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    Brahms progression

    edited September 2014 in Questions

    Hello,

    I am looking for examples of chord sequences that are akin to what is found in mm. 27-28 of Brahms's Intermezzo Op. 117 No. 1, which I guess you could call a Fr.6/V --- vi half-diminished 7 --- V7/V --- V7 progression.  Inversion doesn't matter for the purposes of the point I need to make with the example.

    Here's the link, in case my description is inaccurate or misleading (I know I got the measure numbers right, at least):

    http://conquest.imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/f/f2/IMSLP01515-Brahms_intermezzi_op117_1.pdf

    Thanks,

    Bryan

    Bryan J. Parkhurst

    Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Music

    Department of Music

    Columbia University

    New York, NY, USA

    bjp2146@columbia.edu

    https://columbia.academia.edu/BryanParkhurst

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    • 12 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
    • Bryan,

      Are you looking for examples if interrupted/unresolved augmented sixth chords? Because I don't hear the second chord in m. 27 as a vi7 chord. I hear it as an extension of the augmented sixth chord, just unresolved because the E-natural goes to E-flat instead of F. Especially since the same augmented sixth chord appears in m. 24 but resolves "properly" in that measure. I also hear these measures in Bb minor, locally.

      So, in the local key of Bb minor (v of Eb minor):

      m. 24 = Fr+6–V

      m. 25 = V7–i (over an F pedal)

      m. 26 = Fr+6 (unresolved until m. 27 because the E natural becomes Eb in anticipation of the V7 in m. 27)

      m. 27 = V7 in Bb minor, then back to Eb minor in the second half of the measure (as the A natural of the V7 fails to resolve but instead becomes Ab!): V4/3

      m. 28 = i (in Eb minor)

      Does this make sense? I'm still brain storming on other examples of unresolved augmented sixth chords, but I know this happens all over this repertoire. Perhaps others can chime in with more examples. Hope this helps, even though I didn't answer your question, really!

      Heather

      Heather Laurel

      Adjunct Faculty of Music Theory

      The City College of New York and New York University

    • Thanks for your response.  I was just sort of giving flat-footedly local, non-prolongational, textbook-ish labels to the chords, both because I was being lazy and because I was trying to be ecumenical.  Basically I just need something a whole lot like mm. 27-28 (numbering the measures so that the B section begins in m. 21), whatever exactly they are.  Now, what counts as being a whole lot like them is of course going to be relative to what you think they are.  But I'm happy to be pointed in the direction of any candidate examples.  It's sort of an impressionistic point I need to make, anyway.

      Incidentally, this has to do with Schenker's discussion of these measures, on p. 167 of the English translation of Kontrapunkt I, in case that is of interest to anyone.

      All best,

      Bryan

       

       

       

      Bryan J. Parkhurst

      Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Music

      Department of Music

      Columbia University

      New York, NY, USA

      bjp2146@columbia.edu

      https://columbia.academia.edu/BryanParkhurst

       

       

    • Bryan,

      I see. I wasn't discussing prolongation or anything, I was just saying that I can't hear that chord as a vi7, since I hear the passage in Bb minor, so I wouldn't label it that way. (Schenker didn't either; he analyzes those measures in B-flat minor.) Roman numerals represent function more than they do literal chord-spellings, since we're analyzing what we hear and not what we see. In any case.....

      I struggled through the German of the passage as I don't have an English translation of Kontrapunkt at home. I didn't have time to read much of what came before and after, but it seems Schenker is discussing cross-relations (specifically the E-flat/E-naturals in the first measure, which he says is a result of an interrpution of the tonicization of Bb minor) and chromatic modulation/tonicization (specifically the A-natural/A-flats in the second measure). At least this is what I read in the passage where he directly discusses this Intermezzo.

      So, are you looking for progressions that do BOTH of those things? Ones that contain both cross-relations and chromatic modulation? I think that would help people find examples. The latter (the raised third of V7 in the old key that does not resolve but instead moves to the chordal seventh of the V7 in the new key) is fairly common, I think.

      Heather

      Heather Laurel

      Adjunct Faculty of Music Theory

      The City College of New York and New York University

    • The idea that Heather Laurel read Schenker in German could only stir my curiosity.

      A first minor point that needs mentioning is that the example is faulty in both Kontrapunkt and Counterpoint: the last note of the inner voice in m. 27 should be E flat, not E natural. This is obvious, but it is surprising that the tranlators rewrote the example reproducing the error.

      What Schenker wrote is this: Der erste Takt dieses Beispieles weist einen Querstand aus dem Grunde eines rückgängig gemachten chromatischen Tonikalisierungsprozesses. Rothgeb and Thym translate: "The first bar of this example exhibits a cross relation by reason of a chromatic tonicization-process which is made to turn back on itself, a correct but complex translation of rückgängig. And Heather speaks of an "interruption in the tonicization".

