You are on page 1of 16
ANALYSIS 7 Georg Joseph Vogler (1749-1814) ‘[Prelude] Nro. 8” Zwei und dreisig Praludien . . . nebst einer Zergliederung (1806) Midway through this extraordinarily interesting analysis, Vogler presents a ‘segmentation into periods’. Though it uses terms familiar from the vocabulary of Heinrich Christoph Koch (Versuch, 1787, 1793), and though these two writers have not only terms but also concepts in common, the linkages between the terminological and conceptual planes do not conform,* The differences, however, go deeper. Koch thinks hierarchically: his ‘incises* nest within the phrase, his phrases (Sétze) within the period. Vogler thinks along a single time line: his ‘phrases’ (Rhythmen) are simply shorter than periods, coexisting but not partitioning them (analogous to Lobe’s use of Satz alongside Periode (Analysis 12)); any markedly shorter unit finds him unprepared, leaving him to resort to metaphor (‘aphorism’) or neutral measurement (‘bar’). Moreover, for Koch the ‘period’ is an enclosed sense-unit, interiorly clustered, and in turn clustering within overarching sections. Vogler’s notion of structure is quite different from this. Like a series of relays in an electrical circuit, his ‘units’ (Sdtze) extend contiguously from the beginning, to an end that is not initially determinable. The first of these units has the status of ‘model, theme and initial groundplan’; the remainder are ‘ensuing units’. The entire segmentation is located within something essentially different: an analysis of harmonic logic. This is why it peters out after b. 73 (the restatement of b. 29), at which point the tonic key has finally been re-established; this is why it never exhibits any concern with intrinsically phrase-structural matters (it turns a blind eye to a nine-bar formation, bb. 21-9, describing it as ‘metrical and regularly constructed’), Harmonic logic — the real issue here — is analysed in two stages: first the detailed operation of harmonies - beat to beat and bar to bar, as disclosed by the table of roots and figurings; secondly the teleology of these harmonies, that is, the goal-centred succession of tonal centres. For the latter, the segmentation into periods and phrases provides a structural scaffold, carrying the reader through the furthest tonal extremity of E> and arriving at the most frappant moment: the implied thirteenth-chords in bb. 73 and 74. 1 For subdivision of the ‘period’, Vogler (perhaps under French influence) uses Rhythmnus (the term Koch uses for ‘periodicity’) whereas Koch uses at the upper level Satz (a term thar Vogler uses here either for ‘material’ or ‘subject’, or neutrally ‘unit’) and at the lower level Einschnitt (the term Vogler uses for ‘caesura’, for which Koch has Casur). Vogler uses der Period at the notional four-bar level, whereas Koch uses die Periode (they disagree even on gender) at the notional eight-bar level. The central constructional unit, in both cases notionally four bars in length, is for Vogler the Period and for Koch the Satz. 7 VOGLER - Vogler: Prelude No. 8 in D minor The table just referred to is a fascinating hybrid. In one sense, it belongs to the lineage of multi-stave fundamental-bass graphings described above in the Introduction to Part I, which stretches from Rameau (1722), through Kirnberger (1771) and Schulz (1773) to Momigny (1805) and Reicha (?1816-18), in that the musical original represented at the top is reprocessed in the lower layers of the table. Not that this is a true fundamental-bass analysis: it has no concern with bass progression, merely with roots; and the resultant data are scale-degrees. The table uses not staff but figured-bass notation (which lends it the superficial appear- ance of a keyboard tablature), and yet negates the very principle of figured-bass thought by interpreting the vertical sonorities in terms of roots and then rewriting the figurings as chords of those roots. It is perhaps best described, then, as the inter- pretation of (a) an initial figured-bass stratum (b) in fundamental-bass terms, which then returns to the realm of figured-bass thought by (c) rewriting the figures, and then (d) converting the roots into scale-degrees, these latter in turn implying (e) a succession of tonal centres that forms an invisible final analytical layer. Vogler’s overall agenda (see the General Introduction, above, on analytical agendas) comprises three items: (1) rhetoric, (2) harmonic logic, (3) aesthetics. To conceptualize a piece of music as a ‘rhetorical discourse’ (Gang der Rede) would seem to be to identify its author with the Baroque analytical disposition. Traces of the latter indeed appear: the Epiphonema which concludes a discourse in a spectacular way; the Anlage (also Entwurf) or ‘groundplan’ from which a finished composition is elaborated; the suspensio, or ‘digression’ strategically placed just before the conclusion. On the other hand, his perception of musical structure is as a discourse that constantly augments itself from within (oratio crescit eundo);* he holds a surprisingly modern view, conceiving structure as ‘tension’ (Spannung) progressively