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    I am wondering if someone somewhere has tagged with a characteristic name the harmonic/melodic schema of I/^3-V6/^5-VI/^8, as distinct from Gjerdingen's "Romanesca" in that 1) ^3 is necessarily over I, whereas ^1 is optional over I, 2) ^8 is necessarily above ^5 in register, which are both above ^3 (if I may, the "US/Canada" distinction), and 2) the schema requires three chords instead of four. Examples include Beethoven, op. 13, ii, m. 3, first three chords (major mode) and Beethoven, op. 109, ii, mm. 1-3 (minor mode); I don't doubt that you know of others.




    Scott Murphy

    Associate Professor, Music Theory

    Director, Music Theory and Composition Division

    Editor, SMT-V

    University of Kansas


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    • Interesting question, Scott. Thanks for posing it. I suspect I have some examples filed, and will look for them when I get a chance.

      One slight quibble is that the submediant harmony in such a pattern is a goal only on the most local level, and therefore I wonder whether this pattern really does have a life on its own, the way that (say) Tonic-prolonging linear progressions do. Probably the answer to that will depend on how many closely similar examples you come up with; I hope you get lots!

      A second reaction, to my mind more interesting, is that this pattern looks a lot like an inversion of the very common plagal prolongation of Tonic: the pattern where 3–4–5 in the upper voice is harmonized with 1–6–3 in the bass—the whole as an alternative less-functional way of getting from Tonic over 1 to Tonic over 3. (An alternative, that is, to the only functional way of harmonizing this line, with a passing 1–2–3 bass...)

      Both patterns display the outer-voice counterpoint of 10–6–10. In the plagal succession, both voices move up a 3rd—the upper voice by steps, the lower after 8ve-transfer by 3rd-4th arpeggiation down. In your quasi-Romanesca succession, both voices move down by 3rd—the bass by steps, the upper voice by 3rd-4th arpeggiation up.

      One difference, of course, is that the plagal succession is usually an obvious Tonic-prolonging device. As my first reaction suggests, I'm not clear what the larger role of the qR is, other than one of many ways of passing down from Tonic to submediant...

      Another is that, at least to my knowledge, the plagal succession is much more common in major than in minor, whereas the qR seems to work equally well in both modes. (Please prove me wrong by citing a lot of minor-mode examples of the plagal succ; I simply don't have many...)



    • A couple of examples that a quick search turned up.

      Major mode:

      Handel, Violin Sonata in E, Mvt. II, opening

      Beethoven, Ecossaise in Eb (WoO 86), mm. 1–3

      Schubert, “Dem Unendlichen” (D. 291), mm. 1–2

      Wolf, Italienisches Liederbuch, #35 “Benedeit die sel’ge Mutter”, mm. 3–5

      Minor mode:

      J. S. Bach, Partita #6 in E minor (S. 830), Air, mm. 1–2

      Rakhmaninof, Prelude in G minor (Op. 23/5), mm. 3–4

      Bolcom, “Graceful Ghost” Rag (1971), meas. 14

      Brahms, German Requiem (Op. 45), Mvt. III, mm. 30–31 [an interesting variant, NOT 10–6–10 outer voices, but 8–6–5 undr a descending upper voice—despite the direct 5th]

      Mendelssohn, “Ruy Blas” Overture (Op. 65), mm. 1–3 [another variant, with ^5 retained across both of the first two chords, in 5–6–10 OV counterpoint]

      Still don't know that I've ever heard a name for this configuration, but perhaps it deserves one?


    • Hello Scott and others,

      I can't help you with the name of this progression, but I immediately thought of the quintet, "Wie? Wie? Wie?" from the Magic Flute: 

      You may want to check the rest of the opera. I haven't looked for this specific progression elsewhere, but I have a feeling it occurs in other places. 

    • Thanks, Melissa, for the example, which I like very much. I don't know of it elsewhere in The Magic Flute. There is, however, a cool subdominant version of it that occurs twice back to back in mm. 36-42 of the duet “Crudel! Perché finora…” from The Marriage of Figaro: IV/^6-I6/^1-ii/^4-... (the rising arpeggiation of the treble is filled in with stepwise passing motion).