepts, xiv, 23, 56, 1213, 25,
209, 234
confirmation/disconfirmation, 1218,
99

283

consecutive leaps in a single direction,


29, 32, 38, 39, 46
consistency, xiv, 2, 18, 2122, 23,
9939, 234, 236
Consonance Constraint, The, 31ff.,
40, 55, 166ff.
consonances vs dissonances, 31, 35,
3638, 5051, 173, 2028
consonant non-harmonic tones and
dissonant harmonic tones, 5152,
204
context-free grammar, 217
continuous/discontinuous pieces, 182,
18386
Cook, Nicholas, 219, 263n21
coolness, 18
Cooper, Barry, 256n31
counterfactual conditional, 78
coupling (Koppelung), 7778
Cover, J. A., 241n8, 244n38
Covering Law Model, The, 810, 17,
242n15
covering laws/law-like generalizations,
xiv, 2, 45, 67, 810, 12, 13, 25,
28, 29, 31, 32, 34, 4546, 5051,
58, 61, 62 64, 65, 72, 7677,
8283, 209, 235
chromatic generation, 6164,
7274, 83, 92, 2078, 220,
22425
global, 29ff., 72
harmonic classification, 58, 7274,
83, 92, 2078, 220, 224
harmonic progression, 5861,
7274, 83, 92, 2078, 220, 224
local, 29ff., 72
main, 29ff., 72
melodic motion and closure, 28,
2932, 38, 4546, 5556, 72,
74, 83, 92, 2078, 220, 22223
relationship between stable and
unstable tones, 28, 3132,
3334, 5055, 5556, 7274,
83, 92, 2078, 220, 22324

284

Index

covering laws/law-like generalizations


(continued)
relative motion between
polyphonic lines, 28, 2932,
3839, 4750, 5556, 7274,
83, 92, 2078, 220, 223
subordinate, 29ff., 72
See also Covering Law Model, The
criteria for evaluating theories. See
accuracy; coherence; consistency;
fruitfulness; scope; simplicity
Cross, Ian, 219, 263n22
Cube, Felix-Eberhard von, 75
Cuddy, L., 263n22, 264n37
Curd, Martin, 241n8, 244n38
Dahlhaus, Carl, 163, 257n52
Darwin, Charles, 98
DeBellis, Mark, 241n7, 244n42
Debussy, Claude, 171202, 237,
258n3, 258n6, 259n7, 259n8
Debussy, Claude, works by:
Cest lextase langoureuse Ariettes
oublies, 17172, 18692
Clair de lune (Suite
Bergamasque), 193, 261n34
Le matin dun jour de fte (Ibria,
Mvt. 3), 184
La mort des amants Cinq pomes
de Charles Baudelaire, 17172,
192202, 261n34
Prlude Laprs-midi dun faune,
16061, 19798
La srnade interrompue
(Prludes, Bk. 1), 18485
Vasnier Songbook, The, 202
Deductive-Nomological Model, The,
8
deletion/substitution (Vertretung), 82.
See also implied tones
demarcation problem, 1617
Dempster, Douglas, xviii, 45, 63,
241n2, 247n21, 248n64, 262n1
description vs derivation, 137

description vs explanation, 25, 137,


146, 169
Deutsch, Diana, 223, 226, 263n27,
264n37
Deutsch, Otto Erich, 229, 265n50
Diatonie. See diatony
diatony (Diatonie), 29, 57, 69, 147,
22425. See also tonality
Dibben, Nicola, 264n37
Dietschy, Marcel, 202, 261n39, 261n40
diminution, 34
direct chromatic successions, 6162,
23536
Diruta, Girolamo, 27
discontinuity. See Principle of
continuity
displacement (Der uneigentliche
Intervalle), 1011, 34, 5456, 71,
82, 1067, 117, 179
dissonance, 29, 31, 3335, 207;
contrapuntal origins, 5055,
2028; essential (suspension), 34;
non-essential (passing tone, nota
cambiata), 3435
Dissonant Prolongation, The, 172,
2026. See also Tonkltze
divider (Teiler), 8687
division of the Urlinie (der Gliederung
des Urlinie-Zges), 8790, 134
Doherty, M. E., 17, 244n33
Dubiel, Joseph, 245n2
Duhem, Pierre, 15, 16,
Duhem-Quine Thesis, The, 1516
Dunsby, Jonathan, xv, 234, 240n8
Dvork, Antonn, 158
elegance, 18
Elk, Ann, 2021
entrenchment, 1415
Ericsson, K. Anders. 265n51
escape tones, 109, 116,
essential/functional harmony (Stufe),
xiii, 25, 26, 41ff., 57, 58, 64.
See also Roman numeral

