Hearing Music A Guide To Music Appreciation by Theodore M. Finney

Hearing Music A Guide To Music Appreciation by Theodore M. Finney





All rights reserved. No part of this book may be re-
produced in any form, by mimeograph or any other
s; without permission in writing from the publisher.




“MUSIC is the universal language/ 7 This quotation, perhaps
more often than any other, is used whenever the occasion
seems to demand that something important be said about
music. It is almost always used with the implication that the
universality of music nullifies the necessity of learning music
as a language. This implication is false. Music, in the sense
that it is a language, must be learned just as any other lan-
guage must be learned.

It is true that some individuals learn languages more easily
than others; it is true, too, that most of us have forgotten
how we learned enough of our mother tongue to use it for
communication. But it must not be forgotten that we do
learn even our mother tongue. We study it formally as long
as we attend school, and most of us never master its use to
the point where we are independent of such aids as the dic-
tionary. The problem of learning is even more evident in
connection with mastering a foreign language. The difficul-
ties of grammar and syntax, to say nothing of the necessity
for constant reference to a glossary, make the process of
learning a new language a poignant illustration of the diffi-
culties which the necessity for communication presents to
the learner.

For the ordinary person who wishes to understand music,
its language stands somewhere between the mother tongue
and a foreign language. He has been conditioned to its sound
because he has been hearing it most of his life. But he fails


to comprehend much that he might hear because he has not
learned to understand. The traveler abroad who does his
shopping and eating only in the places which display the
sign, ”English Spoken Here/ 5 has much in common with the
person whose tired reaction to a symphony concert is: “Never
again.” Both result from failure to have learned to under-
stand a language.

This book is the result of some years spent in the attempt
to help learners to understand music. Its fundamental prem-
ises are that music is part of the cultural heritage of all and
that it exists for an audience which, in the very nature of
things, is made up of listeners who are not professionally
trained musicians. The kind of help needed by a listener is
quite different from a training for professional musicianship.
Conversely, it can be asserted with some degree of truth that
professional training does not necessarily produce an intelli-
gent listener.

The present book is the result, then, of an attempt to pre-
sent music to the listener so that he may understand it in-
telligently. Much that can be learned about music and mu-
sicians is of no concern to the listener as a part of the technic
of his listening. This does not mean that any limit should be
placed on the listener’s curiosity about music. It does mean,
however, that there is a vast difference between what he needs
in order actually to hear music and what he might learn that
has very little to do with his listening. It is not fair to the
person whose interest has brought him into a classroom,
where he expects to learn how to hear music, to spend time
and energy discussing matters which have only slight bear-
ing on what he wants to learn.

Learning to hear music has much in common with the learn-
ing of a verbal language. No one would expect to learn Rus-


sian by reading about it in English. One cannot learn music
unless he is brought into actual active contact with music.
This book tries to encourage and direct the active contact
which the student makes with music. The student must make
progress in learning the language: he must himself feel that
he is getting on terms of better understanding with music.
It has been the author’s experience with students, whose num-
ber now runs to several thousand, that the method which this
book develops will produce that effect.

Any book, however, can provide only a part of the method.
The student must be given opportunity for repeated hearings
of the music, until he can use the book as an aid in following
the music with his mind. To that end records and phono-
graphs and rooms for listening, or “listening sections,” should
be provided. Records and phonographs should be used enough
to wear them out. A collection of recordings, like any other
library, is useful only when it is being used!

Several details of the method for listening which this book
presents call for a prefatory explanation. First, the book
would be useless without a copious citation of musical ex-
amples. Such examples have been given in normal musical
notation, not because the author believes that a musician’s
ability to read music is a prerequisite to listening, but be-
cause he knows that the ability to follow the pattern of
notation when someone else is playing is very easy to acquire.
The examples, then, are not meant to be read as a musician
reads music, but to be followed as the music is being played.
By using them in this manner, the student will find that
after he has once connected the actual sound of the music
with its notation, he will have little difficulty in using the
notated examples for purposes of review.


Second, the acquisition of the ability to hear how sounds
behave in a musical fabric has been made a prerequisite to any
discussion of the meaning involved in music. It cannot be
said too often that musical meaning grows out of what the
tones do. It is equally true that the inexperienced listener is
unable to perceive all that tones do. Until that perception
has been cultivated it seems futile to attempt to form valid
judgments as to what music means. One might as well expect
to comprehend a foreign language because he has heard it
spoken. The method here is first to develop listening inde-
pendence. When the student has mastered that, he will be
well on his way to knowing what music means. Until he has
mastered it, no amount of telling will convince him.

Finally, every attempt has been made to describe what the
listener hears in terms which can be understood by the lis-
tener who has no technical background. It is a mistake to
make the student feel that his ignorance of the technical
vocabulary of music is a handicap. As his interest develops he
can easily manage the rather simple concepts which are new
to him. The student whose growing ability to hear music
arouses his interest in technical matters will find the answers
to many of his questions in the Appendix. Such material has
been placed in an appendix rather than in an early chapter
because the author is convinced that it is a stumbling block
rather than a necessary aid to listening unless the student
approaches it out of his own curiosity.

How to test students who are learning to hear music pre-
sents some difficulties. If appreciation is conceived primarily
as learning to like music, it is quite obvious that an objective
examination is difficult. The questions should be concerned
not with “Do you like this?” but with “What are you hear-


ing?” The second type of question may well begin with the
simple recognition of music and composer; it can lead, as the
student’s hearing becomes more acute, to the recognition of
much more complex matters of form and style.

This book has not been finished without help from various
sources. The following acknowledgments are due:

A quotation from Kamongo by Homer W. Smith, copy-
right 1932 by Homer W. Smith. By permission of the Viking
Press, Inc., New York.

A quotation from a paper on “The Relation of Emotion
to Musical Value” by Carroll C. Pratt, in the MTNA Volume
of Proceedings for 1938, by permission of Carroll C. Pratt.

The translation by John P. Jackson of Nicholas Lenau’s
“Don Juan,” by permission of J. B. Lippincott Co., New

Parts of the translation by Frederick Jameson of the text
of Wagner’s Die Walk-tire, by permission of G. Schirmer,
Inc., New York, and Schott, Mainz.

Prof. Dayton C. Miller provided me with photographs of
sound waves as part of the illustrative material for the chap-
ter on tone-color. His interest in anything that touches the
science of sound has earned the gratitude of all musicians
who know him.

To the students in music appreciation classes at Carleton
College, the Smith College Summer School of Music, and the
University of Pittsburgh, the author owes a debt of grati-
tude for their patience in teaching him how to teach them.
If, working together, we have come to a finer understanding
of great music, our efforts have not been misspent.

The work of writing has been lightened by the help of
Betty Cerra and Leonora Molinari, whose interest in the


preparation of the manuscript deserves the author’s grati-
tude. Finally, the author must make the admission that he
cannot adequately express his gratitude to Molly for her
constant encouragement.



Preface iii

PART ONE The Listener’s Technic



3 RHYTHM 3 1




8 STYLE 9 5

9 FORM I 06


1 1 THE MINUET 126





PART TWO Music as Literature





PART THREE Independent Listening

1 8 THE VISTA 217







Index 345

Part One

Chapter 1

^ I ^HIS book has for its subject what is commonly called
JL the appreciation of music. It will ask the reader to learn
how to listen to music; it will suggest to many who have
been listening all their lives that there is a better way to
listen. This change can be made only with the consent of
the reader; what the book contemplates doing and what its
methods are to be should be perfectly clear at the outset.

For such clarification there can be no better starting point
than an examination of the word which implies the changes
we wish to make, the word “appreciation.” Appreciation
suggests to many musicians a type of popularization almost
as distasteful as attempts at scientific popularization have
been to some scientists. What does the word really mean?
How may its true meaning dignify the inquiry upon which
we embark and at the same time furnish the method for
that inquiry?

Webster indicates several meanings for the verb “to ap-
preciate/* In one sense it means simply to rise in value. With
this meaning it is not the listener but the music itself which
appreciates: the music increases in value. There is a tempta-
tion to dwell upon this use of the word. It arises out of the
impregnability of the wall which personal taste builds around
the curiosity of many listeners. Jack London is said to have



remarked that the words “I like” are the most important
in the language. He might have said that the words “I don’t
like” have justified more barrenness than any other words in
the language. If the whole process which leads to apprecia-
tion could begin with the objectivity inherent in this mean-
ing of the word, if only we could stand aside with our un-
developed and incurious likes and dislikes and watch the
music increase in value, then perhaps the culmination might
be reached without too much stumbling against “I don’t

For music to increase in value, however, implies a listener.
Music must increase in value to you. Here again Webster
may be consulted with profit. The definitions which apply
are as follows: “To be critically and emotionally sensitive to
the esthetic values of; to feel a warmth of satisfaction and
approval in regard to.” The first of these meanings, as ap-
plied to music, emphasizes values inherent in the music itself;
the second stresses the “I like” relationship between the music
and the listener. When these are put together we are justi-
fied in using them to chart our course. We are beginning a
process which aims to increase the value of -music to you.

Two questions arise from this preliminary discussion:
What are those values and what can I do that they may in-
crease for me? No one who has had much experience either
with music or with listeners to music could have the temerity
to suggest that those two questions can be answered com-
pletely and finally. It will take the rest of this book to start
the reader on the road to finding his own partial answers.
But some hints as to how those questions might be answered
are not out of place.

“What are the values inherent in music?” is a question no
one has answered to anyone else’s complete satisfaction, but


the way to an answer which will direct us into our work
may be found by asking another question: “Why do people
compose music ?” All sorts of people have composed music
and do compose music now, just as all sorts have written
and do now write poems and plays and novels. It is often
done at great expense of time and comfort. Why do they
do it? They do it because they have something which must
be said and for which music is the natural language. What
that something is can be perceived, but seldom can it be re-
stated through another medium of expression. The impor-
tance, for the composer, of what must be said, together with
his ability to make himself articulate, is his measure, as men
measure greatness and littleness. What a great composer, a
great man who uses music as his language, finds worth saying
should have value to the listener. Here are to be found, cer-
tainly, values which increase.

“What can I do that the values of music may increase for
me?” The beginning of an answer to this question is to dis-
cover just how much music one really hears now. Music has
been called a universal language. We have spoken of it as
being a composer’s language. Because “language” is so often
used to indicate that music has something to say, and because
the charm of this language has a universal appeal, it is easy
to suppose that here, at last, is a tongue which needs no
learning. The disappointments that follow attempts to ap-
proach music from this viewpoint, disappointments which
every music lover has felt, prove this approach to be false.

There is a vast difference between the methods of spoken
language and music. In a spoken language, generally, total
meanings arise out of what we have come to agree that words
themselves mean. In music, meanings arise out of what the
sounds do. Music, in other words, means what the tones do.


Our first problem is to make sure that every sort of thing
that tones can do is covered by our listening vocabulary. Is
one listener, with his attention on the soaring tone of the
violins, hearing what his neighbor hears, whose feet are tap-
ping to the drums? Might not both learn to hear all of the
music all of the time, and by so doing have approximately
the musical experience which the composer wished them to

The reader might, with some justice, wonder why he is
being asked to consider the materials of music as the com-
poser’s materials. It is only a matter of viewpoint. Musical
materials are fundamentally the same whether they are
viewed from the standpoint of composer, performer, or lis-
tener. The selection of a viewpoint is, however, important
for a proper perspective of the route over which we hope to
travel Many listeners, in fact many people who undertake
to train others to listen, insist that only as the listener can
make some contact with music as a performer is a real under-
standing of music possible. That viewpoint is a tacit in-
sistence that the materials of music are the performer’s.
Many arguments can be brought to bear against such a per-
spective. Chiefly, it overemphasizes the cult of great per-
formers, which may be highly profitable for a time and for
a limited few, in box-office reckoning, but is essentially
spurious and in the long run is clearly not valid.

The three-sided composer-performer-listener communica-
tion begins with the composer, and it is only the fear that
some impenetrable magic surrounds his work, a fear which
perhaps we inherit from the Middle Ages with their guild
secrets, that makes it difficult for us to begin to understand
what he does. The composer himself knows what he is doing


when he makes music. He has never asked for an audience
trained as composers or performers. And, although he has
sometimes been at fault in seeking self-glorification by sur-
rounding what he does with an aura of magic, he neverthe-
less knows that the best audience he can have, the best there
can possibly be, is one made up of those who have learned
how to listen. And he will trust most those listeners who
begin by understanding the materials with which he himself

Composers are often spoken of as creative artists. The
use of this adjective in connection with what a composer
does is just only in the sense that it has become so common
that the dictionaries have been forced to recognize it. But
in no real sense does the composer create his actual materials.
He resynthesizes materials which already are at hand, in
much the same fashion that a carpenter works with wood.
This analogy cannot be carried too far, but it contains an
element of truth which is illuminating. Almost anyone can
understand what a carpenter does, certainly enough to use
the product of his labor; almost anyone, too, can under-
stand, enough for profitable use, the product of a composer.

The composer controls and directs, for our use, the ma-
terials out of which he makes music. Those materials are
simply the things that tones can do, the ways that tones can
be made to behave, the various qualities that sounds can have
in relation to each other. What, then, are the composer’s
materials, his basic tonal resources?

That question can be answered by anyone who has heard
even the simplest sort of music.

Sounds may be produced in an almost endless variety of
ways. Each musical instrument (and the human voice is an
instrument) has its own quality of sound, its own charac-


teristic sonority which is a result of the way sound is pro-
duced by it. In much the same manner as a painter transfers
the colors of his palette to his picture, the composer selects
and combines for his composition the sonorities of the in-
struments at his disposal. He uses not colored pigments which
reflect different vibrations of light, but instruments which
produce differently constituted vibrations of sound. Several
words have been used to describe this tonal resource: timbre,
clang tint, tone-color. They are, for the purposes of the
listener, synonymous; but to avoid confusion we will use
the word “tone-color/* All the sorts of sonority and all their
uses in tonal combinations constitute one great tonal resource
for the composer: tone-color.

Sounds succeed each other, as they move past the point of
the listener’s consciousness at which they are perceived, at
varying rates of speed and in different patterns. The com-
poser has at his command an infinite variety of such speeds
and patterns. Because music exists in time, not in space, and
because humans measure the passage of time by applying
patterns to it, music could not exist nor could it be under-
stood without this most basic element of rhythm. Rhythm
is another of the composer’s resources, a fundamental part of
his materials.

