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Title:The course of Romantic harmony
Author(s):Richey, John Eckert
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Zonn, Paul
Department / Program:Music
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:A historical view of harmony has many virtues, first among them, perhaps, a liberation from the often-restrictive Platonism of theoretical views, which tend to describe the elements of a musical language not as the result of historical processes, but as part of a more or less self-contained system. An evolutionary view of Romantic harmony is particularly useful, not only because it supplements conventional, systematic interpretations where the subject is often ambiguous, but also because it reveals the logic and coherence of Romantic harmony, reveals that once the devices which held together Classical harmony weakened or gave way, new devices took their place.
At opposite ends of a spectrum are two methods of describing the evolution of musical language. The first is to choose representative examples and arrange them chronologically into a series of cross-sections; the second is to trace the influence of one work upon another, the course of change in music then being seen as a series of intertwined events. The first method fails to make clear the process of evolution or the reasons for change; the second is practically impossible. A middle way is needed, one neither so detached nor so particular, but one which borrows elements from both views. Rather than tracing the influence of one work upon another, the more practical task of tracing the influence of one composer upon another could be undertaken, and hence a network of influence could be established, one within which musical language could have evolved.
Such a view shows the ever-increasing complexity of harmony in the first part of the 19th century. While the tonal syntax which governed Classical harmony continued to be an essential element, Romantic harmony came to be organized by a variety of means, and at the same time a more complex web of relationships to the tonic arose. Change, however, came not so much because new harmonic resources were invented, but more because existing resources were exploited in new ways. The chromaticisms of Romantic music were for the most part those of Classical music, the difference being mostly one of extent.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Richey, John Eckert
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9625184
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9625184

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