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PART 1 - 1.1 - Genesis of the analytical model :: 1.2 - Description of the analytical model :: 1.3 - A practice of analysis in the tonal harmonic discourse from Bach to Wagner :: 1.4 - By way of a general conclusion


1.3 - A practice of analysis in the tonal harmonic discourse from Bach to Wagner ||
A) FORMULAS - 1. Definition of a formula :: 2. Presentation of the little catalogue of harmonic vocabulary :: 3. User's guide to the little catalogue and various instructions :: 4. Examples illustrating the little catalogue (motifs: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6a, 6b, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, motifs in combination)
B) SEQUENCES - 1. Definition of a harmonic sequence :: 2. Classifying sequences :: 3. Melodic formulations: characteristic motifs :: 4. The tonal nature of the harmonic sequence :: 5.The tripartite structure of the harmonic sequence :: 6. A modulating sequence or not? :: 7. Diversification of harmonic content :: 8. The harmonic sequence as a place of subversion :: 9. Conclusion

B) Sequences

Always this mania to organize. In order to be able to identify. By ear and by sight. So that the ear becomes an eye and the eye becomes an ear.

Nothing is better suited to this end than the harmonic sequence. A purely symmetrical mechanism that is intended to be heard as such, the harmonic sequence is found on every other page of the tonal discourse from Bach to Wagner. We will not only classify this phenomenon, but also scrutinize it as a privileged bearer of tonal patterns and behaviours.

 

1. DEFINITION OF A HARMONIC SEQUENCE

What is a tonal harmonic sequence?

It is an immediate, systematic reproduction (R) at a higher or lower pitch level in the tonal scale of a model (M) corresponding to a group of at least two harmonic terms (functions), usually endowed with its own distinctive characteristic melodic-rhythmic figuration:

Example 373 : J. Brahms : Etude for piano, vol. II, no 5, based on the Chaconne by J.S. Bach, Partita no 2, BWV 1004, for solo violin (mm 49-65)
Type 1 sequence


Example 374 : F. Chopin : Etude, op. 10, no 12 (mm 29-33)
Type 3 sequence


Example 375 : R. Wagner : Tristan und Isolde, Act III, Scene 2 (mm 157-169)
Type 10 sequence


The types of the sequences that appear in the musical examples are indicated every time, when applicable, in order to permit the reader to come back to examine them once the proposed classification procedure has been learned.

Our definition requires further precision. First, we exclude sequences in which the model consists of only a single chord, even if the melodic and rhythmic configurations are symmetrically reproduced. In such a case, we consider that there is no real harmonic model, and therefore classify it as a melodic sequence. From the perspective of the tonal discourse - by definition a hierarchical discourse - a harmonic entity must, if it is to have meaning, designate the tonic to which it is related and, in order to accomplish this, must include at least two functions (implicit or explict) including the dominant. An isolated chord, even if it articulates a clearly differentiated structure - such as that of a major chord for example, - represents an entity without significance in this regard.

This situation occurs most frequently when a harmonic formula - for example, I - VI - IV - II - V - I - is employed in such a way that the treatment of the first chord is repeated for each subsequent chord:

Example 376 : J.S. Bach : The Well-Tempered Clavier, vol. I, Prelude no 6, BWV 851 (mm 4-6)


Example 377 : L.V. Beethoven : Trio, op. 1, no 3, IV (mm 212-216)



We also find this type of sequence with a single chord in the model in the case of a paralellism of sixth chords (or of fifth chords). In this situation, if the context lends itself to such an interpretation,  we suggest, as an analytical procedure, attributing a harmonic function only to the first and last chords of the chain, thus considering the chords between as ornamental (from this perspective, these intermediate chords result from a series of simulataneous passing notes):

Example 378 : W.A. Mozart : Piano sonata, K. 279 (289), III (mm 34-38)


Example 379 : L.V. Beethoven : Symphony no 4, op. 60, I, Allegro vivace (mm 43-53)


Example 380 : J. Brahms : Symphony no 1, op. 68, II, Andante sostenuto (mm 55-57)


On the contrary, we accept to consider as a harmonic sequence a fragment of the discourse where the harmonic model alone is repeated (transposed) while the rhythmic and melodic configurations are modified. This extension allows for explanation of many harmonic gestures which otherwise often resist an analysis from the perspective that considers the circle of fifths as the foundational structure of the tonal discourse:

Example 381 : J.S. Bach : Chorale no 41, Was mein Gott will, das, BWV 65, (mm 1-5)
a) Type 4 sequence and b) type 9 sequence


Example 382 : R. Schumann : Fantasy, op. 17, III (mm 4-5)
Type 4 sequence


Example 383 : G. Verdi : Aida, Act II, Introduction, Allegro giusto (mm 9-11)
Type 4 sequence





Finally, even a single reproduction of the model is enough to form a sequence (revisit example 374).

Exceptionally, in order to validate a type 1 sequence the text must exhibit symmetrical organization on the melodic and rhythmic planes as well. This special clause is due to the fact that portions of the circle of fifths (for example, VI - II - V - I) appear with such frequency independent of any explicit sequential treatement. 

2. CLASSIFYING SEQUENCES