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Society for Music Theory

Non-coinciding Sequences
Author(s): Adam Ricci
Source: Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 33, No. 2 (Fall 2011), pp. 124-145
Published by: University of California Press on behalf of the Society for Music Theory
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/mts.2011.33.2.124 .
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Non-coinciding Sequences
adam ricci
This study considers a largely overlooked phenomenon in tonal music, the simultaneous pairing of
two melodic sequences having different intervals of transposition; I term this phenomenon a noncoinciding sequence (in contrast to the more common coinciding sequence). In this essay I develop
a typology of non-coinciding sequences and scrutinize numerous examples of them in art and popular genres. Extending Allen Fortes linear intervallic pattern, which models coinciding sequences, I
group non-coinciding sequences by their configuration, an ordered list of their harmonic intervals,
e.g., <8,10|10,12>. Configurations that permute (with certain restrictions) the same set of harmonic
intervals belong to a single configuration class. I consider excerpts from the music of Rick Astley,
Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Dvok, Billy Joel, Nelly, Johann Strauss, Jr., Gwen Stefani, and
Wagner to demonstrate the interaction of non-coinciding sequences with coinciding sequences and
to identify suggestive connections between non-coinciding sequences and double counterpoint.
Keywords: sequence, melodic sequence, harmonic sequence, linear intervallic pattern, coinciding
sequence, non-coinciding sequence, configuration, configuration class, double counterpoint, canon

elodic sequences in tonal music occur in various


contexts; sometimes a melodic sequence in one voice
is unaccompanied by another within a different voice,
as in Example 1(a), in which a two-measure pattern in the top
voice is transposed up by step. Melodic sequences in multiple
voices can occur either successively (in an imitative texture) or
simultaneously. When melodic sequences occur in multiple
voices, each participating voice is usually transposed by the same
interval. Example 1(b) illustrates successive melodic sequences;
the two voices contain the same three-beat pattern and transpose that pattern up by step, but the lower one enters one beat
later than the upper.1
Examples 1(c) and 1(d) contain simultaneous melodic sequences. Because the outer voices are transposed by the same
interval, the harmonic intervals in successive patterns remain
the same, unlike those in Example 1(a), in which the descent of
the lowest voice in mm. 34 results in parallel sixths rather than
a wedge inward from a sixth to an augmented fourth as in mm.
12. The harmonic intervals in the two excerpts shown in
Examples 1(c) and (d) are the sameeach has a repeated 106
patternalthough their melodic intervals and intervals of

transposition differ. There is another important distinction between these examples: in the former, all voices in the one-measure pattern are successively transposed down by a third,
generating a harmonic sequence.2 In the latter, however, only
the outer voices are consistently transposed up by step.3 I will
refer to the cases in which at least two simultaneous melodic
sequences are transposed by the same interval as coinciding sequences (CS), regardless of whether or not the sequence involves all voices. This definition is dependent on Allen Fortes
linear intervallic pattern (LIP): while a LIP and a harmonic
sequence often proceed in lockstep, a LIP can persist despite
alterations to a sequence.4
In this essay I concentrate on the relatively unusual case of
two simultaneous melodic sequences that are transposed by different intervalswhat I term a non-coinciding sequence (NCS).
As with CSs, accompanying voices need not contain melodic
sequences. Often NCSs have accompanying sequential harmonic progressions, but sometimes an inner voice prevents the
formation of a repeated pattern of root motions. For instance,
Example 1(e) presents the NCS that closes each strophe of
Brahmss lied Wach auf, mein Hort. Because the outer voices are

I wish to thank Guy Capuzzo, Julian Hook, Bruce Moser, Jonathan Salter,
and Dmitri Tymoczko for their invaluable comments on various drafts of
this paper. I also thank Paul Duvall for his assistance with a mathematical
proof in Appendix B. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the
annual meetings of Music Theory Southeast, 2628 February 2009, University of Central Florida, and the Society for Music Theory, 29 October
1 November 2009, Montreal, Canada.
1 Example 1(b) may be viewed as consisting of simultaneous melodic sequences as well: the harmonic intervals repeat every three beats, as shown
between the staves, and the two voices as a unit are transposed up by step
every three beats. Aldwell and Schachter (2003, 364) suggest an implied
3 meter here to explain the seemingly incorrect metric placement of the
2
second and fourth 43 suspensions. The third and fourth voices, which
enter in m. 10 and m. 12 (respectively), are omitted from the example.

2 I reserve the term harmonic sequence for this situation only, using Steven
Laitzs term sequential progression (2008, 525) for a repeating series of
root motions without accompanying melodic sequences in every voice.
3 While there is a varied harmonic sequence in the second and third patterns (a
diminished-seventh chord in the third pattern substitutes for the dominantseventh chord of the second pattern), the harmonic functions in the first are
different. A number of melodic sequences involving one or more voices and
the harmonic archetype IV | VI are outlined in Gjerdingen (1986).
4 Forte and Gilbert (1982, 85) write . . . the sequence is a melodic pattern in
a single voice, which is repeated at different transpositions and in immediate succession. . . . Such sequences may occur in connection with a linear
intervallic pattern. . . . However, the melodic sequence is not a necessary
condition for the linear intervallic pattern. The term was introduced in
Forte (1974).

124

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non-coinciding sequences

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example 1. Various contexts for melodic sequences (a) Melodic sequence in one voice in Mozart, Piano Sonata No. 4 in Eb Major,
K. 282, II, mm. 14; (b) Successive melodic sequences in J. S. Bach, Fugue in B b Minor, from The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I,
mm. 612; (c) Simultaneous melodic sequences with the same interval of transposition (with harmonic sequence) in Chopin, tude in Gb Major,
Op. 25, No. 9, mm. 13; (d) Simultaneous melodic sequences with the same interval of transposition (without harmonic sequence)
in Mozart, Fantasy in C Minor, K. 475, mm. 8688; (e) Simultaneous melodic sequences with different intervals of transposition
in Brahms, Wach auf, mein Hort, WoO 33, No. 13, mm. 1415
transposed by different intervals, the harmonic intervals change
from the first pattern to the second.5 NCSs most commonly
contain the outer voices; this fact is not surprising, since their
5 Though it is conventional to label only compound seconds and thirds as
ninths and tenths I label the compound fifth as a twelfth to better indicate
the constant difference between the harmonic intervals in successive patterns. I will similarly convert simple intervals to their compound counterparts (and vice versa) elsewhere in this essay. Since CSs by descending
second are prominently featured in the rest of the song, this NCS can be
heard in a larger sense as a variant of a CS.

registral positions best highlight their non-coincidence. 6


Indeed, while any two voices may form an NCS, all of my examples will involve the bass, and virtually all will include the
soprano.
The purpose of my study of NCSs is twofold. The first is to
outline a typology of NCSs based primarily upon their harmonic-interval content and then on their melodic-interval
6 Forte and Gilbert (1982, 8485) define the linear intervallic pattern as occurring specifically between the outer voices of a passage.

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music theory spectrum 33 (2011)

example 2. Transformation graph for a coinciding or non-coinciding sequence with pattern cardinality 2
content. The second is to suggest some of the compositional
functions performed by NCSs by surveying examples from both
art and popular genres.
Example 2 formalizes the difference between CSs and NCSs.
It contains two transformation graphs, one each for an upper
voice and lower voice. Arrows designate diatonic pitch transposition up or down m and n steps; if m and n are equal, then a CS
results, and the harmonic intervals in all patterns are identical;
if m and n are unequal, then an NCS results. In the latter instance, the harmonic intervals in successive patterns differ by a
constant, which is equal to the difference between the intervals
of transposition in the upper and lower voice, respectively. 7
7 The lower-case t for diatonic transposition follows Hook (2008) and the
lower-case superscripted p for pitch transposition follows Rahn (1980).
Elsewhere in this essay, I generally omit the t and p for convenience.
That it is pitch transposition is important to remember. While the voiceleading prototype well known in jazz practicein which an upper voice
repeats interval-class 11s and the bass repeats interval-class 5smay seem
to be non-coinciding in the sense that the two voices exclusively feature
different interval classes, it is in fact a coinciding sequence. Since the upper
voice descends by half-step and the bass proceeds by alternating ascending
fourths and descending fifths, the voices cohere into a pattern that is pitch
transposed down by major seconds. Non-correspondence between the
shortest unique series of root motions and the cardinality of the pattern
also does not constitute non-coincidence in the sense meant here. For example, root motion by descending fifth can accommodate harmonic sequence patterns of length two or three; the former is the sequence
commonly known as descending fifths, while the latter, which features
smooth voice leading throughout, can be found in the music of Chopin and
Schubert. See Ricci (2002, 49) for a formalization of the relationship

Returning to Example 1(e), we can see why the harmonic intervals increase by two steps from the first pattern to the second:
since the upper voice is transposed up by step (i.e., m = 1) and
the lower voice is transposed down by step (i.e., n = 1), the
harmonic intervals of the first pattern are augmented by two
steps in the second (k = m n = 1 (1) = 2).8
The model in Example 2 shows two pitches in each pattern
and two patterns in total. What are the limits on the cardinality
of the pattern and that of the sequence? With respect to harmonic sequences, there is an inverse relationship between the
two: short patterns are likely to be subjected to more repetitions,
whereas long patterns tend to be repeated fewer times. Various
theorists have placed restrictions on the length of the pattern
between the shortest unique series of root motions and the cardinality of
the pattern; for examples of the ascending-third sequence with parsimonious voice leading between descending-fifth-related triads, see Chopins
Nocturne in G Major, Op. 37, No. 2, mm. 79, and the first movement of
Schuberts Piano Sonata in B b Major, D. 960, I, mm. 16572. Example 2
is suggestive of Klumpenhouwer networks: it models dual transposition,
which ODonnell (1998) and Buchler (2007) show to be equivalent to a
strongly isographic K-net. Replacing the dotted lines with I-arrows would
result in two K-nets, one for each pattern. Only in the case of an NCS
(when m n) would the two networks interrelate members of different
set classes.
8 The harmonic-interval-difference series will prove useful in connection
with Example 7 and the associated proofs in Appendix A. The algebraic
approach in this paperincluding in particular the relating of melodic
and harmonic intervalshas important precedents in Taneyev (1962) and
Roeder (1989).

