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Additionally, the Hepokoski/Darcy model conceives of the sonata process as being strongly directed to the achievement of two generically prescribed goals: essential expositional closure (EEC) and essential structural closure (ESC). As shown in Example 1.1A, the most basic local goal is the achievement of EEC. This is the first perfect authentic cadence (PAC) in the new secondary, non-tonic key in the exposition. The most basic global goal, then, is the achievement of ESC, the PAC that reconfirms the tonic in the recapitulation (see Example 1.1B). Importantly, the sonata process may succeed or fail to complete either of these goals. When that occurs, we have encountered an instance of “sonataFor the sake of clarity, however, I will use the Hepokoski/Darcy designations of “P” and “S.” 6 The exception is Ballade 2, in which there is a sharp affective/rhetorical differentiation between the two main themes.
7 Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 24.
8 Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 25.
9 More rarely, we encounter MCs that are PACs in the new key (Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 36-40).
10 As we shall see, this is the case in many of Chopin’s works including Piano Sonata No. 2 and Ballade 3.
structural goal: ERC (essential rotational closure).
Besides these two main goals of EEC and ESC, sonatas (and other large works) may be yoked with other structural obligations as well. These include the need to overcome the minor mode, the yearning for rotational completion, and the striving for a normative MC. Since most of Chopin’s Ballades, concerti, and sonatas are set in minor keys, it is important to note the negative implications of the minor mode itself. According to Hepokoski/Darcy, the minor mode is “generally interpretable within the sonata tradition as a sign of a troubled condition seeking transformation (emancipation) into the parallel major mode.”12 I interpret the minor mode in Chopin’s Ballades as a similarly troubled condition.
We must pay special attention to this implied trajectory from the minor tonic to the major tonic, for it is a major compulsion in these and his other large works. As I will show, this obligation is rarely fulfilled in the Ballades.
In the Ballades, the rotational impulse, that is the impulse to completely recycle through a predetermined configuration of themes, is even more basic than it is in the genre of the sonata. As such, one must be aware of the principle of “teleological genesis.” 13 According to Warren Darcy, “it sometimes happens that a brief motivic gesture or hint planted in an early rotation grows larger in later rotations and is ultimately unfurled as the telos, or final structural goal in the last rotation. Thus the successive rotations become a sort of generative matrix within which the telos is engendered, processed, nurtured, and brought to a full presence.”14 One must detect the generative impulse, or extraordinary condition in each Ballade’s
opening music, for these are ripe with hermeneutic implications. A typical condition is that of an “overdetermined tonic,” or an opening theme that consists of “multiple modules, several of which end with I:
11 For Hepokoski/Darcy’s discussion of the issue of “sonata-failure,” see Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 245-7.
12 Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 306.
13 Rotational form and teleological genesis are terms coined by James Hepokoski to describe the form of certain works by Jean Sibelius. These concepts have been nurtured in a series of writings by him and Warren Darcy (see Darcy 2001, 1997, and 1994 and Hepokoski 2004, 2002, 2001, 1996, and 1993).
14 Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 306.
Before we delve into more controversial examples, it will be necessary to consider how the Hepokoski/Darcy model can inform our understanding of a sample exposition. Indeed, Sonata Theory explicates Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in g minor, Op. 49 No. 1 very well. It is a good candidate for our opening examination for several reasons. First, it is a compact exposition that lasts only 33 bars. Second, it is set in the minor mode, like most of the works that this dissertation shall consider.
Example 1.2 is a formal chart of the exposition of Beethoven’s sonata.
As the example shows, it features all of the normative rhetorical modules and is involved with a central narrative trajectory toward EEC. This is a structure that completes, rather than fails in, its generic obligations: the opening minor mode is overcome, TR produces a normative MC, and a secure EEC is achieved in the secondary key (III) in m. 29. Furthermore, its dimensions are generically typical. That is, pre- and post-MC material are roughly the same length. This is important to note, for in Chopin’s Ballades we see a distortion of this principle: S-spaces are often dwarfed by massive, lyrical P-spaces.
Example 1.3 presents the exposition in its entirety.
I will comment briefly on each constituent part of this exposition, beginning with P-space. In this case, P-space is structured as a sentential antecedent, a common kind of construct.
15 Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 73-4.
The P-space in Beethoven’s exposition is generically typical: it is constructed as a sentence, complete with a presentation (mm. 1-4) and a continuation (mm. 5-8). The following module, TR is set as a dissolving consequent. More specifically, this is a sentence with a dissolving continuation. Again this
Chopin’s output as well.
TRs are concerned with energy gain. Because of the compact dimensions of Beethoven’s exposition and the tonal under-determination of P, the TR process doesn’t have to gain much energy to produce an MC.16 Still however, notice the salient chromatic event in m. 14, a secondary dominant (V65/V). Such events, particularly secondary dominants, are a common occurrence in TR. We shall see that in Chopin’s works, chromatic events in TR are often dramatized in profound ways. Also notice that the TR process is fully functional in this case. It succeeds in gaining sufficient energy and producing a normative, answered MC. The TRs in Chopin’s works are not always this successful, as we shall see.
The S and C are very consistent with the Hepokoski/Darcy model as well. Rhetorically, S is in lyrical contrast with P. Notice, for example, that P is open-ended while S is a closed structure. In this case, S is set up as a multi-modular construct, containing two sub-modules (S1 and S2). S succeeds in procuring EEC in m. 29. The C that follows in mm. 30-33 affirms this procurement.
Beethoven’s exposition was an ideal candidate for demonstrating the Hepokoski/Darcy model. It conforms to the model’s tenets very neatly. Later composers, such as Chopin, continually deform this model in various ways.17 There may be dimensional deformations: the dimensions of the components may be somewhat distorted. We might, for example, confront a P that that is excessively long or tonally over-determined. There may be functional deformations. The components may encounter some difficulty in completing their pre-assigned tasks. That is, S might fail to secure an EEC, or EEC may be overturned by post-C material.
