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Like nearly all of the other chromatic irritants that I have discussed, this one involves a diminishedseventh chord. This particular one is a non-inverted fully-diminished chord and features the salient chromatic note GThis pitch-class re-directs the music toward the Btonality in which S will eventually emerge. On its way to its eventual BTR1 achieves lock on the wrong dominant beginning in m.74 (a V7/IV). This dominant-lock is also marked by dysfunction. Notice the problematic juxtapositions of the pitch-classes Gand GThis juxtaposition suggests an ambivalence between the major and minor mode which is a strong indicator of TR dysfunction.
dysfunction. This is the key of the subdominant, whereas normative TRs prepare dominant or mediant keys. Even though S appears in a wrong key, it achieves a provisional ERC in m. 99 (IV: PAC). I consider this only a provisional ERC because it is overturned by the re-appearance of the TR impulse (TR2 in mm. 100-121, presented in Example 4.20) in m. 100. In contrast with the earlier TR, this module is more fanciful and is highly sequential. Notice that in Example 4.20 I have marked a sequential passage (mm. 100-112) that features two sets of models and copies. After the statement of this sequential passage, the music locks on the V/and progresses to a decorated PAC in the mediant (the key of the real ERC) in m. 121. This music is actually followed by C- material. Like the C-material that occurred at the end of rotation 1 in Ballade 1, this music is heavily colored by plagal inflections. TR3 (mm. 152-168, excerpted in Example 4.21), which prepares the key of B is less dysfunctional than TR1. Chopin achieves a dominant-lock on F in m. 162. The subsequent appearance of the S-theme in comes as a surprise. This theme follows a IV: HC MC in mm. 167-168. 153 To be sure, this troublesome pitch-class has already been a part of the formal discourse up to this point. Notice that it appears several times in the opening theme and as tonal center of the digression (mm. 38-57) which appears between the two statements of that theme.
56 59 62 64 How might these Ballades respond to an analytical methodology that evokes Brower’s embodied plot schemas? We shall see that these works respond quite well to such inquiry. Several of Brower’s schemas, including the escape-from-container, gaining-entry-to-a-container, overcoming-blockage, and following-an-alternative-pathway, can help us understand many of the more problematic aspects of these three compositions.
The escape-from-container and gaining-entry-to-a-container plots can be helpful in the analysis of all four Ballades. Example 4.22 presents these plots. In Brower’s method, we are to understand musical space as a container for motion. Particularly, we must conceive of musical space as bounded key space.
These key spaces may or may not be breached. As I have shown, in Ballades 1, 3, and 4 each of the opening themes (the P themes) is driven by some impulse to disassociate itself from the tonic. In Ballade 1, it is an impulse toward the relative major, in Ballade 3 an impulse toward the relative minor, and in Ballade 4 it is a dual-pronged impulse toward both the relative major and the subdominant. These impulses generate much of the musical plot in each work. Example 4.23 illustrates something profound about the musical plots of all four Ballades. In Example 4.23 A, we see the impulse that guides Ballades 1, 3, and 4. In these cases, it is helpful to conceive of a tonic not being a single key, but rather a key area that is defined by a tonic and its relative major or minor.
Example 4.23 B, a partial illustration of the plot in Ballade 2, shows an alternate conception of tonic space, one that includes the tonic-dominant axis.
In this case, it is the submediant and not the relative that attempts to transgress the tonic. In all these cases, Chopin subverts the musical plot: in none of these works do these alternate keys achieve more than a transient tonic status.
Example 4.23: Escape-from-Container and Gaining-Entry Schemas in the Four Ballades
this case, a non-tonic key actually invades and gains entry to a container. In this case, it completely usurps the role of tonic from the opening tonality, F major.