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non-coinciding sequences

and the length of the sequence. Most harmonic sequences contain at least three patterns; indeed, many scholars have suggested a three-pattern minimum. Walter Pistons definition of a
sequence explains the reason behind this mandate: It is generally agreed that a single transposition of a pattern does not constitute a full sequence . . . [rather,] three separate appearances . . .
are necessary to show that the transposition interval is consistent
(italics mine).9 The requirement seems to be predicated on perception: after two patterns, the listener may ask, Was that a
sequence?; only upon the arrival of the third pattern can she
answer, Yes, it is indeed a sequence. Mark DeVoto proposes
the term half-sequence for situations in which only two patterns appear,10 while Daniel Harrison prefers pattern transposition.11 The norm for harmonic sequences is three patterns;
however, I consider two patterns to be sufficient to define an
NCS. Because there are a limited number of consonant harmonic intervals, and since the harmonic intervals of an NCS
change from pattern to pattern, two-pattern examples are the
rule. NCSs that incorporate more than two patterns almost always include dissonant harmonic intervals, whichdue to
norms of dissonance treatment in tonal musiclimit their viability. This scenario necessarily lends NCSs a certain fragility:
they are not as likely to proceed beyond a second pattern as are
CSs. But because many of the examples to be discussed here are
either repeated (i.e., the entire NCS is repeated) or combined
with CSsand because the patterns are often sufficiently elaborated, making them seem longer and more substantialI believe it makes sense to speak of these objects as sequences. In
short, they sound enough like sequences to be referred to as such.
With regard to the content of a harmonic sequences pattern,
many theorists have specified a minimum cardinality of two. For
example, Richard Bass defines a pattern . . . [as] consist[ing] of
a minimum of two different harmonies, because passages consisting of a single harmonic construction used at different transpositional levels (e.g., parallel six-three triads or diminished
seventh chords) are not inherently sequential,12 and he cites
Arnold Schoenbergs work as a precedent for this view.13 As I
have contended in previous work, I believe it is the absence of
motion within the pattern as distinct from motion from pattern
to pattern that motivates this stance: adjacent chords in such
sequences are related by pitch transposition, entailing parallel
motion in all voices.14 By definition, NCSs with one-chord
patterns are not hampered by parallel motion, but the lack
thereof makes NCSs with one-chord patterns sound even less
like sequences.15
9 Piston (1987, 317).
10 The term half-sequence first appears in the fourth edition of Pistons
Harmony (1978), the first one to be edited by DeVoto.
11 Harrison (2003, 226).
12 Bass (1996, 266).
13 Schoenberg (1978, 283).
14 Ricci (2002, 13); Ricci (2004, 5).
15 Furthermore, the lack of any motion within the pattern means that such
NCSs must contain at least three patterns; otherwise any succession of two
harmonic intervals would constitute an NCS.

127

configurations, configuration classes,


and realizations
The NCS in the Brahms lied in Example 1(e) uses exclusively
the (compound counterparts of the) consonant harmonic intervals of a unison, third, and fifth. Counting only patterns containing two distinct harmonic intervals, there are four permutations
of such intervals (with repetition allowed) that will result in an
NCS: <1,3|3,5>, <5,3|3,1>, <3,1|5,3>, and <3,5|1,3>. An NCSs
series of harmonic intervals will henceforth be called a configuration; the angle brackets indicate that the harmonic intervals are
ordered, and the vertical line marks the boundary between patterns. These four configurations all belong to configuration class
[1,3|3,5].16 The remaining eight permutations of {1,3,3,5} do not
correspond to NCSs because, for each of these permutations, corresponding harmonic intervals in successive patterns do not differ
by the same constant. In all configurations that are part of the
same configuration class, the harmonic intervals are related in
particular ways: specifically, in order to generate one configuration from another, the intervals in every pattern must be equivalently permuted and/or retrograded. Thus, the maximum number
of configurations in a configuration class is equal to 2(p!), where
p is the cardinality of the pattern.17 Configuration class [1,3|3,5]
is special in that it is the only two-pattern p = 2 configuration the
harmonic intervals of which correspond to those of a root-position triad. Because the bass pitches can function as chord roots,
NCSs exemplifying this configuration class can (and often do)
support a corresponding sequential progression, a harmonic progression the root motions of which match the melodic intervals
in the lower voice. (Example 1[e] contains a sequential progression; the bass line consists of chord roots.) There are three other
diatonic configuration classes (p = 2) that contain exclusively consonant intervals: [1,3|6,8], [3,5|6,8], and [3,6|5,8].18 In order to
accommodate a sequential progression, such configuration classes
constrain one inner voice. For example, the configuration
<3,6|5,8> would require that an inner voice a sixth above the bass
accompany the second patterns octave in order to match the sixth
above the bass in the model.19
16 The prime form of a configuration class is represented by ascending integers both from pattern to pattern andif possiblewithin each pattern, all
surrounded by square brackets. In general, configurations (and configuration classes) will be represented by simple intervals, except where such representation obscures the harmonic-intervallic relationship between
successive patterns.
17 Some configurations are invariant under certain permutations, in which case
the number of configurations in the configuration class is less than 2(p!).
18 A common realization of configuration <8,6|5,3> is found in a schema
identified in Gjerdingen (1986): upper voice 17|43 with lower voice
12|71. The upper voices pattern is transposed up three steps and the
lower voices down one step. See in particular Gjerdingens Example 1 (27),
mm. 912 of the Trio from Mozarts Symphony in A Major, K. 114, III.
19 For this reason, harmonic intervals may not be directly translated into upper-voice chord members. Even in the configuration class [1,3|3,5]in
which the upper voice often does consist of a root, chordal third, chordal
third, and chordal fifth (in one of the four possible orderings)inner voices
may change the chord-member designation of the upper voice.

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music theory spectrum 33 (2011)


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example 3. Non-coinciding sequences sharing the bass line 14 51

Example 3 presents six NCSs that involve the bass line


14|51, including realizations of three of the four aforementioned diatonic configuration classesthree realizations of
[1,3|3,5] and one realization each of [1,3|6,8] and [3,6|5,8].
Upper voices with the same essential contour are superimposed
to save space; each upper voice forms a different configuration
in conjunction with the bass line. For example, the soprano
voice of 3(a) is part of configuration <8,6|3,1>,20 while the alto
is part of configuration <3,1|5,3>. Of the NCSs here, 3(c) is
probably the rarest, as the parallel motion of the outer voices
across the pattern boundary complicates the voice leading of
inner voices.21
Example 4 elaborates the model in Example 3(b), using the
lower two treble-staff voices of the model. The upper voice in
the score traces a compound melody, the upper line of which, in
conjunction with the bass line, realizes configuration <3,6|5,8>,
as shown in the middleground reduction. The background reduction removes the passing motion from the compound melodys lower line, showing how this line, in conjunction with the
bass, realizes configuration <1,3|3,5>. Like the NCS in the
Brahms lied (Example 1[e]), the patterns melodic intervals consist of a descending third in the upper voice paired with an ascending fourth in the bass; the intervals of transposition differ,
however: instead of an ascending and descending second, the
upper and lower voices are transposed by a descending second
and descending fourth, respectively.
20 There is some ambiguity with respect to the prime form of <8,6|3,1>s
configuration class: both [1,3|6,8] and [1,6|3,8] fulfill the dual conditions
of ascending order both within the pattern and from pattern to pattern.
21 Measures 14 of the Adagio ma non troppo of Haydns String Quartet in B
Minor, Hob. III/68, employs this realization of <5,3|3,1> with slight variations of the pitch intervals: the cello plays ascending perfect fourths within
the pattern and the first violin transposes its pattern by descending sixth
rather than ascending third. There are consecutive perfect fifths between
the cello and second violin in mm. 23. The NCS involving the lowest
treble voice of Example 3(b) also demonstrates parallel motion at the pattern boundary; moreover, the skip down from the leading tone means that
this voice cannot function as the soprano.