A typical kind of rhetorical deformation is TR dysfunction. As I have pointed out, the drive to create a normative, answered MC is one that is basic to the Chopin Ballades. In these works, as well most 16 According to Hepokoski/Darcy, a tonally underdetermined P-space is one in which “the tonic is clearly understood but not secured with an authentic cadence” (Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 72).
17 It should be noted that Hepokoski/Darcy use the term deformation as a technical term and not an aesthetic one.
For their discussion of their usage of this somewhat controversial term, see Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 614-621.
profound way. In Chopin’s works, in particular, this is due to the phenomenon of TR dysfunction. TR dysfunction occurs when a given TR module fails to achieve its generically prescribed goals which are to gain energy and to drive toward the MC. There are many symptoms of TR dysfunction, including difficulties in activating the TR process, de-energizing TRs, modal ambivalence, failed/blocked MCs, and the repression of the TR impulse. It might, in fact, be the central defining element of Chopin’s expositional structures.18 1.1.3 Embodiment and Brower’s Schemas for Musical Plot I adopt one additional analytical precept; Candace Brower’s cognitive theory of musical meaning.
One of Brower’s central claims is “that many tonal conventions are themselves grounded in bodily experience. That is, the image schemas that lend coherence to our bodily experience are metaphorically reflected in conventional patterns of melody, harmony, phrase structure, and form.”19 To this end, Brower identifies a number of music-metaphorical schemas that “show how the various aspects of tonal organization are shaped by the image schemas that underlie them.”20 Brower claims that that the three most important features of these schemas, containers, pathways, and goals “can play more specific roles in the elaboration of musical plot.”21 Brower’s schemas for musical plot structure appear below in Example 1.4.
One of these schemas, the overcoming-blockage schema (schema g, Example 1.4) shall prove to be quite useful as an aid for understanding the Ballades. I have already discussed the goal-directed nature of the sonata process as described by the Sonata Theory model. There are both local and global goals in this process. For example, the exposition’s trajectory to EEC is an example of a local goal, while the trajectory to ESC is an example of a global goal. Additionally, TR is directed toward the goal of arriving at a MC.
18 The concept of TR dysfunction shall be studied in full detail in Chapter 3.
19 Brower 2000, 324-325.
20 Brower 2000, 325.
21 Brower 2000, 325.
Any of these goals may be blocked or inhibited. Progress toward the MC, for example, can be inhibited in several genre-specific ways as identified by Hepokoski/Darcy. These include instances of MC declined and the blocked MC. In the case of MC declined, the music seems to decide to remain in pre-MC space and to defer the real MC. Sonata Theory chronicles three ways in which a MC may be declined: the music may simply return to the P theme still in the tonic, it may sound a new theme in the tonic, or it may veer into an unexpected, foreign key. We can find examples of all three of these kinds of declinations in Chopin’s expositional structures. An example of the first kind, in which the post-MC music returns to the P theme in the tonic, occurs in Ballade 3 (see mm. 36-8). An example of the second kind of declination, in which a new theme sounds in the tonic key, occurs in the first movement of the Piano Trio (see mm. 39-43). The most notable example of the third kind of MC declination, in which the
arrival on the mediant, a dominant lock in that key. The post-MC music, however, appears in the key of the submediant (E Sonata Theory also describes a phenomenon called the “blocked MC.” It defines the blocked MC as follows: “In these cases the energetic TR proceeds normatively and perhaps even provides a clear structural-dominant lock on the way to what would appear to promise to be a standard MC gesture.
Shortly before the expected articulation of the MC chord, however, the forte music seems to run into a dynamic blockage (like the hitting of a wall) perhaps on a predominant chord or perhaps with the arrival of a cadential 6/4.”22 The clearest example of a blocked MC in Chopin’s music is to be found in Piano Concerto No. 2 (mm. 9-36). This proceeds much like the description put forth by Hepokoski/Darcy. In this case, the music runs into a dynamic blockage in the form of a tonic 6/4 chord in m. 30. After this, a short transitional passage leads to a proper I:HC MC in m. 36.
Clearly, these instances of blocked/declined MCs lend themselves well to conceptualization along the lines of Brower’s schemas for musical plot, particularly the overcoming-blockage schema. As I shall
show, this and other schemas shall prove to relay the driving impetus in many of Chopin’s large works:
including Ballade 2, Ballade 3, and the first movement of Piano Sonata No. 2.23
There is a rich analytical tradition surrounding Chopin’s four Ballades. I have parsed analyses into two separate groups: those that appear before 1994 and those that are more recent. I have chosen this division because of John Rink’s extremely well-written, exhaustive article from 1994. It discusses the history of Ballade analysis up to that point. The first part of this section will report on Rink’s article.
Next, I will discuss those more recent analyses of the Ballades, that is, those that emerged after Rink had 22 Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 47.
23 Another relevant schema for musical plot is the escape-from-container schema (Brower’s schema i, Example 2).
This schema encourages us to hear musical form as a container for key space that may or may not be breached. It shall prove to be effective in conveying the tonal orientation in several of Chopin’s TRs including the TR from the exposition of Piano Sonata No. 3 (mm. 8-40) and the TR from the exposition of the 1st movement of the Cello Sonata (mm. 24-68).
2000, Rosen 1998, Klein 2004 and 2008, and Morgan 2008. Each of these discussions presents a unique perspective from which to view the Ballades. In discussing these analyses, I will demonstrate the most recent trends and show the need for a new study that uses altogether different analytical tools.