Harmonic Rhythm: Analysis and Interpretation by Joseph P. Swain

By Joseph P. Swain

An available exploration of a massive and understudied track idea subject, Swain's e-book examines the dimensional means of examining harmonic rhythm. easily outlined, harmonic rhythm is the connection among alterations in concord and perceived adjustments in rhythm. This phenomenon performs a wide position in shaping the feel and elegance of a lot of Western tune, from Renaissance polyphonic items to the works of Debussy. Swain offers a transparent and thorough dialogue of the way harmonic idea works, utilizing a small middle of repeated musical examples.

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Handel’s figured bass, on the other hand, rules out the likelihood of a very fleet, microprogression (ex. 5-1), simply because he asks the organist handling the continuo part to sustain each chord for a full quarter note. Continuity also implies consistency in the duration pattern itself. Part of the reason that the second-level Bach analysis makes sense is its easy acceleration from four-beat durations (dotted-quarter beats), to three, to two, and finally to one. A third consideration of multilevel analysis is the kind of voice-leading in the texture.

The conclusion offered by Corelli is clear: bass rests deserve notation. The composer can employ the bass voice for powerful effects, one of which is to silence it. However, now consider “The trumpet shall sound” from Handel’s Messiah (ex. 4-6). Here the rests have an entirely different function, and the clue is that the bass pitch before and after each rest is identical. The rests do not interrupt the immediate effect of the harmonic bass; rather, they are articulations within the harmonic event.

If listeners do not conceive of ornaments as notes, then there is no pitch event to be graphed as part of the textural rhythm. Bach does not make the decision easy in his violin melody. At one point he writes out the decoration (m. 2, beat 1) with all the precision his notation allows, a somewhat infamous feature of all his music, yet at other places he writes the grace notes, ornamental wild cards. So here is a case where slightly different analyses of the textural rhythm are valid and defensible, and example 2-6 includes two of them.

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