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Voice-leading analysis of music 2: the middleground

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This free course, Voice-leading analysis of music 2: the middleground, continues our examination of 'voice-leading' or 'Schenkerian' analysis, perhaps the most widely used and discussed method of analysing tonal music. In this course, this method is explained through the analysis of piano sonatas by Mozart. The course is the second in the AA314 series of three courses on this form of harmonic analysis, and concentrates on the 'middleground level' of voice leading. As you work through this course, you will become familiar with the deeper levels of harmony in Mozart's piano sonatas.

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand more deeply the complete movements from Mozart's sonatas, studied both here and in the course 'Voice-leading analysis of music 1: the foreground'
  • recognise extracts from other Mozart piano sonatas
  • recognise typical techniques used by Mozart to organise the harmony of complete short sections within musical works
  • understand the use of symbols in voice-leading graphs of the middleground of harmonic structure
  • relate this sort of graph to the score of the music it analyses.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 20 hours
  • Updated Friday 5th February 2016
  • Advanced level
  • Posted under Music
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5 Interruption

5.1 Interruption as a structural device

Now that we have seen how a middleground linear descent can organise the structure of a whole phrase, the next main topic of this course is to consider cases where this descent stops short of reaching the tonic note. This is called an interrupted structure. While the following examples are quite short and relatively simple, the principle of interruption has a far-reaching influence which can affect the overall form of entire movements, particularly those in sonata form.

We are going to look at three case studies of ‘interrupted form’, one from a sonata you have already done a lot of work with, and two from sonatas new to this course. You may find it helpful to make your own attempt at an analytical graph of each extract before looking at mine; but in each case the most important aim is to hear the main shapes and patterns shown in my graphs.

I recommend that you listen to each of the recordings several times as you work through the three case studies. To begin with, I will give quite a lot of detailed discussion of the graphs in order to explain my analytical decisions, but as we proceed I hope that you will find them increasingly self-explanatory.

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