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Chopin's Fourth Ballade as Musical Narrative Author(s): Michael Klein Source: Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Spring, 2004), pp. 23-55 Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Society for Music Theory Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4488727 Accessed: 22/11/2009 06:27
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Fourth Ballade as Musical Narrative Chopin's
This article argues a perspective of musical narrative as an emplotment of expressive states rather than a sequence of actors and their actions, and offers a narrative analysis of Chopin's Fourth Ballade. The analysis embraces both hermeneutic and semiotic concerns by examining what this music means and how it signifies that meaning, and proposes a reading of the Fourth Ballade that situates it intertextually. I begin with a discussion of mimetic and diegetic properties of music and consider ways in which Chopin's ballades signify time, particularly the past tense often deemed crucial to narrative forms. I then expand Edward T. Cone's notion of apotheosis, showing how Chopin's larger works depend upon an emotionally transformed recapitulation of an interior theme that often represents a desired emotional state. After applying these theories of apotheosis and temporality to the Fourth Ballade, I conclude with a discussion of pastoral literary narratives and the ways they elucidate the expressive logic of this work.
. it does not seem at all exaggeratedto view humans as narrative animals, as homofabulans-the tellers and interpretersof narrative" (Mark Currie). ~411 that we don'tknow is astonishing.Even moreastonishingis whatpasses for knowing"(Philip Roth). Regarding the apotheosisof Chopin'sFourth Ballade: •4nyone lookingfor 'narrative'structurein music would be hardput tofind a moremoving ex(Carl Schachter).' ample, or one that is morebeautifullycomposed" WHAT KIND OF NARRATIVE?
We tell stories. When we tell stories about stories, it is a commonplaceto reaffirmthat they can be about anything in any medium. Perhaps because we are storytellers, an ever
*I wish to thank Sumanth Gopinath, Martha Hyde, and Patrick McCreless for their insightful comments on early versions of this article. Citations for the three epigraphs are Currie 1998, 2; Roth 2000, 209; and Schachter 1989, 190.
growing arrayof publicationsdevotes attention to narrativity in music, yet despite this work, there are those who argue that music cannot narrate.Such argumentstend to focus on what Jean-Jacques Nattiez calls the trace, or immanent level of analysis,contending that there is nothing in the music per se that allows it to point unambiguouslyto actions or characters.2 As if anticipating such objections, Theodor Adorno responds in advance,"It is not that music wants to narrate, but that the composer wants to make music in the way that others narrate."3From the perspective of reader-response criticism,we might willfully misreadAdorno, adding that it
This is Nattiez'sstrategyin concludingthat "narrative, strictlyspeakand ing, is not in the music,but in theplot imagined constructed thelisby teners fromfunctional (Nattiez 1990a,249). Similararguments, objects" Nattiez rightly though,couldbe made aboutmanytypes of narratives. until we observes,for example,that historicalfacts are not a narrative them into a plot of causality (Ibid.,245). arrange Adorno 1992, 62. In fairness,Adorno'sstatementis directedat the musicof Mahlerand makesno sweepingcommitmentto all of music.
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM (2004) 26
is not that music wants to narrate,but that we want to hear music in the ways that we hear narration.4 want to hear We stories. To structurethese perspectives,we can borrow Nattiez's semiotic tripartitionand position musical narrativeon three levels.5 On the poietic level, a composer may wish to write music that narrates,focusing on musical attributesthat signal narration.On the immanent level, the music may have such attributes,regardlessof whether the composer intends to write narrativemusic. On the esthesic level, a listener may want to hear music as a narration,regardlessof the composer'sintent.6 Narrativeon the poietic level is a matter for
Because even the most expository writing necessarily leaves out information crucial for an understanding of the text, reader-response criticism broadly concerns itself with the work that readers must do in interpreting the text. Important contributions to this area include Eco 1981, Fish 1980, Iser 1974, and Nardocchio 1992. Nattiez 1990b. Nattiez (1990a) also uses the tripartition in his critique of narrativity in music. Basically, though, since Nattiez contends that music has no intrinsic ability to narrate, interpretive acts that narrativize music remain on the poietic and esthesic levels for him. The word attribute in these descriptions refers to Cook 2001. Cook contends that when drawing meaning from music, listeners attend to those attributes that will support that meaning. Because listeners naturally focus on only a few of music's potentially unlimited attributes, different listeners may arrive at wildly different meanings for the same music. Cook may be using the term attribute as opposed to structurein order to allow for listening strategies that focus on surface events in the music without excluding the possibility of focusing on deeper-level structures. I use the term here with the same motivation. Like the study of narrative,Cook's theory might be structured by Nattiez's tripartition, where the attributes are the immanent level and the listener is the esthesic level (Cook never discusses the composer, though it would be easy enough to include a poietic level in his theory). Troublesome in Cook's theory, Nattiez's tripartition, and my borrowing of this work is the conception that attributes (and structures) are somehow in the music. It may just as well be the case that we project these attributes and structures on the music, so that the immanent level collapses into the esthesic.
biography and history. Narrative on the immanent level is a matter for the conjecturesof theory.And narrativeon the esthesic level is a matter for probing the ways that we read texts. tend to Objections to the conception of music as narrative focus on two arguments:music is incapableof representing the actorsand actions deemed necessaryfor narrative, and/or music fails to project a narrator, who can tell the tale in the past tense. Both argumentsrest on a mimesis/diegesisopposition that has been central to western poetics since Plato.7 Though the history of these two terms is complex, and their use in literarytheory far from stable even today,we can take them to mean the difference between showing (mimesis) and telling (diegesis). Under these definitions, music, along with dramaand dance, is a mimetic art.A small irony in arguments against music as narrativeis that on the one hand music'slimited capacity to representactions and actorsis a failureof mimesis, yet on the other hand music'sinabilityto is projecta narrator a failureof diegesis.Thus music exists in a shadow realmbetween mimesis and diegesis. Roger Scrutonuntangles the issues aroundmusic'sability to represent actors and actions.8 Although Scruton ultimately rejects music as a representationalart, he admits its capacity to imitate the sounds of a limited number of real world objects. Crucial, though, is his observationthat when
7 The history of the terms diegesis and mimesisbegins with Book III of The Republic,where Plato uses diegesis to mean speech that comes from the author/narrator and mimesis to mean speech that comes from another character (Plato made no distinction between the narrator and the author). Aristotle complicates matters in his Poetics,where mimesis includes not only speech from another character, but any imitation or miming of action. Mimesis occurs not only when characters speak in drama, or epic poetry, but also when dancers dance. Roger Scruton is quick to point out that the music Aristotle had in mind was mimetic because it was danced, sung, or marched to (Scruton 1997, 118). For an account of the varying meanings that have attached themselves to diegesis and mimesis, see Hawthorn 1994, 42-5. Scruton 1997, 118-39.
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
music imitates birdsong,for example,"the musicalline is not
about the birdsong . . ."9 Raymond Monelle clarifies this
point semiotically, arguing that when music imitates the sound of a bird, that imitation is an iconic sign; but the bird that music imitates is indexical of (points to) what are often This inthe real signifiersof the music: spring, nature,joy.10 puts in a new light Scruton'sclaim that music terpretation emotion narratesnot the actions of a bird but "thebirdlover's as he is carried away by the song.""lMusic may make gestures of imitation, but it soon returnsto itself, carriedaway with the emotional responsesto the object of imitation. MuFrom this perspective,we see how sic "appropriates being."12 Karl argues that limiting narrativeto extrarightly Gregory musical referenceseems a naive understandingboth of what a narrativeis and of what claims people make when they The hear music as narrative.13 impulse to narrativize music is a motivation to find the expressive logic within both the individualcomposition and the repertoirethat supportsit. The distinction between uncovering an expressivelogic and mapping a story onto the music is critical for an underthat have accruedaroundChopin's standing of the narratives Ballades, of which the Fourth will soon be the focus of this article. Early in their reception history, these works were thought to be inspired by the poems of Adam Mickiewicz, with inconclusive evidence linking the Second Ballade in particularto the poem Swite', in which a Polish pastoral If setting suffers the invasion of Russian soldiers.14 Chopin
did create a one-to-one correspondencebetween actions in Mickiewicz's poem and musical attributes in the Second Ballade, we may never know, because he rarelyoffered programs to aid interpretationof his works.The searchfor such a correspondenceon poietic and immanent levels, though, seems to match that naive understanding of narrative to which Karl and others object. Knowing that the presto con fuoco sections of the Second Ballade portrayRussian soldiers violating the Polish countrysidemay be of historicalinterest, but calling this portrayalthe narrativeof the ballade misunderstandswhat musical narrativeis. Music may have a limited capacity to signify the story of Swited but it is adept at signifying expressive states whose arrangement follows a narrativelogic. When we hear the sudden explosive expressions of the first presto confuoco section in the Second Ballade,we may well wonder what motivatesthis expression, whether it will return intact or transformed,and why it is placed where it is. These are narrativequestions that can be answeredwith recourse to narrativetheory.The distinction between an extra-musical narrative and an expressive one also aids in understanding how Chopin might have had Switez in mind when composing the Second Ballade,while remainingcommitted to the idea of absolute music.15 Perhaps the most famous objection that music has no narratoris CarolynAbbate'sclaim that music has "no ability to posit a narratingsurvivorof the tale who speaks of it in
Ibid., 127. Monelle 2000, 19. Scruton 1997, 129. Adorno 1992, 71. Karl 1997, 13-4. Samson 1992, 16. Jeffrey Kallberg (1996, 190-4), drawing from correspondence among Chopin's publishers, documents early attempts to call the Second Ballade a "Ballade polonaise" or a "Ballade des Palerins" (where the word pilgrims refers to Polish emigres). Kallberg finds no conclusive evidence to determine whether these titles came from Chopin or his publishers.
