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31-36) The presence of the de-energizing TR is a trademark of Chopin’s sonata practice that spans his entire career. We see it in such early works as the two piano concerti, works from the middle of his life in Piano Sonatas Nos. 2 and 3, and late in his career with the Cello Sonata.99 The de-energizing transition then, is one that loses energy rather than gaining it. They involve some kind of energy diffusion, early release of TR energy on the way toward the MC. It is also interesting to note the placement of these de-energizing TRs in the movements themselves. These tend to occur early in the work, in the exposition. Above all, it suggests some sort of flaw in the TR process. Additionally, it
overcome, that TR is unable to produce that kind of energy necessary to open up the space for S.
2.2.3 Piano Sonata No. 2: The Hermeneutic Implications of the De-Energizing TR Next, I present an analysis of an entire movement. On the surface, the opening movement of Piano Sonata No. 2 fairly closely resembles a normative sonata exposition. There are clearly delineated P and S themes, the work is involved with the rotational paradigm, and it seeks out the common generic goals (EEC and ESC). But if we take a closer look, we see that this work is involved in an additional process that is just as central to its unfolding of events. Namely, this piece is highly concerned with the production of a clearly articulated, normative MC. This impulse over-steps the formal boundaries of the piece. In the following I will explain this special musical narrative and show how it guides the course of the movement. Besides the Hepokoski/Darcy model, I will also invoke Brower’s schemas for musical plot, namely the overcoming-blockage model.
Example 2.17 presents a nuanced chart of the form of this movement.
As shown in this diagram, we can still understand the outward form in this movement as being in dialogue with the double-rotation, type 2 sonata. Importantly, there is a musical impulse, an obsession, an “Ur-Narrative” that guides the music in a significant way. The TR process in the opening rotation, that is the TR that follows P, is subtly flawed. At a certain point, it loses its nerve and dispels its energy too early. While this may not seem particularly significant, it indeed has important and far-reaching ramifications for the remainder of the movement. In order to correct this flaw, the music strives to produce a more successful TR that leads to a fully articulated caesura. We see, therefore, that Chopin includes not a typical C space, but actually more TR. Notice EEC, the moment in which the music attains a PAC in the mediant. Instead of confirming this arrival, the music actually re-initiates the TR process.
Example 2.18 presents the TR from Piano Sonata No.
2. Notice that it begins as a restatement of P, as P is arranged as a grand antecedent, a common thematic type. In m. 35, the music begins to gain energy through an increase in dynamics (the crescendo).
In m. 37, there is a double-forte apex, as the music arrives on the subdominant. The music then reaches a dominant, indicating a possible MC in m. 39 (III:HC). After this point, however, what happens is not a literal caesura, but a de-energizing TR. It continues the ascending bass motion that was initiated in the previous measures. Certainly, this indicates a weakly articulated, flawed MC. It is the job or structural obligation of the music to rectify this flaw and to produce another strongly articulated caesura of some kind.
The TR process in the exposition then, has at least partially failed. This is akin to the music hitting a sort of blockage that needs to be overcome. According to Brower’s Plot Schemas, the music must retry this motion to achieve a satisfactory result. For this movement, it means that the TR process must be retried. It reactivates at the moment of the supposed EEC in m. 81. Example 2.19 presents the music that follows the III: PAC at m. 80. In this case, the EEC is overturned by more TR-like material.
Example 2.18 Suppressed/Failed TR in Piano Sonata No.
2, Rotation 1( mm. 25-45) The new, rhythmically active triplets propel the music forward as if it is still driving toward some new goal. It is substantially chromatic and this chromaticism and modal mixture actually serves to weaken and cancel out the tonic achievement that happened in m. 81. Furthermore, it is highly sequential, like something we might expect from a TR passage.100 The next passage (mm. 93-96) gets stuck on a chromatic irritant in m. 93. Finally, however, it overcomes this by reaching a tonic 6/3 chord, a tonic chord in the secondary key area, D in m. 97.