      Rückgängig certainly is a strange word to use in this context. My wife, whose native language is Viennese German, looses her Latin at reading this. The word means "retrogressive", thus here a "retrogressive (or "retrogressing", "recessing") tonicization". But it easily makes sense as one reads the music.

      The "normal" chord of m. 27 is ii°7 in Bb minor. Its 3d is raised in the first half of the measure, resulting in the French sixth Gb-Bb-C-E, and indeed tonicizing the dominant that will follow; but it is returned to flat in the second half, thus to the normal ii°7 (C-Eb-Gb-Bb) and preparing the dominant seventh of m. 28. This is exactly what Schenker's numerals say (in Bb minor): the chord of m. 27 is labelled IIb5, i.e. ii°, and its third n3–b3 (n for natural).

      Such an analysis is correct for these two measures, of course; but the passage, seen less short-sightedly, obviously is not in Bb minor...

      Nicolas

      [PS. The superscript letters and figures, that show correctly while writing the comment, don't once it is posted: IIb5, for instance, should be read with b5 as superscripts. Perhaps an administrator of SMTdiscuss can do something about this.]

       

       

    • My rather boring question is flowering into an interesting discussion.  

      I'm pleased but not at all surprised that the faulty E-natural did not make it past the watchful gaze of Wayne and Judith Petty at Musicalia Press.  The 2001 Musicalia reprint I own has the E-flat reinstated.

      I thought that "rückgängig machen" was a not-uncommon way of saying "undo" or "revoke."  The Wikiwörterbuch concurs:  http://de.wiktionary.org/wiki/etwas_rückgängig_machen

      That seems like a pretty straightforward way of talking about m. 27:  the second half of the bar undoes or cancels the tonicization initiated in the first half of the bar.

      I'm still in search of progressions that use harmonies whose scale-degree content is more or less that of the four harmonies of mm. 27 - 28.  The question of how to label them or what key to assign them to is one I'm trying to sidestep.

       

      Bryan

       

      Bryan J. Parkhurst

      Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer in Music

      Department of Music

      Columbia University

      New York, NY, USA

      bjp2146@columbia.edu

      https://columbia.academia.edu/BryanParkhurst

    • [PS. The superscript letters and figures, that show correctly while writing the comment, don't once it is posted: IIb5, for instance, should be read with b5 as superscripts. Perhaps an administrator of SMTdiscuss can do something about this.]

      Superscripts are now working correctly (and subscripts). Be sure to contact the SMT Discuss Manager (smtdiscuss@societymusictheory.org) if you notice anything else that is not working. 

      SMT Discuss Manager
      smtdiscuss@societymusictheory.org
      Somewhere in the Universe
    • The meaning of rückgangig seems to me more straithforward than that of a rückgängig gemachte Tonikalisierungsprozess. I must confess that I understood "tonicization", up to now, as somehow synonymous to "modulation" or to what we call in French emprunt, a short borrowing to a closely related key. At first thought, to come back from a modulation would mean to return to the initial key after the modulation occurred, e.g. what happens here in m. 28, when the tonicized F-chord turns out to be V7 of B♭ minor.

      This is not what Schenker had in mind, as he specifically refers to the change from E♮ to E♭. A tonicization, in other words, exists for him even if it did not yet take effect.

      M. 27, however, clearly belongs to an elaboration (a "prolongation") of the dominant seventh on F from m. 26 to 28, by neighbor note movements A♮–B♭–B♭–A♮ and F–G♭–F, a first descending line F–E♭–D♭–C♮, m. 26-27, and a second one F–E♮–E♭–E♭–D♮–(E♭), m. 26-29, the whole above a bass F–G♭–C♮–F that produces the impression of V764–Fr6–ii°–V7.

      I wouldn't see this as an unresolved Fr6, merely as an apparent one resulting from chromatic lines of elaboration. The Fr6 in the beginning of m. 25, on the contrary, is a true one because it resolves on V7.

      Nicolas

       

       

    • I am not in any way fluent in German, I used a dictionary, my knowledge of some of Schenker's terms, and the music to guide me through the passage. Just to be clear!

      But I think Schenker was making a point about chromaticism and tonicization/modulation (which ever you prefer here). Although the second chord in m. 27 is literally II7 in Bb minor (or vi7 in Eb minor), it's hard for me to hear it that way after hearing mm. 25-26. The Fr6 chord there resolves, as you say and as it should, to a V7 (cadential 6/4). But when it comes around for the second (almost parallel) subphrase, it doesn't; the Eb usurps the resolution of the E-natural, foiling a proper resolution. That said, Eb is really the only pitch that changes in that measure. There's a sort of voice exchange between the Gbs and the C-naturals, while the Bb stays in the same voice. This is how Brahms pulls the expected (I expected it, anyway) resolution of the augmented 6th chord out from under us. That said, it sort of does resolve, a measure later, to a proper V7 in Bb minor. It's just that pesky Eb that ruins it all. (Or, can we hear that Eb as an anticipation of the chordal 7th to come? I tried, I'm not sure I can, but it's one possible hearing of what happens.) In any case, I personally would not write a new roman numeral under the Cm7 chord in m. 27. If I had to, I might use II7(!) But I don't hear that chord as functioning as a brand new PD.