famousdictum that "DerInhalt der Musik sind FollowingHanslick's ("The contentsof music are tonallymoving t6nend bewegte Formen" forms"),absolute music is often taken today to mean instrumental music whose true content is a formal/structural (Hanslick one the 1966, 59). Carl Dahlhaus(1989) shows,however,that historically conceptof absolutemusichad a wide rangeof meanings-from music withoutwords,to music that could expressthe absolute(in a German Idealist context), to music whose sole content was form. As such, Chopin'scommitmentto absolutemusic may have been closer to the idea that instrumental musiccouldrelatean expressive contentwithout to recourse wordsor programs. also Chua1999. See
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
the the past tense."16 Lackinga narrator, markof diegesis, actionsas theyunfoldin the present. musiccanonlypresent Since musiclacksa past tense,it cannotproperly called be to a tradition poeticsreaching of narrative backto according Aristotle.Recentworkon narrative, has shownthe though, the difficultyof maintaining distinctionbetweenmimesis anddiegesis. HillisMiller,forexample, that J. argues Sophoof Rex because the cles'Oedipus failsas an example mimesis, actionin the playis "made almostexclusively people of up around Paul standing talkingor chanting."17 Cobleyargues because creator a narof that a tellingis alsoa showing, the rativein any mediumchoosesto revealsome events,while as hidingothers.Accordingly, Cobleydefinesnarrative the or telling of these eventsand the mode selected "showing Underthisdefinition, music's failure forthatto takeplace."18 of the diegesistest ceasesto impactits statusas a narrative artform. of Somemayfindin sucharguments sophistry a postthe of modernthoughtcontent to tear down distinctions any kind. But long before the questionof music as narrative of in beganto focuson the absence a narrator music,Edward illusionthatwe hearthe exConewroteof thatcomfortable a froma subject, constatesof musicas if projected pressive In sciousness.19 searchof that consciousness, Cone positsa virtual the caseof instrumental in whichacts music, persona,
16 Abbate 1989, 230. Karl also considers Abbate's claim, agreeing that music has no narrative past tense, but arguing that our experience of music is closer to a narrative (diegetic) one than a dramatic (mimetic) one. See Karl 1991 and 1997. Miller 1998, 10. The irony of Miller's observation is that Aristotle uses OedipusRex as the model for tragedy; yet a close reading reveals that this play fails in almost all of the characteristics that Aristotle lists for a classic tragedy. Cobley 2001, 6. Cone 1974. Drawing upon recent literary criticism, Monelle reconsiders Cone's notion of the musical persona, concluding that more emphasis should be placed on the performer, who acts as reader and impersonator of the composer's voice (Monelle 2000, 165-9).
as the narrating the presence mediating musicalactionbeforeus. In Cone'sconception, musicmaybe peopled the by for statesof multiple characters seemto speak that expressive in such music,as in a novelwrittenin themselves. Implicit the the thirdperson,is that a singleconsciousness narrates statesof these variousmusicalcharacters. Cone, expressive and andlaterScruton Monelle,alsowarnsagainst confusing with the musicalpersona.20 the composer Such confusion factorin how the music-asmaybe viewedas a contributing balhas been played. regard Chopin's In to meaninggame it beliefin the nineteenth lades,for example, was a common thatsinceChopinwas a Polishpatriot, ballades the century More mustbe his tellingof eventsin Poland's tragichistory. was the idea that Chopin'sphysicalweakness damaging of itselfin his music.Alternate somehowinscribed readings much of his music, though,would have to concludethat Chopin could create musicalpersonaeof great physical, and moral, psychological strength.21 of Fourth Ballade assumes My narrative analysis Chopin's of narrawho is the implicit the existence a musical persona tor of a tale, and demonstrates that Chopin makesmore of with narrator an evocation the past. explicitthis surviving the workof Cone (1974),RobertHatten(1994), Following the Karl(1997),andFredMaus(1988),amongothers, type one. of narrative in this analysisis an expressive explored a of actorsand actions Insteadof mapping particular story statesevokedby onto the music,I shalldescribe expressive
20 Monelle 2000, 158-65. Scruton calls the idea that a composer's state of mind is somehow in the music the "biography theory,"which is "so evidently erroneous that it would be pointless to refute ..." (Scruton 1997, 144). On the tendency in the nineteenth century to associate Chopin and his music with weakness, effeminacy, and the otherworldly, see Kallberg's finely nuanced "Small Fairy Voices," in Kallberg 1996, 62-86. In "Harmony of the Tea Table," Kallberg offers a gendered account of Chopin's music, including analysis of a later trend to deflect tropes around Chopin's effeminacy by cultivating descriptions of manly vigor in his music (Ibid., 42-5).
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
this music and the ways that their unfolding implies a narracoversprimarilyaffective meanings tive. The term expressive (sadness,apprehension,etc.) but may also cover dramaticsituations or ideas (outburst,transcendence,etc.). The analysis of these expressivestates will be both hermeneuticand semiotic: hermeneutic, because it focuses on what this music means;semiotic, because it is concernedwith how this music means. The theories that support this narrativeanalysisare wide ranging. Following Hatten, I begin with analysis of the Fourth Ballade'sexpressive genre,the broad topical field that the expressivestates of the work.22 Jim Samson arorganizes that although Chopin wrote only four ballades, they gues still representa separategenre.23As such, I believe that we must read the Fourth Ballade intertextuallywith the other three, with particularemphasis on some astonishing points of contact between it and the First Ballade.24Broadening
this intertextual perspective into Chopin's other larger forms reveals an emphasis on apotheosis in his late music, and I shall devote space to the narrative implications of this concept. From analysis of the expressive genre, I turn to a consideration of temporality in the ballades and refocus a theory of lyric and narrative time outlined by Monelle in order to demonstrate how we can hear significations of the past and present tenses. Equipped with this theory, I hope to show the temporal logic that leads the narrative action to the apotheosis. Finally, I take up pastoral as a literary genre and suggest ways in which the affective trajectory of the Fourth Ballade mirrors conventions of pastoral literary-narratives.
Hatten 1994, 67-90. Samson1992, 71. Kallberg genrehas been pointsout that until recently which often rely too heavily under-theorized English publications, in on immanentcharacteristics 1996, 5, 231-2). The problemof (Kallberg to in references works,whereintertextual genreis underscored Chopin's and formaltypeswithin a single compositionmakefor multiplestyles In the difficultclassifications. considering problemof genrein Chopin, to havemadecontributions ourunderstandboth Samsonand Kallberg 1996, 3-29; and Samson1989. Samson's ing of that term.See Kallberg to use of the wordgenrein regard the balladesmaybe readas a formal/ in stylisticcategorythat includeslistenerexpectations regardto affect. Hatten'sexpressive By contrast, genrescan cut acrossformalones. Any numberof differentformalgenres,for example, maysupportan expressive genre that moves througha heroictopic from tragicto transcendent states. Eero Tarasti (1994, 178-9) argues that we must read the narrative of with the grammars other works grammarof a work intertextually by the same composer.Tarasti'sargumentcomes near the end of a highly detailed analysis of Chopin's First Ballade, which relies on to five A. J. Greimas's rulesof narrative grammar articulate modalities and Tarasti's of the ballade("Will," "Must," "Believe"). "Know," "Can," for as has a welcomephenomenological character, he explores, analysis
My analysis makes generous use of Hatten's semiotic theory of markedness and correlation, in which an opposition in the music (major/minor, for example) correlates to extra-musical meaning (non-tragic/tragic).25 Though Hatten allies his project with Peircean semiotics, his use of oppositions may be read within Ferdinand de Saussure's celebrated tenet that meaning is difference, leaving no positive terms for signs.26 In music, a minor key has no power to signify the tragic except within a field of difference that opposes it to a major key. Further, it is within a cultural/historical context that a listener competent with the repertoire of art music hears a minor key as signifying a tragic affect. Even within this convention of interpretation, though, a listener may find other signs in the music that override the correlation between major/minor and tragic/non-tragic. Conventions of of example,how a listenermight doubt the "truth" the openingwaltz is fromits normative becauseit is displaced genre.Though the analysis filledwith insights,an urgeto give valuesto each of the modalitiesand of to go sequentially throughthe sectionsof the balladea number times results in a bloodless quality to the description of the narrative. Hatten 1994. Saussure 1983, 118.
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
interpretation,or what some would call codes,may be motivated by appeals to metaphor,icon, or index, but ultimately In they are arbitrary.27 addition, codes are fluid and combinatorial,allowing for a range of interpretationas the listener apprehends the interaction of signs. Finally, oppositions abound in music as in all sign systems, and seeking them in supportof an interpretationcan quicklydevolve from serious pursuit of the foundationsof meaning to the less serious entertainment of a parlorgame. It would be a mistake in light of the foregoing to claim that an opposition within a cultural context always correlatesto a single meaning. It would be a mistake as well to conclude that since we find an opposition in the music that supports a meaning, we have somehow provedan interpretation. Realizing that a conventional code correlates a musical opposition to an extra-musicalmeaningwould seem to make imperativea discoveryof just what these codes are,how they develop, and how they change.Thus the hermeneuticsof recovery, a motivation to rediscoverhow people once understood an artworkby reconstructingits original context, runs deeply in the study of musical meaning. Hatten, for example,
writes in his Musical Meaning in Beethoven: with Peircean I am developinga moderntheoryof meaningcompatible semiotic theory,and applyingthat theoryto the historicalreconstrucof tion of an interpretive competencyadequateto the understanding Beethoven's worksin his time (3).
movement of Beethoven's Hammerklavier, after which Hatten writes:
If the interpretive to journeyhas been convincing this point,one reason is that all the outstanding salientstructural or eventshavebeenrelated to an overarching hypothesis... (28).
In the first chapter,Hatten makes a gambit that exposes the difficulties involved in reconstructingthat interpretivecompetency.The chapter presents an interpretationof the third
27 For an introduction to semiotic codes, see Chandler 2002. More detailed discussions of codes may be found in Barthes 1974, Culler 1981, and Eco 1976. Nattiez (1990b, 16-28) is critical of Eco's use of codes as a model for meaning, finding that they quickly proliferate to an unmanageable number as we attempt to map signifieds onto signifiers. Nattiez is in agreement with Eco's position that any description of codes must allow for the possibility that the producer and receiver of a message may not share the same code for its interpretation.