Index
essential vs unessential counterpoint,
48
evidence vs system, 18ff.
evolution of theories, 1718, 24
exoticism vs tonality, 141, 147,
15051, 15862, 172, 18182, 186,
expertise/expert composers, xix,
13839, 210, 21731, 237
explain why vs explain how, 2, 4,
1012, 13739
fallacy of affirming the antecedent, 16
fallacy of affirming the consequent,
7576
fallibility of theories, 14, 16
falsification/falsifiability, 1517, 65
Ferand, Ernest, 257n56
Feroe, John, 226, 264n37
festgehaltene Ton, Der. See mentally
retained tone
Ftis, Franois-Josph, xiii
Feyerabend, Paul, 19, 244n39, 245n49
Feynman, Richard, 242n18
Flagpole Problem, The, 242n15
fliessende Gesang, der. See melodic
fluency
Fodor, Jerry, 244n42
foreground (Vordergrund), 69, 91
Forte, Allan, 261n41
free dissonances, 5153, 172, 17579,
259n11
free voice leading, 41
fruitfulness, xiv, 2, 18, 21, 23,
171208, 234, 237
functional equivalence, 22, 57, 5861
functional explanations, 9, 61
functional progressions (Stufengang),
xiii, 57, 5861, 179
Fux, Johann Joseph, 2741, 50, 64,
6772, 117ff., 166, 207, 246n4,
246n12, 246n15, 252n10, 252n11
Gaffurius, Franchinus, 27
Galand, Joel, 236, 252n48, 266n2

285

Gamut, 35
generative linguistics, xivxv, 216
genius, 64, 140, 179, 23132
George, Graham, 184, 260n29
Gestalt psychology, 215
Gilbert, Steven, 261n41
Glaser, Robert, 227, 264n42
Glassman, N., 264n37
Gliederung des Urlinie-Zges, Der. See
division of the Urlinie
Global Paradigm, The, 69ff., 9698,
18386, 219ff., 226, 229
Global Rule, The, 28
Goldman, Alvin I., 56, 241n1,
241n4
Goodman, Nelson, 7, 14, 242n10,
243n24
Grieg, Edvard, Norwegian Dances, 158
Grim, Patrick, 243n32
gronal/gronality, 1415
Groot, Adrian De, 227, 264n41
Grue Paradox, The, 1415
Guilielmus Monachus, 27
Haigh, Andrew, 166, 258n62
Handel, George Frederic, xiii, 13
Hanson, Norwood, 19, 244n39
harmonic function as emergent
property, 116, 136, 165
harmonic vs non-harmonic tones, 38,
2048
Hassler, Hans Leo, works by:
O Sacred Head Sore Wounded,
158
Haydn, Franz Joseph, xiii, 13, 27, 229
Haydn, Franz Joseph, works by:
Representation of Chaos
(Creation), 9397, 180; Schottische
Lieder, 158
Headlam, Dave, xviii, 45, 63, 247n21,
248n64
headtone (Kopfton), 73, 74, 89, 191
Heinrich Maneuver, The, 27, 4156,
64, 98, 100, 219ff., 22526

286

Index

Hempel, Carl, 8, 241n9, 242n12,


242n14, 242n15
hidden repetitions (vorgebene
Wiederholungen), 9296
Hintergrund. See background
historical narratives, 9
Hherlegung. See register transfer,
ascending
holism, 15. See also Duhem-Quine
Thesis, The
Holmes, Edward, 265n49
Hook, Julian, 263n19
Hostile Witness Principle, The, 20
Howell, Peter, 219, 263n22
Hudson, Richard, 230, 265n55
Hume, David, 1314, 243n22
Huron, David, 170, 225, 258n69,
264n34
Huysmans, J. K. 199, 261n36, 261n38
Hypothetico-Deductive Method, The,
1213, 1517
implied tones, 5354, 82, 173
improvisation, 154, 230, 265n58
incommensurability of theories, 19
incomplete progressions. See
complete/incomplete progressions
incomplete transference of the Ursatz
(bertragen der Ursatzformen),
182s
Inductive-Statistical Model, The, 8
informed listeners, xvii, 137, 139, 210,
231, 237
interpolations/parenthetical passages,
172, 18385, 186, 19798
interruption (Unterbrechung), 8790,
134
intersubjective testability of theories,
2, 12, 16, 2023
intersubjective testability vs
objectivity, 20
inversional equivalence, 5758
invertible counterpoint at the octave,
3839, 106, 110, 124, 136

