SOUND PATTERNS

A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture,
Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music

by PHILLIP MAGNUSON

THE ABC's OF CHORALE SETTING

Chapter 23. A is for ANALYSIS

.
Chapter 24. B is for BASS LINES
Chapter 25. C is for COUNTERPOINT
Chapter 26. D is for DIVERSITY
Chapter 27. E is for EMBELLISHMENT
Chapter 28. F is for FINISHING

23.1 CHORALE MELODIES

The melodies used for chorales are often ancient, stemming from modal constructions. Composers such as Bach place them in tonal contexts, utilizing a Common Practice Period analysis of them.

These melodies contain the essences of tonal construction, most notably prolongations (usually tonic) and cadences (usually authentic or half).

23.2 PROLONGATIONS

While a soprano melody cannot actually prolong tonic (this can only be done in multiple voice counterpoint), tonic prolongations can be implied. This is determined by the important scale degrees in the phrase, which for tonic prolongations are ^1, ^3, and ^5 (members of the tonic triad). The important scale degrees are the ones that:

23.3 CADENCES

Cadences are always in regular formulas:

23.4 MODULATIONS

Occasionally, the melody will imply that a modulation is taking place. Obviously, accidentals are a good way to recognize this, but the modulation can also be spotted by recognizing prolongations and cadence structures in a key different from the global key.

23.5 EXAMPLE OF MELODIC ANALYSIS

Below is a sample soprano line with analysis:

23.6 EXCEPTIONS

The processes described above to analyse a chorale melody are greatly simplified. The truth is much more complicated. In further analysis work, you will be exposed to some examples of good representations of this process but also to some examples which are not as straight-forward. It is these exceptions which make the chorale an artful act of composition.

ASSIGNMENTS:

ANALYSIS

The following is a series of analysis projects. The odd numbers give answers (after you work on them) and the even numbers are for you to do on your own.

Analysis 1: Nun ruhen alle Walder
Analysis 2: O Ewigkeit, du Donnerwort
Analysis 3: Wie schoen leuchtet der Morgenstern
Analysis 4: Jesu, meine Freude
Analysis 5: Vater unser im Himmelreich
Analysis 6: Wo soll ich fliehen hin

PREPARATION FOR THE FINAL PROJECT

Go to Chapter 28. F is for FINISHING and identify the prolongations and cadences for each phrase of the final project melody.


Links to chapters in this unit:
Chapter 24. B is for BASS LINES
Chapter 25. C is for COUNTERPOINT
Chapter 26. D is for DIVERSITY
Chapter 27. E is for EMBELLISHMENT
Chapter 28. F is for FINISHING

Link to previous unit: CHROMATIC PROCEDURES I: Moving from the Global Key

Link to next unit: LARGER PERSPECTIVES


Copyright 2008-2009 by Phillip Magnuson.

Content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.