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126-137). Notice that even through of all these rhetorical transformations and thematic reconfigurations, however, that the ordering of the themes has been preserved. This is an important aspect of Chopin’s rotational practice. The second part of rotation 2 is set as a Tri-Modular Block (TMB, a structure with two apparent caesuras). Here, we encounter two MCs, both of which are of the low-level default VI:HC variety. Even though these two caesuras appear in the same rotation and involve the same harmonic arrivals (a HC in VI) they are strikingly different.
105 108 Example 4.7: S-Apotheosis in Rotation 2, Ballade 1 Notice that rotation 2’s first MC (Example 4.8 A) is very strongly articulated. It unfolds over several measures and clearly opens up the space for the following material. MC2, however (Example
4.8B), is quite the opposite. It is undermined and deformed in a very profound way. The attenuation of MC2 in rotation 2 has definite implications for the musical drama. It shows that throughout the course of the piece, the TR process becomes less and less able to produce satisfactory results. Rotation 2 still strives for and reaches ERC in m. 179. This event provides a sense of local closure, but in terms of the larger structure, it proves to be merely illusory.
That is, it now functions as an RT and prepares for the arrival of the tonic and actually gains energy. The true tragedy, the true turning of the knife occurs when we realize that the struggle has failed, that the earlier transcendence was indeed only momentary.
Ballade 4 plays out a strikingly similar narrative, however the three phases cannot so be neatly mapped out on the rotations (see Example 4.10). Rather, in this work, each rotation plays out its own mini-drama. Each establishes some non-ideal state, the tonic minor, and momentarily overcomes this situation. Only in the coda does the nature of the tragedy become clear.
Like Ballade 2, Ballade 4 begins in medias res (see Example 4.11). The first hint of the tragedy to come appears in m. 8 when C major is revealed to be merely the dominant. What follows in rotation 1 is another, even more prolonged P-theme that strives to reach another closely related major key. This Ptheme, unlike the one from Ballade 1, actually flirts with two non-tonic keys: the mediant (A) and subdominant (B). It should be known that Ballades 2 and 4 start similarly: they both start as if they are already in the middle or some kind of musical activity that we as listeners have not been invited to hear.
It is a magical way to begin a piece and we can find multiple examples of such a thing in the works of several of Chopin’s contemporary’s such as Robert Schuman, who used this technique extensively.
145 The substitution of an IAC for an ESC is worth some mention. Hepokoski/Darcy discuss the issue of an IAC EEC as a rarity (Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 167-169). They do not actually discuss any cases of an IAC for an ESC, however. I do not interpret this as an attenuation of IAC. Due to its rhetorical vigor, I interpret this as a very strong achievement of this particular structural goal.
Example 4.11: Intro to Ballade 4 The subdominant is prepared and affirmed first: a dissolving transition prepares the key of BIt is confirmed by a PAC in m.
99. This arrival is overturned by more TR that leads to a second ERC in m.
121. This ERC confirms the key of AThis key is undermined by common-tone modulation in m. 128 where A is reinterpreted as G#. At this point rotation 2 has arrived. This is the beginning of the second mini- narrative (see Example 4.13). Up to this point, the tonic minor has been established as tragic place and there has been a sure attempt to overcome this condition. Rotation 2 starts as a re-composition of the
This time the opening module leads to a fully-articulated RTC. The RTC serves to separate the P2.1–material from the P.01-material. For this reason, we might still consider this material as having a preparatory function.
The following passage (mm. 129-134) affirms A major with three arrivals in that key. This passage leads to a new caesura in m. 134, with an expanded caesura-fill effect. This caesura is a HCeffect (see Example 4.14). In the measures that follow, an amazing thing happens: the P-theme begins to re-assemble itself (Example 4.15). Even in its re-assembled version, it still harbors the impulse to affirm some key other than the tonic minor. It makes three separate attempts to do so: in the tonic key of f minor, in the mediant key of and in the subdominant key of B minor 146 Suurpää’s chart of the structure of Ballade 4 is shown on page 31 of this dissertation. It neatly shows how these local keys serve the purpose of completing a bassline arpeggiation in the key of F minor.
147 This material is consistent with the characteristics of “C-material”: it is unlike S and conformational of the final key of the rotation.
These are all the keys that were suggested by the P- theme in rotation 1. Because each of these first two cadences is followed by more highly chromatic, unstable material we must understand them as being extremely ambiguous and unstable.
secure an ERC in either the mediant or subdominant. It does neither. The MC in this rotation actually prepares the subdominant (see mm. 166-168), a key that fails to materialize. The key that actually does appear is major, one that has not been prepared or suggested at all up to this point. The second statement of S (mm. 169-191) now appears with a new technical and ornamental brilliance. 2, both themes (that is P and S) appear in apotheosized states. Here (and in Ballade 1) the emotional climax occurs too soon. This music culminates with an apparent ERC in m. 191 (VI: IAC). Of course, this is unacceptable because the tonal and rhetorical processes have failed: neither of the proposed keys (either the subdominant or the mediant) has been attained.
Even this IAC turns out be fleeting as it is overturned dramatically in m. 195, where Dslips down to C, resolving an Aug. 6th chord. All of this leads to an RTC (i:HC) in m. 211. What follows here is another cataclysmic coda that is mostly based on new material.