      I guess I'm disagreeing that the chord in the first half of m. 27 can't be heard as a Fr6 chord just because it doesn't resolve properly/immediately. (Was Schenker saying that?) The point of that sub phrase is to get back to the home key, and Brahms uses two failed resolutions to do it (the Fr6 fail then the failure to resolve the tritone in the V7/Bbm). It's pretty fabulous.

      I think it makes much more sense in the context of the entire opening of the Adagio section:

      mm 21–22 = T-PD-D-T in i, Eb minor

      mm. 23–24 = desc. 5ths sequence leading to Bb, over the descending bass line Bb-Ab-Ab-Gb)

      mm. 25-26  = toncization of Bb minor (v), PD-D-T. The Gb is retained in the bass from m. 24 and becomes the Fr6 chord. And, actually, this is where the Eb/E-nat thing is introduced: the chord in the second half of m, 24 is Ebm7! The Eb goes to E-natural in m. 25!)

      mm. 27-28 = begins as a parallel phrase to the above, but the Eb returns to foil the Fr6 resolution, and instead we head back to....

      m. 29, an AC in Eb minor.

      I now have to use this piece in my Theory 3 class, thanks for making me think about it, Bryan! As for finding a passage that uses four chords "just like" the ones in the excerpt, good luck, I think you have a challenging task ahead of you! Are you trying to refute something Schenker says about them? Or are you trying to find more examples to support his description of what's happening?

      Heather

      Heather Laurel

      Adjunct Faculty of Music Theory

      The City College of New York and New York University

    • P.S., Apologies for mixing up capital and lower case roman numerals above, I didn't commit to one way or another while typing my comments. You get the point, though! --HL

      Heather Laurel

      Adjunct Faculty of Music Theory

      The City College of New York and New York University

    • Heather, I didn't say that the chord in the first half of m. 27 can't be heard as a Fr6 chord, rather that it doesn't function as one. (I actually said that I wouldn't see it as a Fr6: this would appear to oppose reading to hearing; but that's another discussion.)

      Music often invites us to "retrospective reevaluations" (as they say in modern rhetorics), to revising the meaning that we first attached to what we had heard. Here, the first chord in m. 27 is all the more heard as a Fr6 that it merely repeats the same as heard in m. 25, as you stress. However, as soon as E♮ moves to G♭ (and E♭) instead of F, the reevaluation must begin.

      I had a student who insisted that she heard German 6ths as dominant 7ths, and I couldn't easily fault her on that. The fact is that she refused to hear the voice leading. One might say that a Ger6 is a V7 with ascending resolution, a V7 a Ger6 with descending resolution; but this obviously makes little sense. However, isn't there something similar in hearing the Fr6 of m. 27 as a Fr6 even after it did not resolve as such?

      Schenker does not name the Fr6 (the term does not belong to his vocabulary), but he describes it as "an initially chromatically raised third of II in B♭ minor, juxtaposed with the diatonic E♭ of the same scale degree". You rightly describe m. 24-25 as introducing the "E♭/E♮ thing". But there, the chromatic movement is E♭–E♮–F, while in m. 26-27 it is F–E♮–E♭...

      It is a game between the composer and the listener: Brahms tricks us into hearing things while leading us elsewhere, usually in a coherent manner. The Fr6 is the trick, the voice leading shows the coherence.

      Nicolas

       

       

    • NM wrote: " You rightly describe m. 24-25 as introducing the "E♭/E♮ thing". But there, the chromatic movement is E♭–E♮–F, while in m. 26-27 it is F–E♮–E♭..."  Yes, that was my point! Sorry if I wasn't more clear.

      As for the hearing/seeing thing, I'm always analyzing sounds, not notation. I should have made that clear as well.

      In any case I don't think we're helping Bryan with his quest for examples at all! I hope you find what you're looking for!

      HL

      Heather Laurel

      Adjunct Faculty of Music Theory

      The City College of New York and New York University

    • Schumann's Walzer, Albumblätter op. 124 n. 4 (http://imslp.org/wiki/Special:ImagefromIndex/277064), may be a case of what Bryan is looking for. The piece opens on a German sixth, that does resolve almost normally, but the doubling of the +6 itself and its resolution are somewhat troublesome. The B section ends on V7 in F major and the following Ger6 is first 'heard' as I♭7 in F, before being reevaluated as a Ger6 in A minor.

      Nicolas