Example 5 presents a special case of an NCS in which the


upper and lower voices have the same melodic-interval content
within the pattern.22 In each notated measure of the reduction
(Example 5[a]), the voices move in parallel motion. The passage
may be viewed in two ways: as a pair of overlapping NCSs, or as
one larger NCS in which the interval of transposition in the
upper voice is altered. Viewed from the former perspective, the
passage illustrates two paradigmatic contrapuntal structures,
each of which realize configuration class [3,3|6,6]: in the first, a
double-neighbor motion in one voice is counterpointed by a
scalar segment in the other; in the second, the two voices form
a pair of overlapping voice exchanges.23
That these two voices have identical melodic content means
that the separate transformation graphs for upper and lower
voices (Example 2) may be joined together into a single one.
Example 5(b) provides a transformation network that relates
the second and third patterns. The new diagonal arrows indicate
the double voice exchange: the pitch classes in the violin part
reappear in the left-hand piano part and vice versa. The two
parts exhibit double counterpoint at the (double) octave: the
lower voice is transposed up an octave and the upper voice down
an octave (a similar transformation network for the first two
patterns would represent double counterpoint at the octave in
those patterns).
Because each pattern contains only a single melodic interval,
the double counterpoint is somewhat trivial. The relationships
that this example addresses, howeverin which the upper
and lower voices contain the same melodic content within the
patternwill reappear later in a nontrivial sense. The trivial
sense of the current example derives from the coextensive nature
of the double-counterpoint segment and NCS pattern. When
22 Example 1(b) presents a CS in which the upper and lower voices are transpositionally related, but rhythmically displaced relative to each other.
23 Of the two sequences, the latter double voice exchange (and its retrograde) is probably the more common: among many other examples that
could be cited is Haydns Piano Sonata, Hob. XVI/37, I, mm. 34. See
Wagner (1995, 16272) for a discussion of the <10,10|6,6> succession and
its connection with unfolding.

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non-coinciding sequences
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music theory spectrum 33 (2011)


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example 6. Johann Strauss, Jr., Emperor Waltz, Op. 437, mm. 23138
the double-counterpoint segment and NCS pattern have different cardinalitiesand in particular when these cardinalities are
different but proximatea rich interaction between the two
structures results. Example 6 illustrates a much-elaborated realization of configuration class [3,3|6,6]. The pattern is four measures in length and elaborated with incomplete neighbors,
passing tones, and arpeggiation. The surface-level incomplete
neighbors (INs) are circled and labeled on the piano reduction
in Example 6(a). As can be seen more clearly in the middleground reduction in Example 6(b), the C5 and B4 in the upper
voice of the first pattern are passing in terms of the underlying
ii6 harmony; in the second pattern, the As in both voices are
passing in light of the underlying V harmony, and the F4 forms
a passing chordal seventh.24 Example 6(c) takes the beginning
and endpoints of each pattern as the structural template. This
first-species model realizes the same configuration as m. 189 of
the Beethoven violin sonata (Example 5[b]), but it features both
24 It is easy to see why there are no passing tones in the bass in the first pattern: the first passing tone would result in a dissonant fourth, the harmonic
meaning of which would be unclear. (It would be possible to place both the
G2 and A2 on the third beat, although that would force an interruption of
the accompaniment pattern.) At the same time, the omission of these embellishments points the way to a first-species model: the bass in the first
pattern is functionally a cantus firmus.

different melodic intervals within the pattern and distinct intervals of transposition in the two voices. While the Strauss excerpt contains much more of the rhetoric of a sequencegiven
the greater duration of the patternthe structural parallels between the two are significant. Ultimately most of the NCSs I
analyze in this study fall midway between the Beethoven and
Strauss examples in terms of their complexity.25
Thus far, I have presented two cases in which the same configuration has been exemplified by different combinations of
melodic intervals and/or intervals of transposition: the first
drawn from the Brahms lied (Example 1[e]) and the initial
excerpt from Strausss Emperor Waltz (Example 4[c], bass
plus alto), and the second from the Beethoven violin sonata
(Example 5[b]) and the second excerpt from the Emperor
Waltz (Example 6[c]). I use the term realization to indicate
the particular way in which a configuration is fleshed out; each
realization is defined by its melodic intervals. Example 7 lists
the twenty-five first-species realizations of configuration
25 The Beethoven excerpt is also chronologically the earliest under discussion,
so it is unsurprising that it fits only nominally into this study. As with other
innovations in sequence practiceamong which were the gradual lengthening of the pattern and the rise of motivic alterations to patterns (on this
see Bass [1996])NCSs (other than sequential settings of the double voice
exchange) seem to have originated in the nineteenth century.

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non-coinciding sequences

 

 

  

 

 

 

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t1

t6




6.

t6

t4




 

t1

  

 

 

 




16.

t5

t3




  

21.

t4

t2




 

  

7.

 
12.

 

3.

 
 

8.

17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
22.

 

13.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

18.

 
 

 

 

Example 3(c)

 
 

 

 

Example 3(a)

 

 

 

 

invariant

  

11.

t3

2.

 

 
23.

 
 

4.

5.

 

 

10.

 

 

14.

 

19.

 

 

 

24.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4c & 3b
Examples
  
15.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

Example 1(e)

 

 
 

 

 

 

Examples 12 & 13

 

 

 

 

9.

131

 

20.

25.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

example 7. The twenty-five pairs of melodic sequences that realize the configuration <1,3|3,5>
Transformations to the left indicate the (diatonic) interval of transposition for each staff
Double-sided arrows join non-coinciding sequences that are related by retrogression, transposition, and exchange of upper and lower voices
<1,3|3,5>.26 Each row contains the realizations that pair the
same intervals of transposition; for example, row 1 contains
upper-voice patterns joined by t1 and lower-voice patterns
joined by t6.27 Each column contains realizations having the
same melodic intervals within the pattern.28 Realizations of
the other configurations in the same configuration class can be
understood from this example by reading the given realizations:
26 For convenience, all realizations are represented without accidentals and
starting on C in both voices. Harmonic and vertical tritones should thus
not be taken at face value; realizations can of course be transported to different locations within the scale.
27 Nota bene: tn indicates pitch-class transposition within the diatonic scale;
in the realizations in Row 3, for example, the upper voices are pitch-transposed up by three steps or down by fourin both cases corresponding to
ordered pitch-class interval 3, mod 7.
28 Since melodic unisons within the pattern imply second species, realizations
incorporating them are omitted from the table; a melodic unison in one
voice corresponds to a non-unison in the other, so there are five realizations

(a) in reverse (=<5,3|3,1>), (b) beginning with the second measure


and wrapping around to the first (=<3,5|1,3>), and (c) in reverse
beginning with the first measure and wrapping around to the
second (=<3,1|5,3>). Example references between the staves are
keyed to excerpts discussed thus far, as well as those to be investigated. Example 1(e), for instance, corresponds to Realization 5,
and Example 4(c) (bass plus alto) corresponds to Realization 10.
As the example shows, the twenty-five realizations group into
twelve pairs related by retrogression, transposition, and exchange
of upper and lower voices, plus one singleton that is invariant
(Realization 1).29
in each row rather than seven. And since the two voices of an NCS are
transposed by different intervals, two independent cases of unison transposition of the pattern in one voice are excluded; thus there are five rows instead of seven. Special thanks to Julian Hook for suggesting a re-ordering
of the columns for clarity.
29 Appendix A specifies the relationships between different realizations of the
same configuration with pattern cardinality 2.

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132

music theory spectrum 33 (2011)


(a) transcription
4x

Voice

Bass




 

   

1., 3. No
mat - ter what
2., 4. E - ven when Im with




I
my

ii9

d:

iv

(b) first-species model

   

do,
boo,

   

 

you.
you.



iii7

vi

VII

 


All I think
a - bout
is
Boy ya know Im cra - zy o - ver

F:

 

 

+1




example 8. Nelly (featuring Kelly Rowland), Dilemma (2002), chorus


configurations containing ninths:
a quartet of examples from popular music
A common configuration class in popular music is [3,7|5,9],
shared by three of the excerpts to be examined here.30 The chorus of the song Dilemma (2002) by the rapper Nelly (featuring
Kelly Rowland) consists of the NCS shown in Example 8(a). Its
configuration, <9,5|7,3>, contains two dissonant intervals; its
first-species model is given in Example 8(b). Both dissonances
resolve normatively, with the upper voice resolving down by step
within each pattern.31 The lower-voice sequence continues
throughout the song: its two-measure pattern occurs a total of
fifty times. The chorus occurs five times, resulting in twenty iterations of the NCS.
The seemingly endless repetition of the NCS befits the narrators obsession with the beloved. Just as it is difficult to evaluate the beloved objectively when one is in love, it is perceptually
difficult to orient oneself within the music, because of the fourfold repetition of the NCS within the chorus. This recurrence
allows one to hear both ascending and descending transpositions in both voices. Tonal ambiguity contributes to the effect:
the song may be interpreted in F major or D minor. In the first
interpretation, the song lacks a tonic triad, but the melody closes
on tonic at the end of each iteration of the NCS; in the second,
the tonic triad arrives at the end of each sequence. The music
lacks any cues to tilt the balance toward one possible tonic or
30 I use 9 in the prime form because reducing it to 2 would obscure the
constant difference between harmonic intervals in adjacent patterns. Of
course, there is also substantial historical justification in the figured-bass
tradition for maintaining the distinction between 2 and 9.
31 One might understand the upper voice of the second pattern as arising
from an inner voice of the first.