Perceiving forward motion of definite speed and pattern,
produced at a monotonous level as, for instance, by hand-
clapping or by beating a drum, gives us a concept of rhythm
as a musical resource which can be and often is used effec-
tively apart from any other musical materials. Whether
rhythm by itself can constitute music is a question which
need not trouble us here. The fact, however, that the ques-
tion is ever raised indicates the fundamental quality of
rhythm and implies what will shortly be seen to be true, that


the motion and pattern of rhythm can hardly be separated
from the rest of the materials which are available to a com-
poser. Forward motion, which, when it remains absolutely
horizontal, we recognize as being purely rhythmic, may be
given a vertical motion in combination with the horizontal.
A line of sound which moves up and down while going for-
ward is melody, one of the most attractive of the materials
out of which music is made.

While tone-color, rhythm, and melody are the oldest musi-
cal materials and are present in nearly all historic and exotic
musical cultures, the distinctive quality of Western music
has resulted quite largely from the high development of a
fourth material harmony. Harmony, the sounding together
of several tones in vertical relationship, is not only one of the
most important parts of the composer’s language; but it has,
as the understanding of its possibilities has developed, modi-
fied and made more exact the use of all the other parts of
the musical language.

Tone-color, rhythm, melody, harmony these are the
composer’s resources, the basic materials out of which he
makes music. They are, in consequence, the things with
which those who desire a real appreciation of music must
have a “listening” acquaintance.

Chapter 2

TO most listeners, one of the most agreeable parts o the
musical experience is the reaction to the quality of sound.
From an instrumental or vocal solo to the ensemble of a sym-
phony or an opera a great deal of the charm for the listener
arises out of the fact that his sense of hearing is being grati-
fied. This gratification may often take the form of an ex-
perience in which the listener loses himself in a world of great
tonal beauty, in which he himself seems to become a part of
that beauty.

There can be little question that this quality of music
has been the initial attraction for most listeners, and, for that
matter, for most makers of music. The discovery that here, in
the realm of sound, is a source of intense sense-gratification
has been the point of departure for many music lovers. The
discovery, too, that he himself can produce a gratifying tone
with voice or instrument has started many a music maker on
his career.

If sense-gratification, if having the ear tickled by beautiful
sounds, were the end of musical experience instead of its be-
ginning, there would be little point in our present discussion.
Like the charm of a beautiful speaking voice used constantly
but saying nothing, music could become intolerable if its
initial attractiveness were its final end. Here, however, where


music exerts its first charm on many listeners, is the place to
begin our practice in learning to listen.

Each musical instrument has its own characteristic tone-
color. The implications of such a statement are enormous,
and were it not for the ability of the human ear to generalize
on the basis of how the tone is produced, this aspect of music
would be chaotic. We are aware that violinists, for instance,
recognize immense variations in the quality of tone produced
from different violins or even from one violin played by dif-
ferent violinists. But despite this fact we are able to generalize
sufficiently to recognize a violin tone. This violin tone is char-
acteristic of the highest-pitched stringed instrument played
with a bow. Thus we are able to speak about the tone-color
characteristic of any given kind of musical instrument even
though we recognize that from one individual instrument to
another and from one performance to another there will be
an interesting variation in tone-color. But that variation will
seldom, if ever, go beyond what we take to be characteristic
of the instrument in question.

Tone-color depends, then, upon the method by which the
tone is produced. This method varies from one kind of in-
strument to another. Basically, sound is the result of a vibra-
tion, an alternate compression and rarefaction of the air. The
sounds of different instruments vary because different kinds
of vibrations are produced. This whole subject need not
trouble the listener it belongs rather to the domain of the
physicist. It is mentioned only to indicate that, with the use
of devices like the stroboscope, the sound-wave patterns char-
acteristic of various instruments can be seen. What has long
been apparent to the ear can be measured with utmost


From the standpoint of the ordinary listener, the scientific
aspect of tone-color, however interesting it is in itself, cannot
be of much help to intelligent listening. We perceive tone-
colors as the characteristic sonorities of various instruments
and not as vibration patterns. Our interest here is simply to
quicken our perception with regard to tone-color, to become

fully sensitive to one of the composer’s important tonal

The modern symphony orchestra has come into existence
largely as a result of the search on the part of composers for
constantly new, varied, and expressive tone-color. The color

resources of the orchestra, with its kaleidoscopic possibilities,
are almost without limit. At a moment, for instance, when
the acoustics of the concert hall seemed to place a limit
on what could be expected in the way of new tone-colors
from an orchestra, the application of electrical amplification

1 The smoothness of the line indicates absence o overtones. The tone of each instru-
ment was photographed as the instrument produced middle C -with medium loudness.
Prof. Dayton C. Miller, of the Case School of Applied Science, Cleveland, Ohio, very
kindly furnished the photographs.


and recording has opened an immense new territory for ex-
ploration. 2

Because so much great music has been and is being written
for the symphony orchestra, because opportunities to hear
the orchestra either in concert hall, on phonograph records,
on film sound tracks, or over the radio make its music in-
creasingly available, and because the orchestra is the most
complex musical medium, our study of tone-color may well
begin with an attempt to master its intricacies.

We now begin to learn the language. We must learn to
recognize, first by name, and finally as automatically as we
recognize the meanings of words, the voices of the orchestra.
The handiest names for those voices are the names of the
instruments which produce them.

The instruments of the orchestra are normally divided
into four groups: the woodwinds or reeds, the brasses, the
percussion, and the strings. The musician accepts this group-
ing without quibbling, although he knows that the wood-
winds include instruments no longer made of wood and that
if he speaks of the group as reeds he must remember that the
flute can be spoken of as one only because in its original
form it was made from a large piece of reed.

When the composer writes for the orchestra he assigns
the instruments to positions on his music paper, his score,
in a conventional order which ranges them from top to
bottom in sections:

2 For the reader to whom this paragraph suggests an interesting field of exploration
the author makes the following recommendations:

1. Read, unless by the time you see this footnote it has been superseded by a later work,
Toward a New Music by Carlos Chavez.

2. Notice spots in recordings of standard works where amplification of single instruments
has produced a tonal balance impossible in the concert hall.

3. Notice, in movie and radio, the “mixing” of music and sound effects what might be
called a tonal “moulage.”






Piano and

Within each group he places the instrument which plays
the highest part at the top, the lowest part at the bottom.
Because many listeners, even those who have never seen an
orchestral score, find, as they become interested, that follow-
ing a score is fun, and because there is a definite logic in
thinking about instruments as ranging from high to low,
we will discuss them in the order in which they are placed
on the composer’s score.

Kleine Flote
Flauto piccolo
Petit flute
or ottavino
Hoboe or Oboe
English horn
Corno inglese
Cor anglais
Bass clarinet
Clarinetto basso
Clarinette basse
or clarone
Contra bassoon
or double






r French horn
1 Trumpet
1 Trombone
Basso tuba
~ Kettledrums
Bass drum
Grosse Trom-
Gran cassa
Grosse caisse
Side (snare)
Kleine Trom-
Tamburo mili-
Tambour militaire
Tambour de
1 Piano
“Violin j ^
Violine (Geige)
Bass viol (con-
Kontra Bass
tra bass, dou-
ble bass)

Before attempting a description of the instruments of the
orchestra which can be in any way valuable to the listener
it must be made perfectly clear that a verbal description of
tone-qualities is impossible. No one can learn to recognize
the characteristic tone of a musical instrument by reading
about it. Such discussion as follows must be used merely as
a help in listening. Any attempt to correlate tone-color with
actual color is fatal. The desire to describe the tone-color of
instruments by using adjectives which denote emotional
qualities is also dangerous. The word mournful, for instance,
is occasionally applied to the tone-color of the English horn.
Such typing is much more binding on the listener after he
has made it than it is on the composer. Consequently it may
lead to false listening.



The highest voice in the woodwind section is that of the
piccolo. It is actually a small flute and is played like a flute.
Its piercing tone-color may be heard above a considerable
body of sound. Even in the best orchestras, with the best
players, the piccolo is heard slightly out of tune often enough
to lead one to suspect that part of the characteristic quality
of its sound is the shrillness that results from a slightly faulty
intonation. Another characteristic of the piccolo is its ability
to play very rapid passages.

Several flutes are called for in most works for symphony
orchestra. The instrument has a clear singing tone-color
which may be quite loud in its highest register but which
usually can be heard only against a rather subdued back-
ground. This is especially true when the flute is playing in
its low register. 3

The tone-color of both piccolo and flute is ordinarily de-
scribed as clear and pure. This quality is due to the relative
absence of overtones. Sound is produced in these instruments
in the same way that a child makes a tone by blowing across
the top of a bottle or a piece of pipe. The current of air
from the mouth strikes the column of air enclosed within
the bottle and sets it into vibration. The absence of any
vibrating body other than air results in a relatively pure

In the woodwind instruments other than piccolo and flute,
the sound is initiated by a thin strip of reed which is set in
vibration by the air from the player’s mouth. In all reed

8 For a description of other flutes less commonly heard in the symphony orchestra
see an article entitled “Modern Alto, Tenor, and Bass Flutes’* by Dayton C. Miller in
the Music Teachers National Association V chime of Proceedings for 1938*


instruments the production of sound is controlled by the
pressure of the player’s lips on the reed as he blows air
through it.

The oboe, which has a double reed, is the voice directly
below the flute in the woodwind group. Its tone-color, due
to the presence of many overtones, is slightly nasal but alto-
gether rich and delightful. Although the oboe tone-color
is by no means heavy or powerful, its unique quality makes
it cut through the sound of the surrounding orchestra. For
this reason it is often heard as a solo voice in the orchestra.

The English horn is probably no more English than the
French horn is French. There is every reason to believe that
its present name is due to a misunderstanding or mistransla-
tion of the French word angle, used to describe the shape
of the pipe by which the reed is connected to the body of
the instrument. Like the oboe, the English horn has a double
reed; it is larger, lower-pitched, and characteristically slower-
spoken than the former. Much of its range overlaps that of
the oboe, and it is sometimes hard to distinguish its tone-
color from that of its smaller relative. There is, however, a
real difference between the two instruments which will be
easily apparent to the ear that has become sensitive through
careful listening.

The clarinet is placed below the English horn, or, if no
English horn is used, below the oboe, on the composer’s score.
This indicates that it is considered as a lower voice. It has,
however, a wider range than any other woodwind instrument
and can play not only lower but higher than the oboe. The
clarinet is sounded by a single flat strip of reed, held against
the player’s lower lip. Because of the type of reed, but even
more because of the peculiar acoustics of the cylindrical bore


of the instrument, the tone-color of the clarinet changes

considerably from its lowest range to its highest.

The very name of the clarinet gives a clue to what was
originally expected of it in the way of tone-color. The small,
shrill, high-pitched trumpet common during and before the
time of Bach and Handel (before 1750) was called clarino
or clarion. As the early single-reed instrument which was
the ancestor of the present clarinet gradually attracted at-
tention, its tone-color was found quite similar to that of
the clarino; and it had the added advantage of greater flexi-
bility. In due time it was called the little clarion or clarinet
and found its place in the symphony orchestra.

The modern clarinet no longer reminds us of an instru-
ment we seldom hear, even though its upper compass has a
slightly trumpetlike quality. It moves so smoothly and so
rapidly and covers such a wide range with apparent ease
that it is easy to distinguish. In its low register, especially
when it is played softly, it has a somber, almost hollow sound
which makes it one of the most valued instruments.

The bass clarinet is one of the very low voices of the
orchestra. Its tone-color is similar in quality to the lowest
register of the clarinet. It speaks slowly and its character-
istic utterance can be picked out only when the rest of the
orchestra is subdued.

The bassoon has a double reed, like the oboe and English
horn, and consequently its tone-color has some of the same
quality as those instruments. Conventionally it is used as the
bass of the woodwind section, but it has such a distinct char-
acter of its own that it is often given solo passages. The pe-
culiarly dry, rather wooden, nasal utterance of the bassoon
can become, in the right tonal surroundings, surprisingly
warm and interesting. And although it speaks rather slowly,


it can cut through the sound of the rest of the orchestra
quite incisively.

The double bassoon, or contra bassoon, is the low bass of
the woodwinds, and is actually the lowest voice of the orches-
tra. Its tone-color is similar to that of the bassoon, but much
heavier, and it is slower-speaking. Like the bass clarinet, it
is difficult to manage and can be heard as a characteristic
voice only when the composer takes pains not to blanket it
with too large a body of sound.

The saxophones constitute a whole group of reed instru-
ments which have not found wide use in the symphony
orchestra partly because they overlap in range all the other
reed instruments. They have a smooth and pleasing tone-
color and are indispensable for concert bands and dance


The French horn is not really the highest voice of the
brass section, but its part is written directly beneath the
woodwinds on a composer’s score because of an old usage
which has not completely disappeared. In many old scores
it is the only brass instrument represented; it was used partly
because composers felt that its quality would help to blend
the woodwinds with the rest of the orchestra. Really it was
treated as one of the woodwinds. This is still the case in much
writing for orchestra, and the conventional chamber music
group, the woodwind quintet, is composed of flute, oboe,
clarinet, French horn, and bassoon.

“What makes it desirable to use the French horn with wood-
winds is a great richness of tone-color which seems to reach
out and enclose and thus blend together the stronger indi-
vidualities of the reeds. As one hears the French horn in an


orchestra its sound seems to come from all directions; in
fact, the player keeps the bell of his instrument turned away
from the audience except when great volume is wanted.

As a solo instrument, the French horn is one of the most
pleasing and altogether delightful voices of the orchestra. It
has a wide range from a rather gruff low to a pervadingly
rich high. Played softly, its round, liquid quality can be
imitated by no other instrument. Played loudly, it has the
power of a true brass and can at times be made to give out
a percussive, almost explosive ring of great intensity.

The trumpet is one of the most familiar instruments of
*he orchestra, partly because of its extensive use in dance
bands. It must not be confused with the cornet, which re-
sembles it, but whose use is confined almost altogether to
the military and concert band. The trumpet is the highest
voice of the brass section. Its tone-color is brilliant, pene-
trating, and somewhat nasal. It is used frequently, especially
in modern scores, as a melodic instrument, although for its
traditional use as a “power” instrument in producing dy-
namic climaxes it has no substitute.

The use of the trumpet in music which is familiar to most
listeners varies considerably. The reason is to be found in
the changes which have been made in the instrument within
little more than the last century. The trumpets of the late
eighteenth century the time of Haydn and Mozart and
Beethoven lacked valves and were hardly more than bugles.
It was impossible to play a scale on them, and if the bugle-
like series of tones which could be produced on any given
trumpet did not fit the key of the music, the player had to
change trumpets. Because of this inflexibility the instrument
had a restricted use which can be traced very clearly in the
orchestral music of the time. In the symphonies of Bee-


thoven, for example, the discriminating listener can find
many passages where the composer must have wished for a
more flexible trumpet; not having one, he was forced to
write parts which seem unnecessarily simple and at times
rather harsh to the listener who knows the possibilities of
the modern trumpet.

