Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Two John Chrysostoms

I was just reading through this:

The Mnemonic Verses
A Quick and Easy Guide to the Byzantine Tones
Text and Byzantine chant:
J. Suchy-Pilalis

Now, again and again, there is a final cadence on one specific note and a pre-cadence on another one.

This reminds of, and is much older than the Sonata form. The Sonata form is actuallly doing to modes or rather to displacements of the major diatonic mode, pretty closely what mode after mode does to notes within the mode.

Or actually it does both.

One could write a Classical piece strictly in one single tonality - which would therefore not be a Classical piece on itself. But within that tonality, the final rest on C is preceded either by a previous rest on D or a previous rest on E or on C-G or both.

Now the trick with a Classical exposition is that one also changes tonality. C major must come first if it is to be home in the end, but G major comes before C major in the end. Scarlatti takes two repeats, one going from C major to G major (or F major, or A or E minor or .... but the simplest is G major), and the second beginning where the first ends and going back to C major. Exposition is the first repeat. The second in Scarlatti would be reverse exposition. The second in a Viennese Classical piece would be either short transition and the Recapitulation - so often in Second Movements - or Development Section plus Recapitulation.

What Riepl regarded as old fashioned, as suitable for Fugue rather than Concert (and Concert form is one of the more complex varieties of Sonata Form) is the sequence: C - G - Em - C. What he regarded as "Concert" was C - G - Am - C. Plus a break within G or possibly a break between G and Am. Possibly also a reminder of C between G and Am.

An exposition has a Grundabsatz - less than final cadence - on E or on C-G or E-D-C. Often typically F-E (actually a final cadence in two of the modes). Or it has a Quintabsatz - a half cadence - on D over G*. Often typically on E-D over G*. Or both, with Grundabsatz first. Then it has a transition to G major. After a Quintabsatz there is no need strictly for another transition towards G major, but it can be done anyway. After the transition or change of notes, there is or not a Quintabsatz in G major, that is A or B-A over D*, and finally there is a cadence on G in G major, often preceded by B-A over D*. One can add an extra Cadence on G in G major, and if only one is preceded by B-A over D rather than say F sharp over D, its is the latter one. Between them one can add an extra Quintabsatz of A or B-A over D, one can even have that one in G minor as a passing cloud between the two passages in G major.

In the Recapitulation, the material in G major is always in C major (which was already the case with Scarlatti). So the final cadence is on C in C major, often after E-D over G. In the Recapitulation two different Quintabsätze are not supposed to follow each other, since in same tonality. Any type of ending can be followed only by either phrase repeat or same type in other tonality or more final in other or in same tonality. Not by a less final one, except after Cadence, when the cycle begins all over. Not by a different phrase, same type, same tonality either. Phrase repeat by the way does not add to the structure. If you have four bars ending in Quintabsatz and then repeat them, structurally that is one Quintabsatz of eight bars.

That is the theory of Riepl and in that respect the most famous Viennese Classic or indeed secular composer of all times (for King David and Orpheus were both Hymn writers, as also St Ambrose and St Gregory, as also St Romanus the Melod, as also St Raban the Maur, as also St Thomas Aquinas ...) followed it. Possibly he exchanged - and pretty often so - the Grundabsatz ending of first phrase with a divided phrase, four bars to half cadence, another four bars to full cadence, similar material, often bars 5-6=1-2. This habit might have contributed to making four bar symmetry more predominant than theoretically it was in Riepl.

There is another way in which John Chrysostom Wolfgang Gottlieb Mozart, often known as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, though that was actually the name of one of his sons, is indebted to his primary, most often unmentioned patron saint.

Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison, kyyriiee eeleeiisoon - twice with apprehension, the third time with full assurance about being heard. Musically in mere structure: twice in short notes, third time in notes of twice the length. But that I have already noted.

One can also note that neither of them sought originality, primarily. Both sought beauty. Neither of them would have liked Stravinski or Alban Berg - Mozart even less than the saint, if possible. "You may express all passions in music, but always in beauty, it must never scourch the ear" is from the latter.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Mairie du III
28. II. 2012

*All through, let it be understood that bass notes may be real, as in piano or orchestra compositions or merely implied as in solo instruments. Classical melodies are typically harmonically simple and self-accompanying.