An appropriation of Brower’s overcoming-blockage schema can explicate nearly all of Chopin’s TRs in the Ballades. Example 4.24 A diagrams a normative TR. In this case, the TR process initiates, gains sufficient energy, and culminates with a normative MC.154 None of the TRs in Chopin’s Ballades follow such a simple pathway. Example 4.24 B presents a plot in which the TR process encounters a blockage of some kind on the way to the MC, usually in the form of a chromatic irritant or a salient diminished-seventh chord. Alternatively, the impediment can take the form a lock on the wrong dominant. This kind of incorrect dominant-lock occurs in Ballades 2 and 3. In Ballade 2 (TR1 mm. 62-82), the music locks on V/A minor in m. 66. Clearly, this is far indeed from any kind of generically-correct event. As Example 4.24 C shows, when such a chromatic blockage occurs it alters the course of TR. In such a case, the blockage or irritant ensures that goal of the entire passage will be different and may prove it to be unable to achieve a normative caesura. In the case of Ballade 2, the lock on the wrong dominant proves to be such a severe irritant that it causes TR to diffuse its energy too early. It engenders a deenergizing TR.155 Example 4.24C shows that the redirected TR nearly always heads toward a MC that is either a submediant or subdominant related tonality. We could also use Brower’s following-an-alternate pathway schema to explain much of the large scale tonal motion in some of the Ballades as well (Example 4.25). Such is the case with Ballades 3 and 4. When a Ballade is engaged with this particular paradigm, the result is a bifurcated form. Example 4.25A presents the overall tonal plan in Ballade 3 as it relates to the following–an-alternate pathway scheme.
154 That is, a higher-level default MC such as a I: HC, V: HC, III (iii): HC, or a V: PAC.
155 This is similar to what happens in Ballade 3, when TR(mm 9-36) locks on another incorrect dominant, this time the V of F major (C).
We can understand these narratives that guide Ballades 3 and 4 as being summarized as “different approaches to the dominant.”156 In the case of Ballade 3, rotation 1 travels to a I:PAC via an intermediate harmony, VI. In rotation 2, it re-tries for this goal through a different intermediate key, IV (Example
4.25A). In the case of Ballade 4, this situation is reversed: rotation 1 goes through IV, while rotation 2 goes through VI (Example 4.25B).
4.4.1: The Hepokoski/Darcy Model and Rotational Synthesis A notable structural aspect of the Ballades is that each tends to avoid PACs in the tonic until the last possible moment.
156 Much about the overall tonal plan in these works has been discussed by Samson 1992 and Witten 1997.
In a sense, much of the drama stems from the way that the music approaches this final goal. In the minor-key Ballades, the arrival at the home dominant is a tragic thing. In Ballade 2, there are no PACs in the tonic key until very late in the piece. 157 In Ballade 2, the tragedy of the i:PAC is brought about by a process that does not appear in Ballades 1 and 4. I have termed this process “rotational synthesis.” In a rotational synthesis, the two thematic units are brought closer and closer into contact until they finally appear conflated in a culminating coda. Ballade 2 is the prototypical example of this procedure. In none of the other Ballades is the rotational impetus more obvious or more integral to the overall dramatic trajectory. Example 4.26 presents the formal scheme of Ballade 2.158
157 Indeed there are no i:PACs in this work until the coda, in mm. 202-203.
158 Most of the analytical literature on Ballade 2 is rightly concerned with its tonal structure (Krebs 1982, Korsyn 1989, Kinderman 1988). These commentators, although they approach the phenomenon from different viewpoints, are in agreement that the piece is not “monotonal.” 159 I have chosen to label this module from 61-82 as an RT, instead of a TR. Although it is clearly concerned with energy-gain and the drive toward a caesura, it actually ends up preparing the way for the key that we perceive to be the tonic at this point, F major. Because it re-prepares a key from the opening rotation, it can be called RT by my definition.
160 RTC=Retransitional Caesura
the primary thematic units so oppositional in their rhetorical make-up: this is the only Ballade in which the Hepokoski/Darcy theme designations hold true. Even though P and S are reversed, they are generically normative. P, the presto con fuoco (mm 46-60), displays characteristics of a P theme: it is tonally open, imbued with a sense of forward momentum, and followed by TR material. S (mm. 1-45), on the other hand is contrasting, highly stable, and lyrical. Like the normative S-theme, it is also tonally closed.