With the addition of valves to the trumpet all the possible
tones within its range could be played without changing in-
struments. The trumpet became a much more vivid part of
the orchestra, and composers were not slower than perform-
ers in exploring its new possibilities. Modern orchestral
works, in consequence, make an increasingly varied use of
the trumpet. It should be added, too, that the use to which
the trumpet has been put in the modern dance band, espe-
cially in America, has added immensely to what may be
expected from it in the way of flexibility.

The trombone is the tenor of the brass section, with a
tone-color rich and smooth. Its dynamic possibilities range
from a soft warmth to a volume of tremendous power. Be-
cause of its slide mechanism the trombone has possibilities
possessed by no other brass instrument. These possibilities are
utilized more often in dance bands than in symphony orches-
tras, but it is interesting to note that the tremendous tech-
nical achievements of trombone players in modern dance
bands have been reflected in the increased demands made
upon the trombone by modern composers of symphonic

The bass trombone is similar in tone to the ordinary trom-
bone except that it has a lower range.

The tuba is the true bass of the brass section. Normally
it speaks rather slowly, but it can produce a sound of great
power and density. Seldom heard as a solo instrument, ex-


cept in instances like Wagner’s use of special tubas, its tone-
color is indispensable to the total orchestral sound.


The cornerstone of the percussion section of the symphony
orchestra is the set of kettledrums or timpani. The kettle-
drums must be tuned to the tones indicated by the composer
at the beginning of a score. They are played with two soft-
headed sticks. As the key of the music changes in older
music, from movement to movement within a symphony;
in newer music, often within movements the kettledrums
must be retuned. This is done either by turning the screws
around the rim of the kettle or by a pedal mechanism. In
music where rapid changes of pitch are necessary, the per-
former must have either a pedal kettledrum or more than
two of the sort tuned by screws.

The kettledrums are often heard in solo passages and are
easily recognized by the fact that their sound has pitch. In
older music they are almost invariably tuned to do and sol
of the particular key and are used at points where the com-
poser wishes to insist to the listener that he has now brought
the music around to the home key. They furnish, moreover,
one of the normal means of adding to the volume of orches-
tral sound.

The “boom” of the bass drum, played normally with one
stick, is too familiar to demand discussion. It is an active
noisemaker and is used of tenest to accent the rhythm.

The snare or side drum is a military instrument, indis-
pensable in the symphony orchestra because of its ability to
mark rhythms. It is played by means of two wooden drum-
sticks, either with the snares, which are cords stretched tight


across the back head, so that the tone-color has the familiar
rattle, or without the snares, when its tone-color approaches
that of the tom-tom. Few listeners are entirely conscious of
the immensely varied and intricate rhythmic patterns which
are possible to the snare drum.

The cymbals are usually used in pairs and struck together.
Their tone-color is often used to give a cutting edge to loud
climaxes. At times, also, composers ask that the cymbal be
struck with various types of sticks. As with many other
percussion instruments, the basic sound of which is fairly
easy to recognize, the listener can hardly predict what use
the composer’s imagination will find for it.

The orchestral bells, sometimes called the glockenspiel; the
tubular chimes; the celesta, basically a set of orchestral bells
played from a pianolike keyboard; even the xylophone are
all percussion instruments which produce sounds of definite
pitch. The triangle produces a high metallic sound of com-
paratively indefinite pitch.

Rattles of various kinds, tom-toms, castanets, the tam-
bourine, gongs, wind machines in fact, any noisemaker for
which the composer’s imagination may discover a use are
regarded as members of the percussion section.


The piano has long been in use as a solo instrument ac-
companied by the orchestra, but as a member on a par with
the others it has come into the symphony orchestra largely
during the twentieth century. It might be mentioned in
passing, however, that the instrument which the piano dis-
placed during the eighteenth century, the harpsichord or
clavicembalo, was widely used in the orchestras of its time.


As a constituent of the modern symphony orchestra the

piano is often treated as a percussion instrument.

The harp needs little discussion from the standpoint of
the listener. Its tone-color is unmistakable, whether it is used
as an accompanying instrument in solo passages for other
instruments or whether it contributes great, sweeping chords
to the sound of the whole orchestra.

Piano and harp both have strings, but beyond this there is
so little in common between them and the so-called string
section that they are looked upon by composer and listener
alike as belonging either in a separate section by themselves
or in the percussion group.


The strings of the orchestra are the instruments which
are normally played with a bow and which change their
pitch as the result of stopping; that is, pressing down a finger
to change the length of string that vibrates. The strings make
the modern symphony orchestra. The characteristic tone-
color of a large group of violins, violas, violoncellos, and
basses is the backbone of the body of orchestral sound; with-
out it the orchestra becomes what we in America call a
band. When the possibilities of this tone-color began to be
exploited fully during the eighteenth century, the modern
orchestra came into existence.

Little space need be given to a description of instruments
which are as familiar as the strings. The violins play a divided
soprano part: first violins second violins. The variety of
tone-color possible is so great that composers have not yet
exhausted it. The violas slightly larger, lower in pitch, and
with a somewhat nasal but amazingly rich tone-color are


the altos of the string section. The violoncellos, which, in
the hands of modern performers, have a flexibility of utter-
ance comparable to that of the violins, are the tenors of the
string choir. The double basses, or bass viols, are the lowest-
pitched instruments of the string section. They furnish the
chief bass voice of the orchestra.

While the strings are used primarily as the most important
voice of the orchestra a sort of backdrop against which the
other tone-colors of the orchestra may be displayed each
tone-color in the string choir may be utilized separately.
Thus the chief player of each section of the stringed instru-
ments is not only its leader, but also a soloist who may be
called on for an individual contribution of tone-color.

Until recently such a discussion of tone-color would have
furnished a fairly complete basis upon which the listener
might build his own experience. But within the last few
years a new element has removed some of the boundaries
which formerly confined the possibilities of tone-color. That
element is the electrical reproduction of sound.

How instrumental tone-colors could be combined has been
controlled traditionally by the acoustics of the concert hall.
The composer might hope that his music would be played
always under ideal acoustic conditions, but in weighing the
mass of sound represented by the notes he put on his score
he had to remember the acoustics of the actual or possible
concert hall. Therefore many tonal combinations were dan-
gerous or impossible, and many failures by composers who
were not always practical in this regard might be recounted.
Thus one could hardly use the flute as a solo instrument in
its low register and at the same time have the strings and
brass playing with full volume of tone. Nor could the quality


characteristic of an instrument playing softly be retained
when that same instrument was asked to play loud.

Although we still hear much of our music under concert-
hall conditions, it is no longer necessary that recorded or
broadcast music be performed under them. As those who
have charge of recording and broadcasting and those who
compose for recording and broadcasting it must be remem-
bered that all moving-picture music is recorded become
more and more aware of the possibilities of the new condi-
tions, we may expect tone-color resources to be tremendously
enlarged. The careful listener to recordings, while he may
discover many points at which the traditional concert-hall
approach has almost ruined the performance, will also find
considerable pleasure in discovering that the meaning even
of well-known scores has been clarified by the possibilities
of microphone placing and of “mixing.’*

The problem of mixing, for purposes of recording and
broadcasting, is the old problem of the orchestral conductor
under new conditions. From the standpoint of the intelli-
gent listener the conductor has one, and only one, function.
He must see to it that the music sounds. Making the music
sound implies more than a faithful presentation of the tone-
color of the music, but it does not include the kind of show-
manship which distracts the listener’s attention from his
hearing. Music must be heard, not seen, and a so-called color-
ful performance of a conductor for the sake of impressing
an audience is intolerable. The conductor’s motions should
be a guide for the musicians of the orchestra; beyond this
they simply distract attention from the music. The listener
should guard against mistaking the colorfulness of a per-
former for the tone-color of the music.

Mastering the technic of hearing tone-color is an exercise


that, not only because of its complexity, but because of the
enlarged boundaries of tone-color which are now being ex-
ploited, will give the listener lifelong pleasure.

Practice that will make the listener sensitive to tone-color
takes time. Fortunately, he can be getting it every time he
listens to music. The orchestra presents the biggest problem,
which we may attempt to solve in the following way:

First, become familiar with the tone-color of each instru-
ment separately. The pair of records issued by RCA Victor
called The Instruments of the Orchestra can be used for

Second, hear and learn the tone-color of each instrument
against the background of other instruments. The four
albums issued by Decca called The String Family, The Wood-
wind Family, The Brass Family, and The Percussion Family
are excellent for this purpose. The pictures of instruments
in each album may be of help. Remind yourself, when you
are listening, that you are going part-way to meet the music:
you are concentrating on learning to recognize a quality of

Third, take any fairly complex piece of orchestral music
and, as you listen to it, tell yourself what instrument or
group of instruments, one after the other, has the center of
your attention. On the chart at the end of this chapter, point,
as you listen, to the name of the instrument you are hearing.
A good many pieces might be recommended for this purpose.
The “Scheherazade” Suite by Rimsky-Korsakov might have
been composed for this very purpose. By the time you have
heard it through, you will have heard every important in-
strument play the sort of music to which it is best adapted.

Fourth, make the acquaintance of famous passages in
orchestral literature for each instrument. Nearly all of them


have been given solos within important pieces o music. For
instance, one can hardly think of the English horn without
being reminded of the slow movements of Franck’s Sym-
phony in D minor and Dvorak’s symphony “From the New
World/’ or the prelude to the third act of Wagner’s Tristan
and Isolda. A list at the end of this chapter will help the lis-
tener to locate what he needs.

Finally, most listeners know more about the tone-color
of instruments than they are aware. Don’t spend too much
effort on the ones you know. Work at those that are un-
familiar. And if you can’t master the fine points of this kind
of recognition without too much self-torture, let it go. An
infallible or absolute tone-color recognition may be like ab-
solute pitch recognition, a gift of nature. Some are able to
recognize and name the pitch of any musical sound they
hear. Either you can do that or you can’t. But nearly every-
one can learn relative pitch recognition; given a starting
point, he can sing a tune. In like manner, every normal lis-
tener should be able to acquire a good degree of mastery of
relative tone-color recognition.

Point at this chart as you listen.

French horn
bass drums
snare drums
bass viol
English horn
bass clarinet
contra bassoon



The Instruments of the Orches-

The String Family
The Woodwind Family
The Brass Family
The Percussion Family

Victor 20522, 20523
Decca Album 90
Decca Album 91
Decca Album 92
Decca Album 93

Rimsky-Korsakov “Scheherazade” Suite Victor

Franck Symphony in D minor Victor M-3oo

Dvorak Symphony No. 5, “From the

New “World” Victor M-2/3
Wagner Tristan and Isolda, prelude to

Act III Columbia Set 101

Side 32

NOTE: The lists following give music in which each instrument is used
for its characteristic tone- color.


Piccolo Sousa “Stars and Stripes Forever”

Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 4, Scherzo

Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker” Suite: “Chinese


Flute Mendelssohn Midsummer Night’s Dream: Over-

ture; Scherzo
Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker” Suite: “Dance of the


Oboe Schubert Symphony No. 7 in C major: An-

dante con moto

English horn Dvorak Symphony No. 5 in E minor,

“From the New World”: Largo

Franck Symphony in D minor: Allegretto

Clarinet Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E minor: An-

dante of first movement, for low

Weber Der Freischiitz: Overture

Bass clarinet Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker” Suite: “Dance of

the Sugar-Plum Fairy”

Bassoon Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in E minor: Valse

Taylor “Through the Looking Glass”

Suite: “Jabberwocky”


Contra bassoon Dukas
Saxophone Bizet

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
“L’Arlesienne” Suite No. i


French horn Strauss “The Merry Pranks of Till Eulen-


Mendelssohn Midsummer Night’s Dream: Noc-

Trumpet Liszt “Les Preludes”

Harris Third Symphony

Trombone Chabrier “Espafia” Rhapsody

Harris Third Symphony

Tuba Sibelius “Finlandia”


Kettledrums Wagner _ Gotterdammerung: “Siegfried’s Fu-

neral Procession”

Bass drum Tchaikovsky “1812” Overture

Snare drum Strauss “The Merry Pranks of Till Eulen-


Cymbals Wagner Lohengrin: Prelude to Act III


“Petroushka” Suite
“Scheherazade” Suite
Concerto in D major for violin and
“Caucasian Sketches”: “In the Vil-
“Kol Nidrei” (with orchestra; also
good for harp)
William Tell: Overture
Bass viol
Symphony No. 5 in C minor:

Chapter 3


EVERYONE has had experience with space. “Width, thick-
ness, and length are concepts which hardly require ex-
planation. If it is pointed out that a work of art requires a
fundamental kind of space for its existence, one thinks im-
mediately of the space limitations of a picture or a statue or
a building. Those limitations may be set by the practical
use for which the picture or statue or building is designed,
but the artist nevertheless works within that required space.

The composer is confined, in like manner, to a kind of
space. He may use the word length in connection with his
space, but what he really means is a length of time. His
space, except for a kind of thickness which must be discussed
in a different connection, is time. Music exists in time. Lately,
time limitations imposed by film and disc have made com-
posers more and more aware of the time framework within
which they work. Roy Harris, for instance, when the record-
ing of his “Symphony: 1933” was being prepared, was told
that the back of the last disc was not needed for the sym-
phony, and that he had four minutes and twenty seconds of
time available for another piece. He composed, for this defi-
nite amount of time, a piece for flute and string quartet
which he called simply “Four Minutes and Twenty Seconds/’

For the listener the length of the time is not as important



as the way in which the composer makes his music move
through it. This movement may be a complex matter, and
for a complete musical experience the listener must cultivate
an awareness of the complexities involved, since they often
carry much of the meaning of the music.

The passage of time is measured, for the purposes of music,
by two devices: the recurrence of alternating strong (ac-
cented) and weak (unaccented) pulses with more or less
regularity, and the use of patterns which are imposed upon
or grow out of the pulsation. These two things constitute
rhythm. 1

Fortunately for both the development and the understand-
ing of music, rhythm is a part of the composer’s material
which makes a close and direct contact with the human
nervous and muscular systems. The listener responds almost
automatically to the forward movement, to the rhythm, of
the music he is hearing. One of our most human character-
istics is that we are creatures of rhythm. The recurrence of
the things we do, like eating and sleeping and going to work,
obeys a rhythm which has vast importance to the comfort
of our lives. We walk with a rhythm which grows out of
the fact that one leg invariably steps harder or farther than
the other. We learn muscular co-ordinations, such, for in-
stance, as are required for manipulating a typewriter, much
better and quicker if we make them rhythmically. Our
minds superimpose rhythmic patterns upon such recurring
noises as the ticking of a clock or the clicking of the wheels
of a train against the rails. All these things and many others
which the reader may note for himself demonstrate how

subtleties over which some musicians are inclined to argue with regard to the
differentiation between time (tempo) and rhythm have so little importance to the lis-
tener that they may be dismissed from this discussion.


closely and characteristically human is the need to measure
forward motion. It is so fundamental that music could not
exist without it. A recognition of it and a cultivation of our
responses to its subtleties make clear the contributions of
rhythm to the composer’s meaning.

