Academic journal article Music Theory Online

Becoming at a Deeper Level: Divisional Overlap in Sonata Forms from the Late Nineteenth Century

Academic journal article Music Theory Online

Becoming at a Deeper Level: Divisional Overlap in Sonata Forms from the Late Nineteenth Century

Article excerpt

[1] In her 1995 article "Form as the Process of Becoming: The Beethoven-Hegelian Tradition and the "Tempest" Sonata," Janet Schmalfeldt cites the work of Adorno and Dahlhaus as standing "apart in their efforts to shed a post-Hegelian dialectical light on the idea of formal function in reference to processuality." Dahlhaus in particular relates processuality to "the interaction of motivic relationships and formal functions" (Schmalfeldt 1995, 55). These two aspects represent what Mark Evan Bonds (1991) calls "generative form," the motivic relationships unique to a piece, and "conformational form," the formal functions established by classical-era sonata-form movements that are present in all sonata forms. They combine to create the movement as a formal process: the synthesis of the generative thesis and conformational antithesis (Schmalfeldt 1995).

[2] In Schmalfeldt 1995, the first application of a Hegelian dialectic to a concrete musical example is Dahlhaus's interpretation of the beginning of the Tempest sonata as an introduction that gradually becomes the primary theme. To elucidate this process, Schmalfeldt demonstrates how the most stable statement of the arpeggiated motive heard at the opening actually occurs at the beginning of the transition segment, measure 21, of the exposition.(1) Shown in the full score included in this volume, the opening of the Tempest sonata contains rhetoric more typical of an introduction: the movement begins not with a statement of tonic, but rather with an arpeggiation of a first-inversion dominant chord in a slow tempo. The ensuing Allegro section begins with tonic harmony and leads to a turn figure around A and a half cadence in measure 6, thus giving "the impression that the fleeting tonic of measures 3-4 has been overpowered by the dominant harmony with which the passage at measures 1-6 begins and ends" (Schmalfeldt 1995, 63). The lack of tonic confirmation in the opening measures contributes to the introductory rhetoric in the passage. Finally, in measure 21, the tonic is confirmed with a perfect authentic cadence. Here, the arpeggiated motive from the opening Largo section is followed immediately by the turn figure around A4, giving "the effect of a thematic starting point," an effect missing from the introductory-like opening passage (Schmalfeldt 1995, 64). The segment beginning in measure 21 traverses a middleground arpeggiation of the tonic, but before its completion, rhetoric more typical of a transition segment-namely, the modulation to the subordinate key-has begun. This rhetoric leads to the interpretation of measures 21-41 as the transition, even though it begins with the most stable thematic statement yet in the movement; this interpretation, then, retrospectively assigns primary theme function to the previous segment in measures 1-21, even though it begins with introductory rhetoric. More accurately, the introduction and primary theme functions overlap as the first segment becomes the primary theme, while primary theme and transition functions overlap within the second segment. This phenomenon of functional overlap occurs when the function of a given segment extends into a neighboring segment.

[3] Such functional overlaps occur both in classical-era sonata-form movements predating Beethoven's Tempest sonata, and in movements throughout the Romantic era. Some of these, particularly those movements from the late nineteenth century, contain overlap not only between adjacent segments within the larger divisions, but also between the larger divisions themselves. Such overlap between the main divisions occurs at a deeper level of structure; often it is made possible by the relationship of the motivic content to the formal function of the segment, as in Beethoven's Tempest sonata. This paper explores the deeper-level functional overlap between the development and recapitulation divisions, with particular focus on two of its manifestations: 1) overlap between the retransition and the recapitulation, and 2) the so-called "expanded Type 1" sonata referred to by Hepokoski and Darcy (2006), in which the recapitulation gives way to, or becomes, the development. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.