Jackendoff, Ray, xiv, 210, 21519,


239240n6, 262n3, 263n12,
263n19
Jeppesen, Knud, 166, 257n60, 258n61
Jonas, Oswald, 229, 231, 255n15,
256n24, 259n12, 261n41
Kassler, Michael, xv, 236, 240n7
Katz, Adele, 259n8
Keiler, Allan, xiv, 239n6
Kerman, Joseph, xvi, 214, 235,
240n14, 252n50, 262n10
Kinderman, William, 260n26,
260n29, 260n30
Kirnberger, Johann Philipp, 246n3
Kitcher, Philip, 21, 241n8, 245n47
Klee, Robert, 241n8, 243n28
Kopfton. See headtone
Koppelung. See coupling
Korsyn, Kevin, 154, 256n36, 265n61
Krebs, Harald, 260n30
Krumhansl, Carol, 222, 224, 225,
263n29, 264n33
Kuhn, Thomas, 18, 19, 21, 244n38,
244n39, 245n46, 245n48, 245n50
Kyburg, Henry, 24142n9
Lagenwechsel. See register transfer
Lanfranco, Giovanni Maria, 27
Laskowski, Larry, 239n1, 253n23
Laufer, Edward, xvxvi, 2048, 235,
240n12, 240n13, 262n47, 262n49
Law of Prgnanz, The, 21516
learning and expertise, 220ff.
Leerlauf. See unsupported stretch or
span
Leichentritt, Hugo, 158
Lenormand, Ren, 175, 258n2
Lerdahl, Fred, xiv, 210, 21519,
239n6, 262n3, 263n12, 263n19
Lesgold, Allan, 265n51
Lester, Joel, 27, 28, 246n6, 246n7
level (Schicht), 66, 67ff., 8391
levels of explanation, 263n23

Index
Lewin, David, 28, 246n8, 246n9
limits of Schenkerian theory, 17286,
202, 235
linear progression (Zug), 53, 62,
7980, 83, 124, 126
Liszt, Franz, 205
Lockwood, Lewis, 228, 252n49, 264n46
long-range hearing, 265n58
Losee, John, 241n8, 243n19, 243n26
Lous, Pierre, 17273,
Lubben, Joseph, 75, 250n18
Lyons, H. I., 263n22
Maisal, Arthur, 240n18
major-minor system, 43
Manktelow, K. I., 244n33
Mann, Alfred, 246n5, 246n10,
246n11, 252n9, 257n60
Marr, David, 216, 263n23
Mavromatis, Panayotis, xviii, 16869,
230, 236, 258n67, 265n54
melodic fluency (der fliessende
Gesang), 45, 223
melodic prototype/upper line
(Urlinie), 53, 69, 70, 73, 74, 75,
8790, 123, 126, 130, 147
Mendelssohn, Felix, xiii, 13
mental representation, 217, 218
mentally retained tone or headtone (der
festgehaltene Ton/Kopfton), 43, 79
Meyer, Leonard B., 223, 263n26
middleground (Mittelgrund), 69,
8691; paradigms at deep
middleground, 8689
Mischung. See mixture
Mitchell, William J., 143, 180, 254n9,
255n15, 260n19
Mitchells Axiom, 180
Mittelgrund. See middleground
mixed species, 121, 122,
mixture (Mischung), 4344, 8081,
11416, 14163, 18082, 22425;
double, 4344, 81, 116; secondary,
43, 81; simple, 43, 81, 11415, 148

287

modality vs tonality, 35, 14158, 172,


18182, 186
model of music, xvii, 28
modus tollens, 16
Monteverdi, Claudio, 16768
Monteverdi, Claudio, works by:
Anima mia perdona (Madrigals,
Bk 4), 167; Cruda Amarilli
(Madrigals, Bk 5), 167
Monteverdi, Guilio Cesare, 258n65,
258n66
Morgan, Robert P., 2026, 260n31,
261n41, 262n45
motion from an inner voice
(Untergreifen), 62, 7980, 83, 126,
160, 167
motion to an inner voice, 7980, 83
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, xiii, 13,
27, 143, 228, 229; Attwood Papers,
246n12
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus, works by:
Piano Sonata, K. 280, 96
Piano Sonata, K. 310, 123
Piano Sonata, K. 331, 138
Piano Sonata, K. 332, 96
Piano Sonata, K. 333, 96
music psychology, 20910, 21416,
22233
musica practica, 232
musica speculativa, 232
Mynatt, C. R., 17, 244n33
Mysterious Five, The, 213, 234
Myth of Scales, The, 14070
Nagel, Ernst, 245n44
Narmour, Eugene, xvi, 7576, 223,
224, 234, 240n16, 250n19,
263n26, 263n28, 264n30, 264n31,
264n37
naturalizing tonal theory, 20933
nature vs art, 21315
Naturklang, Der. See Chord of Nature
Nebennote. See neighbor
motion/neighbor tone