A musician conceives the basic recurrence of strong and
weak pulsations in terms of measures, the length and kind
of which he indicates by a time signature; he suggests the
speed he desires by a conventional speed description or tempo,
generally in Italian. These two things are very simple and
can best be understood in the musician’s own terms.

A measure is the distance between points of strongest
normal pulsation. That distance is stated, even by the musi-
cian, in mathematical terms. Thus if every fourth pulsation
is strongest, he uses the number 4 in the numerator of his
time signature to indicate the length of the measure; if every
third pulsation is the strongest he uses the number 3. Then
he decides what kind of symbol he will use to represent one
pulsation in terms of musical notation, and this he indicates
with another number in the denominator. Any sort of note,
a whole note, which is represented in the time signature by
the figure i, half (2), quarter (4), eighth (8), or sixteenth
( 1 6) , may serve his purpose. If the accent recurs every four
whole notes his time signature is ~; every four half notes,
; every four quarter notes, *; every three quarter notes,
|; every two quarter notes, |; every six eighth notes, |;
and so on.

This is not too technical for the listener. The ordinary
person who has no knowledge of physics and chemistry but
who wants to do some photography for his own pleasure
will have a great deal more trouble with the comparatively
much more complex mathematics of the relationships of


lens and film area, of light strength and emulsion speed. Yet

he will soon master them.

Music can hardly be understood without the listener’s
responding to measure. The commonest measures come to
his ears countless times. They are represented by the time
signatures H, 2, A, f, *, f, f, H. The listener will find that
these simple measures often serve the composer as a frame-
work for more complex and varying rhythms; he will find,
too, that simple basic measures do not always suffice, and
the composer may use more complex combinations such as
! and J.

The speed at which the measures are supposed to move is
indicated in several ways. Commonest is a tradition which
musicians have inherited from the time when Italian was
their international language. Instead of directing that their
music should be performed simply slow or fast or medium
fast, musicians habitually use such Italian words and groups
of words as appear on our concert programs copied from
the printed music to indicate the speed of the parts of long
works. Examples are: allegro, meaning brisk or lively;
andante, moderately slow; largo, very slow. Verbal descrip-
tion of speed can give, at best, only a clue. For greater ac-
curacy composers and editors often indicate the number of
pulsations per minute, as J =90. Because speed is relative,
as an automobile driver discovers when he tries to feel thirty
miles an hour in a town after a long stretch at sixty in the
open country, the whole matter of the speed of musical
movement must be referred by the listener not to a verbal
description or a mathematical formula but to his muscles.
At best the composer’s indication of speed will only suggest
what his muscles may expect. Dancers and marchers have


no difficulty in recognizing different speeds and variations
of speed. No one would suggest dancing or marching in a
concert hall in order to feel the speed of music; listeners are
often seen, though, who cannot get the feel of a rhythm
without moving their fingers or feet or heads to it. For the
rare listener who has difficulty about sensing rhythm differ-
ences, no better practice can be suggested than that when
he has the chance, by himself, he should let his muscles go
with the music to which he is listening.

So much for the first aspect of time measurement in-
volved in music. It is basic. If a composer were to try to
make music without the fundamental patterns of rhythmic
pulsation which are supplied by measure and speed, the
listener would supply them from his own experience. When,
for example, the horn of a parked car begins to sing for its
own amusement because of an electrical failure, the worker
in a near-by office begins to count and feel the passage of
time rhythmically in the hope that he may be able to count
the singing to an end. But these basic pulsations are only
the foundation upon which the rhythmic structure of a
piece of music is built. The structure itself grows out of
the rhythmic patterns which the composer selects to char-
acterize each individual piece of music.

Certain basic pulsations and speeds become, with only
slight additions, the rhythmic patterns out of which musi-
cal structures develop. This is especially true of dances. The
waltz pattern is only a slight alteration of the triple measure:

3 i J J


r *


The fox trot is another example with, a fundamental duple


2 \4′ p > f i f fc f

Many other dances, however, take their character from a
more complex pattern that is superimposed upon the basic
pulsation. In the habanera, the most familiar example of
which is to be found in Bizet’s Carmen, the time signature
is a simple | but the dance is marked by a constantly reit-
erated pattern which in this case is heard in the accompani-



The composer may use other rhythms along with this, as he
desires. Both the polonaise, familiar in many works of that
name by Chopin, and the bolero, which to most modern
listeners means specifically the orchestral piece by Ravel,
have a | measure as their basic pattern. Both, too, have the
same superimposed rhythmic pattern, either or both of the

3 J73 J7U

They differ chiefly in speed. As in the habanera, the com-
poser may exercise his ingenuity in combining other
rhythmic patterns with the basic one. The mazurka is an-
other example. Known largely because of the attraction it
had for Chopin, it is based on a fundamental triple rhythm,
with the following rhythmic pattern:




The listener who is interested in dance rhythms will find an
endless variety to keep his interest alive. The variety is in-
finite, so that it would be fruitless to attempt to make a
complete catalogue. Our main purpose here is to cultivate
a sensitivity to the qualities of the basic forward movement
of all music. We must be alert, as we listen, to the patterns
by which that forward movement becomes clear. That many,
if not all, of those patterns have come to us from dance
music is not surprising when it is remembered that the pri-
mary function of dance music is not only to accompany but
to impel bodily movement. 2 But more important than the
source of any rhythmic pattern is the way it is used by the
composer in making music. This is of vast importance to the
listener because listening consists basically in discerning and
following patterns.

A rhythmic pattern is often imposed on a basic pulsation
with which it conflicts. When this happens the accents of
the basic pulsation are displaced and by that displacement
made more prominent. The effect is called syncopation. It
appears prominently in much dance music, even dance
music not of twentieth-century America, and it is one of
the favorite devices by which composers call attention to
the significance of their rhythms.

Accents displaced:
Basic pulsation:

* J J
i J J
r * *
r * *
r* *


Rhythmic patterns may be thought of as coming to the
ear all on one level, as they would be if they were sounded
by a drum. But in most listening, rhythmic patterns which

2 See Evelyn Porter, Music Through the Dance. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1938.


measure the forward motion of the music are combined with
another kind of motion. They maintain their function as
horizontal motion, but they take on, along with that hori-
zontal motion, an undulating motion up and down which
makes them fundamental not only to rhythm but to what
in Chapter i we called melody.


Harris “Symphony : 1933”

“Four Minutes and Twenty Seconds”

Bizet Carmen: Habanera

Chopin Polonaise, Op. 26, No. 2,

Ravel Bolero

Chopin Mazurkas: Op. 33, No. 4
Op. 63, No. 3
Op. 67, No. 4

Columbia 68183-68186
Columbia 68186
Victor 1145
Victor 739iX
Columbia Set No.
Victor 6879
Victor 6879

Chapter 4

NEARLY everyone has had the experience, when look-
ing out of the window of a fast-moving railway train,
of having his eyes follow the line of telegraph wires strung
on poles along the track. The constant dip and rise of the
wires from one pole to the next, the rise and fall as the line
of poles descends into a hollow or rises over a hill while the
train moves along on a level track, exert an irresistible at-
traction. The eye is following a line; what it lacks in visual
interest that line makes up in forward continuity and ver-
tical rise and fall which fix the attention. Such a visual re-
sponse gives us a clue to a similar aural response.

The ear follows, in almost exactly the same manner, a
melodic line which has many similarities to the visual line
of the telegraph wires. The aural response is perhaps not
quite so automatic as the visual, but for that very reason
it may arouse greater interest.

When we think about what we ordinarily call a tune or a
melody, most of us have a preconceived set of requirements
which the tune must meet before we will accept it as such.
It must be tuneful, for instance, whatever that means
perhaps that it must be singable, or that it must lend itself
to whistling, or that it must be easy to remember, or that we
can try it on the piano. Whatever these personal require-



ments of a tune may be, they are often responsible for the
failure of many listeners to find anything of interest in much
of the music to which they are exposed when they attend
concerts or listen to the radio.

Let us forget whatever concepts we individually have
built up for tune and melody and return to the much more
simple and equally more fundamental concept of melodic
line. It is a line of sound, moving past and attracting the
attention of the ear just as the telegraph wires attract the
eye. Perhaps it disappears momentarily, as the wires do when
the train goes through a cut or over a bridge; that very dis-
appearance emphasizes the importance of the line and makes
its reappearance an event.

With such a concept of melodic line and no other, no mat-
ter how strongly our individual tastes may try for the mo-
ment to dictate to us, we are ready to learn how to follow
to follow clear through from beginning to end any piece
of music we may hear. Our listening, as far as melodic line
is concerned, is based too much on what we think a com-
poser ought to make his music do, and not enough on an
attempt to discover what the composer has really done.

How does a composer make a melodic line? There are al-
most as many answers to that question as there are examples
of composers’ work. The question is one that must be asked
and answered for each piece. The question itself implies that
the composer makes his melodic line, and this will surprise
many listeners to whom all the processes of a composer’s
work are a kind of magic which can be left unexplained by
calling it inspiration. Inspiration is involved, but the whole
process of training to which composers subject themselves
gives them a technic which helps them to make, besides other
things, a melodic line. One of our most fruitful approaches


to an understanding of music is to ask and to attempt to
answer, for every piece of music we hear, this unavoidable
question: How did this composer make the melodic line for
this piece?

Answering this question will always be fun. At first it
will have some of the same difficulties as learning the gram-
mar and vocabulary of an unfamiliar language. The listener
will have to look in the back of the book for some of the
words. But eventually, as in any other learning process, the
question will be answered with as little effort as it takes for
the ordinary person to use his mother tongue.

Let us begin by answering the question for some specific
pieces of music. A good starter is the familiar air, “La donna
e mobile” (“Woman is fickle”), from Verdi’s Rjgoletto.
This song has a melodic line which will fulfill almost any-
one’s demands of a tune. It has been called a barrel-organ
piece by those who think it is a sign of superiority to show
contempt for music which has the power to appeal to the
barrel-organ man’s customers. But anything subtler would
have failed to serve the purpose which makes “La donna e
mobile” so important dramatically in the opera.

Verdi had to have a piece of music which would unfail-
ingly identify one of the characters after it had been sung
only once. The Duke, with whom the song must be con-
nected, is the intended victim of an assassination plot which,
when it misfires, finds its victim in Gilda, the heroine. Gilda’s
father, Rigoletto, has instigated the plot; and as he is at last
about to throw the sack containing the victim’s body into
the river, the Duke’s song, “La donna e mobile,” is wafted
to him as the Duke wanders by on his way home. It has been
heard only once before, but snatches of it now are enough to


tell that Rigoletto’s plot has gone wrong. That Verdi knew
his piece would satisfy these requirements is demonstrated
by the story related by Streatfeild in his Masters of Italian

When the roles were distributed, the tenor who was to play the
Duke found a blank in his part at the beginning of the third act.
He went to Verdi and asked what it meant. “Don’t be in a hurry,”
said the maestro, “there is plenty of time.” Every day it was the
same story; the tenor petitioned in vain for his missing song. At
last, the day before the final rehearsal, Verdi gave him the manu-
script of the famous “La donna e mobile” but not before he had
made him promise not to sing or whistle a note of it to a living
soul. At the rehearsal everyone was laid under a solemn oath not to
divulge a note of the music before the performance. Verdi knew
the quickness of Venetian ears. He knew that if the melody of the
song were once heard outside the walls of the theater, it would be
all over Venice in a few hours, and at the performance the gilt
would be off the gingerbread.

How did Verdi make a melodic line that would so surely
satisfy the dramatic and musical requirements of the opera?

First refresh your memory of the piece by playing it again.

The melodic line begins with a six-note group which im-
mediately shows us how clearly a melodic line is related to
the rhythmic pattern we discussed in the last chapter. This
group of six tones, which we may call a melodic motive, gets
its character partly from its rhythmic pattern.

= melodic motive

_ 3 J) J) J | jTjj J I = rhythmic pattern
8 I I

This melodic motive is simple, direct, unforgettable. Out of
it Verdi continues his song. First comes an instrumental in-
troduction, with the motive used three and a half times,


First time Second time


Next it is slightly changed in melodic contour, but without
rhythmic alteration beyond adding an extra short note or
grace note. The resemblance cannot be missed:
Third time
Then the first half of this form of the motive is repeated:

Fourth time
At this point we may revert to the analogy of the telegraph
wires. If our view of them is briefly interrupted, we watch
for them all the more eagerly. Verdi has us following the
line of his melody, and by means of a break in the middle
of the fourth repetition of the motive he provokes us into
listening harder for what is to follow. What follows is more
of the same motive, with the tenor singing:

Fifth time

Sixth time

Seventh time

Eighth time

ft V v V

After using his original motive eight times, Verdi repeats
the music which the tenor has sung, making a melodic line
which consists of twelve repetitions of the same motive. By
that time, certainly, the listener can be expected to have it
fairly well fixed in his mind. Verdi then introduces a new
melodic motive, slightly more complex than the first:


This lie uses three times, moving it upward each time, and
changing the end of the third repetition:

**** r r (changed here)

Then, in view of the care which he has taken in sticking to
his subject, Verdi becomes almost extravagant. After using
his new motive only three times he introduces another so
cleverly that it seems to come as a necessary result of the
change he made in the third use of the one which it follows:
This, in turn, is followed by another, in the orchestra, while
the tenor catches his breath in preparation for his long note


K(h tf WH^g I ^ I

But this motive returns us to its predecessor, and the two of
them combined go along under the tenor’s long note:
With a proper ending the labor of melody making is com-
plete. The melodic line we have described is repeated in its
entirety to finish the piece. After the song that we know as
“La donna e mobile” is finished, however, the music of the
opera continues with a long descending melodic line for the
orchestra, made of twelve more repetitions of

NOTE: From here on, throughout the book, this staffless “skeleton” notation will be msed
where it Is adequate to indicate materials which are already familiar.


How did Verdi make this melodic line? He invented these
four short motives:

p itfr
p t?? r

How he invented them and how he knew what to do with
them are beyond this study. “What he did with them is our
affair, however, because an understanding of the process will
make us more intelligent listeners. We might make a dia-

Introduction singer _

| Motive one Motive one

I four (three and one -half ) times

eight times

/singer has long note endingin

singer orchestra -. singer . . {orchestra

I Motive two I Motive three Motive four Motive three I Motives three and four |

I three times I once




Introductory passage again _ .singer. .
I Motive one Motive one

‘ as “before

as before

singer orchestra – . singer .