To which we might ask:convincing to whom? SurelyHatten And his interpretation is means convincing to us, his readers. convincing, even brilliant. But lacking the historical interhis pretive competency that Hatten proposes to reconstruct, readersare in no historicalposition to judge this interpretive journey. Of course, historical documents give us an idea, refracted through another interpretation, of how listeners understood Beethoven'smusic in his time. Hatten could be asking if we find his interpretivejourney to have convincing resonance with an understanding culled from these documents. I suspect, though, that Hatten wishes the interpretation to be convincing both to us and to our notions of how Beethoven's contemporariesheard his music. We can hear the music this way,and we can believe that Beethoven'scontemporariesalso heardit this way. It is not my intent to be unfairly severe in reading Hatten's text, especiallysince I depend upon his remarkable project.Instead, I wish to respond to the announcedgoal of his work by wondering why we so willingly divest our interpretive energies into reviving the unknown dead. Understanding a text's original historical/culturalcontext is both an end in itself and a means of determiningwhere we are in relation to where we have been. Scruton suggests another motivation when he comparesartisticcontemplationto religious ritual, reasoning that changes in either disturbus because they deny a connection between the living and the Thus dead, implying that one day we too will be cast aside.28 an ethical dimension comes into play in acts of interpretation. For this discussion,though, I wish to focus on the notion that recoveringthe competencyof the past can be an at28 Scruton 1997, 461.
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
tempt to hypostatize interpretation.Implicit is the fear that unmitigated interpretationhas alreadybeen releasedon musical texts, leading people to make claims that ought not pass for knowledge. Often grounding this fear are beliefs in universals,in the univocal nature of the artwork,in the past as more stable than the chaotic present, and in our ancestorsas more capable than we.29Jonathan Culler reminds us of an assumption held even among criticsversed in semiotics that works of art have a meaning. Such a view implies that meaning is somehow inscribed into the fabric of the text itself, and the critic competent in interpretativestrategies simply draws it out.30Culler offers a sane response to the fear that interpretationshave become unlimited when he argues that the liveliness of literary(musicological)institutions depends on the dual facts that we can never settle matters of interpretation and that we must find supporting evidence for Because artworks resist interpretation,we interpretation.31 are left with the same task that Hatten sets for himself: to convince our readersthat they couldhear the music in a way consistentwith the interpretationat hand. To be clear, my position is that although uncovering the contexts and interpretive strategies of the past is a viable pursuit,an impulse to defer to the dead as a means of discov29 I do not wish to imply that Hatten's position involves such beliefs. Particularly in his "Grounding Interpretation," Hatten (1996) appeals to the ways that semiotics and stylistic competency support interpretation, which is open to a range of possibilities. Michael Riffaterre (1978), for example, proposes a theory by which every poem is the transformation of a single matrix, a word or sentence that is the unifying semiotic sign of the poem. Riffaterre'stheory allows only one possible matrix for each poem, and much of his writing is devoted to pointing out errors in other critics' interpretations, based on the hypothesis that they have uncovered the wrong matrix. For Riffaterre the text controls interpretation, an idea that is striking in light of his otherwise nuanced use of intertextuality, which is often viewed as a destabilizing factor in interpreting texts. For a review of Riffaterre'swork, see Culler 1981, 80-99. Culler 1997, 61-2.
ering univocal meaning brings in assumptions about texts with which I do not find myself in accord.Significanceis not inscribed into the text but arises as the result of an act of The text is a nexus aroundwhich interpretive interpretation. acts take place, among which are surelynotions about historical context and the conventions of linking signs. In laying out an expressive narrative for Chopin's Fourth Ballade, though I am concerned with an understandingof Chopin's time, I shall make no claims about reconstructinga competency held by Chopin and his contemporaries. Instead, I shall focus on what the Fourth Ballade might mean to us today. The methodology of this narrativeinterpretationinvolves a intertextuality, conception of the text as the site of allusions, of citations,and transformations other texts. Under the broad definition used in this article, a text is any culturalartifact:a work of art, a piece of music, a novel, a scholarlypublication, an historical document, a calendar,or even that composer whom we imagine, whose name is the same as the historical figure called "Chopin."32 Space prohibits a thorough account of intertextualityhere except to say that most writings on the topic rehearsean argumentin which intertextualityis both a condition of meaning and a threat to it. As readers,we bring other texts to our interpretationof a single text, but since the number and type of these texts are potentially unlimited, questions ariseregardingthe possibilityof establishingstable
Regarding intertextuality, the literature is too vast for an exhaustive citation, though a fine introduction to its implications and uses in literary criticism is Jay Clayton and Eric Rothstein's "Figures in the Corpus" (1991). Definitions of the term vary widely in the literature, and the one offered here is indebted both to Julia Kristeva, who coined the word intertextualite as a "permutation of texts," and to Roland Barthes, who conflates text with intertext, defining them as a "new tissue of past citations" where "bits of code, formulae, rhythmic models, fragments of social language, etc. pass into the text and are redistributed within it, for there is always language before and around the text" (Kristeva 1980, 36; Barthes 1981, 39). Regarding the notion of the author as another text, imagined by the reader,see Barthes 1977 and Foucault 1977.
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
interpretations. Intertextuality interacts with the semiotic oppositions we analyze in supportof extra-musicalmeaning. The critic has an intuition about a meaning or range of meanings for a text or a passage from a text and considers the oppositions in the text that support this meaning. The critic forms an intertext with another cultural artifact,confirming or denying the interpretation. Alternatively, the critic organizes as an opposition an attribute of a musical passagebut lacks an immediate intuition about its meaning. The critic then hypothesizes meanings set as oppositions and forms an intertextwith other culturalartifacts,confirming or denying those meanings.Broadly,the critic startswith an intuition about meaning and moves to a considerationof the structural,culturalconditions that underpin that meaning, or the critic starts with those structural,culturalconditions and moves to a consideration of what meaning they might underpin. Both processes may move from part to whole, or from whole to part of the text.33
Since each of the four ballades presents two or more themes and key areas with a reprise of at least one theme, published analyses tend to compare these works to sonata forms.34Such comparisons can be problematicbecause the
33 The reader may well feel discomfort at such an undertaking, and might wonder how to evaluate the following claims about Chopin's Fourth Ballade. For now it may suffice to say that this interpretation is best read as one among many. Samson argues that despite departures from sonata form, "we need to recognize it as the essential reference point for all four ballades" (Samson 1992, 45). Not all published analyses have made the sonata comparison. Heinrich Schenker views the First Ballade as an extended three-part form (Schenker 1979, 133 and Fig. 153/1). Douglass Green calls the First Ballade a unique form in five sections (Green 1979, 3046). Alan Rawsthorne admits resemblances between the ballade's formal structures and sonata form, yet he insists that it is foolish to relate Chopin's ballades to sonata form in any way (Rawsthorne 1966, 45).
repriseof the second theme in the ballades may appearaway domfrom the home key,in addition to which the structural inants for the First, Second, and Fourth Ballades occurafter the recapitulation,suggesting that if Chopin were making a response to sonata form, it was an individual and original one.35 Although comparison among the ballades reveals some similaritiesin form, no single model governsthe entire set. The First and Fourth Ballades, though, share striking featuresof form and expressivecontent. Example 1 presents in tabularform an outline of the themes and key areas of these two ballades.Arrows in the example show modulatory sections.The terms Gang,lyric,and narrativewill be defined shortly. Finally, the bottom row in these tables lists topical features. Example 1 provides a frame of referenceonly and should not be taken to represent an incontestable formal structure. Determining the boundariesof the exposition is unproblematic for both ballades, since they present two themes in contrastingkeys. Points of recapitulationare more questionable, since both balladesbring back the second theme in the submediant,and the First Ballade reprisesthe themes in reverse order.Chopin sets the first theme of both balladesas a waltz. In addition,both contain a second, more virtuosicand celebratory waltz in a development section.36As for dramatic affect, both ballades conclude with fiery codas, suggesting a tragic end. I hear topics for sighing and death in the left hand of the coda of the Fourth Ballade,which support this interpretation.But the unbridled virtuosityof this coda, coupledwith powerfulclosing chords,might be readas defiant, or as a sign of heroic struggle.Under such a reading, the listener might make an intertextualconnection between
35 36 Samson discusses Chopin's different treatments of the dominant at foreground and middleground levels in 1985, 213-4, and 1992, 78-81. Even the term developmentshould be taken loosely. Karol Berger has argued convincingly that Chopin's development of themes in the First Ballade does "not quite live up to the Classical image of thematic working" (Berger 1996, 56).
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
First Ballade Exposition? Mm. 1-7 Intro 8-36 Theme 1 36-67 67-82 82-94 94-105 106-125 Development? 126-137 138-150 150-166
Recap.? 180-194 194-208 208-264
Theme 3 Theme 2a Theme 2b Theme 1 Coda Gang Theme 2a Theme 2b Theme 1 Theme 2a Gang Gang a A V/E6 g g g Eb Eb Narrative Lyric Narrative Lyric Lyric Narrative Lyric Lyric Lyric Lyric Lyric Lyric? Narrative Lyric Waltz "Horn" Berceuse Virtuouso Tragic ] Apotheosis Valedictory Mythic Apotheosis Announceintro ("Public") Trans.] Tragic ment Waltz Polonaise
Fourth Ballade Exposition? Mm. 1-7 Intro. Motto C Lyric 8-22 Theme 1 f Lyric Waltz Lyric 23-37 Var.1 (Th. 1) 38-57 Interruption Gb-bb-Gb Lyric Sublime 58-71 Var.2 (Th. 1) f 71-80 Gang 80-99 Theme 2 B Lyric Pastorale
Development? 112-128 Theme 3
Recap.? 152-168 Var.4 (Th. 1) f Lyric to Narrative 169-210 Theme 2 211-239 Coda
129-134 135-151 Intro. Motto A Lyric Var.3 (Th. 1) d-+V/f Lyric
Lyric to Narrative Narrative Waltz
Ab g-Narrative Lyric to Narrative
Virtuouso ("Public") Waltz
f Db--V/f Narrative Narrative Tragic
Waltz to Apotheosis Canon Learned Apotheosis? Style
EXAMPLEI. Structural and topicalfeatures of Chopin'sFirst and Fourth Ballades.
