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S) may be prepared in a way that is modally incorrect. For example, the key of S may be prepared via its parallel minor. This occurs in Ballade 3 and in Piano Sonata No. 3. Furthermore, TR dysfunction may include the premature achievement of a secondary key as it does in the Piano Trio (mm. 33-34) and the Cello Sonata (m. 29). Finally, it may include the premature achievement of the modally wrong key (e.g.
the parallel minor of the relative) as it does in Piano Sonata No. 3.
Finally, TR dysfunction can often foretell S- and C-problems. It may lead to an “S” that appears in a non-prepared, or tonally ambiguous key, as it does in rotation 1 of Ballade 1. It may lead to a tonally under-determined S theme as it does in the Cello Sonata. Particularly interesting is the way that TR dysfunction may lead to the emergence of the TR impulse at inappropriate formal junctures.108 This occurs in Piano Sonata No. 2 and in Ballade 3. Often, this kind of identify crisis can undermine EEC as it does in both of these cases.
I have identified four TR paradigms in Chopin’s works. These are the unyielding tonic TR, the defective TR, the multi-key-struggle TR, and the rotational synthesis TR. All of these frequently appear in Chopin’s sonatas and Ballades. Example 3.1 tabulates these TR paradigms along with the defining features of each.
3.3.1 The Unyielding Tonic: Piano Trio, Exposition of Movement 1 and Ballade 1 As we can see from the Example 3.1, the most frequently-encountered TR paradigm is the unyielding tonic TR.
108 “TR suppression,” an indicator of TR dysfunction, occurs when the energy-gaining impulse fails to adequately emerge during a given passage of TR.
Unyielding tonic TRs are those in which the tonic has such an overwhelming presence that it negates or hinders the energy-gaining process. Notice that it appears in the earliest sonata exposition to be considered here (the Piano Trio) as well as the last sonata-form work he wrote (the Cello Sonata). Chopin dealt with this kind of TR in an increasingly sophisticated way throughout his career.
Example 3.2 presents TR (mm.
29-42) from the exposition of the first movement of the Piano Trio. This is the earliest and most uncomplicated example of an unyielding tonic TR in Chopin’s output.
Notice that the tonic has a tremendous tonal pull, especially for an expositional TR. Indeed, except for a
dominant lock (in the tonic key) and a 2nd-level default MC (I:HC). S, in response to TRs inability to affect a modulation, materializes in the tonic in m. 43.
28 Example 3.2: Unyielding Tonic TR in Exposition of Piano Trio, Op. 8, first movement (mm.
28-46) (continued on next page) Clearly the main dysfunctional element in this TR is its refusal or inability to modulate. It displays at least two other symptoms of TR dysfunction as well. These are its premature, failed attempt to tonicize the mediant in mm. 33-35 and S’s emergence in a wrong key (the tonic). We shall see that such premature, failed moves toward secondary key areas and non-normative S’s are both found in many of Chopin’s works.
The Unyielding Tonic TR from Rotation 1 in Ballade 1 (mm. 36-67) exhibits several additional symptoms of TR dysfunction. Examples 3.3 A-C presents the multi-modular TR from the expositional rotation (rotation 1). From the phase 1 of the TR (Example 3.3 A) this TR exhibits an activation issue.
109 The premature arrival in the mediant is another symptom of TR dysfunction.
43 Example 3.2 Unyielding Tonic TR in Exposition of Piano Trio, Op. 8 first movement (mm. 28-46) (continued) That is, this is a TR that struggles mightily to get going with the energy-gaining process. Notice that this problem is manifested as multiple arrivals in the tonic (mm. 40 and 44), something that is counter-generic for an expositional TR.
In the next phase of TR (Example 3.3B) the energy-gaining process finally gets underway. This phrase is characterized by a dramatic increase in speed (notice the sempre piu mosso beginning in m. 45).
Even though the process of energy-gain has been fully activated, there are two major symptoms of TR dysfunction in this passage. First, it features a chromatic irritant, C# that appears in m. 52 and 53. In this case, the disturbing chromatic element is overcome as this wrong note is corrected to a C in mm. 54-5.