Motive two 1 Motive three Motive four Motive three

/singer has long note ending
J in an extra flourish which
} tenors like to”jam”
” ‘orchestra
Motives three and four I

as before

as before

as before

as before

as before

This may seem a rather complex analysis for a very sim-
ple piece of music. Its difficulties will disappear if the listener


follows the diagram a few times with his finger while listen-
ing to the music. The whole process of making a melodic
line should seem so simple to the listener that he is tempted
to make one himself. Perhaps he can; a good many people

This excursion into a complex analysis should have taught
us several things:

First, a melodic line is made of motives.

Second, these motives combine the undulation of melody

with the pattern of rhythm.
Third, once the melodic line is safely moving, new motives

may be introduced with less necessity for their repetition.
Fourth, slight changes in both rhythmic pattern and melodic

direction do not destroy the individuality of the motive.

Melodic motives may be long or short, simple or complex,
easy to discern or hard to find, but they will be present in
most of the music we hear. The only exception will be music
so subordinated to a verbal text that the text claims most
of the listener’s attention, and the absence of a melodic mo-
tive in such a case as this only emphasizes the attention it
must claim when it is present. The rhythmic pattern of a
. melodic motive, because of the very nature of our reaction
to rhythm, will invariably be one of the identifying quali-
ties of that motive. The tendency of a composer to add sev-
eral new motives after the melodic line is well started is uni-
versal and should be a source of continual interest to the
listener. Finally, the complexities of melodic line which trap
and discourage many listeners invariably develop from subtle
changes in the shape and character of melodic motives. One
of the most fruitful sources of pleasure in listening is to


follow, in a melodic line, the increasing freedom with which
the composer unfolds and expands his melodic motives.

This is worth doing at least once in detail. It will also give
us experience with a more complex but fundamentally quite
simple melodic line. Let us examine an orchestral piece one
which, on first hearing, will seem too complex for the sort
of analysis we made of Verdi’s “La donna e mobile/ 5 The
opening Prelude of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolda will serve
our purpose.

Wagner made the predominant melodic line of this Pre-
lude from the following melodic motives:

The first time they are heard the second motive begins be-
fore the first ends, tone-color being used to keep their iden-
tities distinct. A clearer picture would be one like this:

And later, a third motive appears:
The subtleties of Wagner’s use of these melodic motives un-
fold as follows: The Prelude begins with motive i stated by
the violoncellos, with motive 2 following immediately, played
by the oboe. This takes four measures. Then both motives
are played again, at a higher pitch which was Verdi’s pro-
cedure with his first motive motive 2 being played this time


by the clarinet. So far we have heard a melodic line which
may be charted like this:

Motive 2, higher
motive 1 , higher

Wagner next uses both motives again, returning to the tone-
color of the oboe for motive z. This statement also has been
moved upward, so the process of raising the pitch has been
continued. But in this third statement the motives begin
another kind of expansion. Motive i begins at another point
in the measure and is extended in length, so that it falls one
step farther than it has before:
This is answered by a version of motive 2 which is also ex-
tended, rising higher than before:


The careful listener will find in this third statement of these
motives that Wagner is beginning to insist more and more
upon the direction of the motion which characterizes each
of them. Beneath this third appearance of motive z the Eng-
lish horn reinforces its upward motion in this way:
and the bassoons remind us of the downward motion of
motive i by doing this:



In this third repetition, then, Wagner has given us a com-
bination of melodic lines which include both motives:
Motive 2
upward motion of 2

Motive 1
downward motion of 1
Next, this combination of motives is moved up an octave
and repeated. Then begins the process of motive subdivision
so characteristic of the sort of thing the listener is contin-
ually being asked to follow and understand. The violins state
very softly the essence of motive 2 :

and this is answered, with increasing intensity, by the flutes,
oboes, and clarinet. Then, over a tremendous chord, this
upward motion is expanded, to introduce motive 3 :
When motive 3 arrives, played by the violoncellos,
the listener will feel that it belongs; its first three notes are
another way of saying what Wagner has discovered for us
to be the essential element of motive 2. What is new is the
wide melodic drop of the last part of motive 3.


As the melodic line of this Prelude develops, Wagner makes
new combinations of every aspect of his motives which will
serve his purpose. A measure-by-measure verbal analysis
could hardly hold the reader’s attention, but an attempt to
hear and understand this melodic line will provide many
hours of intensified musical experience, experience that will
bring with it an enriched understanding not only of how
music is made but of music itself. One thing this Prelude
does not have in common with the Verdi song: it cannot be
completely understood with a few hearings. This quality of
much great music, a quality of holding back its complete
charm while the listener grows into an acquaintance with it,
is’ one of the most human qualities of this art. To say that
an acquaintance grows on you is to compliment either a
person or a piece of music.

Try to find, in this Wagner Prelude, the following: mo-
tive 3 broken in the middle, its parts recombined in reverse
order, and followed by what we called the essence of mo-
tive 2:

The rhythmic pattern of the first part of motive 3 given
a new melodic shape and combined with the essence of
motive z:
Now where does this melodic figure come from?


Then the rhythmic pattern with which we are now familiar
is given a new melodic shape, introduced by a rapid rising
scale, and followed by another familiar motive segment.
Combinations like this appear:

One thing more must be said of the Wagner piece. This
method of making a melodic line is purely musical. But
Wagner was writing dramatic music, an introduction to a
drama which, when the Prelude is being heard in the theater,
is about to be performed on the stage. The melodic motives
which he uses, and some of their recombinations such even
as the appearance, at the bottom of the music, of a group
of three tones which combine the rising inflection of mo-
tive z with the wide fall found in motive 3

draw to themselves, from the context of their use in the
drama and from the very motion involved in their sound, a
psychological, dramatic significance which gives them an-
other kind of meaning. In this relationship to the drama we
call them leading motives. Certainly, however, any value
and significance that this melodic line may have for the lis-
tener from Wagner’s use of leading motives must wait upon
the listener’s understanding of that same melodic line as a


musical entity growing out of the use of melodic motives.
Leading motives as such are not our present interest.

In attempting to understand the melodic line of a piece
of music which is new to the listener, the first step must be
to find and remember the motives out of which that line is
made. This is seldom difficult, especially for the listener who
has gained some insight into how a composer works. The
composer, if he wishes his music to be understood, must
make it easy to listen to, which means that he must so pre-
sent the motives that it will be difficult to miss them. A re-
examination of the two pieces we have discussed will dem-
onstrate the care with which both Verdi and Wagner pre-
sented their melodic motives. What the composer has taken
so much care to present must be worth the listener’s com-
plete and intelligent attention.

Our interest so far has been devoted to only a part of the
musical fabric. Very little music consists of only one melodic
line, as the Wagner Prelude especially shows. Our attention
must now turn to the task of hearing more than one melodic
line at a time.


Verdi Rigoletto: *’La donna e mobile” Victor 1704 (Gigli)

Victor 1616 (Caruso)
Wagner Tristan and Isolda: Prelude to Act I Victor

Chapter 5


T\7TE have had not only a glimpse at the process by which
W melodic lines are made but some experience in fol-
lowing the thread of a single melodic line through a piece
of music. Our next interest must be an extension of the
ability to hear one melodic line so as to grasp the melodic
qualities of an entire musical fabric. Music is, in many of
its aspects, woven in a way which has many points of simi-
larity with other fabrics. It is to the texture of this musical
fabric that we must turn in our next listening problem.

The texture of a piece like “La donna e mobile” presents
very little difficulty. The one thread which is the melodic
line dominates the fabric to such an extent that one hardly
notices the reiterated rhythmic and harmonic substructure.
That this substructure is a traditional and almost trite waltz
accompaniment does not serve to force it on our attention:


j 1 1




It gets started and runs along almost out of sight, a kind of
warp over which the glittering thread of the melody is im-
posed. By itself it has virtually no melodic significance. Music
of this type, where the single melodic line carries the whole
melodic interest of the music, is called monophonic in tex-
ture. The listener will immediately recognize that most popu-
lar songs, ballads, folksongs, and a great deal of the music
he hears in the concert hall belong to this category. The word
which describes it is a good one to remember: monopbonic.
Not all music, however, is monophonic in texture; what
is more, much music that is predominantly monophonic has
moments when the fabric becomes a web of melodic lines.
This means that the listener must be prepared to follow a
melodic texture which is polyphonic. The Wagner Prelude
to Tristan and Isolda contains many passages which are poly-
phonic, where several melodic motives are woven together
into a fabric and are to be heard simultaneously. A striking
example of this procedure has already been illustrated:

Upward motion of 2.
Motive i
Downward motion of i e?

The listener will be able to find many similar instances in
the same piece of music.

Several kinds of polyphonic music are familiar to every-
one. First on the list must come the round. The round has
only one tune, but that tune furnishes the melodic material
for a polyphonic fabric, as, for example, the well-known
” Scotland’s Burning”:


1 234


Braided together, the polyphonic fabric looks like this:

r r





Most of us are familiar with this type of polyphony, not as
listeners but as performers. To keep to our own part, we
have probably had to sing loud enough not to hear the other
parts, for fear their pull would get us off. This is a problem
for the listener too, but the pull of interest back and forth
between different points in his intricate fabric is one of the
composer’s aims.

The round is a device for weaving together differently
timed appearances of the same melodic line. Another poly-
phonic device with which most of us are familiar is that of
weaving together two or more separate and distinct melodic
lines. The classic example, which has been attempted in most
schoolrooms and service club luncheons, is to sing “The Span-
ish Cavalier” and “My Name is Solomon Levi” at the same
time. It usually ends in an uproar, but it can be done:



J J’
name is


Sol –

– mon
-J J> .

Le vi A

nd my
Ig* 4 J ‘

A Span . ish Cav

a – Her



$> J J) J -JJ 1

store’s on Sal em

where you “buy your

i- 1 =
$& 5

in his re – treat, and on his gui –

The round is one of the oldest devices for expanding music
beyond a single unaccompanied melodic line. “We have an
example that was written down in England in the thirteenth
century, the famous “Sumer is icumen in/ 5 Hardly any
younger is the device of singing two or more distinct songs
at the same time. It has always been a source of musical pleas-
ure. The Bachs had a hilarious time at their family reunions,
making up what they called a quodlibet, which is exactly
what we have been describing.

More familiar than either of these devices, especially to
our younger friends, is the polyphonic exercise known as the
jam session. A music historian, if he has heard of the jam
session, as most of them have, might perhaps wish to describe
it as a polyphonic improvisation and might point out that
this is something very old that was practiced by the church
choirs of medieval Europe for several centuries, beginning
somewhere between the time of Charlemagne and the Cru-
sades. Still, lots of us know about polyphonic music at first
hand through contemporary jam sessions. Those who are
most familiar with this type of music are the first to suggest
that its proper appreciation and understanding demand con-
siderable study on the part of the listener. Mr. Wilder Hob-
son, in his book entitled American Jazz Music, has much
that is of extreme interest to say on this subject. He has tran-
scribed an improvisation of three choruses of the “Yellow
Dog Blues” in which the improvised texture is clearly poly-


phonic. 1 In writing of this type of music, Mr. Hobson says:
“Multilinear music of any sort seems to be less easily com-
prehended than music of a single melodic line with chordal
support.’ 5 With the blessing of even the jazz expert, then,
we will go on to some exercises in listening to multilinear
or polyphonic music.

The famous quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto, “Fairest
daughter of love” (“Bella figlia dell’amore”) , is an excellent
piece with which to start. Verdi, with his unerring sense of
what would succeed on the opera stage, has here written an-
other piece that is so popular for its luscious sound that most
listeners fail to perceive its more important excellences. Per-
haps we, even, should play it once or twice before we study
it in order to get our senses accustomed to its surface at-

Now, let’s see what it really is. First, with a most unob-
trusive orchestral accompaniment, it is a song for four
voices: in the order of their entrance, tenor, contralto, so-
prano, baritone. Dramatically, it is one of the high points of
the opera. This drama we must understand, and we can do it
best by telling part of the story and drawing a diagram. The
actors are:

The tenor. The Duke, who a few moments before has been
singing “La donna e mobile” as a kind of prelude to the
kind of entertainment he hopes the evening will produce.

The contralto. Maddalena, the “girl with whom the Duke is
momentarily enamored.

The soprano. Gilda, the court jester’s daughter, who is in
love with the Duke and who is heartbroken as she dis-
covers that he is unfaithful.

1 Wilder Hobson, American Jazz Music, p. 67.


The baritone. Rigoletto, Gilda’s father, who seeks vengeance

for the Duke’s mistreatment of his daughter.

The action takes place at a lonely house in the country.
The Duke and Maddalena are inside; outside, Rigoletto has
brought Gilda to prove to her the Duke’s unfaithfulness.
Four emotions are thus present dramatically. The Duke is
enjoying his lovemaking. Maddalena is coyly exercising her
technic of keeping the Duke interested. Gilda is stunned by
this proof of the Duke’s unfaithfulness. Rigoletto is trying
to comfort Gilda and at the same time is talking about re-
venge. Four people could hardly make an understandable
verbal polyphony of this sort of situation. Without music,
the situation would have to be conveyed in some dijfferent
manner. But the music, when it is heard as a fabric of dis-
tinct lines, gives us not only a fascinating texture of sound
but a counterpoint 2 of emotions. Four emotions, then, can
be heard simultaneously; the words are comparatively un-
important in conveying them. Verdi’s success with this piece
makes it such a tour de force that we willingly accept the
stretch of probabilities by which the Duke and Maddalena,
who are unaware that the other two members of the quartet
are in the neighborhood, unite with them so euphoniously,

Inside the old house


2 A technical word which could hardly be avoided at this point. It refers to the
process of weaving melodic lines together and is simply a shortened translation of the
Latin phrase, puncium contra punctum, which means note against note.


The Duke begins with a phrase characterized by the motive
of its first three notes:

This becomes the familiar tune of the quartet:

pt.3 *.*\*p3

Maddalena talks rapidly, with a melodic motive which fits
her character:

Gilda is given a drooping phrase which, in the way it falls
away, characterizes her part in the situation:

Rigoletto enters with the strength of the down beat in his
favor, but the rapid movement of his part keeps out of the
way of the movement of the other parts:


Verdi is careful to let the listener hear the entrance of each
part clearly; the character of each melodic line, together with
the tone-color of each voice, makes the task of following
the four lines not too difficult* When all four parts are mov-
ing, the fabric becomes a glittering musical brocade, and the
listener’s attention is drawn back and forth from one thread
to another. The listener will have mastered its intricacies and
will have made considerable progress in listening to this sort
of music if, at the final note of the piece, he finds himself
to have been so attentive to the music that he feels the re-


lease of his attention. Good listening can hardly be passive.