the final passagesof the FourthBallade and those of Beethoven'sAppassionata sonata,where heroic defiance and struggle are a plausibleinterpretation. Rather than view these ballades as unruly sonatas, it seems more productive to discover their formal/expressive logic. This logic differs from that of a Beethovenian paradigm in which the tensions of the work find release in the dual return of the tonic and the first theme at the point of recapitulation,and in which the return of the second theme in the tonic resolves the structuralharmonic dissonance set up in the exposition. In Chopin'slargerworks, including the ballades, formal/expressive logic is directed towards what
Cone calls apotheosis, specialkind of recapitulationthat re"a veals unexpected harmonic richness and textual excitement in a theme previouslypresentedwith a deliberatelyrestricted harmonization and a relatively drab accompaniment."37 Examples 2 and 3 reproducethe second theme of the Fourth
37 Cone 1968, 84. FollowingCone'slead, Kallbergdescribesthe expressive sweepof Chopin's Polonaise-Fantasy, 61 in termsof apotheosis op. musicin similarterms 1996, 117). SamsondiscussesChopin's (Kallberg (Samson 1992, 75-6, 84). In an otherwisepositivereviewof Samson's earlier TheMusicof Chopin(1985), Schachtertakes Samson to task for a failureto develop Cone's idea of apotheosis (Schachter1989, 189-90). Schachterposits the overturesof Weber as the immediate
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
Ballade and its apotheosis. Commentary in the examples refersto a later discussion.Though it is arguablewhether the initial appearanceof the second theme shown in Example 2 is restrictedin harmonization,there can be no doubt that the texture of its accompaniment is greatly expanded in the apotheosis. Further, the apotheosis forms a climax to the Fourth Ballade that extends through to the last measuresof the coda. Cone considers the apotheosis in Chopin to be an in earlyversion of what will become thematic transformation Liszt and Wagner, where a poietic impulse to narrativize music makes critical the desire to avoid exact repetition of a theme. If charactersin a narrative change over time, then the themes that represent them or their emotional states must change over time as well. Thus apotheosisis both a structural of and expressivetransformation a theme. This expressive transformationgives vital clues to what Hatten calls the expressive genre of a piece.38A familiar exis the tragic-to-triumphant one that arches pressive genre across the movements of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. In Chopin'smusic, variablesthat aid in determiningthe expressive genre include the theme chosen for apotheosis, the key of the apotheosis relativeto the tonic, and the placement of the structuraldominant with respect to the apotheosis. In Chopin'slargerworks, an interior theme tends to be a nocturne or pastorale,whose simple accompaniment imbues it with potential for apotheosis. Often the initial appearance of such a theme is in a choraletexture,whose religiousimplications underscore a desired emotional state. We might identify the nocturne as a metaphor for Chopin's own subjectivity, as if he has written himself into the narrativeas a musicalpersona;a broaderperspectivemight see these interA nal themes as metaphorsfor otherness.39 gendered reading
ancestors to Chopin's apotheoses, though he admits that the concept gains potency in Chopin's music. Hatten 1994, 67-90. For a discussion of the gendering of the nocturne, see Kallberg's "The Harmony of the Tea Table" (Kallberg 1996, 30-61). Wayne Petty offers
might view these themes as signifying the feminine and the apotheosis of these themes as an exaltation of feminine musical discourse (though defined by a man). However we interpret the theme marked for apotheosis, we can hear it as signifying a difference from the ontological reality of the surroundingmusical material:it is past as opposed to present, interioras opposed to exterior,there as opposed to here, feminine as opposed to masculine, night as opposed to day. In the present discussion, I shall settle upon the opposition of ruralversus urban, largely because the theme chosen for apotheosis is a pastorale.In opposition to the pastoraleis the first theme, a waltz, which I take to be a synecdoche for the salons of nineteenth-century urban life. Rural and urban themes, in this case also tied to lower and upper classes,are which I shall take up later. common to literarypastorals, A prime example of apotheosis appears just past the midop. point of the Polonaise-Fantasy, 61, where a new theme appears in the flat mediant; the theme is introduced by a chorale texture before a nocturnal accompaniment takes over. Both this theme and a counter-theme drawn from its accompaniment return in an apotheosis at the end of the work. Chopin's penchant for placing expressiveweight on a theme other than the first is evident as well in his Second and Third Sonatas.Though neither work contains an apotheosis, both have a nocturnalsecond theme that also ushersin a recapitulation,lacking a reprise of a more dramaticfirst theme. In addition, the second theme of the Second Sonata first appears in a chorale texture before receiving a more elaborate treatment. Interior themes that are lyrical representations of desired emotional states appear in the Barcarolle op. 60, and the First, Third, and Fourth Ballades, in addition to the works mentioned. A notable exception is the Second Ballade, whose first theme is a pastorale,and
a reading of nocturnal themes within Chopin's larger forms as the composer's means of asserting identity in the face of the anxiety of influence (Petty 1999, 286).
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
33 Pastoral Theme dolce
before theme(proper) Sequence begins-- 79 a tempo
VII - altered
CT diminished 7ths
falls to ii
- - - - - - Ascending
IV sustained - - -
EXAMPLE2. Second theme of Chopin's Fourth Ballade.
whose second theme has a stormy character that shatters all calm.40
40 Because the Second Ballade begins in F major and ends in A minor, Kevin Korsyn (1996) reads it as an early example of directional tonality. Samson (1996) argues that the ballade's two-key scheme may be an extension of improvisatory practice in the brilliant style of the early nineteenth-century, where highly sectionalized forms allowed for the juxtaposition of key centers. Whether we follow Korsyn in viewing the work as a harbinger of the future, or Samson in viewing it as an extension of the past, it is questionable whether the Second Ballade has
Regarding the key of the apotheosis, when it appearsin the tonic majorin Chopin'smusic, the end expressivestate is never tragic.The apotheosis of the Barcarolle,for example,is of the third theme in the tonic, and its expressiveend might
an apotheosis. One might view the return of the first theme in mm. 83-140 as a failed apotheosis. Though the texture and expressive content are heightened in this section, its developmental nature and eventual modulation to D minor crushes hope of a transcendent reprise of the opening pastorale.
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004) Pastoraltheme
Magical change of perspective
cadence on Bb minor
Ascending 6ths Sequence (Striving) Arrival,Presence, O 19.0 Continue as in m. 191 6/4 "Tragic"
Augmented 6th (Db/B) Redirects Tonal Focus EXAMPLE 3. Apotheosis
of second theme in Chopin'sFourth Ballade.
CHOPIN'S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
be describedas a perfectlyfulfilledjoy.The apotheosis of the Third Ballade is of the first theme in the tonic, and the end state is one of exalted happiness. In both the First and FourthBallades,the apotheosisis of the second theme (a desired state), but it appearsin the submediant,a key areathat Susan McClary calls the never-never land of nineteenthAs century musical imagery.41 expected, the expressiveend of these two balladesis tragic. Finally,the placementof the structuraldominant presents an opportunity for the musical persona to comment on the nature of the apotheosis. In the Barcarollethe resolution of the structuraldominant into the tonic coincides with the commencement of the apotheosis, contributingto the emotional fulfillmentof its joyous state. In the Polonaise-Fantasy an apotheosis of the first theme begins on the structural dominant of Ab major,the home key, only to be interrupted briefly by an ecstatic turn to the dominant of B major,the key of the interior theme, before a fuller apotheosis of the interiortheme occursback on the structuraldominant of Ab. In this case, the completion of that interior theme coincides with resolution of the structuraldominant into the tonic, and the expressive state speaks of an achieved emotional strengthin the face of earlierdoubts. In the First and Fourth Ballades, the structuraldominant of a minor tonic appears after the apotheosis, turning tragic the putative triumph of these sections. These two ballades fit similar expressive genres. In both cases a second theme represents a desired emotional state. The fulfillment of that emotional state is promisedin an apotheosis,but since it occursin a non-tonic key,the successin maintainingthat state is uncertain.Failure becomes complete when a structuraldominant of the minor home-key turns the music away from the promise of the desired emotional state. I read the end state of these two ballades as failed-triumphto tragic.An alternatereading might view the end states as failed-triumphto defiant.
41 McClary 2000, 123.
The peripeteia in the apotheosis of the Fourth Ballade is terrible and swift in comparison to that of the First. In the First Ballade, the second theme appearsin two apotheoses, first in A major and later in E6 major,which is also the key of the second theme in the exposition. The first apotheosis occurs rather early,but since its key creates an unusualrelationship to the home key, G minor, and the second theme, Ek, much of the energy of the development is directed toward modulation back to EL major. Once Ek is confirmed, the second apotheosis commences, this time including the second and third themes. The energy of this climactic section dissipates by the end of the third theme, and a direct modulation back to G minor hints of the tragedy to come. When the first theme returnsover the structuraldominant, we have long guessed that all is not well. Chopin'scorrective swerve in the Fourth Ballade pushes the apotheosis closer to the end of the work, allowing the structuraldominant to interrupt the triumph of this section. A heightened pathos results from the failure of the apotheosis at the fullness of its promise, and narrativeinquiry searches for the logic of expressivestates leading to that failure.