the other and the track fades out at the end, without resolving
to any defining chord.32
The same first-species realization of <9,5|7,3> is found in
Rick Astleys Never Gonna Give You Up (1987); because it
employs the same scalar collection relative to the NCS, the same
dual-tonal interpretation applies. In Astleys song, however, the
NCS combines with a CS (see the transcription in Example
9[a]). In the first half of the chorus, the strings and bass articulate a <7,5|7,5> CS that ascends by step, while the voice sings a
sequence that descends by step. I view the NCS between voice
and bass as primary and therefore include only those parts in
the first-species model in Example 9(b). The first half of the
chorus realizes configuration <9,5|7,3>; the basss sequence is
repeated in the second half of the chorus, while the vocal line
descends by step once more. The expected continued descent
shown in the ossia staffis interrupted in the final measure of
the chorus, resulting in a CS in the third and fourth measures.
This passage thus suggests the possibility of an NCS containing
three patterns: <9,5|7,3|5,1>.33 Such a continuation, with its
melodic resolution to B b , would have tilted the tonal interpretation toward B b minor. Unusually, the CS acts as an alteration to
the NCS rather than vice versa.34 Such an alteration suits the
32 The lack of a leading tone is characteristic of many popular-music styles.
See Everett (2008, 15660) for a sampling of pop-rock songs in various
modes. The song on which the chorus of Dilemma is based, Patti LaBelles Love, Need and Want You (1983), lacks the lower-voice melodic
sequence; in its place is a pedal point on the dominant that (in combination
with a cadence elsewhere in the song) clearly establishes major mode.
33 Due to the repetition of the same pitches in the bass line, a realization of
the ossia staff would have produced two NCSs: <9,5|7,3> followed by
<7,3|5,1>.
34 Examples 12 and 13 feature NCSs as adjustments to CSs.

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non-coinciding sequences
(a) transcription

Voice

Strings

Bass
(reduced)

2nd time:

  

    
         

 
 
    
8



133

1. Nev - er gon - na give you


2. Nev - er gon - na make you

 
   


7


    

ii9

b :

iv

Nev - er gon - na let you down,


Nev - er gon - na say good - bye,

  



D :

up,
cry,

     

        

iii7

VII

Nev - er gon - na run


Nev - er gon - na tell

vi

ii7

iv

    

 



a - round and de - sert


a
lie
and hurt

 


you.
you.

  

iii7

vi 7

VII

i7

(b) first-species model

Voice

Bass





 
   
8


3


    

+1


0

example 9. Rick Astley, Never Gonna Give You Up (1987), chorus

narrators purpose: the ascending melodic sequence in the second half of the chorus better portrays his insistence on his commitment to his beloved than does the descending sequence in
the ossia part.35
Example 10 presents an excerpt from Billy Joels James
(1976) which, like Never Gonna Give You Up, suggests but
does not quite realize a three-pattern NCS.36 Walter Everett
summarizes the songs narrative as follows:

The third and fourth measures of Example 10(a), constituting a


transition from verse to chorus, are overtly sequential, and share

motivic and rhythmic content as well. These measures are tonally salient because of their chromaticism and pitch content:
while much of the song reiterates the diatonic descending-fifths
progression dgCF, these measures outline a chromatic
descending-fifths progression, FBbEA, which contains the
aggregate-completing G #.38 As Example 10(b) shows, these
measures articulate configuration <7,3|9,5>, retrograding the
patterns of the configuration found in the two previous songs.
The vertical arrows indicate the way in which the vocal part outlines a compound melody moving from an outer to inner voice
and back within each of these patterns; the motion from B b to D
is completed by an ascending stepwise line in the Fender Rhodes
part (shown in small noteheads in Example 10[a]).39
The end of the verse sows the seeds for the NCS; the cadence contains the previous pattern in the bass (GC) and the
second pitch of the upper voices pattern (C). The upper-voice

35 Since the same musicwithout the voice partoccurs as the songs introduction, the voice part in the chorus in this larger context is grafted onto an
underlying CS.
36 The transcription notates the rhythm of the first verse, which is varied
slightly in subsequent verses; the pitch material remains the same but for
the substitution of G for B n in m. 1, beat 4, in some verses.
37 Everett (2000, 119).

38 See Baker (1993) and Burnett and ODonnell (1996) regarding the structural role of aggregate completion in tonal music.
39 Everett (2000, 12021) interprets the passage differently as a <7,8|9,10>
succession which, from the standpoint of my interpretation, conflates two
different voices. He also views it as structurally 78, 78, but varied by the
raising of the vocal part into a temporary descant role for an emphatic
910.

James, a friend of the singer, is a sensitive soul who pursued an


education (apparently in creative writing) while the unschooled
singer went on the road to become a practicing musician. The
singer finds James frustrated, working hard, well behaved, living up
to others expectations, and advises him to be true to himself in
order to produce his masterpiece, which has yet to appear.37

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134

music theory spectrum 33 (2011)


(a) transcription

Voice

Bass




4
 4 
8

       

1. And we had to go
2., 5. Will you ev - er write
3. Some- one el - se's dream

4 
4
F:



P6

our sep - rate ways.


your mas - ter - piece?
of who you are?

ii9

V7

24 
24 

 44 

1., 4.
2.
3., 5.

    

I went on
Are you still
Do whats good

44


d:

(b) first-species model

  (  )
 8


 



+1











+1

[Fender Rhodes]

           

You pur - sued


Li - ving up
Or you're not good

IV

VI

V9



an e - du - ca - tion.
to ex - pec - ta - tions?
for a - ny - bo - dy.


V

  

 

V7

the road,
in school,
for you

 
 







example 10. Billy Joel, James (1976), end of verse plus transition

D in the first measure of the model in Example 10(b) is merely


implied.40 Because of the different rhythmic and motivic surroundings, the <5,1> harmonic interval succession does not
form part of the NCS proper.41 Joining the <5,1> pattern to the
subsequent measures makes sense for textual reasons, since the
words of the overt sequence twice respond to those of the end
of the verse. The first time, the latter text specifies the different
directions taken by the narrator and James in their lives; the
third time, the latter text is an admonishment, the only one in
the song.42 The line Do whats good for you, or youre not good
for anybody, is the narrators most impassioned plea urging
James to find and follow his true calling; its setting as a chromatic NCS thus seems especially appropriate.
40 As Everett (2000) argues, James exemplifies Billy Joels learned style
and, as such, we should not be surprised to find occasional implied tones
in this piece. Interestingly, in a promotional video for the song, Joel sings
the D during the final verse (at 3:05); what previously was only implied
becomes overt. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOwtkQWyoT8
(accessed 28 December 2009). I am not claiming that Joels performance of
this verse justifies my reading of an implied D, but the fact that he sings it
here nonetheless argues for its implicitness.
41 Beginning with a pattern whose connection to subsequent patterns is subsurface offers the reverse of what Forte and Gilbert (1982, 85) observe in
connection with linear intervallic patterns: that is, a LIP can continue after
the conclusion of a sequence.
42 In the rest of the song, the narrator recounts past events or queries James.
This music occurs twice more: in the fourth iteration, a sax solo plays over
the verse, followed by the line I went on the road. . .; in the fifth iteration,
the second question (Will you ever write your masterpiece?) is followed
by a repeat of the admonishment.

A different context for a dissonant ninth is found in an NCS


from Gwen Stefanis Sweet Escape (2006), whose opening
guitar vamp and subsequent NCS are transcribed in Example
11. The passage articulates configuration <10,6|9,5> with the
two voices rhythmically displaced. The vamp establishes D b and
F as pedal tones that persist through the NCS. The F and D b in
the vocal part of the NCS thus can be heard as the pedal tones
continuation. In the ninth between the bass and voice parts,
then, the bass E b is the source of the dissonance. The bass line,
which harmonizes the descending line B b A b G n G b in the
guitar part, lies closer to the foreground than the voices tonic
arpeggiation.
a quartet of examples from art music
Like the popular-music examples, the excerpted selections
below are interrelated in various ways. The first pair embed
their NCSs within a CS; such NCSs can be profitably understood as a category of alterations to the CS of which they form
a part.43 Such NCSs constitute a particularly effective alteration to a CS by preserving the momentum of sequential continuation in individual voices. The second pair of examples do
the converse: each embeds a CS within an NCS whose pattern
is longer. Interestingly, three of the four excerpts share a melodic sequence that alternates descending fourths and ascending thirds.
43 Bass (1996) studies some ways in which alterations to harmonic sequences
can be motivic.