Try it!

The pleasure of mastering the ability to hear music of
polyphonic texture leads the listener inevitably to the music
of J. S. Bach. Here, beyond all argument, is a great com-
poser whose music demands the ability to follow the melodic
lines interwoven into one fabric. Bach’s music makes other
demands on the listener too, but we can easily select a piece
which will serve our present purpose. Let us take the second
movement of the Concerto in D minor for two violins.

The tone-color interest of this movement, as of the whole
concerto, consists in the sound of two violins against a body
of accompanying strings. The most important melodic lines
appear in the solo parts, but it would be a mistake not to
direct some of our listening attention to the accompanying
parts. Here, as in all other listening, the first thing is to dis-
cover the motives out of which the melodic lines develop.

The music begins with two motives played simultaneously.
The more important is given to the second solo violin:

This grows immediately into one of the melodic subjects of
the piece:


r r

Sounding with this melodic line is another at the bottom of
the score, one which will continue with hardly a break until
the final note:


When the second solo violin reaches the end of its two-
measure subject the first solo violin answers in a higher reg-
ister with a line constructed from the same motive; thus the
listener hears this motive first in one melodic line and then
in another. At this answering entrance the second solo violin
takes up another, more rapid motive:

First solo violin

Second solo violin

From these three motives, then, Bach makes his melodic
lines. The listener will find in unraveling the texture of the
piece that any one of the three will be heard at the top, in
the middle, or at the bottom of the music, that they may
be used in new rhythmic positions, and that they may even
be turned upside down. This last happens to the motive with
which the solo violin begins:
r r r ; re

As the listener continues his exploration of polyphonic
texture he will discover not only riches in musical styles
which may have seemed foreign to his taste, but also an
ability to hear his way through many passages in familiar
music which formerly seemed barren. It frequently happens
that the richest melodic lines are part of a complex strand
of woven lines. Often the vitality of a melodic motive is so
great that it seems to force the music to expand into a wider
and more complex fabric. Certainly this is true of the jazz
improvisation we mentioned earlier in the chapter; it is no
less true of much other music.


Our new accomplishment, the ability to hear a polyphonic
structure, leads directly to the next of the composer’s re-
sources, the next phase of musical language: harmony. The
interwoven lines of a polyphonic texture result in vertical
combinations of sounds which, whether they appear in music
as the result of simultaneous melodic lines or as more nearly
independent entities, deserve our attention.


Jolin of Fornsete “Sumer is icumen in”
Handy “Yellow Dog Blues”

Verdi Rigoletto: “Bella figlia del-

Tamore” (quartet)


Concerto in D minor for two

Columbia 5715

Victor i oo 1 2
Victor 7732, 7733

Chapter 6

word “harmony,” musically speaking, is a word
which usually appears as the title of a textbook describ-
ing, in highly technical fashion, the science of a certain kind
of tonal relationships. That science is intensely interesting
to the musician and forms part of the composer’s equip-
ment, but it is not one of the required prerequisites to listen-
ing. Part of the heritage of civilized life is the response which
every normal person makes to harmonic combinations of
sounds. Most people hear the harmony that belongs with fa-
miliar tunes even when it is not actually being produced.
We notice it when an inexpert performer plays wrong chords
in “America” or “The Star-Spangled Banner/ 5 Many of us
can supply a barber-shop sort of harmony for songs which
we know.

All this means that sounds in vertical combinations have
some qualities to which we react. Our interest as listeners
is simply to cultivate those reactions to the point where we
will not miss any of the harmonic part of what the com-
poser is saying. What can harmony do? Before this question
can be answered completely we must consider something
which applies not only to harmony but to melody and which
is fundamental to them both: the relationships between




The art of music could not exist without interrelation-
ships of its sounds. The physicist can measure such relation-
ships in terms of vibration, or they can be stated mathe-
matically; more important, however, is the fact that they
are perceptible to the normal ear. Indeed the ear takes in
even more than the scientist can measure; it apprehends the
pull of one tone toward or away from another. This tend-
ency of sounds is what matters to the listener, and some un-
derstanding of it will carry him as near to a knowledge of
harmony as he needs to come.

The sounds out of which is made the music of the Western
world are such as fit into the relationship that we call key.
Key, to the listener, needs to mean only one thing: a pattern
which establishes a distinct level on which it functions. When
music changes key, it changes level; but the important tonal
relationships remain the same at the new level as they were
at the old.

Most listeners have no difficulty in recognizing, not neces-
sarily the name, but the tone that identifies the level of the
music they are hearing. We have all had to be given the
pitch for a song, or have had trouble finding the right pitch
for a song we wanted to sing in the bathtub or at camp. We
feel the center around which the other tones of a piece of
music revolve. Sometimes we are not so adept in following
a change to a new level when it is effected within a piece of
music. Such a change of level or change of key is known to
the musician as modulation; it is a process that is largely har-
monic. Its importance to the listener is tremendous because
it is so important to the fundamental architecture of music.
It is mentioned now to indicate that the things we are ex-
amining have important implications for other aspects of
music which we will discuss later.


A specific description of the relationships of tones within
a key will be familiar to most listeners. To those for whom
it is unfamiliar, it will not be difficult. The tone to which
all others of the key relate themselves is the keynote or tonic
do to those who learned the scale by syllable. The position
of the tonic determines the key level. For a soprano, the same
song, for example, will have a higher tonic than for a bass.
Centering on the tonic, the other tones fall into a scale-
pattern group. Each tone has a function in that scale pattern
which it gets from its relation to the tonic. This musical
solar system behaves according to a kind of gravitational
pull exerted by three tones, the tonic, the dominant, and the
subdominant. The dominant is the sol of the syllable scale,
five scale-tones above or four below the tonic. The sub-
dominant is the fa of the scale, five scale-tones below or
four above the tonic. These three tonal positions are the
fundamental musical relationships. With the tonic as center
they define the lines of gravitational pull of the whole circle
of tones within the key:



>__ NX . subdominant


jj ‘ ‘ dominant

S _ subdominant

The importance of being able to hear the relationships to
each other of tonic, dominant, and subdominant cannot be
overemphasized. Western music is what it is because of them.
They serve as the two piers and the keystone of the arch
which supports our music.




Learn them first as melodic positions. Sing or lium to your-
self the following:




Feel the pull to return to the tonic from both dominant and
subdominant. Play them on the piano:


C (D) (E> F G (A) (B) C (D) (E) F G









Using this picture of the piano keyboard if it is helpful,
make up other sequences for the three tones. The relation-
ships between them will become increasingly clear.

The pull which these three tones exert on each other owes
its strength partly to listeners’ having been conditioned to
them not only as melodic elements or single points within a
musical solar system but as the foundations for groups of
tones sounding simultaneously as chords. Even when we sing
them as single tones, our minds supply the missing sounds
which fill out the chords.

L <v-


These three chords within the musical solar system are
fundamental. Together they contain all the sounds of the
scale pattern which they represent. They represent the only
kinds of harmony which are possible. Chords may take on
a wide variety of qualities, but in kind they must partake
of the pull of one of three: tonic, dominant, subdominant.
They may be heard as the ending of every familiar hymn:

> i 1 1 j. P



This discussion of positions in the scale and of the gravi-
tational implications of those positions may, for the present,


seem rather technical to anyone who wishes to listen for fun.
But if it seems meager and incomplete to the listener who
really wants to know about harmony, there is nothing to pre-
vent his going to a textbook in harmony for more informa-
tion. Harmony, to be of value to the listener, must be heard:
it will have no value as a set of rules.

Here, then, we add to our former question asking what
harmony can do which we have not answered a question
that is bound up with it: How can we bear harmony? The
answers to both questions will arrive together. We can get
at them best by examining some pairs of words that describe
both what harmony can do and how we hear what it does.



Harmony can give the effect of a wide or a narrow ribbon
of sound passing the point of consciousness. The sound of a
violin or a flute playing a single melodic line would be nar-
row. Even here the narrowness would depend somewhat on
the range of the melody. A massive chord in the orchestra
with every instrument playing, from the low tuba and con-
tra bassoon to the high piccolo, would be wide. The move-
ment from narrow to wide, or from wide to narrow, is one
of the composer’s most powerful harmonic effects. Wagner’s
motive of “sleep magic,” which can be heard in the music
called “Wotan’s Farewell and the Magic Fire” at the end
of The Valkyrie? conveys in terms of music that sensation
of drawing together to a final single point of consciousness
that many people experience when they fall asleep.

1 Pp. 297, 298 in the vocal score published by G. Schirmer. Victor record
6 9

Here rhythm, melodic line, and tone-color are subordinated
to the single effect: a harmonic procession from great width
to extreme narrowness.



Here, again, are concepts which require somewhat tech-
nical explanation. Melodic lines may be in major or minor,
and both melodic line and harmony may change from one
to the other. The melodic and harmonic qualities described
as major or minor grow out of the two kinds or modes of
key that are common in Western music. Because a key mode
is identified by its scale, the difference between major and
minor can be illustrated with a ladderlike diagram:


^ o o **






2345 6.


It should be noticed that the three positions of greatest im-
portance the tonic, dominant, and subdominant remain
the same for both modes. The pattern of whole steps and
half steps is more complex in the minor mode than in the
major, but harmonically the great difference appears in the
shape of the chord on the tonic level. This chord consists,
in either case, of the first, third, and fifth scale steps. Stated
differently, it consists of the tonic, the dominant, and the
tone halfway between the two. In major this middle tone is
close to the one next above it:

In minor it is close to the next one below it:

dominant 5

Half-way <? – 3

– ….. 2


Among the tones in a key, as has already been suggested,
the pull of the dominant and subdominant toward the tonic
is so strong that it governs the whole tonal relationship. The
attraction of any single tone toward the nearest scale tone
is the next strongest pull. With this in mind, another glance
at the diagrams of major and minor chords will show that
the pull of the halfway tone in major is upward, while in
minor it is downward.

In spite of the general notion of the matter, music in
major is not always gay, nor is music in minor always sad
too many other factors are involved in producing a sense of


gaiety or sadness. But the upward pull in major, the down-
ward pull in minor, of the crucial tone in the tonic chord
undoubtedly affects the feeling by which we distinguish
major and minor.

Try the difference on the piano for yourself.



If you would enjoy making some musical experiments
how musical you can’t tell until you try! you might make
up, or compose, some melodic motives on these two groups
of tones. You might even attempt to use not only the keys
marked with x but those marked with o. You will find, if
your experience is normal, that the motives in major will
have a characteristic upward motion, and that those in minor
will be dominated by falling motion. This will demonstrate
in another manner what has been described.

Certainly, one of the matters that are worth the listener’s
attention is the mode of a piece of music, the majorness or
minorness of the harmony.



The gravitational pull which has been described in con-
nection with single tones is really a kind of activity of those
tones. Tones which are active tend to move toward points


of rest. A like activity, with some added complexities, is
characteristic also of harmonies. The harmony of the tonic
is the center of gravity, the point of rest, toward which all
other harmonies that can be associated with that key tend to
move. Harmonic activity and rest are relative matters as
much as the speed of forward movement; a chord active in
one relationship may be a point of comparative rest in an-
other. This apparent complexity is the source of much of
the interest that harmony has for the listener. There is ac-
tually a kind of forward motion in harmony. This broad
harmonic motion or rhythm will become apparent to many
listeners only after some experience, but the perception is
worth waiting for. It can be demonstrated with any phono-
graph record that is handy. Start it playing and then, with
all of your attention on the fluctuation of the harmony be-
tween activity and rest, try to find a point of rest where
you may lift the needle. Another exercise with which the
listener may train his musical perception on this point in-
volves the re-harmonizations of familiar tunes that can be
heard on the radio and in the concert hall. The simplest and
most normal harmonization of any melodic line follows the
activity and rest implicit in that line. Such, for instance, are
Stephen Foster’s harmonizations of his melodies. The re-
harmonizer sets up a new scheme of rest and activity and
thus may be able to change the whole feeling of the melody
itself. The arranger invariably does this with popular bands.
It must be noted in passing, however, that the characteristic
styles of popular bands are not due altogether to the har-
monic qualities under discussion, but often are the result of
an original instrumentation (tone-color) and highly individ-
ual rhythmic treatment.



Consonance and dissonance are very closely related to rest
and activity, but the two pairs o words are not interchange-
able. It is difficult, for instance, to imagine a dissonance that
could convey a feeling of complete rest. Yet on the other
hand, consonant harmonies may be active. There are long
passages of music in which no dissonances are used, but the
harmonic movement in them from activity to rest is per-
fectly clear. Of the qualities of harmony represented by this
pair of words, consonance and dissonance, the latter is by
far the most important to the listener. Dissonance may be
regarded as a kind of harmonic activity that has the quality
of tension. Physically, harmonies are consonant or dissonant
as the vibrations which produce them reinforce each other
or clash with each other. With a dissonance and the greater
the dissonance the truer is this statement the ear has to
struggle to hear the tones as belonging together. The disso-
nant sounds bump against each other in a kind of musical
collision in which something must give way. The resulting
tension can be released only by a movement of the tones
away from each other; the ear fails to reconcile them. The
bite of one tone on another, the resulting tension, and the
final release of that tension by moving into another harmony
constitute a drama enacted time after time, with varying de-
grees of poignancy, in almost any sort of music. It is one of
the things that the listener must not miss. The second verse
of the Bach Cantata No. 4, “Christ lay fast bound in Death’s
harsh chain” (“Christ lag in Todesbanden”) , has the fol-
lowing magnificent passage:

— ‘


. le –
lu – jah,
ial –
le – lu .
^1 + AC-
A j

Hal –

le – lu-jali, Hal – le – lu – jah.

There is nothing abrupt and unruly about these dissonances.
The music is polyphonic, and the melodic lines move so
smoothly that we have to listen for the clashes between
them; if we miss the clashes, though, we haven’t fully heard
this music.

The reader may well ask at this point: “Am I actually
being told to cultivate a sensitivity to the harsh, clashing,
unmusical, modern aspect of music?” The answer is certainly
yes! Tension is intolerable only when there is no possibility
of release, and music would lose one of its greatest resources
if it lost dissonance.


