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Brahms, Twilight and the Decay of Leading‐Note Energy

Brahms, Twilight and the Decay of Leading‐Note Energy Leading notes possess a powerful drive: once they take hold of the music, their upward resolution is all but certain. In Brahms's works, however, their force tends to dwindle, and many end up yielding chromatically downward. Leading notes typically deflate in order from high to low along the sequence of sharps, resulting in a broad process of tonal de‐intensification. Through close voice‐leading analyses of two accompanied part songs (‘Abendlied’, Op. 92 No. 3, and ‘Der Abend’, Op. 64 No. 2) and two piano pieces (the E major Intermezzo, Op. 116 No. 4, and the B minor Capriccio, Op. 76 No. 2), I argue that the decay in leading‐note energy is in part what gives Brahms's music its weary, twilight tone. In so doing, I seek to bridge a gap between our understanding of the voice leading of Brahms's music and one of the prevailing aspects of the composer's reception. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Music Analysis Wiley

Brahms, Twilight and the Decay of Leading‐Note Energy

Music Analysis , Volume 39 (2) – Jul 1, 2020

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Publisher
Wiley
Copyright
Music Analysis © 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
ISSN
0262-5245
eISSN
1468-2249
DOI
10.1111/musa.12155
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Leading notes possess a powerful drive: once they take hold of the music, their upward resolution is all but certain. In Brahms's works, however, their force tends to dwindle, and many end up yielding chromatically downward. Leading notes typically deflate in order from high to low along the sequence of sharps, resulting in a broad process of tonal de‐intensification. Through close voice‐leading analyses of two accompanied part songs (‘Abendlied’, Op. 92 No. 3, and ‘Der Abend’, Op. 64 No. 2) and two piano pieces (the E major Intermezzo, Op. 116 No. 4, and the B minor Capriccio, Op. 76 No. 2), I argue that the decay in leading‐note energy is in part what gives Brahms's music its weary, twilight tone. In so doing, I seek to bridge a gap between our understanding of the voice leading of Brahms's music and one of the prevailing aspects of the composer's reception.

Journal

Music AnalysisWiley

Published: Jul 1, 2020

References