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non-coinciding sequences


  =  
4x
  4
   4

Voice

Guitar

Bass

  4    
     4   


 4
   4
b :

   
 
4x

Woo

   
   


135

+2

- hoo

   
    
10

III

yee

- hoo

   
   

 
   

 
  


+3

   
9

IV (9)

VI(7)




example 11. Gwen Stefani (featuring Akon), The Sweet Escape (2006), opening vamp and non-coinciding sequence
Example 12 presents my analysis of a sentential structure
from the Prelude to Wagners Parsifal featuring multiple transpositions of the Faith motive. Example 12(a) reproduces a durational reduction and harmonic analysis of mm. 4555 by
David Lewin.44 In its entirety this passage modulates from A b
major to E b minor by way of a CS with alterations: its first pattern (mm. 4547) moves from I to V in A b major, while its
second pattern (mm. 4850) transposes the first up a minor
third to C b major; its third pattern (mm. 5155) begins as a
minor-third transposition of its second pattern to E bb major.
Lewins analysis, which appears within the context of a study of
the incommensurability of Stufen-space and Riemann-space,
shows that there is no structural enharmonicism in this passage:
he represents the third pattern as modulating from E bb major to
E b major, arguing that Wagners notation of E bb major as D
major is largely a matter of notational convenience.45 Example
12(b), my reduction and analysis of the third pattern, employs
the notationally more-expedient D major and continues in D #
minor so as not to imply an enharmonic modulation. This
phrase, itself a sentence structure, begins with a CS, but continues with two overlapping NCSs, the models of which are notated on the ossia staves.46 The phrase as a whole accomplishes
a modulation from D major to D # minor in which both outer
voices descend by a major seventh. At this Preludes tempo, a
CS traversing a seventh would likely be tedious; by enabling
each voice to take a shortcut through the seventh, the alterations help to avoid monotony. The first alteration of the smaller
CS occurs in mm. 5253, when the upper voice continues to
descend by step while the lower voice is transposed down three
steps, producing the NCS represented on the upper ossia staff.47
4 4 Lewin (1984, 348).
45 See also Harrison (2002) for more on notational versus structural enharmonicism.
46 The NCSs here are thus alterations on two levels: both to the smaller-scale
CS beginning in m. 51 and the larger-scale one beginning in m. 45.
47 Murphy (2001) discusses this NCS in terms of a divergence between the upper-voice melodic sequence and Neo-Riemannian transformations relating the
underlying harmonies. This NCS corresponds to Realization 9 in Example 7.

The bass lines downbeat pitches in mm. 5253 imitate the sopranos C # G # (m. 52) in augmentation. In m. 53, the pattern is
expanded by the interpolation of a new chord, one that influences the continuation in the lower voice but not that in the
upper voice. The lower voices pattern in m. 54 deletes the first
pitch of the previous pattern, thus preserving only the melodic
ascending fourth from m. 53, an inversion of the upper voices
intra-pattern interval; the upper voice in m. 54 omits the middle
pitch from m. 53s pattern, thereby returning to the pattern employed in mm. 5152.48 Combining these two elements of the
two voices produces the NCS given on the lower ossia staff. The
unusual and dissonant 115 voice exchange in its first pattern is
transformed by displacement on the musical surface; the dissonant fourth in the second pattern remains, the upper voice functioning as a non-chord tone.
Like the Parsifal passage, the excerpt below from Chopins
Trois Nouvelles tudes, No. 2, also features an NCS within a CS.
The connection between the two excerpts is even closer: the
NCS, which occupies mm. 3334, is T4-related to mm. 5253 of
the Parsifal prelude.49 (Example 13 supplies a reduction of the
passage.) As in the latter, the phrase of which the NCS is a
partmm. 3336constitutes a pattern in a larger-scale CS.
But unlike the Parsifal passage, there is no smaller-scale CS
subjected to alterations. The irregular hexagon in the second
line marks the alterations to the CS; the third line notates the
pitches of an unaltered transposition of mm. 2930. The NCS,
which articulates the configuration <8,10|10,12>, replaces the
tenth and twelfth of m. 29 with an octave and tenth. Relative to
a -transformation of m. 29, the upper voice in m. 33 is
48 One might interpret the lower voice in mm. 5354 as containing a sequence by descending third (i.e., G # F # | E #), with the alteration occurring
in m. 54. But this interpretation is insensitive to the strong expectation
created by the half-diminished seventh chord on the downbeat: in other
words, since the A # dominant is so strongly suggested, it is not likely to be
heard as an alteration. (The seventh of the ii7 is present in the score but
not in my reduction.) The basss stepwise line (G #F #E #) continues to D #
in the following measure.
49 Thus, it also corresponds to Realization 9 in Example 7.

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136

music theory spectrum 33 (2011)


(a) Lewin (1984), Figure 4 (with measure numbers added):  = 1 measure of

6
4

(David Lewin, Amfortass Prayer to Titurel and the Role of D in Parsifal:


The Tonal Spaces of the Drama and the Enharmonic C  /B. 19th-Century
Music 7 (3): 336-49. 1984, The Regents of the University of California.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.)
45

 
   



A : I

48

  

51



 III
C: I

53

55


                

 III
E : I

v ii IV
vi iii
e : iv i ii
iii/

iii
i


 
(I
(VI

(b) Reduction of mm. 5155







  6  
   4  
8

 
10

   
   64     


D:

iii

 
 

  

 
 

 

10

   
    

 
 
10

3
d:

 
 

  
5

2
4
     
           4   

10

(10) 12

10

11

 
 

   

  

 
 


 

ii 7

V7

iv

 
 


  

11

VI

 
 

10

44  

i

  

10

example 12. Wagner, Prelude to Parsifal


transposed up a half-step, while the lower voice is transposed
down eight half-steps, resulting in the changing harmonic intervals from m. 33 to m. 34.50 Like the upper voice in m. 33, the
first pitch of the lower voice in m. 34 is also transposed up a
half-step relative to a -transformation. The substitution of C
minor in m. 34 for the expected C b major makes a harmonic
association between m. 34 and mm. 2829, rendering m. 29 and
m. 34 virtually identical51 and thereby creating the impression
that mm. 3336 retrace part of the harmonic path of mm. 29
32. Since the structural harmony of m. 28 (not shown in the
example) is Cb major, C minor standing in for Cb major in
m. 34 telescopes the former succession of C b major by C minor in
50 The harmonic intervals are measured in diatonic space in the example. In
chromatic space, the (simple counterpart of the) first harmonic interval in
m. 29 is three half-steps; and the difference between the respective intervals
of transposition of the upper and lower voices is (1 ( 8) =) 9 half-steps;
thus, the first harmonic interval in m. 33 is (3 + 9 =) 12 half-steps, or an
octave; likewise, the second harmonic interval of m. 33 is (7 + 9 =) 16 halfsteps, or a major tenth.
51 While they are identical in my reduction, there are slight differences at the
musical surface.

mm. 2829. In addition to recomposing mm. 2832, these alterations intensify the rhetoric of the second pattern by expanding the registral space between the outer voices; at the same
time, however, the alterations increase the harmonic stability of
mm. 3336. Measures 3340 as a whole articulate a progression
in F minori (mm. 3335)iv (m. 36)V (mm. 3740)that
enables a smooth retransition to the opening material in m. 41
in the home key of A b major.
Both of the following excerpts feature a CS nested within an
NCS. They also employ the same sequential progressionroot
motion by ascending (minor) third alternating with root motion
by ascending (perfect) fifthas harmonic substrate. Example
14(a) supplies a durational reduction of a phrase from Dvoks
concert overture Othello.52 The NCS, which occurs in mm. 261
66, interrupts the phrases functional motion. The first three
hypermeasures expand the tonic via two neighbors, 6 and # 2.53
52 I have enharmonically respelled some pitches to better reflect underlying
voice leading.
53 One might view the chord in the second hypermeasure as a common-tone
half-diminished seventh chord (DFAB) spelled enharmonically. (A is
present in the score but not in my reduction.)

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non-coinciding sequences



T p1

 2 
   4

29

10

12

 2
   4 

A :

c
iii

    24 


33

 2
   4 
f:

with exact
sequence




 

 



10

e

 

B
a:
1

10

10

f
i

+4

12

d
iv

12

e
iv

6
4

5
3

F
V

10



E
V

6
4

a
i

5
3


10

b
iv

3740


C
V

    24  
10


 2
   4 
d

f



C

example 13. Chopin, Trois Nouvelles tudes, No. 2 in Ab


Major, mm. 2936 (reduced); non-coinciding sequence occurs
in mm. 3334
The fourth hypermeasure varies the second, replacing 6 with b 6
and #2 with 4, and harmonizing them with iv. The fifth hypermeasure could have continued either with a return to tonic, as in
the third hypermeasure, thereby making the iv chord into a
functional subdominant, or with a continuation to the dominant, making the iv chord into a functional predominant. The
arrival of the bass on 5 in m. 261 supports the latter option, but
the inner voices (Cn and Fn) undermine the dominant: a firstinversion F-major triad here substitutes for an A-major triad.
Measure 261 also initiates a much more rapid harmonic rhythm
(one chord per q) and a melodic sequence in the bass the pattern
of which contains three pitches and is transposed up by halfstep, as shown in Example 14(b). (This grouping into threes
motivates the notated change of meter in the durational reduction.) The chromatic descending line in the upper voice is
grouped into threes through its pairing with the lower voice,
thereby producing an NCS.54 A sequential progression containing
54 For another unusual harmonization of a descending chromatic scale (into
groups of four pitches), see mm. 8588 of Chopins Mazurka in A b Major,
Op. 59, No. 2. The most common tonal setting of a descending chromatic
line is by a sequential progression consisting exclusively of root motion by
descending (perfect) fifth (see also Note 7). In the diatonic realm, the socalled Pachelbel sequence features a descending stepwise line in the soprano voice that is perceptually grouped into twos by the alternately leaping
and stepping bass line.