The concepts represented by these words are not as strange
to the listener as the words themselves may be. To make them
clear we need only consider for a moment the structure of
the scale. We have had a glimpse at the pattern into which
sounds group themselves around the center established by
key. That pattern is the diatonic scale; harmonies which use
only the tones of the diatonic scale are diatonic harmonies.
The normal harmony for a diatonic melodic line, such a one
as that of “America,” would be diatonic. The common har-
monization of “America” is an excellent illustration of dia-
tonic harmony, particularly because one very short chord


departs from the diatonic that on the second syllable of
“liberty.” A a ,
lib – er – ty

This departure from the normal diatonic harmony al-
most every piece of music we know would show similar ex-
amples is one of the most interesting of all harmonic re-
sources. To understand it we must discuss chromatic har-

If one wishes to play a diatonic scale on the piano the
easiest is the one that requires only white keys. Any other
means dodging back and forth from white keys to black
and skipping a white key when a black one is used. The rea-
son is that a diatonic scale pattern uses both half steps and
whole steps, and if the black keys were not there we could
have a correct diatonic scale pattern only around one tonic
center. All of which means this: In our music we actually
use twelve sounds within each octave. Those twelve sounds,
at half -step intervals, constitute the chromatic scale. Five
of them are missing from the diatonic scale, but if the har-
mony is prevailingly diatonic some chromatic tones may be
introduced without disturbing the sense of key level. The
use of chromatic tones as part of the harmony makes the
harmony chromatic. We hear commonly examples of every
degree of chromaticism, from a piece like “America,” with
only one chromatic spot, to music so chromatic that our
sense of tonal center feels as if it were riding on a roller
coaster. For an example of music that is highly chromatic
turn back to the Wagner sleep-magic motive on page 69.


This description of harmony will not give the listener a
harmonic vocabulary unless he can hear the qualities that
have been discussed. We hear harmony, however, in connec-
tion with tone-color, rhythm, and melodic line. A listening
exercise in which harmony was the only element would
hardly be music. Let us go on, then, to some music in which
we can give most of our attention to harmonic qualities, but
in which we must continue to apprehend others too.


“Wagner The Valkyrie: “Wotan’s Farewell and the

Magic Fire” Victor 9176-6

Bach Cantata No. 4: Verse II Victor M-izo

Chapter 7

WE now have five points of reference for classifying
what we hear harmonically. “We have, in other words,
a guide to the reactions we may expect harmony to produce
in us. That guide consists of five pairs of words:

Wide Major Active Consonant Diatonic

Narrow Minor Rest Dissonant Chromatic

Surrounding all these is the basic quality of key level and
the relationships that result from it. With this guide we can
make the attempt to hear harmony, in the sense that hear-
ing implies a conscious process of sorting out and reacting
to what we hear.

Many composers have written music which is ideal for
our present purpose. The kind of piece called theme and
variations by composers seems created to give exactly the
sort of practice that listeners need. In a theme and varia-
tions the composer takes a short and usually exceedingly sim-
ple but always complete piece of music as his theme. It may
be a piece he has written himself, or it may be someone else’s
piece that he wishes he had written. After he gives us his
theme he writes the piece over, as many times as he may
wish, with changes each time. Each new and changed ver-
sion of the theme is a variation. To have survived as part



of musical literature, a theme and variations must be more
than a stunt; it must be a whole in which the theme and its
variations are contributory and meaningful parts.


An excellent theme and variations for our purpose is one
by Haydn on a theme that he had composed as a national
hymn for his own country, Austria. The hymn has been bor-
rowed by others for many purposes; Haydn’s own borrow-
ing of it for this piece lifts it above the temporary implica-
tions of some of its other associations. It is the second move-
ment, the Poco adagio cantabile of the String Quartet in C
major, Op. 76, No. 3. Because the hymn on which this move-
ment is constructed begins with the words “God protect our
Emperor” in conscious imitation of “God save the King,”
the whole quartet is commonly known as the “Emperor,”
and this particular movement is often called “Variations on
the “Emperor 3 Hymn.”

Play the movement once to become familiar with its sound.
If you do not already know the hymn, play the theme sev-
eral times. Now what can we learn from the variations?
Let us take them one at a time.


On its first presentation, the theme shows a normal hymn-
tune harmonization. Haydn makes no particular point of
either wideness or narrowness in a texture that is distinctly
monophonic. The theme is in major, and it remains in the
same key. The alternation between rest and activity is nor-
mal. The only striking dissonance comes with the third note


after the one that is held, and later when the same melodic
group occurs again:

f\ li /^N i ^* –^

UP ^ P if i il
The harmonization is diatonic except for a mild chromati-
cism which is used three times: the subdominant is raised
chromatically to make it point more strongly toward the

All in all, this theme is stated and harmonized in such a
simple manner that a discussion of it can do little more than
emphasize its simplicity. It should be mentioned that sim-
plicity is the rule in a theme which is to be used for varia-
tions. A highly complex theme would be in danger of los-
ing its identity during the process of variation.


For this variation Haydn narrows his music to two lines.
This does not narrow the complete fabric as much as the
listener might expect, however, because of the wide range
of the new part. The second violin plays the melody, the
theme, and the first violin has to fill in the whole harmony.
What the first violin does illustrates an interesting point
about the way we hear harmony. In the statement of the
theme the sounds which make up the chord are heard to-


p* i

flk <p J-j


In the first variation they are heard one after the other, as
they might be if they were played on a harp, and conse-
quently they make up what is called an arpeggio (harp =
arpa in Italian) .


The listener hears that the harmony is stated differently, but
also he hears that it is the same harmony. This single line
of accompaniment, which is actually a new melodic line, is
a device which makes possible the use of all the tones of the
chords with which the main theme was originally harmon-
ized. It adds, too, a new, rather simple polyphonic interest.
As far as the actual chords are concerned, the first variation
has the same harmony as the original statement of the theme.
Into that harmony, however, as part of a new melodic line
in the first violin, Haydn interjects a few chromatic and
dissonant tones which add slightly to the harmonic activity.
In this first variation Haydn has already made his theme
melody sound different. A good deal of the change is due to
the rapid motion of the new part; that rapid motion is made
possible by a new way of uttering the harmony, a way which
allows for a slight increase of the harmonic activity.


In this variation the melody is given a new tone-color by
being played by the violoncello an octave lower than we
heard it before. Otherwise it is exactly the same melody, ex-
cept for a scale which Haydn interpolates just before the


last high note, four measures from the end. Except, too, for
a few low notes in the viola part, the melody is now at the
bottom of the score. These changes have a tremendous ef-
fect in changing the sound of the music. In this variation,
however, the composer goes even further. The first and sec-
ond violin parts are really new melodic lines. The second
violin moves with a rhythmic pattern quite similar to that
of the melody, but the first violin is given much more free-
dom melodically, rhythmically, and harmonically. Here we
meet not only the melodic and rhythmic, but the harmonic
aspect of syncopation. The first violin holds a tone over
from a harmony in which it fits to one with which it is dis-
sonant. This continual holding back produces one dissonance,
one point of extreme activity, after another.

In this variation we have, then, a new procession of
harmonies, in a polyphonic texture which, because of the
rhythmic independence of its lines, builds up a remarkably
active harmonic fabric. Here is an excellent example of the
way that the same melody may be given a quite different
sound by a changed harmonic context.


Here the melody is played by the viola, back in the same
range where we first heard it. The accompaniment begins
in the first violin with a new independent melodic line. The
procession of harmonies is new. Until more than halfway
through the variation only three instruments are playing.
But we are hearing dissonances, resulting from syncopations,
and chromaticisms which, even more than in the second vari-
ation, disguise the melody.

Listen to this variation carefully for the harmonic activity


that results from Haydn’s use of chromaticism. The second

entrance of the violoncello is especially interesting:

Viola J*3
Violin I





Notice that although the melody is still major, the use of
chromaticism in the harmony has begun to destroy the dis-
tinction between the diatonic harmonies of major and minor.
The intensity and richness of this harmonization have re-
sulted in changes in the qualities of activity, dissonance, and
chromaticism. It is a demonstration of considerable interest
to the listener.


In this final variation the theme melody returns to the
first violin and for all except its first four measures is heard
an octave higher than at any time before. Although the other
parts move to a higher range also, the effect is definitely
one of widening the harmony. In this music, where no mat-
ter how the harmony widens ‘only four instruments are
playing, the effect is one of a kind of transparency.

The listener will be aware that Haydn has again changed
the whole harmonic progression. Dissonances and chromati-
cisms aid in this process. Haydn uses another device in this
variation that the listener will meet many times. Notice that
after the chromaticisms of the first seven and a half meas-
ures, the violoncello stays on the tonic, come what may in
the other parts, for four measures. This effect is called an


organ point, from the ease with which an organist can hold
one tone with a pedal while his hands are free to play other
harmonies. An organ point may be either a sustained or a
reiterated note. It has the double effect of producing disso-
nances against the harmonies with which it does not fit and
at the same time calling the listener’s attention to the tonic.-
Notice, finally, the extreme feeling of rest that Haydn
achieves for the final chord as a result of the long dissonant
passage which precedes it. The next to the last chord is an
excellent example of an extreme dissonance used for the sake
of the harmonic activity it can create. The listeners who
are aware of dissonance only through the so-called modern
music of our own time might take another look at this


Haydn died in 1809!

An understanding of how Haydn has used harmonic quali-
ties in this set of variations should give the listener many
clues as to the interest he may expect to find in harmony.
Every piece of music that he hears will give more practice.

The musical process by which variations on a theme are
made is one from which the listener can obtain a great deal
of valuable enlightenment. It is a process in which the com-
poser changes some of the elements of his original theme
while he retains others. He must not change too much, be-
cause he wants to keep his listener convinced that all the
music makes one whole. This aspect of a theme and varia-
tions implies an interesting question: How far can the com-


poser go in changing his musical material before the listener
stops recognizing it? How much can the composer hide or
disguise the tone-color, rhythm, melodic line, and harmony
of his original theme and still expect the listener to follow
what he is doing? From the standpoint of what we are try-
ing to do the question must be asked in another way: How
well can the listener follow the changes the composer is ask-
ing him to follow?

We are learning to hear harmony. But along with har-
mony go the other materials of which music is made. For
our next exercise, another theme and variations, let us keep
up the deliberate effort of learning to hear harmony. But
let us, at the same time, follow changes that may take place
as the variations develop.


The next music is a theme and variations by Schubert. It
has several things in common with the Haydn piece. This,
too, is for string quartet. Its theme is part of one of Schu-
bert’s own songs which he liked well enough to use again.
The string quartet whose slow movement consists of this
theme and variations is commonly known by the name of
the song, “Death and the Maiden.” Our interest, then, is in
the theme and variations, based on a part of the song, “Death
and the Maiden,” from the String Quartet in D minor, Op,
Posth. a posthumous work, for this quartet, like a great
deal of Schubert’s music, was modestly packed away in a
cupboard when a group of famous musicians found it rather
difficult to read at sight, and it was not printed until after
the death of its composer.



Here again the thematic material is presented with the
utmost simplicity. The harmony is compact; the mode is
minor. The balance between points of activity and rest is
normal. There is very little dissonance. There are a few
chromatic harmonies, especially near the end of the second
half of the theme. What at first hearing appears as chromat-
icism is actually a shift in level; in the middle of the second
half the music has actually moved to a new level, and the
key is major. The diagram indicates what Schubert has done.

First half Second half

. . minor ma J or

tonic s. s~

^x. major .X^ /onoriginaK

Momc lever

The effect of the final major chord should be noticed. It
comes as a return to the first level, but defined now with a
major harmony. This ‘change from one level to another and
then back again is a device of the utmost importance. The
reaction to change in level, that is, to movement from one
key to another, must be felt or else a musical value upon
which the composer depends for much that he does will be
missed. Listen to this theme several times for this one effect.
Then follow it as it occurs in each variation.

The tone-color is that of strings. Within the string quartet,
composers have been able to discover many subtle varieties
of tone-color. Schubert here melts the strings together into
a kind of compressed neutrality. Many variations on this
basic quality will be possible.

Rhythmically and melodically, the music, of wholly mono-
phonic texture, grows out of very simple motives. The first
half of the theme has this, which returns near the end:



It is really only one motive:


The second part adds another pair of notes to this motive,
and now a new, longer motive has actually grown out of
the original one:

As we make the acquaintance of the variations we will have
to follow the manner in which Schubert changes these mo-


After the somber theme this first variation must impress
the listener by its complete change of atmosphere. It sounds
almost like a new piece of music. How much of the theme
is left in it, and how much is new? It is still minor, and the
careful listener will discover that the procession of harmonies
is exactly the same as for the theme. If he listens carefully
he will discover, too, that the rhythm of the motives has
been retained at the bottom of the music. The violoncello
part is exactly as it was for the theme except that here it is
plucked played pizzicato while originally it was played
with the bow:


Variation I


pizz. (plucked)

This bottom line of the music, by continuing the outline
of both the original motives and the harmony, is what ties


this variation to the theme. All the other parts, except as
what they play belongs to the harmony, have something new.
The second violin and viola introduce a completely new
scheme of forward motion. Each beat is now divided into a
group of three; this triplet motion gives the variation the
feeling of being much faster music:

* rnrnrnfn
r r r

The first violin is given a new melodic line, a kind of
obbligato that adds width to the fabric and at the same
time attracts our attention by its lacy decorativeness. The
rhythmic conflict between this line and the triplets of the
interior parts adds to the restlessness of the forward motion.
At several points the motion is two against three or four
against three:

LIT CUT did/


S 3

It should be noticed that the fabric of the music has be-
come polyphonic. More important, the listener is asked to
connect much new material with a remnant of the theme
that is partly hidden in the bottom of the music. If he does
not make that connection, he has difficulty in understanding
this as a variation of the theme. When it is understood as a
variation the listener must feel that Schubert has started a
musical process in which he is attempting to dissect away
from his original idea many of its somber, slow-moving,
and almost colorless implications. It is as though he said to
us, of this first variation: “Now, just wait a moment; the


meaning of my theme is not all on the surface. It has the
power to attract to itself strength and vitality and new kinds
of beauty. We must hear what it implies before we under-
stand it.”

Here we get a glimpse into the real magic of music.


The second variation is a further elaboration of the same
procession of harmonies used so simply in the theme. The
bottom of the fabric is now filled in by the viola. If the lis-
tener follows it closely he will hear that the bass has not
changed harmonically. It has changed rhythmically, how-
ever, and here Schubert uses an interesting device. The first
variation introduced a heightened rhythmic vitality without
changing the basic motive which continued in the bass. That
rhythmic strength, as though infectious, penetrates the bass
in the present variation. The rhythmic motive is now twice
as fast; its time values have been cut in half so that it is heard

twice as often: _

i . n

Original motive J J J

Variation I J> 7 $ J> 7 J> 7
Variation II J^ 7 T] J> 7 Jj

In this variation, too, the motive has so much energy that
it jumps an octave, to look like this :


Against the new version of the motive, the first and sec-
ond violins continue the development of rhythmic excite-


ment with lines that have slight melodic significance but
contain new rhythmic patterns:

violin I

violin II

4: 4. -1-

These two lines, with the bass in the viola, outline the har-

The violoncello, playing rather high in its range, has the
outstanding melodic line of this variation. It begins like this:


r rt

r r r

The listener will immediately hear that this new melodic
line uses the main motive of the theme, but uses it to sing
a different song.