288

Index

neighbor motion/neighbor tone


(Nebennote), 3, 5153, 59, 62,
7980, 83
Neumeyer, David, 75, 250n15,
263n19
Neurath, Otto, 1718, 244n35
Neuraths boat, 1718, 235
nomothetic, 8
non-functional successions, 172,
17980
nota cambiata, 3, 29, 3335. See also
dissonance
Novack, Saul, 255n15
obligate Lage. See obligatory register
obligatory register (obligate Lage), 73, 87
Ockham, William of, 140, 245n51
Ockhams Razor, 22
Oppenheim, Paul, 8, 241n9, 242n12
Oster, Ernst, xv, 231
outer-voice counterpoint (Aussensatz),
75, 100, 104, 116, 128, 136
Over, D. E., 244n33
Overbeeke, C., 264n37
overtone series, 20910, 21114
Palestrina, Giovanni Pierluigi de, 154,
166
Papineau, David, 241n8, 244n34
paradigm shift, 21
parallel linear progressions, 12326.
See also addition; combined linear
progressions
parallel perfect octaves and fifths, 22,
31, 3839, 4750, 7071, 84,
99139
Parallel Problem, The, 1013, 106,
116, 12628, 132, 136
parallel triads, seventh and ninth
chords, 5355, 172, 17375, 186
parallel vs convergent motion, 104
parenthetical passages. See
interpolations
Parker, David, 226, 263n20, 264n38

passing tone (simple, consecutive,


accented, chromatic, leaping), 3, 6,
29, 3335, 41, 5155, 58, 59, 87,
147, 26162n43. See also
dissonance
Pastille, William, 249n7, 249n8,
260n21
Pearl, Judea, 242n16
pedal, 100139, 163
Peles, Stephen, 250n12
perfect vs imperfect consonances, 31,
3536
Perkins, Leeman, 254n8
personal testimonies, 22829
Petrouchka Chord, 161, 225
Phrygian II (Phrygische II), 6263, 148
Phrygische II. See Phrygian II
Pierrot, Jean, 199, 261n37
Plum, Professor, 138
polyphonic/compound melody, 43,
4648, 226
Pomeroy, Boyd, 259n8
Popper, Karl, 1517, 65, 243n29,
243n31
position finder, 44
prediction, 1213, 1417, 2122, 99,
206
preliminary ascent (Anstieg), 8990
Prima Prattica vs Seconda Prattica, 163,
16670
Principle of closure, The, 216, 223, 231
Principle of continuity, The, 216, 231
Principle of inclusiveness, The, 216,
231
Principle of parsimony, The, 22, 141,
170
Principle of proximity, The, 216, 223,
231
Principle of similarity, The, 216, 231
procedures, xiv, 45, 1011, 12, 13,
25, 209, 234
Proctor, Gregory, 185, 260n30
products vs primitives, 169
progress, 24

Index
projectibility, 1415
Prolog, 236
Prosdocimus de Beldemandis, 27
prototypes in general, 56, 22627
Psillos, Stathis, 242n16
Putnam, Hilary, 244n38
Quine, Willard van Ormand, 11, 15,
16, 1718, 1920, 65, 99, 233,
242n17, 243n26, 243n27, 244n35,
244n36, 244n37, 244n38, 244n40,
244n41, 245n52, 245n53, 248n66,
248n67, 252n1, 252n2, 265n60
Railton, Peter, 242n11
Randel, Don, 163165, 257n53,
257n54, 257n55
Rast, Nicholas, 239n1
Raven Paradox, The, 14, 243n23
reaching over (bergreifen), 78, 83, 237
rectification of II (Die Richtigstellung
der Phrygischen II), 6263
recursion, xiii, 70, 81, 87, 141, 168,
207, 215
Recursive Model, The, 70ff., 83, 84,
9698, 205, 219ff., 226
referential sonority, 2056
refutabilty, 16
Reger, Max, Piano Quintet, Op. 64,
181, 260n21
register transfer, 7778, 83, 126, 167;
ascending, Hherlegung, 7778;
coupling, Koppelung, 7778;
descending, Tieferlegung, 7778
Reitman, W. R., 265n51
relevance, 14
repeated tones, 29, 39
repetition (Wiederholung), 7778
res facta, 16566
Ricci, Adam, 252n7
Riemann, Hugo, 116
Die Richtigstellung der Phrygischen II.
See rectification of Phrygian II
Rimbaud, Arthur, 201

