You are on page 1of 1

1.

4 Comparisons with Schenkerian Th eory


All new approaches to tonal analysis must at some point situate themselves with
respect to the Schenkerian tradition, the lingua franca of tonal theory in the
Anglo-American academy. Th e need to do this with transformational approaches
is perhaps more pressing than usual, as developments in neo-Riemannian theory
have generated a degree of antagonism between adherents of the two methods.
In this section I will briefl y compare the methodological characteristics of
transformational and Schenkerian approaches with the aim of demonstrating
that they diff er in important ways in terms of analytical technique, theoretical
content, and methodological goals. I will ultimately propose that any tension or
competition between the two methodologies is misplaced and unnecessary. Such
a tension suggests that Schenkerian and transformational theories represent two
versions of the same kind of music theory—that their claims are equivalent and
competing. I will instead argue that they are not competing forms of the same
kind of music theory, but represent distinctly diff erent styles of music-analytical
thought.
Figure 1.7 presents a Schenkerian sketch of the fi rst four measures of the
Prelude to Bach’s G-major Cello Suite, useful for comparison with the GIS analysis
in section 1.2.6. Th e sketch shows a three-voice contrapuntal structure underlying
mm. 1–4: a composing-out of the tonic Stufe in G. Th e Kopft on 3̂ (B3) is decorated
with a complete neighbor C4, while the inner voice horizontalizes the fourth between
D3 and G3 through stepwise motion. Th ere are some evident visual parallels
here with Figure 1.2 , in particular with 1.2(f). But the two analyses diverge notably
in their content and in the nature of their analytical claims. Figure 1.7 proposes
an interpretation of the structure of the opening of the prelude, suggesting, for