Academic journal article Music Theory Online

Review of David Beach, Advanced Schenkerian Analysis: Perspectives on Phrase Rhythm, Motive, and Form (Routledge, 2012), and Accompanying Teacher's Manual (PDF Format)

Academic journal article Music Theory Online

Review of David Beach, Advanced Schenkerian Analysis: Perspectives on Phrase Rhythm, Motive, and Form (Routledge, 2012), and Accompanying Teacher's Manual (PDF Format)

Article excerpt

Music Analysis, at its best, is an Art, not a Science.

Indeed it must be based on a thorough understanding of

counterpoint, harmony, and form.

And careful attention must always be paid

to context, to musical detail

as well as to the larger picture.

Most of all-to be truly insightful-

it requires musical sensitivity and imagination. (v)

[1] With these words David Beach begins a new textbook devoted to Schenkerian analysis. In his Preface the author stipulates that this is not a text designed for beginners,(1) but rather for those already familiar with the basic tenets of the approach; hence, the book's intended audience is "possibly an advanced undergraduate course or more likely a graduate class" (xv). The book's subtitle indicates how the author hopes to add to the student's body of knowledge by providing comprehensive coverage of three areas often given short shrift in a basic Schenker course: (1) phrase rhythm, William Rothstein's term for the interaction of phrase structure and hypermeter, including the ways in which hypermeter can be disrupted by metric reinterpretation and phrase expansion (Rothstein 1989); (2) motivic parallelism, the subtle restatement of pitch patterns (often over differing time spans and levels) within a composition (see Burkhart 1978); and (3) form, with an emphasis on distinguishing between "formal design" and "underlying design as related to the voice-leading structure" (xvii). In this way a discussion of pitch structure, so often the main focus of a beginning course-and a necessity as students learn basic graphing techniques-can be enriched by addressing additional musical features that are unique to a given work.(2)

[2] The book is organized in two large divisions, reflecting the author's commitment to focus on musical form.(3) After a brief review of Schenkerian principles in chapter 1, the remainder of Part I (chapters 2-5) covers formal units of small to moderate dimensions. Through an analysis of single phrases and parallel periods in chapter 2, Beach introduces the concepts of initial ascent, motivic enlargement, sentence construction, and interruption, while continuing to stress the importance of motivic repetition and harmonic organization in the working out of a voice-leading graph. He turns his attention to phrase rhythm in chapter 3, with a particular emphasis on techniques of phrase expansion (cadential evasion, parenthetical insertion, and written-out deceleration). With chapter 4 Beach returns to a study of formal types, now contrasting phrases in combination (using the models a b, a a' b a", and a b a).(4) The issue of voice-leading structure in relation to formal design takes center stage in chapter 5 when Beach adopts the term "ternary (rounded binary) form" for minuets and trios of the classical period that follow the scheme ||: a :||: b a' :||. Although this form has traditionally been considered "binary" because of the repetition of each part, he explains that Schenker considered it to be ternary, since a voice-leading structure "can cross formal boundaries and does not take repeats into account" (106); hence, any formal paradigm articulating the pattern statement "digression" restatement was labeled by Schenker as ternary. Beach's Figure 5.4 (108) provides a clarification of the different dispositions of the fundamental structure for sectional and continuous ternary (rounded binary) forms. Appended to chapter 5 is a useful summary of structural levels (and the related concepts of initial and arpeggiated ascent, interruption, structural dominants versus dividers, and linear progressions), as well as specific voice-leading techniques (voice exchange, substitution, unfolding, reaching over, linear intervallic patterns, and the consonant passing tone), and a review of motivic design and phrase rhythm, incorporating citations of specific examples from the previous chapters.

[3] Part II, entitled "Applications," shifts the focus to longer and more elaborate graphs. …

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