THE NARRATING SURVIVOR---THE PAST TENSE
A musical persona can act as a narratingpresence, separating the teller of the tale from the tale itself. In the First and Fourth Ballades,Chopin signifies more directlythis narrating survivor and a past tense in which the action takes place. Both Rawsthorne and Samson read the compound duple meter in each ballade as a presencelinking the musical scenes implied by topical, textural,and expressivechanges.42 Beyond this presence, the First Ballade offers a remarkable moment of the signified narrator. Example 4 reproducesthe of the First Ballade with commentary. The 4/4 opening meter and monophonic octaves separatemm. 1-7 from the
42 Rawsthorne 1966, 43; Samson1992, 86.
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
PProfoundAnnouncement Expectation Regaining composure
Waltz theme Moderato
An oldtale An old tale
EXAMPLE Introduction to Chopin'sFirst Ballade. 4.
waltz that follows, and the opposition of these two passages correlatesto the announcement of a message and the message itself. Because the opening octave C is long and low, it correlatesto a state of expectation and to a profound utterance. As a majorchord in first inversionunfolds, it makes intertextual reference to the paradigmatic opening of opera 4*6 recitatives.43 I hear the move from iv6 to the cadential6 But in mm. 6-7 as central to marking narrativedistance. The simple texture and half-step motion in the bass leading to the cadential 6 mimic the phrygian cadences found at the
43 Berger makes explicit the recitative intertext, hearing in the opening of the First Ballade the opening of Beethoven's "Tempest" sonata with its own recitative references (Berger 1996, 68-70).
end of certain slow movements in music of the Baroqueperiod. To be sure, there is no upper-voice movement from 4 to 5, and the cadence properconcludes in m. 9 with the resolution of the dominant to the tonic earlyin the waltz theme. But a factor contributing to the resemblancebetween mm. 6-7 and a phrygian cadence is the grouping structure, wherein the relativelylong note in mm. 7-8 marksa boundary between the introductionand the waltz.The final chords of the introduction suggest to me something old or authoritative. Further,this progressiongains salience from the dissonancesin m. 7, suggesting a pained utterance.We hearthe opening as the announcement of a profound and painful tragedy,and the closing progressiontells us that the story is an old one, as if one is about to recount a legend or myth: a
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
clear instance of the "onceupon a time"that Adorno attributes to Mahler'sFourth Symphony.44 The past tense adheres to the waltz that follows in m. 8. Eero Tarasticalls this opening theme "somewhat estranged .
a waltz oubliee."45Once
upon a time, there was a waltz. Traditionallythe narratorof a poetic ballade is emotionally uninvolved in the story being told. In the case of Chopin's First Ballade, though, the narratorfalters in maintaining this detachment. The announcement of mm. 1-2 proceeds through an embellished major-chordin the deliberate dignity of simple octave ascents.But at the end of m. 3 the chromatic descent to F#, coupled with the diminuendo and the silence that follows, calls into question the stability of mm. 1-2. With the F# we can first guess that the previous chord was a Neapolitan, a markerof ombra. The passage of mm. 4-5 challengesharmonic analysis.We might read F# in m. 4, embellishedby E#, as harbingerof a dominant, whose root appearswith the repeatedDs at the end of m. 5, except that the iv6 chord in m. 6 surelypoints to D3 in the bass of m. 7 as the structural dominant for the introduction. Schenker's sketch of this passage includes no detail about mm. 4-5, but a register transferfrom C6 in m. 3 to in C5 m. 6 of his sketch implies that the chromaticismof the intervening measures embellishes a simple stepwise descent.46I read the harmonic clarity of mm. 1-2 and 6-8 in opposition to the uncertaintyof mm. 3-5 as correlativeto emotional detachment followed by involvement on the part of the narrator. The narratorbegins with a composure that flows from detachment, but the tragedy of the tale to be told soon becomes overwhelming;the narratoris lost in the chromatic passage of mm. 4-5, regainingcomposureonly in the silence that precedesthe entranceof the iv6 chord.The intrusion of the dissonant Eb3into the cadential6 of m. 7 indicates that the regained composure falls short of complete objectivity.
44 45 46 Adorno 1992, 96. Tarasti 1994, 154. Schenker 1979, Fig. 64/2c.
Example 5 is a recomposition of the introduction, removing the chromatic questioning of mm. 4-5 in order to illustrate the expressiveimpact of these measures.Though the recomposition is shorter than the original,it still follows all of the particularsof Schenker'ssketch. Chopin is less direct in signifying the narrator of his Fourth Ballade.We can still hear the compound duple meter as a presence threadingtogether the musical action. In addition, the opening waltz evinces the same estranged character that Tarasti hears in the waltz of the First Ballade. The strong intertextual connection between these two ballades prompts us to hear the later waltz in the past tense. Even without this intertextual connection, though, Chopin still signifies the past in ways aligned with the temporalityof the nineteenth century. Monelle argues for two types of time signified in the music of this period: lyric and narrative.47 Lyric time is signified in those presentational sections in which melody comes to the fore, and in which harmonicand phrase structuresare relativelystable.Narrativetime is signified in those sections in which harmonic and phrase structures become more complex, and in which there is generally an increase in rhythmic activity.Such sections often correspond to transitions,and as such Monelle takes as a starting point A. B. Marx's Gang, passage work that connects the more periodic Scitze.48 Marx himself associateshis paradigm for musical form, Satz-Gang-Satz, with a metaphor for activity, rest-motion-rest; and it is Monelle's insight that the
47 Monelle 2000, 115-21. Monelle's conception of lyric and narrative time overlaps with Berger's conception of lyric and narrative forms (Berger 1992, 1996). For Berger, narrative (temporal) forms involve a causality in which a later phrase occurs as the result of an earlier one; lyric (atemporal) forms evince no such causality, though succeeding phrases may have mutual implications. The difference in Monelle's conception lies in his willingness to delineate narrative and lyric sections within a single work, lending the possibility of changes in temporality. Monelle's discussion of Marx's Gang and Satz references earlier uses of these terms in the writings of Joseph Riepel as well (Monelle 2000, 100-14).
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM (2004) 26
to EXAMPLE Recomposition introduction First Ballade. 5. of same formal paradigm may be mapped onto a temporal metaphor where the Satz (lyric time) is time arrested,and the Gang (narrative time) is time passing. Lyric time is evocation, description;narrativetime is action.instructivein reNineteenth-century ballet is particularly gard to the coordination of lyric and narrativetime with music. During Tchaikovsky'sNutcracker, example, there for are moments when actions are performed:the childrenenter the hall for their Christmas gifts, the Nutcrackerbattles the Mouse King. During these moments the dancers mime the action, and the music is less melodic, often exhibiting quick changes in texture and harmony. We experience narrative time. But there are also moments when the action of the story stops: Clara watches the dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, or the dance of the Reed Flutes. During these moments, miming ceases and dancing commences while the music becomes periodic with a clearer harmonic structure. We experience lyric time. The mixing of lyric and narrative times in the telling of a story is not unique to music. From the fabula (plot) and sjuzet (discourse) of the Russian Formalists,to the dialogism of Mikhail Bakhtin'stheory of the novel (1981), to the five codes of Roland Barthes'sS/Z, literarytheorists have long recognized that story telling is a mix of different types of writing.49Few stories emplot a lin49 The termsfabula and sjuzet are sometimes taken to mean story and plot, respectively. Bakhtin's dialogism describes the way that utterances mix
ear sequence of action without the detours of description, evocation, and characterization. In instrumental music of the nineteenth century,entire pieces may signify lyric time. During Schumann's"Traiumerei," for example, time is suspended while we view the dreamerin full reverie.Even in the more excited movements like "Wichtige Begebenheit,"the periodic of Kinderszenen, structure,the lack of transitions, and the relative brevityof the work keep time at bay,so that we can view the important event in an extended temporal stasis.50In Chopin's music lyric time is associatedwith the salon style: the nocturne,the
different types of language. The novel, for example, mixes everydaylanguage for its dialogues, poetic language for its descriptions, and so forth. Bakhtin's dialogism heavily influences Julia Kristeva's argument in coining the term intertextualite in "The Bounded Text" (1980). Kevin Korsyn discusses Bakhtin's writings as philosophical backdrop to a theory of intertextuality in music in "Beyond Privileged Contexts" (2001). Barthes's five codes, though directed at how readers make sense of texts, imply that different types of writing make up a literary work. Musical extensions of Barthes's codes appear in Abbate's "What the Sorcerer Said" (1989), Patrick McCreless's "Roland Barthes's S/Z" (1988), and Robert Samuel's Mahler'sSixth Symphony(1995). Anthony Newcomb (1987) argues that when the character piece invades Schumann's larger works, like the "Im Legendenton" section in the first movement of the op. 17 Fantasie, it is a sign of Schumann'simpulse to narrate in the ways that his favorite novelists do. Newcomb's idea resonates with the literary theories listed in the previous footnote.
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
poeticized waltzes and mazurkas.Narrative time is associated with the virtuosic style: the etudes, the concertos, and portions of the polonaises. This broad division of Chopin's music interactswith an astonishing intertextuality. SamAs son illustrates,bel canto,stile brillante,baroquetextures,and Polish folk music all play parts in the creation of Chopin's style.51In his largerworks, Chopin tends to mix these influences so that lyric and narrative time alternate,and this techis nowhere more apparentthan in the ballades,where nique the lyricismof a slow waltz may lead to the narrative pulse of a virtuosicpassage.Whether this mixing of styles represents music may alwaysbe a matter a poietic impulse to narrativize of debate as we gain new perspectiveson Chopin's creative life, but the esthesic impulse to read narrativeinto Chopin's larger works gains impetus from this mixture. The fourth rows in the tables of Example 1 align formal sections of the First and Fourth Balladeswith expressionsof lyric and narrativetime, showing as well that lyric time is associatedwith themes, while narrativetime is associatedwith Gange.Apotheosis presents a special difficultywith respect to lyric and narrativetime, since the heightened textures and rhythmic surfacesmay give the impression of narrativeaction. Still, I hear apotheosisin generalas an exaltedlyric time. I markthe apotheosis of the Fourth Ballade, however, as "Lyric to Narrative" becausepassagesleading to the climax of this section have a striving quality,suggesting to me an active effort to maintain the exalted effect. I retain Marx'sterm Gang in the tables,even though it fits Chopin'smusic uncomfortably. Monelle argues that the Gang in late eighteenth-century music is semanticallycool.52However in Chopin's music-, arguablyin Beethoven'sas well-the Gang seems rich with meaningfulaction. Either lyric or narrativetime may be coordinated with structuresthat signify the present or the past. Though the existence of a narrator places the events of a story in the past
51 52 Samson 1985. Monelle 2000, 107. 53 54
tense and positions the readerin a temporalspace after those events, the pacingof action may drawthe readerinto the story to experience it as if in the present. Conversely,the pacing of action might maintain significations of the past, so that the reader is never drawn into the story. Similarly,though Monelle describes lyric time as an extended present (or an empty present), he is perceptivein claiming that the temporal dynamic of the nineteenth century often sentimentalizes time, so that lyric evocations become empty longings for the glories of the past.53Example 6 coordinates narrativeand lyric time on a horizontal axis with past and present on a vertical axis. The intersection of signifiers for past/present and lyric/narrative allow for four temporal possibilities: time passes in the present (narrative/present),time passes time stops in the present (lyric/ in the past (narrative/past), time stops in the past (lyric/past). Hearing these present), possibilities within the dynamics of story telling means that the presence of a narrator frames the entire sequence of events as something complete, something in the past. Temporal shifts occur within the perspective of that narrative frame,implying that we are drawn into the past as if it were happening before us, or that we remain removed from the past, experiencingit as if at a distance. In Chopin's music action is often suspended so that the narrator may indulge in the poetry of evocationand also contemplate a scene from the past. Chopin's focus on the subdominant supports an idealized past in many of these lyric sections. Charles Rosen's correlation between a dominant/ subdominant opposition and an active/passive one is well known, but a second mapping of this harmonic opposition correlatesthe dominant with movement toward the future (time as experiencedrushes forward) and the subdominant with looking toward the past (time as experienced turns back).54An example of Chopin's use of the subdominantto
Monelle 2000, 115. Pertinent is Rosen's characterization of the subdominant in the early Romantic period as representing "a diminishing tension and a less
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
Gang Present motion to dominant Past motion to subdominant EXAMPLE6. Time passes in the past Time passes in the present
Satz Time stops in the present
Time stops in the past
in Temporality narrativeforms.