289

Rimsky-Korsakov, Nikolai, works by:


Scheherazade, 158
Roman numeral, xiv, 43, 57. See also
essential/functional harmony
Rosner, Burton, 223, 224, 263n28,
264n30, 264n31
Rothgeb, John, 5355, 247n40
Rothstein, William, xv, 124, 234, 236,
240n10, 240n19, 249n6, 250n23,
251n25, 251n26, 253n21, 266n1,
266n2
rule-preserving transformations, 22,
67, 70ff., 83, 205, 207
Rytting, Bryce, 251n37
Salmon, Wesley, 241n8, 242n13
Salzer, Felix, xvi, 23, 240n15, 245n55,
255n15, 259n8,
Samarotto, Frank, xix
Scarlatti, Domenico, xiii, 13
Scarlet, Miss, 138
Schachter, Carl, xix, 74, 143, 236,
249n6, 249n10, 252n48, 252n51,
255n10, 255n15, 261n41, 262n5,
266n2
Schenker, Heinrich, xiii, 6, 22, 23, 25,
41, 119, 121, 235
Schenker, Heinrich, works by:
Beethoven neunte Sinfonie, 249n7
Beethoven Piano Sonata, Op. 101,
70, 220, 249n7
Beethoven Piano Sonata, Op. 109,
220, 249n7
Beethoven Piano Sonata, Op. 110,
69, 220, 249n7
Beethoven Piano Sonata, Op. 111,
220, 249n7
Der freie Satz, xiii, xv, xvii, 53, 69,
74, 83, 86, 8790, 100, 12223,
12628, 130, 136, 138, 140, 147,
158, 173, 18284, 202, 210, 211,
215, 220, 229, 231, 235, 237,
247n24, 247n26, 247n29,
247n31, 247n37, 247n38,

290

Index

Schenker, Heinrich, works by:


(continued)
247n39, 248n54, 248n56,
248n57, 248n58, 248n59,
248n60, 248n61, 248n62,
248n63, 249n1, 249n2, 249n3,
249n4, 249n5, 249n9, 250n13,
250n21, 250n22, 250n23,
251n26, 250n28, 250n29,
250n30, 250n31, 250n32,
250n33, 250n34, 250n35,
250n36, 251n38, 251n39,
251n40, 251n41, 251n42,
251n44, 252n52, 252n53,
252n6, 253n14, 253n16,
253n17, 253n18, 253n19,
253n20, 253n22, 253n23,
253n24, 253n25, 253n26,
254n29, 254n32, 254n37,
254n1, 256n21, 257n44, 259n9,
259n10, 259n15, 259n16,
259n18, 260n22, 260n23,
260n24, 260n25, 260n27,
261n41, 26162n43, 262n2,
262n4, 262n8, 265n50, 265n56,
265n57, 265n58, 265n59
Fnf Urlinie-Tafeln, xiv, xvii, 74,
89, 220
Generalbasslehre, 53, 247n41
Harmonielehre, xiii, xvii, 25, 41, 56,
69, 76, 130, 14750, 15154,
181, 210, 21114, 220, 234,
235, 246n16, 246n17, 246n18,
247n45, 249n6, 250n11,
250n20, 254n27, 256n17,
256n22, 256n24, 256n25,
256n26, 256n29, 256n30,
256n32, 256n33, 256n34,
256n35, 256n37, 256n40,
257n41, 257n42, 259n18,
260n20, 260n21, 262n6, 262n9
Kontrapunkt I, xiii, xvii, 25, 27, 41,
51, 56, 58, 62, 69, 76, 99,
12122, 140, 14647, 150, 154,