137

two root motions (an ascending minor third and ascending


perfect fifth) governs the chords of the NCS, chords the functional meaning of which is unclear. Moving against the basss
melodic sequence, the sequential progression creates a hemiola.
The acceleration of harmonic rhythm, interruption of functional momentum, and rhythmic dissonance between sequential
progression and melodic sequence combine to produce a dazzling, disorienting effect.
The NCS has a programmatic function here: Dvok annotated the manuscript with notes providing a glimpse into his
realization of Shakespeares narrative. His gloss above m. 246
indicates that here Othello and Desdemona embrace in silent
ecstasy. The musical disorientation intimates the intoxicating
effect of their lovemaking. Shortly before this music returns,
transposed, in the recapitulation, Dvok writes that Othello,
having now murdered Desdemona, kisses her for the last time;
more softly orchestrated, this music corresponds to Othellos
reminiscence.55 After two patterns of non-coincidence, the
lower voice follows the interval of transposition of the upper
voice, producing a CS in mm. 26468. Predominant function is
restored by the Neapolitan, which substitutes for the Cb -major
triad that would be produced by a continuation of the sequential
progression. In terms of root motions, the substitution of Eb
major in m. 267 for the expected Cb major inverts the substitution of F major for A major in m. 261; in this sense the harmonic entrance into and exit from the NCS counterbalance
each other.
Without the bass line, the music of mm. 261 66 would articulate a harmonic sequence. Example 14(c) suggests another
way of understanding the NCS: it interprets the basss nonconformance as a departure from an underlying CS. The middle
four chords constitute a CS with an interval of transposition
down by whole step. The first and last bass pitches can be obtained through a projection backward and forward of the melodic ascending third inherent in the pattern. Thus, there is a
sense in which mm. 26166 can be viewed as a CS embedded
in an NCS.56
55 The resemblance between this passage and Wagners Sleep motive from
Die Walkre has been noted; see, for example, Clapham (1979, 111) and
Hurwitz (2005, 164). The Sleep motive also contains a chromatically descending upper voice and a bass melodic sequence containing ascending
minor thirds, but Wagners pattern is four chords long and is part of a CS.
56 The NCS is part of a much longer cycle of some theoretical interest. The
cycle is thirty-six chords long, consisting of a twelve-chord harmonic cycle
(six two-chord patterns) repeated thrice and a thirty-six-pitch melodic sequence in the bass (twelve three-pitch patterns). The figured-bass cycle is
of length 18: relative to the harmonic sequences triads, the bass is either
the chordal third, the root, or a half-step above the chordal fifth (in which
case the chord is an instance of set-class [0148]). One can proceed
through up to ten chords of the thirty-six-chord cycle without encountering any dissonant [0148]s, a six-chord segment of which is employed by
Dvok. While the part of the cycle that includes [0148] may not be at
home within his style, one can imagine Liszt and other more harmonically
progressive late-nineteenth-century composers employing it. For a classic
example of [0148] in Liszts oeuvre, see his Nuages gris, discussed by
Forte (1987).

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music theory spectrum 33 (2011)


(a) durational reduction of mm. 24580

 = 1 measure of 34



 4  
 4
 4 
 4

 4
  4 
D:

 

 





62

I 53

253

5
3



  
43

   2   4 
4
4

43   

   24   44 

12


4

 3

  4  
6

A

T 3p

iv

T +1p

E

T10

  
6

G

D

T10

F

24
 

T 3p

E

II6

[non-coinciding sequence]

p
   T 32  
4

273


43         24     44   

(b) mm. 26168 as a non-coinciding sequence


becoming a coinciding sequence

  3  
 4

267

B

Gr+6

V 64

 


6


 


(c) mm. 26166 as a coinciding sequence


within a non-coinciding sequence

 




  








mel. intervals: +3
F

A

T 2p

+3
E













G

+3

+3

D

F

example 14. Dvok, Othello, Op. 93, mm. 24580


My analysis of an excerpt from the first movement of
Brahmss String Quintet in G Major, Op. 111, that similarly
embeds a CS in an NCS, is given as Example 15. As in the
Dvok example, the NCS arrives in the midst of a predominant expansionhere a harmonic motion from the diatonic
submediant (mm. 67) to the chromatic submediant (m. 11)
and introduces a much more rapid harmonic rhythm of one
chord per q that produces a hemiola.57 Example 15(a) furnishes
an annotated reduction of mm. 712, bracketing two similar
segments for closer study. Example 15(b) transcribes Segment
2, highlighting perhaps the most salient aspect of this passage,
the harmonic sequence by descending major second, which articulates tonic-to-dominant progressions in G major and F
major, concluding on E b major.58 In the Segment-1 sequence,
shown in Example 15(c), the bass line is metrically displaced
relative to Segment 2: the melodic descending fourths in the
bass begin on beat 2 rather than beat 1. In addition, two of the
triads are minor rather than major, lessening the impression of
57 The more-rapid harmonic rhythm is prepared in mm. 67 by tonic-dominant motion over a pedal 6.
58 The upper voice of mm. 1011 is transposed down an octave for convenience
in this and subsequent examples. Other well-known instances of this
sequence can be found in the opening phrases of Beethovens Waldstein
Sonata, Op. 53, and Schuberts String Quartet in G Major, D. 887.

tonic-dominant chord pairs. While Segment 2 is progressional,


Segment 1 is prolongational, serving to expand B major, which
functions as E minors dominant.59 Segment 2 is thus a necessary successor to Segment 1: in terms of the passages overall
function, Segment 1 fails, while Segment 2 succeeds.
Example 15(d) displays the NCS, which joins the last four
chords of Example 15(c) with the first four chords of Example
15(b). The upper voice is transposed down by step, while the lower
is transposed up by step; the harmonic intervals of the second pattern (3,8,3,8) are thus two steps smaller than those of the first
pattern (5,10,5,10).60 The metric and harmonic context of mm.
712 as a whole forges a strong connection between the respective
beginnings of each segment; as shown in Example 15(a), the two
59 Schoenberg ([1954] 1969, 8184) also identifies B major as in effect in
mm. 79; he singles out the opening period (mm. 116) as a model of the
exploration of many harmonic regions within a short span. Had Segment 1
begun with a D #-minor triad, the sequential progression <ascending minor
third, ascending perfect fifth> would have been intact throughout Segment
1 as it is in Segment 2. Beginning instead with a B-major triad strengthens
the prolongational function of Segment 1.
60 Thus, as with some earlier examples, the upper voice of the second pattern
may be viewed as beginning on a lower chord member than in the first
pattern. Here, there is no physically sounding voice in the first pattern tracing
the chord members of the upper voices second pattern.

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non-coinciding sequences
(a) reduction of mm. 712




 9    
8  

     
    

   
 
 98    



   

iv

B:

ii




  

V 64

   

 

5
3

vla. II




iv ii
vi vii 7 V 64

G:

G:

      
 
 

   


  vla.


(c) Segment 1



 

 9    
 
 8


 

 

 




 

 

 



 





E

 VII

Segment 1



10

 


5

 

9
 8  

I6

B:

VI



 


3

+1

c

ii(?)

V 65

iv

(e) Double counterpoint


Segment 2

10



F

 

vii 43

 


(d) Non-coinciding sequence

  

VI

5
3

 





   

 

D

9
 8 

(b) Segment 2

 9 
  8 

   
  

vcl.

vcl.

vla. II

Segment 2


   



Segment 1

139

 





Segment 1

 





 

  


10

10

 

 

Segment 2

 
5

+5

10

 
3

 
3


3

    

(f ) coinciding sequences within non-coinciding sequence within double counterpoint


Mel. intervals:

F 5
Mel. intervals: 10
D 4
Mel. intervals:

+2

+2

+2

+2

C 5

E5

B4

D 5

10

10

F 4

C 4

E4

B3

+2

B4

D5

A4

C5

G4

D4

F4

C4

G4

+5

+2

+1

+2

E 4
+2

example 15. Brahms, String Quintet in G Major, Op. 111, I, mm. 712

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140

music theory spectrum 33 (2011)




 


5

Brahms, mm. 89:


Violin I and Cello


 


6

7 8

7 8

10

7 8

10

  

  

9
 8 

9
 8

  

10

  

6 5


3

Transposition to the lower twelfth

 


10


6

7 8

  

  

  

          

9 8 5

  

        


7

10

  

6 5


7

10

  
6 5

10

6 5

example 16. Example of double counterpoint at the twelfth from Fux, Gradus ad Parnassum (Mann [{1958} 1987, 126],
used with permission by Dover Publications, Inc.) and Brahmss mm. 89 (brackets and harmonic interval labels added)
chords preceding the downbeats of mm. 8 and 10 are the same, and
6-5 motion.61
the first two beats of each segment articulate a V 4-3
Harmonic motion within each segment operates on a different level, however. Within mm. 712 as a whole, the second
viola (doubled part of the time by the first viola) functions as
the bass, while the cello has the primary line in the middle of
the texture. Immediately after the downbeats of mm. 8 and 10,
both viola parts either drop out or move to a higher register and
the cello becomes the lowest sounding part. These junctures
thus effectuate harmonic elisions, with each segment interrupting the functional progression leading into it. The sequences
emerge and are somewhat separate from the larger harmonic
context, with the downbeats of mm. 8 and 10 serving as harmonic pivots. The downbeat of m. 8 is therefore both a cadential six-four chord and a first-inversion tonic triad (in B major),
and the downbeat of m. 10 is at once a cadential six-four and a
root-position tonic triad (in G major).
Within the two segments, the outer voices contain only two
melodic intervals, descending fourths and ascending thirds, intervals that occur in strict alternation; a descending fourth in
one voice accompanies an ascending third in the other. Example
15(e) displays the pitches of the outer voices, showing that there
are only two discrete melodic strands, beginning with a descending fourth and an ascending third, respectively.62 The outer
61 Omitted from Example 15(a) is an indication of the larger-scale prolongation of E minor; in terms of this prolongation, the two E-minor triads that
directly precede each segment may both be viewed as local pivotsfrom E
minor to B major and E minor to G major, respectively.
62 These melodic strands are also paired in the outer voices of the Wagner and
Chopin excerpts. Both mm. 5153 of the Parsifal prelude and mm. 2930