100 To reiterate, there are several reasons why I hear TR2 as TR instead of S2 or C. This module has the restless quality of TR, it features no PAC’s in Dand leads toward a caesura. All of these characteristics are generically inappropriate for S or C themes.
HC, but it is one that is much more strongly articulated in than the previous one. Notice how the pace of the surface rhythmic activity slows down dramatically. Of course, even though this caesura is strongly 101 The HC occurs in m. 103. The caesura is the pause or break after the arrival or, more technically the time span between the arrival and the onset of the next structural event.
imperative that the performer take the repeat. He or she must start from the very beginning at m. 1 and not from m. 5, as some editions of the piece suggest.102 When the music returns to the Grave module in m. 1 (Example 2.20), the PMC is declined, because it is not followed by rhetorically proper S material. The Grave section is of course, forte, non-lyrical and actually seems to modulate from Dback to the home tonic. In this sense, the music rejects the proposed caesura at the end of the exposition.
Example 2.20 MC Declensions at the end of Rotation 1, Piano Sonata No.
2, mm. 99-105.
Let us now take a look at rotation 2, which includes the development and the tonal resolution.
The development in this movement is marked and defined by energy-gaining and continues the narrative that was set into motion in rotation 1.103 It too, is highly concerned with the production of a normative, 102 See Rosen 1998 and 1990 for the full argument about starting in m. 1.
103 See Rosen’s detailed description of the development section (Rosen 1998, 467-471).
off the rails.
It will be worthwhile to take a look at the dominant preparation at the end of the development (Example 2.21, mm. 161-168). This is a fairly substantial dominant-lock. Again, we encounter an occurrence of energy-loss during the crucial moment of the RT passage. This energy-loss occurs as a decrescendo in mm. 165-168. Of course, such an early dispensation of energy is counter-generic, as we have seen. The sum-result of this gesture is the fact that the RT process, even though it is struggled mightily, has once again proven to be at least partially inadequate.
We might think that this passage in the development is the final chance for redemption. This, however, proves not to be the case. ESC, like EEC is overridden by more TR material. This in fact is merely a transposition of the TR module at the end of the exposition. Like its sibling, this passage is doomed to fail. It comes closer to succeeding this time though. Example 2.22 presents mm. 218-241, the final charge toward a normative caesura, ESC, or full closure. This passage begins by pointing to an arrival in the home key of B. This motion toward the tonic is clearly implied by the ascending bass motion which moves toward and embellishes scale degree 5. At the moment when we might expect a redemption 6/4 (mm. 229), we have a notable event: the bass actually continues its move upward by a semitone, reaching the pitch A, instead of locking on scale degree 5, f. Even though the chance for MC is gone, the music seems to compensate for this troublesome pitch by making one final impassioned push toward a I:PAC that occurs in mm. 236-7.
2.2.4 Piano Sonata No. 2 and the Overcoming-Blockage Schema Now, we are in a better position to understand how this movement depends upon Brower’s overcoming-blockage schema. Example 2.23 presents an adaption of this schema as applied to the first movement of Piano Sonata No. 2. This diagram summarizes the musical narrative as taking place in three
In this chapter, I have considered Chopin’s sonata practice. I have discussed Chopin’s preference for the type 2 sonata, the manner in which he fills his P and S spaces, and most importantly his TR processes. So far, I have discussed some relatively general characteristics of Chopin’s TRs and given several brief examples of their usage. In the following chapter, I supplement this discussion by exploring Chopin’s use of several TR types, or paradigms. By contrast, this discussion will focus on how these individual TR characteristics can coalesce and form more specific TR narratives.
