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This article develops the notion of modal spelled pitch class by combining Julian Hook’s theory of spelled heptachords and Steven Rings’s heard scale degree. Modal spelled pitch class takes the form of an ordered triple that includes the key signature, the generic pitch classes (letter names without accidentals) of the tonic, and the note in question. From there one can infer other information, such as scale degree, mode, and la-minor solfège. In the construction of modal spelled pitch class, la-minor solfège is of equal importance to do-minor solfège, and subsequent analyses contrast the perspectives of both types of movable-do solfège users. This argument aligns with recent reevaluations of Jacques Handschin’s tone character (Clampitt and Noll 2011; Noll 2016b) and suggests a path of reconciliation in the ongoing solfège debate. Close readings of Franz Schubert’s Impromptu in E♭ major, D. 899, and Piano Sonata in B♭ major, D. 960, demonstrate the analytic potential of modal spelled pitch class and the eight types of coordinated transpositions. While previous transformational theories have shed light on third relations in Schubert’s harmony (Cohn 1999), modal spelled pitch class transpositions show the scales and melodies that prolong third-related harmonies also participate in their own third relations.
Journal of Music Theory – Duke University Press
Published: Oct 1, 2020
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