15758, 220, 234, 235, 245n2,


247n22, 247n32, 247n34,
247n35, 247n43, 248n47,
248n49, 248n50, 248n51,
248n52, 248n58, 252n3, 252n4,
253n12, 254n2, 255n14, 255n16,
256n17, 256n18, 256n19,
256n20, 256n27, 256n28,
256n38, 256n39, 257n43,
257n45, 259n11, 261n42
Kontrapunkt II, xiii, xvii, 25, 27, 62,
122, 235, 245n2, 247n33,
247n35, 248n48, 249n1,
250n20, 250n23, 253n15
Das Meisterwerk in der Musik 13,
xiv, xvii, 122, 130, 133, 138, 140,
15860, 220, 247n23, 247n25,
250n23, 251n24, 251n45,
253n13, 254n28, 254n31,
254n35, 254n36, 254n3, 254n4,
257n46, 258n1, 259n13, 259n14,
262n44, 265n58
Der Tonwille, xvi, 52, 70, 75,
12628, 220, 247n36, 249n1,
253n23, 254n34
Schenker ed., Oktaven und Quinten,
48ff., 247n27, 247n28, 247n30
Shepherd, Roger, 216
Schicht. See level
Schmalfeld, Janet, 236, 266n2
Schoenberg, Arnold, 160, 257n47
Schubert, Franz, xiii, 13, 205,
Schubert, Franz, works by:
Divertissement lhongroise, Op. 54,
158 ; Die Stadt Schwanengesang,
No. 11, 205
Schumann, Robert, xiii, 13,
scope, xiv, 2, 18, 2021, 22, 23, 6698, 234, 236
scope of music theory, 232
Scriabin, Alexander, 205
Scriven, Michael, 242n13
sequences, 22, 75, 100139, 157, 165,
19798, 217, 236

Index
Serafine, Mary Louise, 170, 226,
258n68, 264n37, 264n39, 264n40
Sessions, Roger, 229, 255n15
seventh-chords, 58, 259n11
seventh progressions (Die Septzge),
126, 202
Shiman, Leon, 216
short-range hearing, 265n58
sigh figure, 18892
similarity, 6, 11
Simon, Herbert, 227, 264n41, 265n51
simple counterpoint vs florid
counterpoint, 2829, 33, 6872
simplicity, xiv, 2, 18, 22, 23, 14070,
234, 23637
sketch studies, 22728
Sloboda, John, 226, 22730, 263n20,
264n37, 264n38, 264n43, 264n45,
265n52, 265n53
Smith, Charles, 236, 266n2
Smith, Edward E., 241n1, 241n3,
264n36
Smyth, David, 134, 250n14, 254n33
Smoliar, Stephen, xv, 236, 240n7
Snarrenberg, Robert, 245n2, 249n10
Snell, James, xv, 236, 240n7
species counterpoint, 2741, 64,
6772, 117ff., 166
Stalker, Douglas, 243n24
Stimmentausch. See voice exchange
Stimmfhrung. See voice leading
Stimmfhrungs-Schicht. See level
Straus, Joseph, 245n56
Strauss, Richard, 228, 261n42
Stravinsky, Igor, 228
Stravinsky, Igor, works by: Concerto
for Piano and Winds, 204;
Petrouchka, 16162
strenge Satz, Der. See strict
counterpoint
strict counterpoint (Der strenge Satz),
2542, 54, 61, 64, 117ff. 168
string divisions, 209
structural vs ornamental tones, 101

291

Stufe. See essential harmony


Stufe Constraint, The, 41ff., 51, 55,
57, 165ff., 204
substitution or deletion (Vertretung),
8182
suspension, 3, 8, 1011, 29, 34, 5152,
54, 71, 117, 119, 173. See also
dissonance
Swain, J. P., 264n37
Swinburn, R. G., 243n21
symbolist/decadent aesthetics, 186, 199
Taruskin, Richard, 24, 143, 245n56,
255n12, 255n13
Teiler. See divider
Tepping, Susan, 250n16
Terzteiler. See third divider
testing theories, 2, 1218
theory reduction, 2021
theoretical unification, 21, 66
theory-laden observations, 1920
third divider (Terzteiler), 86
Three Blind Mice, 98
Thym, Jrgen, 246n3
Tieferlegung. See register transfer,
descending
Tinctoris, Johannes de, 27, 16566,
257n57
Tinctoris, Johannes de, works by: Liber
de arte contrapuncti, 166
tonal prototype (Ursatz), 66, 6771,
7276, 134, 136, 147
tonal theory vs tonal music, 2
tonal voice leading as transformation
of strict counterpoint, xvii, 2565
Tonalitt. See tonality
tonality (Tonalitt), 69; classical
diatonic, 185; vs diatony, 69, 147;
directional, 18283, 186;
emergence, 142, 16270; as family
of languages, 18586; interlocking,
185, 186; vs monotonality, 18286;
nineteenth-century chromatic,
185; progressive, 18283