built up and then released, this leading inexorably to conclusion. To be sure, Vogler’s paradigm for musical structure was that quintessen- tially Baroque form, the fugue, and its ideal type the Handelian vocal fugue; but fague, while open in form, was nonetheless punctuated by structural norms and expectations. However, Prelude No. 8 (reproduced in full in the Appendix) is only a quasi- fugue in which orthodox expositions and episodes have been dispensed with (indeed, it is precisely because the prelude lacks either clear fugal structure or truly independent part-writing that Vogler’s analysis of it has been included in Part Il of the present volume rather than Part 1). Invoking the established term fuga dimitazione, Vogler claims that the prelude achieves the ends of fugue while jetti- soning most of the means. ‘Free or imitating fugues’ (fugae liberae sive imitantes) were defined in 1650 in Athanasius Kircher’s Musurgia universalis as fugues ‘that do not adhere so closely to the rigorous laws as do strict fugues and canons [. . .] but wander at will hither and thither, [entries] answering each other now at the beginning, now at the middle, now at the end . . .°? Padre Martini, in his Examples 2 System fiir den Fugenbau als Finleitung zur harmonischen Gesang-Verbindungs-Lebre (Offenbach: André, ¢.1817), 72 3 Musurgia universalis sive ars magna consoni et dissoni . .. (Rome: Corbelletti, 1650), Book V, P- 393+ 34 of form and style Technical analysi of 1775, provided a separate discussion of fuga dimitazione: inferior in rank to as freer in that the answer strict fugue but more pleasing and grateful to the ear, it must correspond only in some, not in all, respects to the subject, and in that there was no prescribed distance or interval at which the one must answer the other,* It is the remainder of Martini’s statement, however, that explains those final words of Kircher, and at the same time casts light on Vogler’s own prelude: If the subject be made up of several segments [parti), it will be possible in the course of the fugue to reintroduce one or another of these segments, with mutual answering of one or another, such that a contest will result among the segments, and in this manner pleasure and delight will be restored. The subject of Vogler’s prelude (like that of the example that Martini gives) is subdivisible into segments in just such a way. Ir is also implicitly in three voices (Vogler does not even explain this away, as well he might have done, as a simulta- neous double fugue, the lower voice moving mostly in thirds). The result is a subject well supplied with motivic materials for development, which Vogler fragments, uses in imitation and builds up to a remarkable climax. Because Vogler’s view of structure, then, is of an open-ended, forward-streaming musical phraseology, rather than either the exposition-episode alternation of late Baroque and Classical fugue, or the striated phrase hierarchy typical of Viennese Classical forms, Vogler wrote in terms extraordinarily well adapted to interpreting the new structures of the early nineteenth century. The Thema of fugue (in the eighteenth century, an amalgam of subject and answer) is here liberated to become the ‘theme’ of a progressively unfolding melodic structure. The relays are activated in five distinct ways — repetition, transposition, proliferation, elaboration and development - that uncannily adumbrate the processes of Beethovenian thematic evolution, guaranteeing internal genesis (ex visceribus causae) for all that arises. Elsewhere, Vogler defined aesthetics as ‘the science of disposing [or analysing] feelings’ (die Zergliederungs- Wissenschaft der Empfindungen).5 ‘Feelings’ here implies not emotions, but rather fluid states of mind. If this third item on his agenda seems to lack character, it is because aesthetics is a series of controls upon the oper- ations of items 1 and 2: it ensures that everything is done without mannerism or extraneous agency, that discourse and logic are effected in the most convincing manner.® Ultimately, it is the watchdog of teleology. It falls to aesthetics to perform an act of what we might in modern jargon call damage limitation, for the piece undeniably breaks the ‘one single law for modulation’ by moving further than one flat or sharp away from the home key. Vogler, with a technical wizardry which is ac the same time an astonishing insight, accounts for the extended E> major passage bb. 57-64 as a mere dwelling-upon a single chord that is perfectly accepted within D minor: the E} triad in first inversion. At one stroke he identifies without name the Neapolitan sixth chord, tonicization and prolongation! 4 Giovanni Battista Martini, Esemplare o sia saggio fondamentale pratico di contrapunto (Bologna: Volpe, 1774-53 reprint edn Ridgewood: Gregg, 1965], vol. ll, pp. XxXxiiexxxiii. 5 System, 23. Zergliederung can be seen in either its active or its reflective capacities here. See General Introduction, above. 6 ‘If an aesthetician wishes to let his feeling [Empfindung| speak, then it is conviction [Ueberzeugung| that should be the order of the day’ (ibid, 74)