The TRs in Chopin’s Ballades, as in his sonatas, are consistently marked by various symptoms of dysfunction such as the presence of chromatic irritants, dominant-lock issues, questions of modal identity, the presence of interruptive modules, energy diffusions, and MC difficulties. Such is certainly the case in Ballades 1 and 4. In each case, these dysfunctional TRs have significant hermeneutic implications. Most often, these have consequences for each work’s S-themes and for the achievement of ERC and ESC. In my treatment of the dysfunctional TRs in Ballades 1 and 4, I will consider each TR in turn and comment about each one’s consequences for the dramatic trajectory. It shall be useful to study each of these works in turn. This will make it easier to compare and contrast the ways in which the TR process struggles of fails in each case. Interestingly, the TR process takes a different trajectory in each case, as I shall point out in this study. In Ballade 1, the Tr process starts out relatively well and goes of the rails later on. In Ballade 4, the TR process begins with a problem, but grows stronger.
Ballade 1 features three TR modules (TR1, TR2, and TR3). TR1 (mm. 36-67, excerpted in Example 4.16) is involved with a common TR paradigm: the Unyielding Tonic TR.148 Unyielding Tonic TRs are characterized by overwhelming tonic force fields and preclude a massive struggle (and very often, a failure) to modulate. TR1 differs from the other TRs in Ballade 1 in significant ways.149 First, and most importantly, this is the longest, most belabored TR in the work. This is due the strength of the tonic and a tragic inability to overcome this negative state. As Example 4.16 shows, this module features numerous arrivals in the tonic. Furthermore, it diffuses its energy too early, as it does so before the process achieves a successful dominant lock (notice the decline in energy as marked by the calando beginning in m. 63). Finally, it involves a declined MC, after which S emerges in a non-prepared key, E.
In this case, the key is a fifth lower than the key that has been prepared. shall see that this particular type of MC declination, where S occurs in a non-prepared or non-dominant or mediant key,occurs in the other Ballades as well.
Even though this TR is characterized by various symptoms of dysfunction, rotation 1 succeeds in securing ERC in E. ERC occurs in m. 82 (a PAC in E). This arrival is confirmed in the next several measures by the consistent standing on Egesture, one that involves modally mixed plagal activity. An rt passage in mm. 90-93 negates the ERC and steers the music in a different direction: toward a minor. This initiates the impulse that fuels rotation 2: the desire to return to and uphold the key of EThis struggle to re-confirm Eis manifested in in various ways in rotation 2 (mm. 94-189).
148 I have already discussed this particular TR module in chapter 3, but it will be worthwhile to revisit some of the more salient points, particularly as they relate to the narrative course of the entire work.
149 Although I have labeled TR1 as happening in mm. 36-67, another valid view might have the actual process of moving away from the tonic as beginning much later. In that case, TR itself would begin in m. 56. Such an alternate view is intriguing because it highlights the existence of a TR motive, the horn fifths which happen in mm. 56-7 and in mm. 67-68. Since this motive occurs only at this point in the passage, and nowhere else in the Ballade, we might consider it as a signifier for TR.
E. Rotation 2 begins with a restatement of P that emphasizes a dominant lock in the key of A minor (mm.
94-107). This first lock is successful as the music launches into a restatement of S in m. 106 in A major.150 Unlike it did in rotation 1, S is not to achieve tonal closure as it quickly dissolves into TR (beginning in mm. 114, Example 4.17). This TR (mm. 114-133) first proposes another lock on the dominant of A minor. This time, however, the dominant lock is unable to stick as the music is influenced by a notable chromatic irritant in m. 124. As a result, the music locks onto the dominant of E and remains there for several measures (mm. 126-137) until an answered MC (a VI: HC) materializes in m
137. The outcome of the piece, however, is to be a tragic one. Here is where phase 3 of the narrative is played out. Rotation 3 (Example 4.9) begins similarly to rotation 2.151 Here, we again encounter the Ptheme stripped of its lyrical qualities. There is one central difference between the passages, however.
Now, we find that the theme prepares for an arrival in the key of the tonic, and not some other key.
150 Since the dominant lock in this passage actually prepares the minor version of A, we might view it too as being marked by dysfunction.
151 We can consider rotation 3 a divided structure in the sense that it is bifurcated by the rhetorically salient i:IAC that occurs in m. 208.
112 114 117 120
Example 4.17: Theme S2’s dissolution into TR2 (Rotation 2) Ballade 1 (continued on next page) 129 S does not achieve ERC as it also dissolves into TR in m.
150 (Example 4.18). In fact, we might say that this waltz-theme is doomed to failure: it is infused with an energy-gaining impulse that the music is unable to repress. Despite an unprecedented motion toward F# minor in m. 154, this TR module is functional: it culminates with a lock on the dominant of Eand a highly-deformed MC2 in m. 166. After
this, theme C emerges in a new sweeping guise in the appropriate key. It does attain ERC in m. 180 (VI:
PAC). The issue of TR dysfunction is a relevant one in Ballade 1. The inherent dysfunction in TR1 both responds to a condition that is present in the P- theme and presupposes a new problem for rotation 2. TR dysfunction assures that Ballade 1 does not achieve its obligations, either generic or piece-specific.
Ballade 4 presents a very similar case in which a dysfunctional TR responds to a condition established in P- space. The TR module in rotation 1 (mm. 58-80) exhibits several symptoms of dysfunction, including modal issues, a movement toward the wrong key, and the presence of a chromatic irritant. As such, it is involved with the TR paradigm that I have termed the Defective TR.
Example 4.19 presents TR1 (mm.
58-80) in Ballade 4. This TR, like the ones from rotation 2 in Ballade 1, is set as a dissolving consequent.152 As is common, this one involves a restated theme that has been imparted with new, energy-gaining characteristics.
Unlike the dissolving consequent TR that appears in the first movement of Piano Sonata No. 2, this module does not suggest a suppression of the TR impulse. Due to the overwhelming rise in dynamics and textural fullness, it actually suggests that the energy-gaining process has been foregrounded.
152 To clarify, dissolving consequents begin like their antecedents, but dissolve into TR activity.