Session Chair: Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska, The University of Chicago
Location:Governor's Sq. 15
Cutting Out the Middle Man: The Medial Moment and the Binary-Ternary Transformation of Sonata Form
Yoel Greenberg, Barak Schossberger
Hebrew University, Jerusalem
Recent years have witnessed renewed interest in the evolution of classical sonata form from binary forms (Burstein 2020, Greenberg 2022). The event within sonata form that has been the focus of scholarly attention is the double return of the principal theme and key in the second half of the form, demonstrating sonata form’s shift from a binary to an increasingly ternary conception (Burstein 2020, Greenberg 2022, Neuwirth 2021). The advantage of focusing on the double return is that it both fulfills expectations created by series of salient cues, and sets up further expectations for the continuation (the recapitulation). Therefore the handling of such a moment is information-rich, in that it encapsulates many of the issues that were at stake in the perception of sonata form as a whole.
Here we examine another such information-rich moment: that which begins the second half of the form, immediately after the first binary repeat sign (henceforth “the medial moment”). In binary and early sonata forms, the medial moment almost invariably consisted of a “medial repeat” (Greenberg 2022): a restatement of the opening theme in the secondary key, suggesting a binary balance between the first and second halves of the form. Yet as was noted by late 18th century theorists, this practice waned in the late eighteenth century, eventually giving way to a more fluid and more ternary sense of form in which the moment of recapitulation, rather than the medial moment, formed the telos of the movement.
Relying upon a corpus study of over 200 works dated 1740-1810 and upon several illustrative case studies, we demonstrate that the medial repeat “mutated” gradually, through changes in key, location and thematic manipulation. Furthermore, we show how these changes, although subtle, weakened the binary implications of the medial moment by transforming the function of the double bar from recommencement and division to refraction and continuity. Through our diachronic focus on the process of transformation we propose an additional dimension to Hepokoski and Darcy’s notion of “defaults,” offering a time-sensitive context to the options that were available at a given point in time.
Galant Schemata and Irregular Phrase Rhythm in late-Eighteenth-Century Spanish Keyboard Sonatas
Bryan Stevens Espinosa
Sam Houston State University
The eighteenth-century Spanish keyboard style presents a challenge to common notions of hypermeter and phrase rhythm. In particular, the phrase proportions in this eighteenth-century repertoire do not demonstrate a strong tendency toward either phrase symmetry or a consistent quadruple hypermeter like their Austro-Germanic counterparts. Rather than the 4+4 norm described by both William Rothstein (1989), William E. Caplin (1998), and more recently Mirka (2021), Spanish composers tend to use phrase structures with 2+2, 3+2, and 4+2 proportions. This paper explores the relationship between irregular phrase rhythm and use of Galant schemata (Gjerdingen 2007) in the late-eighteenth century Spanish keyboard sonatas by composers such as Joaquín Montero (1740–1815). Narciso Casanovas (1747–1799), and Manuel Blasco de Nebra (1750–1783). I argue that the Galant vocabulary these composers inherited from the previous generation of Spanish composers is essential to the late-eighteenth-century Spanish musical style, and moreover, that it informs the phrase structure and phrase rhythm in their works.
As Gjerdingen (2007) has documented, late-eighteenth-century Austro-Germanic composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) made extensive use of Galant schemata, and Rothstein (2008) has shown that both Austro-Germanic and Italian national styles have a strong tendency to conform to a normative duple or quadruple hypermeter. In contrast, I show that the Spanish national style tends to use evenly spaced schema events regardless of hypermetric implications. This paper elucidates an important but hitherto unrecognized aspect of the late-eighteenth-century Spanish style. Beyond showing the use of schemata in a repertoire not typically associated with the practice, I demonstrate a novel use of schemata in which Spanish composers use schema events to inform and provide structure for the irregular phrase rhythm of their works.
Mozart's "operatic cadence"
Since the publication of Robert Gjerdingen’s Music in the Galant Style (2007), the galant schematicon has been expanded by others (Byros 2009, 2012; Rice 2014, 2015a, 2015b; Mitchell 2020; Demeyere 2022). In this paper I expand it further by positing yet another schema. A corpus study revealed 81 instances of this schema in Mozart’s operas, and further 19 instances were found in Mozart’s arias and scenes for voice and orchestra. In 83% of all instances the schema marks the end of the vocal part, after which the character exits (which means that it frequently closes scenes and, in a few cases of Mozart’s early operas, it closes acts). The schema has a symmetrical layout consisting of two cadential harmonic progressions, the first of which runs into a deceptive or weak authentic cadence and the second reaches a strong authentic cadence. What distinguishes this “operatic cadence” from other schemata is flexible treatment of melody and bass line. The prototypical melody consists of scale degrees 6-5-7-1–6-5-7-1 and the prototypical bass line of scale degrees 6-4-5-1–6-4-5-1, yet they never combine, each of them pairing with different melodies and basses which, in their turn, pair with a great many others. As a result, the schema constitutes a complex network of patterns displaying several “family resemblances.”
The flexibility of outer voices is compensated for by consistent treatment of rhythm, meter, tempo, mode, texture, dynamics, and text setting. The crucial importance of these parameters for the definition and identification of the “operatic cadence” problematizes the near-exclusive focus of schema theory on voice leading. The fact that it pops up—fully formed—in Mozart’s early operas and persists until the end of his life encourages further research into the origins and historical development of this schema. The fact that it is absent from Mozart’s instrumental music complicates the common view of cadences as signs of closure repeatable from work to work and invites a thorough investigation of their distribution in different styles and genres.