This does not happen, however, until much valuable TR energy has been drained.
The second notable symptom of TR dysfunction here is the still overwhelming presence of the tonic. Still, even amidst all of this energy-gain there is no sign of a modulation at all. This refusal/reluctance to leave the tonic is especially tragic in this case for it is the first signal that something is askew in the piece. We shall see that the need to overcome the minor tonic is a major generic assignment in all three minor- key Ballades (Nos. 1, 2, and 4).
In the third and final phase of TR (Example 3.3 C) we encounter a de-energizing TR, a strong signifier of TR dysfunction. At this point, it seems as if all has failed, and that the TR process here has proven unable to modulate. Importantly, this is not the case, for it is in this de-energizing TR that the
unstable element, F#. We first see a notable bass F# in m. 59, where it acts as a typical leading tone to the tonic scale degree. In m. 62, however, when the note appears again it appears re-notated as a G, and resolves down by half-step. It now leads to the V:III, exactly where we would expect a minor key expositional TR. This dominant fully materializes as we reach a first-level default MC that spans mm. 63
In the recapitulation of the first movement of the Piano Trio (mm. 167-181), we encounter a different TR paradigm: the defective TR. Defective TRs are those in which some force, be it internal or external, causes the TR process to malfunction. Let us return to the opening movement of the Piano Trio.
While the TR process was relatively uncomplicated in the exposition, it encounters several problems in the recapitulation (Example 3.4). The most obvious defect is this TR’s failure to produce a medial caesura of any kind. This is the first instance of a blocked/rejected MC in Chopin. The TR process in the recapitulation begins as it did in the exposition, with a sub-module that confirms the tonic via multiple PACs.110 It is in the second sub-phrase (mm. 167-176) that the process begins to collapse. As in the exposition, TR is unable to uphold a premature mediant tonicization. In m. 171, it appears as though we have reached a dominant lock in d minor, as if in preparation for a first-level default MC. This particular 110 For this reason, I have omitted the opening sub-module (TR1) from this example.
Figure 3.4: Defective TR in the Recap.
Of Piano Trio Op. 8, first movement (mm. 167-181) (continued on next page) 111 Indeed, many of the characteristics of this TR would seem more normal in an expositional rotation.
Example 3.4: Defective TR in the Recap of Piano Trio Op.
8, first movement (mm. 167-181) (continued) This first-level default MC is not to materialize, as it is blocked by a jarring chromatic event in m.
173. This necessitates more forward motion, as the new TR2 actually ends with a weak PAC in V (m.
177). The music thereafter, is a new sub-module TR3. This new music (mm. 177-181) seems to want to act as a de-energizing TR, even though it displays no real signs of a decrease in energy. This highly imitative passage leads to a final, key affirming IAC in the dominant in m. 181. Here, we encounter a variant of the S1 module from the exposition, this time (very unusually) in the dominant.
In this TR, the obvious defect, or disruptive force is the blocked MC in m. 173. Blocked medial caesuras are the most common flaw to be encountered in a defective TR. In other cases, the external disruption may be something as simple as chromatic irritant, a non-diatonic note that acts as a snare or hindrance. This is the case with TR2 in Piano Sonata No. 2.
So far, we have seen defective TRs that have encountered an external impediment. In other cases, there may be some internal characteristic of TR that may cause it to fail. Such is the case in Piano Sonata No. 2, where we see an example of a defective TR in which the TR impulse is suppressed
tonic. This is frequently the case with Ps that are set as grand antecedents in Chopin’s music.112 In this TR, the energy-gaining impulse has been suppressed.113 If we look at the TR here we see minimal energy-gaining characteristics: there is no real sequencing, no real increase in dynamics or speed, no thematic liquidation, and no modulation. In fact, the only real TR characteristic here is a slight increase in textural thickness (compare m. 9 with m. 25).114 TR dysfunction in this exposition is manifested as two significant problems. The first of these is energy diffusion, or a de-energizing TR. Notice that the music hits a double forte climax in m. 37 and loses energy from there. This leads to the second signifier of dysfunction here, the lack of a clearly articulated MC. We have already seen this in the previous example, the recapitulation from the first movement of the Piano Trio. This problem crops up again in several other works as well, including Ballade 2 and Ballade 3.
