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5. 1 Formal Analysis In this Sonata Kodály lays the foundation of a new musical style with traditional compositional and formal techniques. In the case of the first movement he has constructed a well-balanced sonata form, albeit with some modifications that stem from the use of scales and harmonies common in folk music. In a sonata form typical of the 18th or 19th century the objectives are: 1) the establishment of tonic, 2) movement away from tonic, and 3) the return of tonic. The delineations of the formal sections (i.e. exposition, development, recapitulation) are based on harmonic relationships between the sections. Functional harmony is largely absent in Kodály’s use of sonata form.
modal mixture such that he creates a harmonic fluidity which enables him to go between major and minor modes, and to establish key areas instead of actual keys. For example, the main key areas in the first movement are as follows: B, E♭ (followed by the development), D♯, F♯, and B.
The exposition is in the key area of B rather than B major or minor, even though it may sound like a minor mode. Kodály creates this sense of harmonic ambiguity by using an anhemitonic pentatonic scale (B-D-E-F♯-A-B) that emphasizes the minor third interval.43 Similarly, the key area of F♯ in the recapitulation moves easily between the major and minor mode, using both raised third and a lowered second scale degrees in such a way that labeling the section as major or minor would not make any sense. So while there are easily identifiable sonata form elements (first and second theme groups, development, and recapitulation), the relationship between these elements is not necessarily defined harmonically (i.e., a modulation from tonic to dominant in the exposition).
The first theme group occurs in mm. 1-31 and is in the key area of B. A diagram of the first theme group is show below (Figure 2). The opening theme is a perfect example of the way Kodály uses pentatonicism and upper leading tones. Measures 1-14 (Figure 3) is based on an anhemitonic pentatonic scale (B-D-E-F♯-A-B).44 The only two pitches in mm. 1-14 that do not belong in that pentatonic collection are the C♯ and the E♯ that occur in m. 8. In addition to the two minor thirds that are contained in the anhemitonic scale, the presence of a C♯ also gives this 43 Andrew Allen Smith, “Aspects of Hungarian Folk Music in Zoltán Kodály’s Sonata for Unaccompanied Violoncello, Op. 8” (a supporting document submitted in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1997), 17-19.
motion in lieu of dominant-tonic cadences (Figure 4). The first occurs in mm. 13-14 from G to F♯ which leads to the conclusion of the first section of the theme group. The same motion is repeated with octave displacement in both mm. 15-16 and mm. 17-18 on D to C♯. However, as this second section approaches its conclusion the semitone motion changes from descending to ascending in mm. 18-19 (B-C) and in mm. 19-20 (D♯-E). It would appear that the use of descending semitone motion serves as a vehicle for continuation of the phrase, whereas ascending semitone motion signifies an approaching arrival, as illustrated by the first real point of arrival on the F♯ octave in m. 20 after two strong ascending semitone cadences.
Figure 4: mm. 13-20. Descending and ascending semitone motion.
The same phenomenon happens in the final section of the first theme group in mm. 20-31 (Figure 5). There is another descending semitone motion in mm. 26-27 from B♭ to A in the top voice of the chords on the fourth beat of m. 26 and the first beat of m. 27. Instead of the phrase concluding, it continues immediately on the second beat of m. 27. The descent that follows finally leads to the end of the first theme group in m. 31. Even here, where the feeling of conclusion is quite strong, the presence of C♮ and D♯ is tonally ambiguous, hinting at B major and B minor (with a lowered second scale degree) simultaneously.
Finally, the arrival on B in m. 31 means that unlike a traditional sonata form, the first theme group begins and ends in the same key area, where we would normally expect a modulation to the either the dominant key of F♯ major or to the relative major key of D.46 The second theme group occurs in mm. 32-79. The abrupt change in character between the first and second theme groups is a perfect example of the thematic material delineating the formal sections of the movement. Rather than a modulation to a related key in the first theme group, it ends in B (as it began), forming a closed section. Three beats of rest further emphasize the separation of these two sections. As the second thematic group begins in m. 32 (Figure 6), the new key area of E♭ does not become clear until m. 39. The second theme group can be further broken into two parts: mm. 32-43.1 in which the initial theme is heard three times sequentially, and mm. 43.2-63 which begins in B♭ and eventually moves to A♭ via D♭ and E♭. In both of 46 James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy, “The Medial Caesura and Its Role in the Eighteenth-Century Sonata Exposition,” Music Theory Spectrum, 19, no. 2 (Autumn 1997): 115-154. http://www.jstor.org/stable/745751 (accessed February 25, 2013). In Hepokoski and Darcy’s research on the so-called Sonata Theory they explain that although a non-modulating exposition is possible, it is less frequently encountered than an exposition that modulates to the dominant, relative minor, or relative major key. Although I do not use the tenets of Sonata Theory to analyze this piece, I am using the theory as a way to compare and contrast Kodály’s use of sonata form and as point of reference for the reader.
the major and minor mode.
Figure 6: Excerpt of Second Theme Group, mm. 32-57 At m. 63 there is an arrival on A♮ which I have labeled as a “deceptive cadence” (Figure 7). This is not a deceptive cadence in the sense that there is harmonic motion from a V chord to a vi chord, but rather an arrival has occurred somewhere other than the expected pitch or key area.
Looking at m. 61-62, A♭ appears to be the tonal center and the pitch on which the listener might expect an arrival. The arrival on A♮ instead of A♭ is certainly unexpected and thus deceptive.
The fermata in m. 63 on the A♮ forces Kodály to find a way to get to an actual cadence, and after two attempts there is an arrival on E♭ at m. 70. Despite this arrival the mode is still ambiguous because of the lack of tonal definition. The lowered second scale degree appears again and continues to pull the tonal center of gravity to E♭ indicating an approach to the end of something.
theme group (now in E♭) to begin the development.