signify the past appearsearly in the First Ballade. Beginning in m. 36, diminished-seventhchords, increasedrhythmicactivity, and agogic accents on weak beats point to movement away from the lyric time of the opening waltz. In m. 40 Chopin marksthe music agitato,and by m. 44 the full virtuosic style signifies narrative time. At the end of this narrative section, the music commences its first modulation,ostensibly toward the key of B6 major.Example 7 reproducesthis passage, including a recompositionof the opening of the second theme. In m. 63-4 a motion in the upper voices marks 4-3 the bass F as a dominant. A horn topic in mm. 64-7 announces the second theme, but the earlier calando and smorzando markingscoupled with the ritenutoof m. 66 gives this horn call a dysphoric character.When the new theme arrivesin m. 68, the addition of A6 abovethe supposedtonic, B6, redirects the harmonic goal to BV'ssubdominant, E6, which will be the key for this theme. The recomposition of this passage in Example 7 illustrateshow easily the second theme might have remainedin B6, the key towardwhich the transition seems directed. I read the redirection to Ebas a
complex state of feeling, and not the greater tension and imperative need for resolution implied by all of Beethoven's secondary tonalities" (Rosen 1971, 383).
means of reversingthe passageof time. The musical persona seems intent on reviewingthe past. The subdominantsignifies the past in the first theme of the FourthBallade as well. Example 8 reproducespart of the opening motto and a rhythmicreductionof the waltz theme that follows.The key of the opening motto is C major,and a V7/IV in m. 2 marks F as a subdominantbefore a cadence affirmsC in m. 3. F's status as subdominantis maintainedby a plagal prolongationof C in mm. 6-7. The motto is lyrical evocation, an extended arrestingof time. Though F as subdominant appearsearly in the passage, it moves directlyto the dominant in m. 3; therefore,I read this lyric section in the present.Temporality changes with the melodic turn of D6 and B?in m. 8, which shifts the tonal focus from C major to F minor.Because C is so clearlythe tonic in the firstseven measures,we may well hear the move to F minor in m. 8 as motion to the subdominantinstead of motion from a dominant to a tonic. At the moment when the first theme arrives, the musical persona looks to the past. Though both the opening motto and the first theme are lyric, the motto signifies the present,while the first theme signifies the past. The narrativetechnique here is quite different from that which whose emoopens the First Ballade.In contrastto a narrator tional uncertaintyin the introduction signals the tragedyto come, the musical persona of the Fourth Ballade sets the "onceupon a time"with an optimism tinged with the consolation of a religious topic suggested by the plagal successions in mm. 6-7. When the waltz theme enters in m. 8 with its reduced rhythmic activity and minor key inflected as a subatdominant, we can hear it as the reason that the narrator consolation in the opening motto. Now (motto), I tempts begin to find consolation and hope, but back then (first theme) ... Chopin trumps the subdominant during the course of the waltz theme, whose three phrasestonicize Abmajorand B6 minor before a quick returnto F minor.The theme loses itself in the subdominant,and an ingenious ambiguityallows the melody to appearboth in the tonic (mm. 8-10) and in
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
Second theme Meno mosso
Dysphoric Shorns V ofB Recomposition add 7th to reach Eb
7. Transition to secondtheme ofFirst Ballade.
the subdominant (mm. 18-20) without a change in pitch level. Harmonic motion from the subdominantback to the tonic is accomplishedrather abruptlywith the dominant in the second half of m. 22, redirectingtonal motion after a presumed cadence in B6 minor: a willed effort brings the waltz back into focus. Four variationsof this theme appear throughout the ballade, during the first of which Chopin interruptsthe motion back to the tonic with a direct modu-
lation from B1 minor to G6 major in m. 38. Example 9 reproduces this passage with commentary.Hatten associates such modulationsby thirds to changes of perspective,or sudIn den insight.ss55 addition, the key of G6 had special significance in the early nineteenth-century,where it was associated with the remote, the profound,and the transcendentally
55 Hatten 1994,22-3.
42 Lyric time/the present
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
Shifts tonal focus Waltz
Plagal close etc Phrase III-iv 2:
Lyric time/the past
f: i etc.Shifts
V/III etc. Phrase V/iv-iv-V 3:
Opening motto and waltz theme of Chopin'sFourth Ballade.
spiritual.56 Schubert'sImpromptuin Gb makes a particularly
evocative intertext. A deep stasis of the melodic and har56
monic material supports the remote and spiritual topic in mm. 38-46. But the stasis sends our sense of time even
heavenly, known/unknown, ordinary/sublime, etc. As always, these mappings must be read within a context of other signifiers. Chopin, for example, uses the key of G6 in two etudes, the so-called "Black-Key," op. 10 no. 5, and the "Butterfly," 25 no. 9; but, lacking other markers op. for the sublime, these etudes form only a weak intertext with the passage in question from the Fourth Ballade.
Hugh MacDonald (1988) writes that in the nineteenth century Gb major was also associated with the otherworldly, the ecstatic, and the mysterious. These signifieds for Gb rest on an opposition between the relative distance of a key in relation to a home tonic, and the absolute distance of a key in relation to C. Under an absolute measurement, Gb is taken to be the most distant key from the fixed point of C. The C/Gb opposition maps onto a number of extra-musical ones: earthly/
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE Harmonic Stasis Third Relation Direct Modulation Gb
42 PS 0
Furtherinto the past
EXAMPLE Sublime interruption in Chopin'sFourth Ballade. 9.
deeper into the past, a problem exacerbated by implications of Eb minor in mm. 45-7 suggesting a move to the subdominant of the subdominant of the home key. So far there have been no narrative sections to offer a sense of action so necessary to story telling, and the lyric sections seem intent on sending the listener further into the past. Only the sequence and canonic writing of mm. 50-3, and the dominant of m. 57 redirect the harmony back to the tonic, saving the musical narrative from the temporal catastrophe of a story that never moves forward in time and that gives no sense of action. At m. 58 the waltz theme returns in a variation elaborate enough to lead to the first instance of narrative time: at last things happen. We understand how long narrative time has been kept at bay by comparing this ballade to the first, where the waltz theme appeared only once before increased rhythmic and harmonic activity propelled the music around m. 36.
In the Fourth Ballade, Chopin maintains control of lyric time, even driving the music furtherinto the past with those emphases on the subdominant,before the transformationto narrativetime begins around m. 68. By m. 72 narrativetime is in full force as the music begins an ascending sequence that promises modulation. This narrativesection interrupts completion of the waltz's second variation before it can return to the tonic, following a pattern set in the firstvariation and continued in each subsequent one. With the exception of the waltz theme itself, each variationwill be interrupted before it can exit the subdominant. The narratoris compelled to repeat part of the story with each variation but is unable to bring that story to its completion. This repetitioncompulsion leads to a remarkable moment when the opening motto returnsin the key of A majorat m. 129. We find ourselvesat the beginning of the story all over
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
again. As before, the motto leads to the waltz theme, this time treated in canon at the octave in the key of D minor.If the theme itself is marked as sadly introspective, then a canonic treatmentof it makes the music authoritatively as so, each voice takes up the musical persona'ssubjectivity. The tries to soften the edges of this canon, modulating persona from D minor in m. 135 to F majorin m. 138. But the canon returnsstrengthenedby the entrance of a third voice in the key of F minor. Sequential treatment promises that the canon will again be softened by modulation, this time to Ab major in m. 142. But a final appearanceof a three-voice canon in Abminor fails to elicit a softening response.A descending chromatic line in the left hand of m. 144 underscores this failurebefore the waltz theme moves to B6 minor once again.