Dissolving Consequent (mm. 25-40) 25
31 Example 3.5: Suppressed TR in Piano Sonata No. 2, Exposition (mm. 25-56) (continued on next page) 112 For another interesting example of this, refer to the 1 st movement of Piano Sonata No. 3.
113 For another, even more dramatic example of a suppressed TR, consider the opening rotation of the / Scherzo.
114 It might be said that TR has not been completely suppressed in this case: the crescendo in mm. 35-37 does indeed signal a small increase in energy.
47 Example 3.5 Suppressed TR in Piano Sonata No. 2, Exposition (mm. 25-56) (continued) 3.3.3 Multi-Key-Struggle TR and Piano Sonata No. 3, exposition The third kind of TR paradigm is the multi-key-struggle TR. Multi-key-struggle TRs are characterized by a struggle between secondary key(s) which strive to emerge as independent tonal entities. In this kind of TR, the energy-gaining process attempts to affirm a key or keys that are outside of the tonic realm. This is clearly the most complex kind of TR that Chopin dealt with and it should be pointed out that it too includes many of the same characteristics of the unyielding tonic TR. These characteristics include the struggle to modulate and the suggestion of different non-tonic keys. Still there is at least one important characteristic that distinguishes the multi-key-struggle TR from the unyielding tonic TR. The multi-key-struggle TR can seem as a conflict between two or even three keys. We also tend to find many fewer cadences in the tonic here. In fact, what we tend to encounter in this kind of TR is a sense of cadences evaded. Chopin employed this kind of TR more often in the latter portion of his career, as the clearest examples are in Piano Sonata No. 3 and the Cello Sonata. I will discuss both of these examples at some length.
The TR from the exposition of Piano Sonata No. 3 is the paradigmatic example of this kind of TR. In this TR, there is the suggestion and evasion of no fewer than four keys: the tonic (b minor), a tonal area governed by B, Emajor/minor, and D minor. In the opening, the tonic is underdetermined: it
1. The tonic is further undermined by a chromatic irritant, the pitch class D# in m. 8. This chromatic pitch redirects the tonal motion to a HC in the subdominant. Interestingly, this is an example of a chromatic irritant that appears not in TR, but in P.
Example 3.6 P-Space in Piano Sonata No.
3, first movement The passage beginning at m. 8 is a flawed, dissolving consequent (see Example 3.7). It begins (mm. 8-12) as a literal transposition of the opening three bars. In m. 13, however, it dissolves into TR and achieves a dominant lock in the home key that is held in place from mm. 14-16. Importantly, this dominant lock is a failed one. It never produces a medial caesura or any other kind of cadence effect.
Example 3.7 TR1.
1 In Exposition of Piano Sonata No. 3, first movement In m. 17, the previous dominant lock dissolves via a common- tone modulation in which A# is reinterpreted as B. This sends the music in another direction. What follows (in mm. 17-22) is a passage of music that seems to be unsure of where it wants to go. The music suggests motion toward several keys but never settles in one. In mm. 17 and 18, the music tends toward a harmonic area that is centered on
either of these keys. In fact, a PAC in G minor that is strongly suggested in m. 18 is quite forcefully rejected in the following measure. This disruptive chord pushes the music down to major/minor key area in mm. 20-21 (Example 3.8).
Notice that the dominant arrival in m. 20 includes a seventh chord that is inverted.
This weakens the arrival, as the music refuses to accept this key as an acceptable one for its S. The next module (mm. 22-28) is centered on d minor, a key that is at least “on the right track.” This premature arrival in the modally mixed secondary key must be viewed as a sign of TR dysfunction. The obsession with E has not fully abated. It reappears with a vengeance in mm. 29-30, where we can hear a Neapolitan in root position.115 The music finally achieves a dominant lock in the “right key” of D in mm.
33-37. We will also encounter this kind of modal mixture in the Ballades, most notably in Ballade 3.