Figure 7: mm. 58-81. “Deceptive cadence” in m. 63 and transition into the development.
The development (mm. 80-151) is based material from the first theme group. The diagram below shows the layout of the development (Figure 8).
Rather than develop any other related key areas or go through the circle of fifths, Kodály arrives on chords that suggest other key areas that are not necessarily related: E♭, C♭(M), E♭(m), C(m), C♯(M), E(m), B, and finally the G major chord in m. 132.2 is another example of a “deceptive cadence”(Figure 9). In this case the expected chord here is most likely a B minor chord because prior to this chord, a variation on the first theme is heard in its original tonality in mm. 125-132.1.
There is some semblance of a dominant pedal in mm. 136-144.1 in which F♯ is emphasized by way of repetition (Figure 10). However the F♯ fails as a true dominant of B in this situation because of the arrival on an F♯ chord in m. 144.1 and the subsequent departure into the C♯ and D♯ key areas in mm. 146-151 (Figure 10a). Thus the restatement of the first theme in mm. 146.2-149 also fails as the true recapitulation of the first theme because it does not occur in the home key.
Figure 10: mm. 137-144.1. Dominant Retransition.
Figure 10a: mm. 146-150. False Recapitulation.
Figure 11: mm. 152-173. Excerpt of Recapitulation of Second Theme Group.
The recapitulation closely follows the exposition of the second theme group with the exception of the recap being in the key areas of mostly B and F♯ as shown in the form diagram below (Figure 12).
The location of the coda however, is slightly more ambiguous. The conclusion of the second theme occurs in mm. 190-198 after the arrival on B in m. 190, just as it does in the exposition before it leads into the development (Figure 13). There is a gradual decrescendo,
193 and 197. Following this is a restatement of the two opening chords in m. 199 to finally end the movement.
Figure 13: mm. 190-199. Closing and Coda.
In his analysis Smith labels the final measure as the coda explaining that because the development was so heavily weighted toward the first theme, there was no need for Kodály to recap the entire first theme in tonic. He instead provides a sense or recollection of the first theme when it is falsely recapped at the end of the development. The final two chords in tonic provide a sort of counterbalance both harmonically and thematically.47 In terms of Sonata Theory, this idea is viable because the structural and rhetorical end of the movement (Essential Sonata Closure or ESC) is defined by an arrival on a perfect authentic cadence.48 The arrival in m. 190 on B certainly feels like the end of something and an indication of a closing, but the last two chords are closer to a true perfect authentic cadence.
Kodály has combined a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of a traditional sonata form with his unique harmonic language. Although the harmonic structure of the movement is a departure from the typical tonic-dominant-tonic trajectory established in the 18th and 19th
each theme and the clear delineation between formal sections.
5.2 First Theme Group Material One of the defining characteristics of the first theme group is three and four note chords.
The return of first theme material throughout the movement is easily identified by multi-stop chords and the rhythm found in the opening of the movement. These chords present a certain amount of technical difficulty for the bow. The speed and placement of the bow, weight of the arm, flatness of the hair, thickness of the string(s), etc. are all variables in the equation of the bow in any passage. Understanding how the bow will react to the C string versus the A string, what bow speed is appropriate given the placement of the bow, the duration of the note, the dynamics, and the musical gesture and style are all essential to string playing. There are also several position changes in the first theme group that were particularly problematic for me. In general, when solving problems for the left hand one has to consider ease of execution and comfort for the left hand, as well as how the musical style might influence the choice of shift (anticipated or delayed), and how the harmonic language may change the way we approach the left hand.
My goal in playing the chords in this movement was to find a way of using the bow that would treat the lower strings equally and allow for the use of more bow on the A string in order to emphasize the melody. Ultimately I discovered that rolling the chord, rather than breaking it, was the best way to deal with chords throughout the movement because: 1) the chords cover a wide intervallic range, 2) the chords occur consecutively, and 3) the inherent metric displacement of the melody requires specific bow speeds and placement to accommodate all of
that the bow has to accommodate both the lower, thicker strings and the increasingly shorter, thinner A string. To draw a thicker, heavier string the bow has to move at a slower speed and more weight from the arm must be transferred into the bow, whereas on a thinner string the bow can generally be lighter and travel at a faster speed to initiate vibration in the string. I cannot use the bow on the lower strings in the same manner as I do on the A string, especially as the melody increases in register. Additionally, we have to realize that the melody itself is only on the A string and that the bottom of the chord functions as harmonic support. The melodic line also has a rhythm, albeit metrically displaced, which should not be disturbed by the bow breaking a big chord. Therefore, the bow must be focused on the A string to effectively play the melody. All of these elements were reasons that breaking the chords was never successful.
Breaking the chords into a distinct bottom and top naturally places emphasis on the bottom of the chord, and has the potential to make it sound as though the downbeat occurs at the bottom of the chord. Furthermore, the chords often occur consecutively or on every other beat. In a situation like this the danger is that by emphasizing the bottom of each chord that the phrase will sound vertical, again taking away from the melody and its rhythm. Rolling these chords ensures that the lower strings are set into motion by the bow, but released quickly so that they will continue to ring and support the melody. By releasing the lower strings quickly, the cellist will also be able to not only get to the A string sooner, but will have more bow to spend on the melody.
Rolling becomes especially necessary when the opening theme is heard for the final time just before the recapitulation in mm. 146.2-149.2 (see Figure 10a). In this passage the whole
direction. Kodály has indicated that the phrase should be played pesante, which in my mind means that it should be broadened slightly. The time that it naturally takes to play this many chords in a row will naturally broaden this passage.