voices trade strands, producing double counterpoint at the


twelfth: the upper voice in Segment 1 is transposed down a
major seventh to become the lower voice of Segment 2, and the
lower voice of Segment 1 is transposed up a minor sixth to become the upper voice of Segment 2. Tenths invert into thirds
and fifths invert into octaves in this type of double counterpoint; they are the only four intervals that remain consonant in
this type. The passage is very similar to an example from Fuxs
Gradus reproduced as Example 16 thatstrikinglyserves to
illustrate double counterpoint at the twelfth.63 I have aligned
mm. 89 of the Brahms with the first part of the Fux to show
the correspondence. In the Fux passage, passing tones fill in the
melodic ascending third in the upper voice and the melodic descending fourth in the lower voice; the Brahms passage uses
Fuxs upper voice as the pattern for both voices.64
Example 15(f ) combines aspects of Examples 15(b), (c), (d),
and (e), employing a format similar to that of Example 5(b).
of the Chopin etude contain five pitches of this sequence in the upper voice
and four in the lower; the former produces the linear intervallic pattern of
Segment 2 (starting with the octave), and the latter produces the linear
intervallic pattern of Segment 1. A similar passage occurs in mm. 3132
and 4649 of the third movement of Brahmss Triumphlied, Op. 55.
63 Mann ([1958] 1987, 126).
64 Brahmss interest in counterpoint is well documented: see, for example,
Brodbeck (1994). According to Geiringer (1982, 338), Brahms possessed
the works of the most important musical theorists, beginning with Fux,
Forkel, and Mattheson, down to the end of the nineteenth century.
Brahms uses the same melodic sequence (with a passing tone filling in the
melodic third) in the opening of the subject to the first fugue (Verwirf
mich nicht von deinem Angesicht) of his Motet, Op. 29, No. 2, which sets
the text of Psalm 51.

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non-coinciding sequences

141

example 17. List of configurations keyed to excerpts


In that the upper and lower voices are transpositionally related,
Segments 1 and 2 of the Brahms excerpt are similar to the
Beethoven violin sonata excerpt examined earlier. Whereas in
the latter the two voices move in parallel motion, producing
only one type of harmonic interval within each segment, in the
former, the voices move in contrary motion, producing two different harmonic intervals within each segment.65 And in the
Beethoven excerpt there is only one melodic interval in each
voice, while here there are two. Thus the two voices are de facto
canonically related at the distance of one beat. This richly complex interaction between double counterpoint, canon, NCS, and
CS seems characteristically Brahmsian.66
conclusions and generalizations
The musical excerpts examined in this essay suggest ways in
which NCSs serve certain common functions. One of these is
disorientation: the chorus of Dilemma disorients because its
repetition of an NCS confuses the listeners perception of the
65 In general, when an NCS is embedded within a double-counterpoint segment, the distance between identical harmonic intervals is twice the difference between the respective cardinalities of the double-counterpoint
segment and the NCS pattern. In the Beethoven excerpt, the cardinalities
are the same, meaning that there is no room for harmonic variety; but in the
Brahms, the double-counterpoint segment is five pitches long and the NCS
pattern is four pitches long, and since twice the difference is (2(54) =) 2,
every other harmonic interval must be identical, meaning that only two
distinct harmonic intervals are possible in each segment. It follows that
there can be only two melodic intervals. Appendix B supplies a proof.
66 Perhaps surprisingly, the passage occurs in this form only once. It is simplified in the recapitulation: Segment 1 occurs over a dominant pedal and
Segment 2 over a pedal 4; in the place of two canonically related voices in
contrary motion are parallel thirds and parallel sixths, respectively.

direction of each voice, an effect that reinforces the meaning of


the lyrics. Another related function is disruption: the excerpts
from Brahmss Op. 111 and Dvoks Othello are both metrically
and tonally disruptive, and in the latter the disruption is intimately tied to programmatic meaning. Other NCSs serve modulatory purposes: the excerpt from the Prelude to Parsifal
smoothly modulates from D major to D # minor by way of two
overlapping NCSs; the Chopin Prelude passage becomes more
tonally settled by way of an NCS; and the NCS in Billy Joels
James modulates from (the dominant of ) F major to (the
dominant of ) D minor. And some NCSs serve rhetorical purposes: in the Chopin Prelude, the NCS expands the registral
space at the opening of the CSs second pattern, while in the
chorus from Never Gonna Give You Up, the incipient closure
of the NCS is interrupted by a CS in the narrators attempt to
convince the beloved of his sincerity.
What overall picture is painted by the excerpts examined
here? Example 17 lists the passages I have analyzed, organized
by configuration class, and then by configuration. Eight different configuration classes were instantiated by excerpts, [1,3|3,5],
[3,3|6,6] and [1,5|3,7|5,9] by multiple excerpts.67 As discussed
above, realizations of configurations containing dissonant intervals are constrained by rules of dissonance treatment, so configurations containing only consonances are especially privileged.
As such, configurations [1,3|3,5], [1,3|6,8], [3,3|6,6], [3,5|6,8],
and [3,6|5,8] are special; and of these, [1,3|3,5] is singular in
that it can support a harmonic sequence with all chords in root
position. As shown in Example 7, of the twenty-five first-species
realizations of configuration class [1,3|3,5], four were instantiated
67 I omit the paradigmatic NCSs given in Example 3 (other than those instantiated in Example 4), although presumably there are many extant
examples of these.

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music theory spectrum 33 (2011)

by excerpts from the literature (Examples 1[e], 4[c], 12, and


13).68 Are these exemplars representative, and if so, why are
certain realizations of this configuration class more common
than others? One hypothesis is that smaller intervals of transposition are more common than larger ones for reasons of registral
continuity. Indeed, common harmonic sequences feature intervals of transposition by second or third. Only Realizations 1
through 5 exclude intervals of transposition larger than a third,
and these realizations are especially privileged because one voice
is transposed up by step and one down by step. However, since
NCSs usually contain only two patterns, they typically do not
threaten registral continuity. (The first row of realizations does
not include Examples 12 and 13, the NCSs of which contain
only two patterns.) Moreover, certain realizations may be
faulted for hidden fifths (e.g., m. 2 of Realizations 8 and 13).
While NCSs in tonal music are somewhat constrained by
norms of dissonance treatment, those in non-tonal contexts would
logically be less restricted, suggesting another avenue of inquiry.
And what types of NCSs might be employed in scalar universes
other than the diatonic and chromatic? Extensions to common
subsets of the chromatic (hexatonic, whole-tone, octatonic) and
to microtonal universes may prove useful. While NCSs may be
rare relative to their coinciding brethren, they hint at a substantial
richness of sequence practice that remains to be fully explored.
appendix a
relationships between realizations of a particular
configuration with pattern cardinality 2
The twenty-five first-species realizations of configuration
<1,3|3,5> in Example 7 pair a melodic sequence in the upper
voice with a particular melodic sequence in the lower voice.
Transposing the upper and/or lower voice in each realization
changes the harmonic intervals between the voices, but does
not alter the differences between successive harmonic intervals,
or harmonic-interval-difference series. The difference series for
<1,3|3,5> is <(31),(33),(5-3)> = <2,0,2>. (Consider again
Example 2 in this context: the two transposition graphs are in
a sense independent of one another.) In general, the realizations that exemplify a particular harmonic-interval-difference
series group into pairs that are related by retrogression, transposition, and exchange of upper and lower voices; these pairs
are indicated by double-sided arrows in Example 7. This feature depends upon the fact that the melodic-interval series for
any p = 2 melodic sequence takes the form <x, q, x>.
Retrograding the pitch classes of a series retrogrades and inverts the ordered pitch-class intervals of the series, but since
the interval series is R-symmetric, the net effect is to invert the
intervals. Let the upper-voice melodic sequence be <x, q, x>
68 The Brahms string quintet passage (Example 15) might be included here:
it corresponds to Realization 5 in retrograde, except that the pattern is
doubled in length. From this perspective, the CS thus constitutes a kind of
composing-out of the NCS via transposed repetition.

