Friday, December 11, 2009


Yesterday's post introduced a series that may continue through the end of this month: additions or corrections to previous posts and analyses. In January, new readings will start again in earnest.

Here is another way to conceive the most sharply teleological readings so far: proto-backgrounds from ^1-^8 and ^3-^8. We might regard everything as a "prefix" to the final chord. This takes the teleological bias to its extreme; the effect is to devalue the "declaratory" quality of the piece's beginning (with its organicist or generative implications) and give the strongest possible emphasis to dramatic "delay," or Schenker's retardation.

Overt harmonic designs of this type are not unknown, especially in later nineteenth century music, and Schubert plays with them in some waltzes by extending V across seven bars of a strain, only arriving at I in bar 8. See the two examples below: first strains of D365n1 and D734n10.

In the case of D779n13, such a reading is encouraged by the strong metric accent given to the non-tonic sonority of bar 3. To create a graph, we could simply reconstruct the prolongations of a traditional background third-line as prefix to the final ^1. The result would be to make the entire waltz into an "initial descent" to the ^1 (Forte and Gilbert, Introduction 181-3). Most linear readings could be similarly reconstructed along extreme teleological lines, although some would certainly suffer considerable damage to their original intentions.

Forte, Allen, and Steven Gilbert. Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis. New York: W. W. Norton, 1982