APOTHEOSIS IN THE FOURTH BALLADE
A returnto Example 2 allows a closer look at the second sectheme, which commences in m. 80 after a brief narrative tion. The shift from narrative lyric time is so starkthat the to descending sequence beginning in m. 80 seems a necessary and calming preludeto the theme'sproperentrancewith the dolceof m. 84. Chopin alters the usual form of the circle-offifths sequenceby building a majortriad on 7 in the bass and preceding that triad with its own dominant. Although the sequence confirms Bb major, the close connection between the major triads on B6 and A on the downbeats of mm. 81 and 82 temporarilysuspends normaltonal syntax,suggesting the expressive tonality evident later in the century, where tonal motion up or down a half step correlateswith increased or decreased emotional tension. The iambic rhythm, the major thirds in the upper voices, and the consonant 6-5 accented passing tone in m. 92 establishthis second theme as a pastoraleor siciliana.Chopin uses the same topic to open his Second Ballade, and comparison of the two themes illustrates a different characterto the pastoraleof the Fourth.In
the earliercase the thoroughly diatonic harmonyof the first eighteen measuresfirmlyestablishesthe simplicityof expression often associatedwith the pastoraltopic. In the Fourth Ballade, though, unquiet minor thirds in the common-tone o7 chords of mm. 86-7 are in opposition to the cheerful major thirds common to pastorales. Particular pains are taken to reachthe subdominant,another markerfor the pastorale.The first such move appearsin mm. 86-9, where the tonic becomes a V7/IV before moving to IV. The arrivalon the subdominantin m. 89 is too brief, falling immediatelyto the supertonicin that same measure.During a secondpass at the subdominantin mm. 92-7, an ascending,chromatic5-6 sequence adds urgencyto the theme, heightened by comparison to the earlierdescending sequencethat calmed the musical expression.When the music reaches its goal in m. 97, the subdominantextends more than a measurebefore a cadence closes the theme. The effort to hold on to the emblematic subdominant idealizes the pastorale, as if it can recompense the awful present that shatters this theme in m. 100, where another narrativesection commences in the key of G minor. The struggle of the Fourth Ballade is to transformthe second theme into an apotheosis while holding at bay the possibility of apotheosis for the unfortunate waltz theme. We might view apotheosis in this ballade as an attempt to transform through action an idealized past into a realized present. During the final appearanceof the waltz theme, a dramaticallyenriched rhythmic profile for the accompaniment and a generously ornate fioritura variation of the melody signalsgrowth of the waltz into apotheosis.Beautiful as this variation is, the musical persona again interrupts completion of the waltz in favor of an apotheosis of the pastorale. Example 3 shows the relevant passage. After a carefully prepared motion to the minor subdominant,B%, with an extended pedal on its dominant, F, in mm. 162-8, the pastoral theme simply appearsin Di major in m. 169. The return of this theme is unpreparedharmonically,and
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
therefore magical in its aspect.57Yet there is an unearned quality to this interruption,and the following passages attempt to reaffirmthe status of D. In particularan ascending chromatic sequence in mm. 187-90 reaches a breathtaking cadence in DMon the structuraldownbeat of m. 191. Here the melody falls away,leaving a sweeping texture that bears an intertextwith Chopin'sEtude op. 25 no. 12. The purevirtuosic style indicates narrativeaction in the course of this apotheosis with a power to bring into full flower the desired state of the pastoraltheme. A D6 pedal through this passage underpinsan attempt to hold on to the climax and its attendant implicationsof the plenitude of presence.But D1 is colored immediatelyby the augmentedtriad in m. 192, leading to the vi chord of m. 193; and when B? forms an augmented 6th with the pedal Dbin m. 194, we know that all is lost, because this interval must find its resolution in an octave C that will direct harmonic motion away from Db. Indeed, we may recall that the same pitches, D6 and B?, refocused the opening of this ballade away from C major and toward F minor. As expected, in m. 195 the music lands on an Fminor 6 chord, underscoredby hypermetricplacement, textural change, phenomenal accent, and an embellished arpeggio. Hatten uses the expression arrival 6 or more poetically salvation6 to describe certain major-mode 6 chords that receive the kind of emphases we hear in this measure.58 The minor 4 chord in m. 195 is an evil twin that signals a deep
In his review of Samson's The Music of Chopin, Schachter suggests that in mm. 169-91 of the Fourth Ballade the key of D6 stands in for the subdominant (Schachter 1989, 190). In Schachter's reading, the bass note D6 is the upper third of the subdominant rather than the root of the submediant. As such, the irony of the apotheosis of the second theme is that it seems to pull away from the force of the subdominant while representing that Stufe all along. To my knowledge Schachter has not published his sketch for the Fourth Ballade. Hatten traces this term to Walter Robert, Professor Emeritus of Piano at Indiana University (Hatten 1994, 15).
and personal tragedy in ironic opposition to the salvation and transcendenceof its major-modecounterpart. Later in the century salvation and tragic 6-chords will be common signs of musical expression,but it should not surprise us to find both forms prefigured in Chopin's First Ballade.In this case they come pairedduring a section where the key of Ek is reestablishedbefore an apotheosis of the second theme. Example 10 shows the relevant passage, which begins in Eb and undergoes a narrativeascending sequence before landing on the distant and tragic F#-minor 6 chord in m. 154. The tragic moment does not last long, however, since a chromaticdescent in the bass leads to an augmented6th chord resolvingon the salvation6-chord of m. 158. From this point Eb is the unquestioned key, and the apotheosis of the second theme begins shortly thereafter. Chopin highlights the transformationfrom tragic to redemptive with a Polonaise rhythm in the left hand of mm. 154-7, as if the Polish cavalryhas come to the rescue. Comparison with the Fourth Ballade is instructive. Example 11 begins with the at the climax of the apotheosis. When this tragic chord arrivesin m. 195, there may still be hope of the type of 4-chord reversalfound in the First Ballade. However, in the earlier case, the tragic6 appearsas a passing chord in a passage that begins and ends in Ek, so that the tragic affect only briefly darkensa generallycelebratorysection that leads to triumph. In the Fourth Ballade,however,the tragic 6 is also the structuraldominant of the entire work, and a more heroic effort is needed to regain the desired state represented in the pastorale. Having lost the triumph of D6 major,the persona at m. 196 attempts to recoverthe earlieraffirmationby a direct move to a Db-major triad, forestalling the eventual resolution of the 6 chord to the dominant on C. After recapturing the Db-major triad, the harmony yields to Db's subdominant, G, via a 2 chord. Here the irony is that G6 is also the Neapolitan of F minor; and in this capacity the passage moves by sequence back to an F-minor chord. The response in m. 198 recommences on a D6-major triad, but this time
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM (2004) 26
Ascending Sequence (Struggle)
Polonaise Topic Polish Cavalry to the Rescue
'"Salvation" 6/4 156
Augmented 6th RedirectsTonal Focus EXAMPLE
IO. Tragic and salvation 6-chords in Chopin'sFirst Ballade.
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
"Tragic" 6/4 riumph
EXAMPLEII. Climax ofapotheosis in Fourth Ballade.
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
the swift and extended progressiontraversesa deeply chromatic harmonic space, attesting to a heightened emotional urgency.The contrary motion of the outer voices in these measureswith the expansionof registerindicates a willed effort to gain strength and stature in the face of the terrible implication of that tragic 6-chord. Embedded in the rapid harmonic changes are dominant sevenths that are reinterpreted as augmented-6th chords,which I read as attempts to overturnthe inevitable tonal direction and gain a new perspective awayfrom F minor.Twice these augmented6ths resolve to major6-chords,but the music'sdrivingforce propels the harmony past these possible points of transcendenceso that they lose their power to transformthe emotional impact of the earliertragic chords.The entire passageends on triple forte C-major triads, whose presumed triumph is ironic in light of their function as resolution of the F-minor 6-chords that opened this passage. The unexpected changes in rhythmic activity,dynamics, articulation, and register in the homophonic passage that follows in mm. 203-10 suggest a religious topic, while the relatively higher register narrows the expressivecontent to one of transcendence.The silences that frame this passage lend the transcendencean air of the deusex machina; that is, we may believe the transcendenceto be too sudden and contrived.But Chopin counters the unexpectedcalm with oddities of voice-leading, signaling another failure.Though the C/G pedals add to the music's calm, they also weigh down the upper register, leading to a sharp and sudden descent into m. 207. The move to a dominant seventh in m. 205 at first seems to replay the strategy of the opening motto, whereby the tonic F is marked first as the subdominant of C, which could correlateto closure in the face of the earlier intensity. But when the dominant on C fails to move to an F-major chord in m. 206, the temporarydisruption of normal syntax denies the promise of the phrase's opening. Though B6 finds resolution in the F-minor tonic that opens the coda at m. 211, it oddly disappearsduring the sharp descent to the C major chord of m. 207. At best, this passage
action of can only offer brief respitebeforethe final narrative the coda. The double pathos of the music before the coda is that neither the willed effort of mm. 196-202 nor the promised transcendenceof mm. 203-10 succeedsto reinstate the pastoraletopic. The coda replaysthe Db-C motions that signaled defeat in the apotheosis of the second theme. Example 12 shows two such sections in a rhythmic reduction. In the first of these D6 and C form part of a tetrachorddescendingfrom the tonic. In the second, that tetrachord expands to a descending chromaticline in the bass, a gesture long associated with lament.59 The diminished-7th chords that descend with this bass leave little doubt about the tragicstruggle.The coda includes those Db-C motions through to the final measures of the ballade,where a scalardescent joins harmonies that alternatebetween F-minor chords in root position, and Db-major chords in first inversion,as shown in Example 13. The D6 chords are mere elaborations with no harmonic weight of their own. I cannot help but make an intertextual connection, though, between this passage and the funeral march from Chopin's Second Sonata. In that case, the unyielding harmonicsupport of the march is an alternationbetween minor tonic and majorsubmedianttriads.The weakly positioned majortriad in contrast to the strongerminor one adds a ghoulish tinge to the march. In the case of the ballade, the alternationscome with terrifyingswiftness.
ET IN ARCADIA EGO
often staggeron the edge Because charactersin narratives of disaster,there is a poetic appealto Paul Ricoeur's idea that emplotment brings together events in order to account for
59 Berger (1996) hears a lamenting sigh motive in the First Ballade as well, viewing it as a contributing factor to narrative continuity. In addition, he hears an intertext between the coda of the First Ballade and the funeral marches of Beethoven's Eroica, and his Piano Sonata in A6, op. 26. That intertext may be extended to include the coda of the Fourth Ballade.
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE M. 212 (reduction)
Mm. 215-17 (reduction)
Db-C motions in the coda ofthe Fourth Ballade.
The narrativeof suffering in the Fourth Ballade suffering."6 follows the trajectoryof the pastoral theme, and so it must have been easy for Chopin'saudienceto associatethat theme with the composer'snative Poland. Even today we can project a story onto the balladewith real actorsand actions,conflating Chopin with his music and hearing the tragedyin the apotheosis as his failureto returnhome. Though such a story may add to the auraof pity and fear that surroundsChopin, it does little to explain the emotional impact that this music can have even without referenceto its composer'shistory.Expression in the Fourth Ballade follows a pastoral narrativelogic that can help us grasp a rationalefor the conclusion of the work. Pastoral discourse inscribes oppositions between ruraland urban settings, between people and nature,and between retreat and return.61Descriptions of the countryside
6o 61 Ricoeur 1984, xi. This discussion of pastoral draws on Gifford 1999.
and its people may be highly idealized, to the extent that they representnotions of a lost golden age, or a land and time that never reallyexisted. Contemplation of this distantArcadia is a retreatinto the misty past that may be counteredby a that longing for some distantfuturewhen we might recapture golden age. But that retreatinto Arcadiamust be balancedby a returnto the real world with lessons learned,otherwise the becomes mere sentimental escapism. pastoralnarrative The narratingpresence in the Fourth Ballade idealizes the pastorale in opposition to the waltz, which stands as a synecdoche for the urban life of the salon. Variation form can be obsessive-compulsive, and with each return of the waltz theme, the musical persona takes pains to cleanse the waltz of its melancholy influence. Read intertextuallywith the First Ballade, the waltz theme has the potential to send the music into the same type of cataclysm that ended the earlierwork.62The musical persona seems intent on arresting that eventuality.We might read the narrativeof the ballade as trapped in the pastoral cycle of retreat and return: either unable to perform the retreatto Arcadia or unwilling to commit to a returnfrom it. The ballade cannot be read, I think, as a sentimental escapist narrative.The construction of Arcadiain the first appearanceof the pastoralehas a striving quality that speaks against mere invocation of carefree nymphs. Though this striving is intense in the apotheosis, success seems guaranteedin the climax of m. 191; but the sudden reversalof fortune at m. 195 reminds us that there is a terribleprice to pay upon return.A possible reading of this reversalsuggests that a musical persona realizes at last that escape into a sentimentalized past promises no lasting recompense for a troubledpresent. In this reading, the struggle from the end of the apotheosis through the coda is a heroic and even defiant returnto reality.