292

Index

tonicization (Tonikalisierung), 44,


8081, 1068, 11213, 141, 147,
148, 15154, 15758, 15862,
18082, 225
Tonikalisierung. See tonicization
Tonkltze (tone clumps), 17579
Top Down/Bottom Up Problem, The,
1013, 104, 116, 12628, 136
Tovey, Donald Francis, 93, 160,
251n46, 257n47
transformational level. See level
transformations, (Verwandlung ), 25,
6667, 7683; back-related, 77, 89;
filling in, 7880, 205; front-related,
77, 89; harmonizing, 7981, 205;
horizontalizing, 7778, 80, 2045;
non-recursive, 8182; polyphonic,
75; recursive, 7981; reordering,
8182. See also addition;
arpeggiation; coupling; deletion;
displacement; linear progression;
mixture; motion from an inner
voice; motion to an inner voice;
neighbor motion; reaching over;
register transfer; repetition;
tonicization; unfolding; voice
exchange
Traut, Don, 247n42, 262n44
triad, functional. See
essential/functional harmony
(Stufe)
triad, harmonic, 35, 39
Triadic Constraint, The, 3540, 55,
165, 166ff.
triads vs essential harmonies (Stufen),
4143, 16465
Tweney, R. D., 17, 244n33
Twentieth-century music/Post-tonal
music, 172, 2028
bergreifen. See reaching over
bertragen der Ursatzformen. See
incomplete transference of the
Ursatz

Ullian, J. S., 11, 233, 242n17,


243n26, 244n38, 245n53, 252n2,
265n60
underdetermination of theories, 15
uneigentliche Intervalle, Der. See
displacement
unfolding (Ausfaltung), 7778, 83,
126, 175, 189
unsupported stretch or span (Leerlauf),
74, 137
Unterbrechung. See interrruption
Untergreifen. See motion from an inner
voice
Urlinie. See melodic prototype
Ursatz. See tonal prototype
Vallas, Lon, 258n6
Van den Toorn, Pieter, 143, 161,
255n11, 257n50, 257n51
Vasnier, Blanche de, 2012
verbal protocols, 22930, 265n51
Verlaine, Paul, 18692, 201,
261n38
Verlaine, Paul, works by: Romances
sans paroles, 186
Vertretung. See deletion; substitution
Verwandlungsschicht. See level
voice crossing, 33
voice exchange (Stimmentausch),
7778, 83, 189
voice leading (Stimmfhrung), xiii
voice-leading transformations
(Stimmfhrungsverwandlung).
See transformations
Vordergrund. See foreground
vorgebene Wiederholungen. See hidden
repetitions
Wagner, Richard, 196, 205
Wagner, Richard, works by: Parsifal,
19697
Wason, Robert, 248n53
Web of Belief, 233
West, Robert, 219, 263n22

Index
Westergaard, Peter, 74, 250n12,
250n17
Whittall, Arnold, xviii
Wiederholung. See repetition
Wienphal, Robert W., 257n53
Winter, Robert, 265n47

Yih, Annie, 259n8


Youngblood, J. E., 264n34
Zacconi, Ludovico, 27
Zarlino, Gioseffo, 27
Zug. See linear progression

293

Eastman Studies in Music


(ISSN 10719989)

The Poetic Debussy: A Collection of


His Song Texts and Selected Letters
(Revised Second Edition)
Edited by Margaret G. Cobb

Music and Musicians in the Escorial


Liturgy under the Habsburgs,
15631700
Michael J. Noone

Concert Music, Rock, and Jazz since


1945: Essays and Analytical Studies
Edited by Elizabeth West Marvin
and Richard Hermann

Analyzing Wagners Operas:


Alfred Lorenz and German
Nationalist Ideology
Stephen McClatchie

Music and the Occult: French


Musical Philosophies, 17501950
Joscelyn Godwin

The Gardano Music Printing


Firms, 15691611
Richard J. Agee

Wanderjahre of a Revolutionist and


Other Essays on American Music
Arthur Farwell,
edited by Thomas Stoner
French Organ Music from the
Revolution to Franck and Widor
Edited by Lawrence Archbold
and William J. Peterson
Musical Creativity in Twentieth-Century
China: Abing, His Music, and
Its Changing Meanings
(includes CD)
Jonathan P. J. Stock
Elliott Carter: Collected Essays and
Lectures, 19371995
Edited by Jonathan W. Bernard
Music Theory in Concept and Practice
Edited by James M. Baker, David
W. Beach, and Jonathan W. Bernard

