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Voice-leading analysis of music 1: the foreground
This unit introduces ‘voice-leading’ or ‘Schenkerian’ analysis, perhaps the most widely...
This unit introduces ‘voice-leading’ or ‘Schenkerian’ analysis, perhaps the most widely-used and discussed method of analysing tonal music. In this unit, this method is explained through the analysis of piano sonatas by Mozart. The unit is the first in the AA314 series of three units on this form of harmonic analysis, and concentrates on the ‘foreground level’ of voice leading. As you work through this unit, you will become familiar with five complete movements of Mozart’s piano sonatas, as well as shorter extracts from some of his other sonatas.
By the end of this unit you should:
- be familiar with an analytical methodology known as ‘voice-leading analysis’;
- be acquainted with five complete movements from Mozart's piano sonatas, and with brief extracts from other sonatas by Mozart;
- recognise some defining features of Mozart's harmonic style;
- understand the principles of the simplest level of voice-leading analysis;
- be able to express musical observations by means of the notation developed within this system of analysis.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introduction: Mozart's piano sonatas
- 2 What is voice leading?
- 3 The elements of voice-leading analysis
- 3.1 Introduction to the elements of voice-leading analysis
- 3.2 Simple reductive processes
- 3.3 Categories of dissonance in tonal music
- 3.4 The concept of prolongation
- 3.5 Making a foreground reduction
- 3.6 A second reduction: analytical levels
- 3.7 Analytical notation
- 4 A summary
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Voice-leading analysis of music 1: the foreground
This unit is from our archive. It is an adapted extract from the course Studies in Music 1750–2000: Interpretation and Analysis (AA314) that is no longer in presentation, although other courses in this topic are available to
This unit introduces ‘voice-leading’ or ‘Schenkerian’ analysis. You will study this technique by exploring harmonic structure in piano sonatas by Mozart. This unit will concentrate mainly on the examination of short extracts from these sonatas. Certain specialist analytical terms are glossed at the end of this free course, and these words are emboldened where they are first discussed.
The materials upon which this unit is based have been jointly authored by Robert Samuels and Howard Wilde.
This is an extract from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Music courses or view the range of currently available OU Music courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 26th October 2011
Last updated on: Monday, 20th August 2012
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements section.
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