The key relationship between the two main themes (P and S) is also worth some comment. The Ptheme is set in A minor, while the S- theme is set in the key of F major. Indeed, this relationship is altogether different than the i-III that we would expect in a minor key sonata.161 Interestingly, Chopin maps this tonic-mediant relationship onto a major-key framework (i.e. A minor stands in the mediant relationship to F major). This is another kind of reversal in this piece, much like the thematic reversal that I have mentioned earlier.
At first, Ballade 2 may seem quite unlike the typical sonata. Upon a closer look, however, we can see that Ballade 2, in least in terms of its rhetorical structure, is indeed in clear dialogue with the Hepokoski/Darcy model.162 This is the most obvious in rotation 1, which would be a normative two-part exposition (at least in terms of its rhetorical structure) if the theme groups had not been reversed. In rotation 2, this pattern has been altered and expanded. The rotational process has birthed new submodules. Here we see an inserted developmental episode. Much has been made of this episode.
Interestingly, a portion of this music touches upon the key of Gthe key that is described 161 Also interesting is the fact that the opening key signature for this piece is actually that of F major. This is startling, as we know that the work’s ultimate tonal destiny is A minor. We would, therefore, rightly consider it to be the true tonic of the work. We might think of this piece as beginning in F major, but becoming A minor. This transformation is mirrored in the key signature which changes to that of A minor at the beginning of the coda.
162 Even though Ballade 2 dialogues with the Hepokoski/Darcy model, it distorts it in significant ways. This is particularly true in terms of its key scheme, where the first deformed exposition begins in the key of F and ends in A minor. It is also true in terms of its rhetorical layout: rotation 1 begins with a long lyrical S-theme and concludes with a stormy, propulsive P-theme.
between Ballades 2 and 4.
4.4.2. The Coda in Ballade 2: As a Synthetic Culmination As previously noted, the coda (mm. 168-203) in this work serves as a tragic, synthetic culmination of all that has come before. Various musical details and previously stated themes recur in this coda. Example 4.27 reproduces the approach to the coda (mm. 152-167). Notice the lament bass line pattern (8-7-6-5 in m. 152-156). This is an additional indicator of the tragic mood and the forthcoming tragic coda. In this case, the coda is prepared by a standing-on-the-dominant gesture (mm. 156-165).
This passage is like a dominant-lock, but technically it is not, as the dominant is never explicit, but is only strongly implied.164 The IAC that happens in m. 82 and the two-measure caesura that appears in mm. 166are interesting gestures. They cannot rightly be called MCs because they do not serve the rhetorical purpose of dividing a rotation. Nor should they rightly be called post-medial caesuras because neither actually follows ERC. I have termed gestures of this kind, those that follow RT and do not serve the function of overturning EEC as “RT caesuras.” Notice here that the caesura space in mm. 166-167 is filled in by what Hepokoski/Darcy call a “juggernaut-fill.”165 This is a relatively common kind of caesura-fill, according to their theory. This emphasizes the tragic inevitability of the tonic minor.
Fascinatingly, in RT2 (mm. 157-167) the music brings together the rhythm from S (left hand) with a melodic gesture from P (in the right hand). This is the only passage in the Ballades that so concretely juxtaposes the two major theme groups. I have termed this phenomenon “rotational synthesis.” 163 Klein 2006, 41-43.
164 Notice the absence of the pitch class G#. Chopin has reserved this pitch for the coda, where it is continuously sounded and played upon.
165 Hepokoski/Darcy discuss the phenomenon of “the juggernaut-fill” in their treatment of expanded caesura-fills.
According to them: “In this procedure the motivic drive and rhetorical energy of the preceding TR are so great that they spill over the MC proper, invading the expanded MC-gap with continued forte energy, momentarily refusing to lose energy in the normative, generic way. Often the juggernaut, forte effect will last all the way up to S, where it will either collapse back to piano or be suddenly hushed for the S-theme proper” (Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 44-5).