The Broadway Sound: The


Autobiography and Selected Essays
of Robert Russell Bennett
Edited by George J. Ferencz
Theories of Fugue from the Age of
Josquin to the Age of Bach
Paul Mark Walker
The Chansons of Orlando di Lasso and
Their Protestant Listeners: Music,
Piety, and Print in Sixteenth-Century
France
Richard Freedman
Berliozs Semi-Operas: Romo et
Juliette and La damnation de Faust
Daniel Albright
The Gamelan Digul and the Prison-Camp
Musician Who Built It: An Australian
Link with the Indonesian Revolution
Margaret J. Kartomi

The Music of American Folk Song


and Selected Other Writings on
American Folk Music
Ruth Crawford Seeger, edited by
Larry Polansky and Judith Tick
Portrait of Percy Grainger
Edited by Malcolm Gillies
and David Pear
Berlioz: Past, Present, Future
Edited by Peter Bloom
The Musical Madhouse: An English
Translation of Berliozs Les
Grotesques de la musique
Hector Berlioz
Translated and edited by Alastair Bruce
Introduction by Hugh Macdonald
The Music of Luigi Dallapiccola
Raymond Fearn
Musics Modern Muse:
A Life of Winnaretta Singer,
Princesse de Polignac
Sylvia Kahan
The Sea on Fire: Jean Barraqu
Paul Griffiths

Claude Debussy As I Knew Him and


Other Writings of Arthur Hartmann
Edited by Samuel Hsu,
Sidney Grolnic, and Mark Peters
Foreword by David Grayson
Schumanns Piano Cycles and the
Novels of Jean Paul
Erika Reiman
Bach and the Pedal Clavichord:
An Organists Guide
Joel Speerstra
Historical Musicology: Sources,
Methods, Interpretations
Edited by Stephen A. Crist and
Roberta Montemorra Marvin
The Pleasure of Modernist Music:
Listening, Meaning, Intention, Ideology
Edited by Arved Ashby
Debussys Letters to Inghelbrecht:
The Story of a Musical Friendship
Annotated by Margaret G. Cobb
Explaining Tonality:
Schenkerian Theory and Beyond
Matthew Brown

Explaining Tonality: Schenkerian Theory and Beyond


Matthew Brown
A wide range of musicfrom Bach to Mozart and Brahmsis
marked by its use of some form of what is generally called tonality:
the tendency of music to focus melodically on some stable pitch or
tonic and for its harmony to use functional triads. Yet few terms in
music theory are more enigmatic than that seemingly simple word
tonality.
Matthew Browns Explaining Tonality: Schenkerian Theory and
Beyond considers a number of disparate ways in which functional
tonality has been understood. In particular, it focuses on the comprehensive theory developed by Heinrich Schenker in his monumental three-part treatise Neue musikalische Theorien und Phantasien
(190635).
Schenker systematically investigated the ways in which lines
and chords behave both locally within individual tonal phrases and
globally across entire compositions. Explaining Tonality shows why
Schenker was able to elucidate tonal relationships so successfully
and why his explanations have many advantages over those of his
rivals. In addition, it proposes some ways in which Schenkers
approach can be extended to tonal features in works from before
Bach (such as Monteverdi) and after Brahms (such as Debussy and
Stravinsky).
Along the way, the book explores six methodological criteria
that help in building, testing, and evaluating a plausible theory of
tonality or, indeed, any other musical phenomenon: accuracy, scope,
fruitfulness, consistency, simplicity, and coherence. It reveals how
understanding the tonality of a piece can shed light on other aspects
of musical composition. And, in conclusion, it describes some ways
in which Schenkerian theory might fruitfully develop in the future.
Matthew Brown is Professor of Music Theory at the Eastman
School of Music, University of Rochester, and author of Debussys
Ibria (Oxford University Press).

Praise for Explaining Tonality:


Explaining Tonality is a cogent, concise, and eminently readable
study of one of music theorys most important subjects. Matthew
Brown traces the philosophical and psychological contexts within
which Schenkerian theory can be placed, and considers other relevant topics, such as strict counterpoint and nineteenth-century
chromaticism, by way of a wealth of freshly observed compositional
examples. Technically expert and critically evenhanded, this
absorbing exploration of tonality in theory and practice sets new
standards in its scope and authority.
Arnold Whittall, Kings College (London)
Matthew Browns Explaining Tonality: Schenkerian Theory and
Beyond carefully sets out a well-reasoned and convincing case for
the scientific viability and logical foundations of Heinrich Schenkers
extraordinary approach to analyzing tonal music, revealing the
solidity of its foundations. His work should be read by anyone who
has an interest in the epistemology of music theory.
Frank Samarotto, Indiana University