and the lower-voice melodic sequence <y, r, y>. The harmonicinterval-difference series is thus <xy, qr, xy>. Retrograding
the realization and exchanging upper and lower voices produces the melodic sequence <y, r, y> in the upper voice and
<x, q, x> in the lower, resulting in the same harmonicinterval-difference series.
If the initial and final harmonic intervals in a configuration are different, then maintaining the same configuration
also requires that one or both voices be transposed to reset
the opening harmonic interval. For configuration <1,3|3,5>,
the difference between the final and initial harmonic intervals
is (5 1 =) 4. Retrogression results in configuration <5,3|3,1>,
and exchanging the voices produces its double-counterpointat-the-octave partner, <4,6|6,8>. The resultant harmonic intervals must be increased by four steps (or decreased by three)
to produce configuration <1,3|3,5>; thus, the difference between the transposition of the lower voice (which becomes
the new upper voice) and that of the upper voice (which becomes the new lower voice) must be 4. Transforming
Realization 6 into Realization 11 involves t4 of the lower
voice (= new upper voice) and t0 of the upper voice (= new
lower voice): 4 0 = 4; transforming Realization 8 into
Realization 12 involves t2 of the lower voice and t5 of the
upper voice: 2 5 = 4; and Realization 1 is transformed into
itself by the same transpositions.
Realization 1 is invariant since the melodic sequences in its
upper and lower voices are inversionally related.69 Let the melodic
intervals in the upper voice equal x and ythus, the melodic
intervals in the lower voice are x and yand the harmonic
intervals be f, g, h, and i. Thus, the first harmonic-interval difference is x (x) = 2x = gf, and the second harmonic-interval
difference is 2y = hg. (The third harmonic-interval difference is
equivalent to the first.) The number of invariant realizations of a
given configuration is the product of the number of solutions to
these two equations; the number of solutions to each equation
depends upon scale cardinality s. By elementary number theory, if
d = gcd(2,s), then there are d solutions to 2x = gf (mod s) if and
only if d divides gf and no solutions if d does not divide gf .70
The number of invariant NCSs differs depending only upon
whether s is odd or even.
If s is odd, then d = 1; and since 1 divides all integers, there
is exactly one solution to each equation and (11 =) 1 invariant realization. In the case at hand (s = 7), d = gcd(2,7) = 1 and
1 divides both gf (= 2) and hg (= 0). Thus, there is exactly
one invariant NCS of pattern cardinality 2 in a scale of seven
tones.
If s is even, then d = 2. Since the two voices of an invariant
realization are inversionally related and any integer multiplied
by 2 is even, the harmonic-interval differences are always even.
Since 2 divides any even number, there are four (22) invariant
69 It is also degenerate, however; since both voices have melodic unisons in
their interior, the pattern boundary is not well articulated. (Of course, moving inner voices could help to differentiate the two BD tenths.)
70 Jones and Jones (1998, 4647).

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non-coinciding sequences

 

   


 




0


2


4

 

143

 


2

 

 

 



 

example 18. The four invariant realizations of <0,2|4,6> mod 12

realizations. Example 18 displays the four invariant realizations


of <0,2|4,6> mod 12. (The first realization would need to be
elaborated in some fashion to articulate a p = 2 pattern.)
appendix b
inherent relationships that obtain when the upper
and lower voices of an ncs contain the same
melodic-interval content
The NCSs from Beethovens Violin Sonata, Op. 23, and
Brahmss String Quintet, Op. 111, both feature upper- and
lower-voice melodic sequences that are transpositionally related.
The following proves the relationships that obtain in this special case; I use double-counterpoint segment here in the sense
in which I used it in my analysis of the Brahms passage.
Let d equal the length of the double-counterpoint segment
and n equal the cardinality of the NCS pattern.
Let xi represent the harmonic intervals of the first doublecounterpoint segment and yi the harmonic intervals of the second double-counterpoint segment: x1, x2, , xd | y1, y2, , yd
for 1 i d.
Let p equal the double-counterpoint interval. In general,
xi + yi = p for 1 i d.
Let q equal the difference between corresponding harmonic
intervals in successive patterns.
I first prove the case in which the double-counterpoint segment and NCS pattern have the same cardinality (corresponding to the Beethoven), then the case in which they have different
cardinalities (corresponding to the Brahms).
1. d = n
The harmonic intervals are given by the set of integers
x1, x2, , xd, y1, y2, , yd
that satisfy
xi + yi = p, for 1 i d

Since xi and yi are constants, the harmonic intervals within each


double-counterpoint segment are all identical, entailing parallel
motion between upper and lower voices. In the case of m. 189
of the Beethoven, p = 14 (double counterpoint at the double
octave) and q = (10 6 =) 4. So yi = 9 and xi = 5, corresponding
to tenths and sixths, respectively.
2. d > n
I first prove that for an NCS pattern embedded within a double-counterpoint segment, the distance between equivalent harmonic intervals is equal to 2(d n).71 Second, I prove that the
distance between equivalent melodic intervals is also equal to
2(d n). Third, I list the different possible realizations of the
harmonic-interval-difference series in the Brahms.
a. Harmonic intervals
The Brahms passage may be represented as in Example 19(a):

example 19a. Cardinality of double-counterpoint segment,


cardinality of NCS pattern, and harmonic intervals in
the Brahms passage
Here, p = 10 + 3 = 5 + 8 = 13 and q = 3 5 = 8 10 = 2
5 mod 7.
The general situation may be represented as in Example
19(b):
length d
length n

x1, x2, , xd n + 1, xd n + 2, ,xd

and
yi xi = q.
Thus, xi = p yi and xi = yi q, so p yi = yi q.
2yi = p + q

length d
length n
y1, y2, , yn, , yd

example 19b. A generalization of the interrelationships between


double-counterpoint segment, NCS pattern, and harmonic
intervals in the Brahms passage
Thus, q = y1 xd n + 1 = y2 xd n + 2 = = yn xd. In general,
q = yj xd n + j for 1 j n.
71 I thank Paul Duvall for assistance with this proof.

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music theory spectrum 33 (2011)

The harmonic intervals are given by the set of integers


x1, x2, , xd, y1, y2, , yd

ld n + 2 = u2, , ld 1 = un 1. In general, ud n + j = lj and ld n + j = uj,

that satisfy
xi + yi = p, for 1 i d

for 1 j n 1.

and
yj xd n + j = q for 1 j n.

Now suppose that 1 k 2n d.


Then we have ud n + k = lk [1] and ld n + k = uk [2].

Thus, ud n + 1 = l1, ud n + 2 = l2, , ud 1 = ln 1 and ld n + 1 = u1,

Applying equation [2] with k replaced by d n + k, we obtain

Now suppose that 1 k 2n d.72


Then since yk xd n + k = q, or yk = q + xd n + k, and xk = p yk,
we have
xk = p yk = p q xd n + k.
[1]
Applying this equation with k replaced by d n + k, we obtain
xd n + k = p q x2(d n) + k.
[2]
Combining [1] and [2]:
xk = p q xd n + k = p q (p q x2(d n) + k) = x2(d n) + k.
Thus, xis that are 2(d n) apart are equal. Since xi + yi = xj + yj =
p, xi xj = yj yi. Thus, if xi = xj, then yi = yj and so yi s that are
2(d n) apart are also equal.
In the case of the Brahms, d = 5 and n = 4. If d = n + 1, harmonic intervals that are 2(1) = 2 apart are equal, meaning that
the harmonic intervals within each double-counterpoint segment are either identical or strictly alternate between two values. As the next part of the proof shows, the former possibility
necessitates identical melodic intervals as well, which entails the
case where d = n; the latter is what occurs in the Brahms passage, as shown in Examples 15(e) and 15(f ).
b. Melodic intervals
There are a total of d 1 melodic intervals in each voice.
Because the two voices are related by double counterpoint, the
melodic intervals of the upper voice in the first segment are
identical to the melodic intervals of the lower voice in the second; likewise, the melodic intervals of the lower voice in the
first segment are identical to the melodic intervals of the upper
voice in the second. The general situation may be represented as
in Example 19(c):
length d 1

length d 1
length n 1

length n 1

u1, u2, , ud n + 1 , ud n + 2 , , ud 1

l1, l2, , ln 1, , ld 1

l1, l2, , ld n + 1 , ld n + 2 , , ld 1

u1, u2, , un 1, , ud 1

example 19c. A generalization of the interrelationships between


double-counterpoint segment, NCS pattern, and melodic
intervals in the Brahms passage
72 This ensures that 2(d n) + k (in equation [2] below) will be no greater
than d. If d is greater than or equal to 2n, then there is no repetition of
harmonic intervals within the pattern.

l2(d n) + k = ud n + k. [3]
Substituting in equation [3] via equation [1], we obtain
lk = l2(d n) + k.
Thus, lks that are 2(d n) apart are equal; similarly, uks that are
2(d n) are equal.
In the case of the Brahms passage, d = 5 and n = 4. If d = n +
1, then melodic intervals that are 2 apart are equal, so either the
melodic intervals are all identical (in which case parallel motion
results, entailing the case in which d = n) or the melodic intervals within each voice strictly alternate between two values. The
latter is what occurs in the Brahms, as shown in Examples 15(e)
and 15(f ).
c. The number of realizations of the harmonic-interval-difference
series of the Brahms passage
The case where d = n + 1 entails an upper-voice melodic sequence that can be described by <x, y, x, y, . . . x>. The lowervoice melodic sequence must then be <y, x, y, x, y>. Only one
melodic interval is freely chosen, since the difference between x
and y is given by the difference between the two harmonic intervals. The harmonic-interval difference between 5 and 10 (= 3
mod 7) is 2, a condition that is fulfilled by x = 4 and y = 2,
Brahmss solution. Disallowing melodic unisons, there are three
remaining solutions: x = 3, y = 1; x = 5, y = 3; and x = 6, y = 4.73
Retrograding the passage results in melodic sequences <35> and
<53> in upper and lower voices, respectively. The two remaining
solutions<31>, <13> and <64>, <46>are also R-related;
these sequences have intervals of transposition of 3 or 4, making
them less viable because such intervals of transposition threaten
registral continuity.
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Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 33, Issue 2, pp. 124145, ISSN 0195-6167,
electronic ISSN 1533-8339. 2011 by The Society for Music Theory.
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reprintinfo.asp. DOI: 10.1525/mts.2011.33.2.124

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