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Studies on the Origin of Harmonic Tonality

Studies on the Origin of Harmonic Tonality

Carl Dahlhaus
Translated by Robert O. Gjerdingen
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 406
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  • Book Info
    Studies on the Origin of Harmonic Tonality
    Book Description:

    Carl Dahlhaus was without doubt the premier musicologist of the postwar generation, a giant whose recent death was mourned the world over. Translated here for the first time, this fundamental work on the development of tonality shows his complete mastery of the theory of harmony. In it Dahlhaus explains the modern concepts of harmony and tonality, reviewing in the process the important theories of Rameau, Sechter, Ftis, Riemann, and Schenker. He contrasts the familiar premises of chordal composition with the lesser known precepts of intervallic composition, the basis for polyphonic music in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Numerous quotations from theoretical treatises document how early music was driven forward not by progressions of chords but by simple progressions of intervals.

    Exactly when did composers transform intervallic composition into chordal composition? Modality into tonality? Dahlhaus provides extensive analyses of motets by Josquin, frottole by Cara and Tromboncino, and madrigals by Monteverdi to demonstrate how, and to what degree, such questions can be answered. In his bold speculations, in his magisterial summaries, in his command of eight centuries of music and writings on music, and in his deep understanding of European history and culture, Carl Dahlhaus sets a standard that will seldom be equalled.

    Originally published in 1990.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6131-6
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    Robert O. Gjerdingen
    (pp. xi-2)
    Robert O. Gjerdingen
    (pp. 3-6)

    In 1844, F. J. Fétis defined “tonality,” a term borrowed from Castil-Blaze, as the “set of requisite relationships, simultaneous or successive, among the tones of the scale” [collection des rapports nécessaires, successifs ou simultanés, des sons de la gamme].¹ A result of mankind’s historical and ethnic diversity would, of course, be a multiplicity of tonalities (types de tonalités). But the theory that Fétis developed was restricted totonalité modeme.

    In contrast to Fétis, Hugo Riemann was convinced that the manytypes de tonalitéscould be reduced to a singlenatürliches System, that of the tonic, dominant, and subdominant chordal functions....

    (pp. 7-66)

    Hugo Riemann defined “tonality” as “the special meaning that chords receive through their relationship to a fundamental sonority, the tonic triad” [die eigentümliche Bedeutung, welche die Akkorde erhalten durch ihre Bezogenheit auf einen Hauptklang, die Tonika].¹ Since Riemann termed these chordal meanings “functions,” “tonality” is thus the embodiment of chordal functions.

    The term, first coined by Castil-Blaze, was given formal definition by François Joseph Fétis. In conceiving the notion of tonality, Fétis experienced a dramatic enlightenment: “Suddenly the truth came to me; the issues were plainly set out, the darkness vanished, the false doctrines fell in shreds round about me”...

    (pp. 67-152)

    It would be futile to attempt the separate definition of such basic concepts of tonal harmony as “chord” or “basse fondamentale,” or to name specific criteria by which one could determine whether a sonority is or is not a chord. For terms like “chord” and “basse fondamentale” do not designate objective facts that one can point to in a musical score. Rather, these terms denote cofactors in a particular mode of musical perception, factors that receive their full meaning only in relation to other factors.

    1. “Chord” was originally termed the mere sounding together of different tones.¹ But in the...

    (pp. 153-248)

    The word “key” [Tonart] is equivocal. In the early 18th century, it signified both “mode” and “proprietas vocis.”

    According to a theory that goes back to the Middle Ages,¹ the “proprietas vocis,” a tone’s individual character, depends on the lower adjoining interval. A scale degree is “dural” if it has a “hard” whole tone or a “hard” major third below it, but “mollar“if a “soft” semitone or a “soft” minor third. In his 1691 treatiseMusicalische Temperatur,² Andreas Werckmeister still intends the expression “e-moll” [E minor] to mean not the minor key with E as its root, but the...

    (pp. 249-324)

    The attempt to demonstrate in Josquin’s motets the significance, or lack of significance, of the C- and a-modes—the “proto-forms” of major and minor—is tied to two preconditions.

    First, it is necessary to describe the function of ь, which sometimes seems to work against an unambiguous determination of the mode. The practice of notating the voices with divergent key signatures is certainly the exception in Josquin’s motets.¹ Yet it is often uncertain whether the tonal system is meant to be heptatonic or octatonic.

    And second, one should describe the importance that Josquin assigned to an unambiguous presentation of the...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 325-370)
    (pp. 371-380)
  12. Index
    (pp. 381-389)