Schenkerian Theory and the Ideology of Organicism

Schenkerian Theory and the Ideology of Organicism

How to Be a Formalist (And Love It) The Theories of Heinrich Schenker Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935) I. Schenkers World A. Writing about music dominated by hermeneutic criticism

B. Composition dominated by Late Romanticism C. Study of music as a discipline (in colleges and universities) doesnt even exist III. Schenkerian Theory: Basic Assumptions A. Tonal music is a projection of the triad, the chord of nature

B. Prolongation or composing out Linear Progressions Arpeggiation Passing Tones Neighbor NT

III. Schenkerian Theory: Basic Assumptions A. Music is a prolongation of the triad, the chord of nature B. Prolongation or composing out C. Structural Levels: Musical structure is hierarchical, with Deep Structure vs. Surface Ornament D. Organicism: masterpieces have deep (organic) unity at deep structural levels

IV. Communicating the Theory A. Increasingly Graphic rather than verbal B. Seems to offer a way of many of the linguistic dilemmas: representation, lack of specificity of language, etc.

V. Schenkerian Vocabulary A. Ursatz (Fundamental Structure) B. Bass-Brechung (Bass arpeggiation) C. Urlinie (Fundamental Line) D. Structural Levels: Foreground, Middleground, Background E. Auscomponieren (Composing Out or Prolongation) 1. Great composers compose-out the Ursatz

2. Mortals reduce the surface to reveal the underlying unity VI. Thinking About Music in Schenkerian Mode A. Organicism: Great music not a series of discrete events of differing character, but manifestation of deep, organic whole B. Meanings fixed, manifestation of the natural,

determined by composer, demonstrable, verifyable C. Provides road map to subtle awakening/prolonging thwarting of expectation D. Schenkers Critics 1. 2.

By analyzing youve already designated as worthy, system just proves it Upholds processes as timeless, natural, pre-ordained (absolutes) that are maybe really contingent 3. Musics temporal/processive aspects deemphasized 4. No place for historical or cultural context (dehistoricizes)

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