Thursday, October 29, 2009

Proto-background 2: the unison ^3

Also see the proto-background introduction.

The unison ^3 focuses attention on the alto voice but differs from ^1-^3 (future post) in delegating its repeated linear path to later levels. As the "foreground" figure in a previous posting showed, the potent voice leading clichés invoked by the suspensions in the alto voice and the essentially stationary ^5 in the soprano are subverted at the last moment in the cadence. I have rewritten that figure below in terms of ^3 rather than ^1 (this is a thumbnail; click on it for a larger image):

Details of the first section (bars 1-18). The first line is a "middle-level" version of the second line above, relevant only to the first strain. The second line shows how the intervals unfold. Note especially the 3-6 INV pair nested inside the main pair. The third line gives even more detail, focusing on lines and the cover tone E5.
The reading with a proto-background unison ^3 can be rewritten in more traditional Schenkerian notation (the C# major section is not included here -- it's the empty space in the middle of the graph):

Obviously, one has to allow for the possibility of a background/middleground neighbor note in order to make this work. I write about that issue briefly in the MTS article (291, 297fn30) in connection with Schenkerian readings by Arthur Komar.