Audacious Euphony: Chromatic Harmony and the Triad's Second Nature

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Oxford University Press, USA, Jan 23, 2012 - Music - 237 pages
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Music theorists have long believed that 19th-century triadic progressions idiomatically extend the diatonic syntax of 18th-century classical tonality, and have accordingly unified the two repertories under a single mode of representation. Post-structuralist musicologists have challenged this belief, advancing the view that many romantic triadic progressions exceed the reach of classical syntax and are mobilized as the result of a transgressive, anti-syntactic impulse. In Audacious Euphony, author Richard Cohn takes both of these views to task, arguing that romantic harmony operates under syntactic principles distinct from those that underlie classical tonality, but no less susceptible to systematic definition. Charting this alternative triadic syntax, Cohn reconceives what consonant triads are, and how they relate to one another. In doing so, he shows that major and minor triads have two distinct natures: one based on their acoustic properties, and the other on their ability to voice-lead smoothly to each other in the chromatic universe. Whereas their acoustic nature underlies the diatonic tonality of the classical tradition, their voice-leading properties are optimized by the pan-triadic progressions characteristic of the 19th century. Audacious Euphony develops a set of inter-related maps that organize intuitions about triadic proximity as seen through the lens of voice-leading proximity, using various geometries related to the 19th-century Tonnetz. This model leads to cogent analyses both of particular compositions and of historical trends across the long nineteenth century. Essential reading for music theorists, Audacious Euphony is also a valuable resource for music historians, performers and composers.
 

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Contents

1 Mapping the Triadic Universe
1
2 Hexatonic Cycles
17
3 Reciprocity
43
4 Weitzmann Regions
59
5 A Unified Model of Triadic VoiceLeading Space
83
Three Compositional Scripts
111
7 Dissonance
139
8 Syntactic Interaction and the Convertible Tonnetz
169
9 Double Syntax and the Soft Revolution
195
Glossary
211
Bibliography
215
Index
229
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About the author (2012)


Richard Cohn is Battell Professor of Music Theory at Yale University. His work on chromatic harmony has been the topic of a series of summer seminars convened by the late John Clough, and has been developed in about a dozen doctoral dissertations, at Chicago, Indiana, Yale, Harvard, and SUNY-Buffalo. His articles have twice earned the Society for Music Theory's Outstanding Publication Award. Cohn edits the Oxford Studies in Music Theory series. In preparation is a general model of meter with applications for European, African, and African-diasporic music, and a co-edited collection on David Lewin's phenomenological writings.

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