Tarasti writes of the waltz theme in the First Ballade that it acts as a sender, propelling the music both into the apotheosis of the second theme and into the destruction signaled in the coda (Tarasti 1994,
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM (2004) 26
VI6 (apparentchord) ghoulish ombra
MarcheFundbre (From Second Sonata)
EXAMPLE Final measuresof Chopin'sFourth Ballade. 13.
I cannot help but make a connection between those intimations of death in the coda of the Fourth Ballade and an inscriptionon a tomb in the FrenchpainterNicolas Poussin's "Et in Arcadia Ego"-"Even in The Arcadian Shepherds: In Arcadia,I (Death) am here."63 the painting, the once untroubled shepherds of Arcadia discover a tomb whose inscription reminds them that death darkenseven their sunny fields. Intertextually, this painting points to a second reading for the ballade,in which a musicalpersona reversesa threatened completion of the waltz and successfully recreates Arcadia,only to discoverthat death dwells here too. An aura of uncannyrecognition adheresto the tragic turn in this dis63 Gifford refers to this inscription during a discussion of a creative/ destructive opposition inscribed in the pastoral tradition (Gifford 1999, 154).
covery,as if the dreadassociatedwith the waltz were a transference of an awesome and repressedtruth about the pastorale. In this reading, instead of a return to realitythere is the lightning flash of recognition that no misty past, no untroubled pastorale,no golden Arcadia can withstand death's gaze. The lesson of our inevitable fall to everlastingsilence A even in the gardensof paradiseis one we knew all along.64
64 A pertinent intertext is formed here with a thread of Daniel K. Chua's argument in AbsoluteMusic and the Constructionof Meaning. According to this argument, a crisis in the project of modernity finds the Romantics yearning for "an Arcadian world of static perfection"in which the future will revive an idealized past (Chua 1999, 10-11). A possible reading of the Fourth Ballade would see its narrative not only replaying the disenchantment caused by the failure of modernity, but also questioning whether the reconstruction of an Arcadian past could ever redeem that failure.
CHOPIN S FOURTH BALLADE AS MUSICAL NARRATIVE
sublimationof that truth lies in the inscription on the tomb in TheArcadianShepherds, which omits Death's name, inviting us to guess it from the painting itself. But that omission allows for another reading,in which it is the entombed who speaks:"Andin ArcadiaI (the entombed) am."Here the narrating survivorwho tells the tale in the painting and in the ballade is the voice of the dead, teaching us that the only unbroken plenitude of tranquillitysought in idealized constructionsof the ruralpast is in the kingdom of death. Read in this way, the balladedeconstructsan ideal of diegesis in which the narrator as survivor distances us from the actors and actions of the tale. With the knowledge that someone has survivedto tell us a story whose action is complete beforethe telling,we protectourselvesfrom the unhappy thought that we witness a disasterunfolding in the here and now. Who is the narratorof the Fourth Ballade?Whether we project a historical figure, Chopin, or a musical persona, our narratorin this case is no survivor.As with so many of our stories,we revivethe dead in orderto hear their tale.
A POETICS OF NARRATIVE
Music theory has stories of its own. David Lewin asks us to consider the role of F#/Gk in the drama that is the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.65 Heinrich Schenkersees the action of the fundamentalline as the "full analogy to our inner life,"whose motion to a goal "encounters obstacles, reverses, disappointments."66 Evincing little concern for extra-musicalmeaning, these absolute dramasof musical structurehave a compelling power in the discourse of music theory. It would seem to be miraculous,though, if we were to find that every detail of a music analysis made a one-to-one mapping onto the events in an expressivenarrative. Kofi Agawu characterizesas "facile"any "quick marriages of convenience between structuralpatterns (emerging
65 66 Lewin 1986, 389-90. Schenker 1979, 4-5.
from theory-based analysis) and elements of expression (emerging from hermeneutics)";one is apt to agree with Agawu that however laudable music theory's technical achievements,they result in a surplusof detail that is unusable for hermeneutics.67 view of how narrativeinteracts My with the levels of structuralanalysisfollows Agawu'sdescription of the interplaybetween musical topics and harmony.68 Narrativecues such as rhythm, texture, topics, register,and chord quality ride the music's surface, while harmony and voice leading at deeper levels carryus through the work. At times, though, narrativereachesthe deepest structurallevels, lending remarkable energy to the music.When the apotheosis of the Fourth Ballade makes its affective turn at m. 195, the drama of the passage gains intensity from the arrivalof the structuraldominant at that very moment. In hearing the Fourth Ballade as a narrative, I have brought to it some conventions of story telling/reading, of which the most important involves narrativeunity, a desire to bring together the actions, descriptions,and charactersof a story into a temporal whole called plot. Ricoeur considers plot to be close to metaphor,because we align terms (metaphor) or events (plot) in order to make meaning.69When reading a story,we are anxious to fit into a temporal continuum all of the events, characters, and descriptions. Stray events trouble us enough that we may seek a narrativelogic integrating those events into the plot. Culler, for example, views the need to explain bizarrecharactersand unaccountable events as a motivating factor in Claude Levi-Strauss's choice of myths for analysis.70Similar motivations may explain the fascination some critics have with modernist literature of the early twentieth-century,where the conventions of
67 68 Agawu 1996, 11, 13. Agawu 1991, 23-5. In order to describe how topics and harmony interact, Agawu borrows Roman Jakobson's distinction between "introversive semiosis," references of signs to one another inside the text, and "extroversivesemiosis," references of signs to the outside world. Ricoeur 1984, ix. Culler 1981, 29.
MUSIC THEORY SPECTRUM 26 (2004)
narrativeoften come into question. In light of the harmony and voice leading that structuretonal music, we may opt to view the narrative unity of this repertoireas vested in the unof the Schenkerian Ursatz. Such a strategy,I think, folding misunderstands what is meant by unity in an expressivenarrative,where the critic askswhy certain affectslead to others. With regardto the Fourth Ballade,we ask why the apotheosis makes a sudden affective turn; why the pastoral topic is marked for apotheosis;why the waltz is the opening topic; we ask if these topics cohere;if the surfacesignifies temporality; if the action unfolds before our eyes; or if a narrator frames the action. I have tried to answer these questions by mediating between my intuitions and the music's structure. In particular,I have borrowed semiotic theories by Hatten and Monelle to understandhow this music signifies. But intuition temperedby semiotic and musical structures gets us only so far in narrativeanalysis.The critic must position both the text and a criticalviewpoint with regardto intertextuality and history. Joseph Kerman couples his oftcited remark about the myopia of music analysis with an exhortation that theorists consider the "ecology that sustains" the score as putative "autonomous organism."71 Though Kermanwas referringto historical context and expressive meaning, he might have included the intertext: those musical, literary, documentary texts that the critic brings to interpretations of music. The apotheosis of the Fourth Ballade,for example,gains meaning in relation to an ecology of texts that extends from Chopin's other larger forms through music by Liszt, Tchaikovsky, Chaminade, Debussy, Griffes, Lutoslawski, and countless others. That ecology also includes commentary by Cone, Kallberg, Samson, Schachter, and still others. In this article, I have confined the musical intertext primarilyto Chopin's music, but a different historical positioning might lead me to include texts both forward and backwardin time with respect to the ballades.As for that positioning, the critic must take a
71 Kerman 1985, 73.
stand with respect to the past and its impact on interpretation. The critic recoversvoices from the past in orderto hear them speak in concert with those of the present.The critic blocks out some voices, or highlights them, or blends them, or places them in dialogue,or misreadsthem in orderto arrive at meaning. How shall we evaluate a narrative interpretation as a claim about a musical text? With so many variablesin history and intertext, semiotics and hermeneutics,ideology and subjectivity,hopes seem dim in arriving at interpretations that might foster agreement among competent listeners. Earlier I suggested that the task of the critic is to convince readersthat they could hear the music in a way consistent with the interpretationat hand. I might have said that the reader could imagine hearing the music in such a way, but even this adjustment misses a larger project that can focus our responses to interpretation.As much as the search for music's sense and ways of making sense adds to our understanding of the musical artwork,interpretationsshow paths toward a poetics of musical meaning; and it is as a poetics that we can evaluate an interpretationas a claim not about the musical text but about how we grope to understandit. Here, I have tried to point towarda poetics of musicalnarrative. My view is that such a poetics benefits from an ecumenical outlook drawing on texts in semiotics, criticism, musicology, music theory, and narrativity.As readers we bring texts to our interpretiveacts of other texts, and this case is no less true for music as for literature.A poetics for narrativein music, therefore,must concern itself with intertextualityin forms that range from the limitations of documented influence to the boundless possibilities of the open text. How we position ourselveswith respectto intertextuality effects the stories we tell about the storieswe hear.
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MusicTheory Spectrum, 26.1, pp 23-56. ISSN: 0195-6167 (p); 15338339 (e). 02004 by The Societyfor MusicTheory.All rightsreserved. Send requestsfor permissionto reprintto: Rights and Permissions, Universityof CaliforniaPress,JournalsDivision, 2000 Center Street, Suite303, Berkeley, 94704-1223. CA
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