Hearing Schubert D779n13

Friday, March 14, 2014

Peter Franck on Canons (Imitation)

Peter Franck, "Canon and Its Effect on Tight-Knit Organization within Classical Themes." Intégral (Eastman School of Music) vol. 26 (2012), 1-45.

A well-written, clearly organized presentation on how canonic passages can be interpreted within theme-sized units. Beethoven and Haydn do figure, but the great majority of the repertoire discussed is by Mozart. Although "canon" is in the title, the author is actually talking about "canon and imitation," as he acknowledges almost immediately (2).

The distinction between tight-knit and loose organization that is central to William Caplin's form theory is in the foreground of the argument, but as canonic passages seem to find a place in all segments of different types of themes (occasionally including entire themes), the article's strength lies not in revealing some particular "effect" of canon but rather in offering a useful style survey. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Additions to the literature on Caplin's form theory

This post expands on the previous one about William Caplin's form theory and the scholarly literature on it. 

For the present, this is simply a list of recently published articles. I hope to comment on individual items in future posts. I have not included work jointly published by or in response to Hepokoski and Darcy, Schmalfelt, and Caplin.

A special issue titled "Contemplating Caplin": Intersections: Canadian journal of music/Revue canadienne de musique XXXI/n1 (2010).

Peter Franck, "Canon and Its Effect on Tight-Knit Organization within Classical Themes." Intégral (Eastman School of Music) vol. 26 (2012).

Nathan Martin, "Formenlehre goes to the opera: Examples from Armida and elsewhere." Studia musicologica: An international journal of musicology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 51/ns3-4 (2010): 387-404. 

Michael Oravitz, "The use of Caplin/Schoenberg thematic prototypes in melodic dictations." Journal of music theory pedagogy 26 (2012): 101-139.

Mark Richards, "Teaching sonata expositions through their order of cadences." Journal of music theory pedagogy 26 (2012): 215-252.

Mark Richards, "Viennese classicism and the sentential idea: Broadening the sentence paradigm." Theory and practice 36 (2011): 179-224.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

William Caplin's form theory and 18th century dance

The scholarly literature making use of William Caplin's form theory is growing, if slowly. Some recent examples include Nathan Martin's "Schumann's Fragment," in Indiana Theory Review 28 (2010); Steven Vande Moortele's "Sentences, Sentence Chains, and Sentence Replication: Intra- and Interthematic Formal Functions in Liszt's Weimar Symphonic Poems," in Intégral 25 (2011); and Matthew Riley's "Haydn's Missing Middles," in Music Analysis 30 (2011).

Almost all of the work, so far as I can tell, has focused on extending the reach of the method deeper into the nineteenth century--even into the early twentieth. This tendency includes a rumored forthcoming book by Caplin himself. My interest, on the other hand, was originally in expanding the available style knowledge for the Vienna School composers by looking at their social dance repertoires. Obviously, their published work on its own is inadequate to describe the actual practice of music played for social dancing, but it is what we have. Therefore, in addition to a [website] with a summary of Caplin's terminology for themes and small forms, I worked out pages with analyses of menuets, German dances, and Laendler by Beethoven: WoO7, WoO8, WoO11, WoO14, and WoO15; and contredanses by Mozart and Beethoven (all of these are accessible from the website). This work was extended to a few contemporaries, notably Czerny, Hummel, Marschner, and Weber: [tables].

The principal results to date are that the historical narrative charting a turn from the period theme to the sentence over the course of the Vienna School heyday, or roughly 1770-1830, is incorrect. The period does become much more prevalent at one historical moment -- about 1770, when the French style of contredanse became popular in Vienna. (This was due to the fact that French contredanse music was heavily oriented to the gavotte, whose dance figures effectively required an antecedent-consequent design in the music.) But even after 1770, the period co-existed with other theme types, including the sentence and the hybrid antecedent-continuation. The latter, in fact, was far more congenial to the menuet than was the period, for the reason that the dance emphasized variety of detail, and a theme with antecedent-continuation offers more variety than any other theme type. Indeed, if the composer chooses, every 2-bar unit of this theme can be different: basic idea followed by a contrasting idea, followed by another idea (or fragmentation of a new model), followed by the generic cadence. (Its antipode is the hybrid presentation-consequent, a type so rare in the Vienna School repertoire that Caplin deletes it. It does, however, have a role to play in the Laendler repertoire, which tends to emphasize sameness within strains but contrast between strains.)

As the preceding suggests, once the influence of the French contredanse was established, I wanted to look into earlier dance repertoires. To date, this work has extended as far back as the English country dances in the Playford collections, which confirm the variety of theme types (sentences are surprisingly common, for example) but also highlight the extent to which French court dance practices tended to reduce the number of available theme types.

In the course of all this work, I have also realized that Caplin's catalogue of theme types does not work as well as one would like for some of the subtler idea and phrase length figures common in the social dance repertoire, and my goal over the next few months is to revise (or expand) his taxonomy to account for these, the goal continuing to be to acquire useful style information.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Franz Hünten (aka François Hünten) published a Premier Quadrille de contredanses variées, suivi d'un galop as his Opus 63. The date is about 1834; a facsimile is available on IMSLP, as a digital copy of the facsimile published in an anthology by Garland about twenty years ago.

The work contains the usual five numbers of the quadrille as they were standardized in the early 19th century, plus a specific genre dance appended, as was the custom in published quadrilles at least through mid-century. In this case it's a galop; it might also have been a waltz or, after 1840, a polka.

The interesting feature of Hünten's quadrille is that the alternate strains in all five numbers are varied when repeated but the refrain (first strain) is not. The design of each number is ABACABACA. This provides 72 bars of music for the dance, or 8 for the promenade and 64 for the figures. See the graphic below for incipits of the refrain, B, C, and the variants of B & C.

I suspect that the composer is duplicating a common practice of performers (most often pianists) in house balls and similar dancing occasions (as with the post-Schubertiade dancing of Schubert's friends, for example). The unembellished refrain provides a stable guidepost for the design -- and therefore for the dancing -- while the variations on the alternate strains not only provide additional contrast with the refrain but also reflect what a creative (or bored) pianist very probably did in the course of dancing that could go on for a half hour to an hour at a time.

Themes in Mozart K. 604 and 605

Even in his last menuets, Mozart bows to the formal tradition of the antecedent-continuation design. Perhaps the fact that these were written specifically for formal balls had something to do with it (in the last years of his life, Mozart held an official post writing dance music for the Imperial court).
Here are the melody and bass for the first part in K. 604, nos. 1 & 2: (click on the graphic to see a larger image)

In contrast, the German dances of K. 605 use simple period forms in nos. 1 & 2, and a sentence (or perhaps antecedent-continuation, depending on how you read bars 3-4) in no. 3:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

more to Czerny, op. 300

Among the 121 preludes in Carl Czerny's op. 300 are several that play very directly to rising gestures and follow through into the design of the whole. No. 30 uses the same broad schema as no. 15 (discussed in the preceding post)--a line from ^3 to ^8--but clothes it in rapid scale and octave figures. The first half takes F# up to D but does not close the cadence; instead it starts over with broken octaves and then concludes with a stereotyped short cadenza that carries ^5, ^6, and ^7 up to close on ^8. This "freeing of the ^6" is one of the most characteristic and distinctive figures in 19th century music, especially in the first half of the century.