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- History & The Arts
- Voice-leading analysis of music 2: the middleground
- 5.1 Interruption as a structural device
Voice-leading analysis of music 2: the middleground
This unit continues our examination of ‘voice-leading’ or ‘Schenkerian’ analysis,...
This unit continues our examination of ‘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 second in the AA314 series of three units on this form of harmonic analysis, and concentrates on the ‘middleground level’ of voice leading. As you work through this unit, you will become familiar with the deeper levels of harmony in Mozart’s piano sonatas.
By the end of this unit you should:
- have a deeper understanding of the complete movements from Mozart's sonatas, studied both here and in AA314_1 and an acquaintance with extracts from others of the 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;
- be able to relate this sort of graph to the score of the music it analyses.
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Melodies within melodies
- 3 Unfolding
- 4 Self-contained musical structures
- 5 Interruption
- Current section: 5.1 Interruption as a structural device
- 5.2 Identifying an interrupted structure
- 5.3 Interrupted structure and typical features of the style
- 5.4 Different analyses of a single theme
- 5.5 Interruption: a summary
- Current section:
- 6 Towards a deeper level of structure
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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 unit 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 unit. 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.
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, 31st October 2011
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