1) Rotation 1 (mm. 5-105): TR1 De-Energizing TR as Blockage (mm. 25-41)
2) Rotation 1 (mm. 81-105) TR2 Produces PMC, but Declined In Both Endings (m. 104)
3) Rotation 2 (Development) (mm. 105-168): Attempts an RTC, but Fails (mm. 161-168) Example 2.23 Overcoming-blockage Scheme in Piano Sonata No. 2, first movement
In Chapter two, as part of a discussion of the piano sonatas, I advanced several defining characteristics of Chopin’s TR spaces. In Chapter three, I continue by demonstrating that these common features often coalesce into coherent TR paradigms, or pre-determined energy-gain narratives. I have identified four TR paradigms in the piano sonatas and the Ballades: the unyielding tonic TR, the defective TR, the multi-key-struggle TR, and the rotational synthesis TR.104 Additionally, I propose that these paradigms can be best understood in the context of a phenomenon that I have termed TR dysfunction. TR dysfunction occurs when a given TR fails to fulfill its generic obligations or does so only provisionally.105 It is the most prominent feature of Chopin’s expositional structures.
In Chapter three, I survey these four TR paradigms. In doing so, I provide the defining properties of each, while citing multiple examples from Chopin’s output. I submit an archetypal specimen of all four paradigms. This chapter concludes with an extensive analysis of the TR from the exposition of the first movement of the Cello Sonata, the final, most explicitly dysfunctional TR that Chopin wrote.
Before delving into the specific paradigms, it is necessary to put forth some general premises about TR in Chopin’s larger works. First, for Chopin, TR-space is often the locus for musical drama. TR drama involves the drive toward and accomplishment of a normative, answered medial caesura. Like any other generic obligation in the sonata process, this drive can either succeed or fail. Sometimes, as we shall see, it can bring about mixed results.
104 These TR paradigms should not be confused with the common transition strategies that are identified by Hepokoski/Darcy in chapter 6 of The Elements of Sonata Theory (Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 95-113).
105 According to Hepokoski/Darcy, normative TR zones are characterized by “where they occur in an exposition, their functional drive to the MC, and by texture (energy gain)” (Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 93).
creating some altogether new musical situation. In many cases, the TR process will be faced with some circumstance that was established in P-space. For example, a given TR might be burdened with the task of responding to an over- or under-determined tonic. It also might be faced with the burden of overcoming an overtly tragic minor mode. It might continue the striving for some goal that was initiated in P-space, such as the endeavoring for a new key. On the other hand, the TR process might have some sort of internal hindrance. It might encounter some obstacle which must eventually be overcome. The TR process itself may prove to be inadequate.
Third, and most importantly, nearly every TR to be found in Chopin’s output, exhibits some form of TR dysfunction. TR dysfunction occurs when a given TR fails to achieve its generic obligations or does so only provisionally. This condition has many characteristics. Most often, TR dysfunction is manifested by energy diffusion. This leads to what Hepokoski/Darcy have termed the de-energizing TR, or a TR which “seems to lose rather than gain energy.”106 I consider the presence of the de-energizing TR to be symptomatic of a non-ideal condition, TR dysfunction. The de-energizing TR often has negative implications for the musical drama.
Another symptom of TR dysfunction is the failure to effect an expositional modulation.107 I view those expositional TRs that do not modulate and do not lead to S in a secondary key to be hermeneutically problematic and therefore representative of TR dysfunction.
TR dysfunction often presupposes several kinds of MC problem such as the failure to produce a normative, answered medial caesura. TR dysfunction can lead to a blocked MC. We see this most obviously in the earlier sonata-form movements, such as the piano trio and the piano concerti, but it also appears in later works such as Ballade 3. It can lead to weakly-articulated medial caesuras, as it does in 106 Hepokoski/Darcy 2006, 116.
107 While it is true that Hepokoski/Darcy do not claim modulation as a requirement of TR, a concern for modulation is indeed a characteristic of TR-space according to their theory.
the expositional rotations of Ballades 2, 3, and 4.
Issues of modal confusion indicate TR dysfunction. For example, the secondary key (the key of