Fri Oct 5
Alexandre De Andrade-Negri (UBC PhD Theory student)
"Trans-Diatonic Harmony in Hugo Wolf’s Songs"
3:30 pm, Room 400B
4th floor, Music Building
A hallmark of nineteenth-century music is the exploration and consolidation of new harmonic relationships that are no longer framed by a diatonic background structure. By experimenting with harmonic relations outside the Tonic-Dominant axis, such as chromatic third relations, whole-tone relations, and so forth, Romantic composers established new approaches to harmony syntax and tonal motion. Some modern theories of nineteenth-century harmony, however, still insist in subjecting this music to diatonic imperatives and perspectives. Analytical limitations are particularly evident when dealing with harmony in the songs of Hugo Wolf. Standing as the pinnacle of the German Lied tradition, his songs present to the modern analyst, and to the analytical models at hand, a considerable and, sometimes, insurmountable challenge.
In this presentation, I introduce a trans-diatonic theory of harmony tailored to music that is suffused with modal mixture to the point that parallel major and minor keys may be conceived as a fully fused super-key. Through a case study on selections from Wolf’s songs, I demonstrate that the innovative modulation schemes characteristic of late Romantic music can often be mapped economically within a trans-diatonic Tonnetz and show how Romantic composers achieved tonal coherence in the absence of a diatonic framework.