One other point is worth the listener’s notice. Two forms
of the original theme motive are being heard at the same
time during this variation one in the violoncello’s melodic
line and one in the bass which the viola plays:


viola ||g

1 . ‘
H *
_ r

1 u U
1 u 1* 1

The magic gathers momentum.



In this variation the rhythmic vitality which Schubert
finds in the original motive reaches a climax. It now is four
times as fast as at first:

The listener has been asked to follow a process of rhythmic

From this; J J J

To this: J JJ J Jj
To this-. jjjjjjjjjjjj

It is a device that we will meet time after time, and it should
not be hard for us to follow this kind of musical derivation.
We have no difficulty in recognizing the constants in non-
musical processes of acceleration involved in operating ma-
chines of various kinds.

At first all four instruments play this new version of the
theme motive. After four measures the music suddenly be-
comes quieter, and the highest and the lowest parts make
short melodic excursions which are reminiscent of the
melodic line of the second variation. In the middle of the
variation the music again rises in intensity, and the two out-
side parts alternate with heavy chords:



– ^ j to i

. 4> /”
j/f t r-+f -* -t-j


The variation ends abruptly with the same motive, in all
the parts, with which it began.

The listener will be aware that he has witnessed a remark-
able musical transmutation in the rhythmic progression from
the original theme through these first three variations. The
basic harmony has remained the same, but the temper of
the music has changed completely.


Now we have a partial return to the initial mood of the
theme, but elements of earlier excitement remain, and the
harmony has changed to major. Schubert no longer adheres
so strictly to the original procession of harmonies. It is as
though the harmony, which has stayed constant through a
tremendous process of development, now relaxes its hold on
the musical fabric a little.

The motive appears in its first rhythmic shape:


The first violin weaves a delicate tracery around the rest of
the smooth, light fabric.


The final variation returns to minor. To compensate for
the harmonic excursions of the previous variation and if
we know the habits of composers to foretell the approach
of the end of the piece, this variation begins with an organ
point on the tonic level. Rhythmically, the organ point
transfers the pattern of the first violin part of Variation IV


to the bottom of the music as if to give it another function
before it disappears:

violin 6
Variation V


Above this organ point the viola and second violin have lines
that are reminiscent of former uses of the theme motive.
The first violin soon begins a pattern of four rapid notes,
against three in the violoncello:

violin I

violin II



The first violin becomes louder and soon is so insistent that
the second violin and viola second its rhythm. At this point
the violoncello has an interesting melodic variation of the
second original motive:




|J J J



This, it might be noticed in passing, is exactly the sort of
improvisational melodic variation that is heard so often in
the “jam” choruses of popular music. It has an infectious
quality here. Before it ends the second violin part transfers
some of the excess energy into an interesting syncopation:

Schubert was not a swing musician, but he knew that noth-
ing else would serve to fill this climax with exuberance as a
tipping over of the rhythm would.

At this point begins the process which will bring us
smoothly to the end. Notice that as the music softens the
motion begins to disappear.


Becomes this:

Which in turn i i i …i
becomes this J J J J
in the viola part:

And the motion finally disappears with this faltering pas-


While the slowing down proceeds, the original theme motive
returns. As it pushes everything else aside we hear it finally
in all the parts, at first high and then at the end back in
the range where it was heard at the very beginning. The
music at last arrives at a point of rest in major after a chord
that has a dissonant activity much like what Haydn used in
ending his final variation.

This rather short passage at the end has a completely
different feeling from the original presentation of the theme,


of which it is obviously reminiscent. That is part of the
plan of the piece. If the listener has followed what Schubert
is making the music do from one variation to the next he
will realize that all the intervening music would be wasted 5
its argument lost, if the end sounded like the beginning.

In this chapter the listener has made the acquaintance of
two memorable pieces of music. More than that, he has
made considerable advance toward greater ease and exact-
ness of hearing. He is learning the language.

Tone-color, rhythm, melodic line, harmony these are
the parts of musical speech. But we must now turn our at-
tention to matters beyond the bare bones of grammar.


Haydn String Quartet in C major, Op. 76, No. 3 :

Poco adagio cantabile Columbia Set 246

Schubert String Quartet in D minor, Op. Posth.
(“Death and the Maiden”) ; Andante
con moto Victor

Chapter 8

MOST listeners are more aware of musical style than
they realize. Certainly the distinct styles of many of
our popular dance bands are familiar, as a matter of every-
day recognition, to many people who also go to concerts.
Arrangers for dance bands make over the pieces their band
plays to fit a preconceived style. The musical elements are
exactly the same for them as for any composer. The style
that we connect with a composer or a popular band is the
result of the way that the composer or arranger uses tone-
color, rhythm, melodic line, and harmony in each particular

For the listener, a consideration of style is simply another
way of looking at what we have been studying. It is a view-
point that ties all the elements of music together, where they
belong. “When we hear music, one of the definite impressions
we get is that of style. Our aim here is to increase our ability
to receive a true impression of style. Musical style is, then,
the sum total, for any given piece or composer or period,
of the kind of musical materials that have been used.

There are two major determinants of musical style. The
first of these is the kind of musical materials available at the
time the music was composed. The second is the taste and
ability of the composer. Each factor deserves some atten-



tion. An understanding of their influence will enrich the
listener’s concept of style, and an explanation of their func-
tioning will help to explain stylistic differences.

An analogy from another art will help to clarify the
statement that musical style is determined in part by the
kind of materials available at the time of composition.

During the period when Europe was building its Gothic
cathedrals one of the objects of the architects was great
height. The only materials available were stone and brick,
tied together with plaster and lead or held in place by
gravity. The builders wrought magnificently with them and
raised the highest structures the world was to know for cen-
turies. We can now build higher, however, because we have
discovered how to make and use steel girders and reinforced
concrete. New materials have come into use. The Empire
State Building could not have been erected eight hundred
years ago, because the necessary materials were not known.

The same rule can be demonstrated time after time in
music. Such a demonstration grows out of our understand-
ing of the history of music, which is, essentially, the story
of the gradual accumulation of musical materials. In minute
detail, this story is not a necessary prerequisite to, nor can
it be a substitute for, hearing music. From what it has to
tell, however, we can learn in general what materials were
available to composers at any given time.

Let us examine a few samples.

For centuries the chief function of music was liturgical.
Music makers had so few materials available that music in-
dependent of a verbal text was beyond their imagination.
The human voice was the only important musical instru-
ment. The rhythm of music was the rhythm of the words
of a text. Harmony as we know it was nonexistent. Our


scales too were unknown, and such scales as were in use
were governed by principles which we would consider arbi-
trary. Music consisted solely of a melodic line. Even the
mechanics of writing music were primitive. What music
has survived in primitive notation is in one definite style, the
plain song. Much of it remains in use in the liturgy of the
Roman Catholic Church. Here is an example: *

Hymn to St. John the Baptist

Ut que-ant la – xis

A-e m 5
* * *
re -so- na-re

_ _
Mi –

ra ge – sto – rum
fa – mu – li
– – r*

tu – 6 – rum,
Sol –

pol- lu – ti
la – M – i re
– a – turn
– te
Jo – an – nes.

At another stage, much later, harmonic and rhythmic ma-
terials had become available. Musicians had begun their dis-
covery of harmony by weaving melodic lines together ; they
had, in other words, learned how to manage a polyphonic
fabric. To give independence to the lines of the fabric they
found it necessary to adapt to music a kind of rhythm which
they found in poetry. The resultant independence of the
melodic lines gave them a kind of harmony. To make the
harmony pleasant these early musicians were compelled to
make changes which led finally to our modern system of
key relationship with its scales and chords. Tone-color was
still largely restricted to the human voice, but they were
making remarkable discoveries in flexibility of the tone-color
that could be produced by choral singing. All this describes,
on the basis of the availability of materials, a musical style

1 This Hymn may be heard on Victor record 20897. Note that when the singers
begin to hold the first syllable of each phrase the result is no longer characteristic of
the plain-song style.


entirely different from plain song. Any of the motets, madri-
gals, or masses of Palestrina, Lasso, Vittoria, Byrd in fact,
any of the choral music of the sixteenth century will illus-
trate this style.

Another stopping place far removed could be illustrated
by means of a Prelude and Fugue for pipe organ by J. S.
Bach (i685-i7jo). 2 When we come to Bach’s period, how-
ever, it becomes increasingly clear that the immense ac-
cumulation of musical materials at hand at any given time
could not possibly be displayed in any one piece of music
or even in all the music of any one composer. But a Prelude
and Fugue for organ by Bach will be useful in showing
some of the many materials, not in use in the sixteenth cen-
tury, that were available to Bach.

In the first place the Prelude and Fugue is music written
for an instrument that has considerable flexibility and range
of tone-color think of the mechanical inventions that were
required for that! It is not written to a text, which means
that musical materials had to win their independence; they
must now get along by themselves. They do it in a number
of ways. The melodic lines move in a measured, accented
rhythm and grow out of definite motives; the polyphonic
fabric is controlled harmonically, with a kind of harmony
that is definitely based on the relations of chords within a
key. Harmony, moreover, has arrived at the point where
free movement from one key to another is possible.

The music of Bach, considered only as it represents a
stage in the accumulation of musical materials, exhibits those
materials tone-color, rhythm, melodic line, harmony as
forming a style impossible to the time of Palestrina. The
effect of accumulation can be seen with even more clarity

2 Prelude and Fugue in E minor, recorded by Albert Schweitzer (Victor 9741).


in the matter of instrumental performance. The ability a
composer demands of his performers certainly determines
in part what he writes. Increased flexibility of performance
has depended on two factors: first, improvements in instru-
ments; second, advancement in playing technic. The com-
poser’s materials were enriched when valves were added to
the trumpet and French horn, when more keys and levers
were devised for the woodwinds, and when the range of the
piano was increased. No generation of performers has been
satisfied if it did not surpass its teachers in the technic of

Accumulation has continued, and the process has been
accompanied by tremendous changes in musical style. The
tone-color resources of the modern symphony orchestra
have been discovered since the time of Bach. The orchestras
of Mozart (1756-1791), of Beethoven (1770-1827), and
of Wagner (1813-1883) each represent a distinct tone-color
style, and the listener will find from experience that the list
can be made much longer. Harmonic style, in like manner,
has undergone a long series of changes. How toleration of
dissonance has increased will be obvious from a comparison
of, for instance, the first movement of Beethoven’s Seventh
Symphony with the final scene, “The Sacrificial Dance,” of
Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring” (“Sacre du Printemps”) . The
two works were composed almost exactly one hundred years
apart. Part of the process which has brought about what
some listeners, when they hear music like Stravinsky’s, will
feel to be a complete disappearance of the harmonic horizon,
has been the increase in the use of chromaticism. This can
be heard by comparing the Beethoven movement mentioned
above with, for example, the first movement of the Franck
Symphony in D minor (1889).


These comparisons should be made. It is not enough to
read about them or hear them mentioned. Play these pieces
and listen for their different-sounding styles styles that
differ in sound because of the absence or presence of certain
kinds of musical material:

Victor 20897

Columbia 5712
Victor 9741

Victor M-2$8
Columbia M-I97
Victor M-274
Columbia 68854-D
Victor M-3I7

Victor M-74
Victor M-3I7

1. Plain song Hymn to St. John the Baptist

2. Palestrina Mhsa Papae Marcelli: Sanctus and


3. Bach Prelude and Fugue in E minor

4. Mozart Symphony No. 39 in E flat major:

first movement
Beethoven Fourth Symphony: first movement

“Wagner Die Meister singer: Prelude to Act I

5. Beethoven Seventh Symphony: first movement
Stravinsky “Rite of Spring” (“Sacre du Prin-

temps”) : “Sacrificial Dance”

6. Beethoven Seventh Symphony: first movement
Franck Symphony in D minor: first move-
ment Victor M-300

A composer’s taste and ability also determine the style
of his music. Within the restrictions laid upon him by the
state of musical materials at the time in which he lives, the
free play of the composer’s personality is supreme. He may
reject some of the materials that his contemporaries are us-
ing, as many of our present composers reject the advanced
harmonic idiom of Schoenberg. He may, on the other hand,
venture beyond the accepted materials of his own time, as
almost every great composer has done lesser composers have
done it too, but their music is forgotten. He may find, as a
result of his training and interest, or because of the oppor-
tunities for performance presented to him, that certain cur-
rent fashions in music do not interest him. A composer who
spends his life working with choirs, for instance, might never
write for the symphony orchestra. Another composer might


devote himself entirely to mastering the intricacies of writ-
ing for the orchestra.

Most composers develop mannerisms in their use of musi-
cal materials. These may consist of a favorite chord or a
favorite rhythmic or melodic device. How many times does
one recognize the music of Handel because the harmonic
progressions are reminiscent of the Largo? As the listener
makes the acquaintance of more and more of the music of
any one man he will become aware of that composer’s man-
nerisms for himself. As he does discover them, he will have
reason for self -congratulation, because it will indicate a
growing ability to perceive musical style. As a kind of hobby
the search for the elements of a composer’s personal idiom
can be fascinating. Virgil Thomson, in his book The State
of Music, develops an interesting theory to the effect that a
composer’s style is influenced by the source of his income.
Such a theory, whether it is right or wrong, could originate
only with a person who is extremely sensitive to musical

As a concept that brings together all the different sorts
of things that tones can do, musical style has another im-
portant implication for the listener. There may be some
question as to whether the source of a composer’s income
directly affects his style, but there can be little doubt of
the influence of his personality on it.

For those to whom music has become a familiar language,
it is axiomatic that great music can be composed only by
men who are essentially great. Granting that a composer
has the ability to accomplish what he wants to do, it is his
p^Lrpose that will give the measure of his greatness. Does he
crave little moments or great moments for his listeners? Does
he wish to be heard in the night club, the supper room, or


at the symphony concert? Does he associate his music with
the aspects of life that are eternal and sublime or with those
that are base and degenerate? Does he write one opera in-
spired by fidelity and devote his final symphony to the con-
cept of human brotherhood? 3 Or is he satisfied to be in-
cluded in the Hit Parade? Music has many functions, and
for each a purpose. Each function and each purpose has its
own dignity: Beethoven did not demean himself when he
composed popular dance music, but his greatness is much
more apparent in the symphony which has been called an
apotheosis of the dance. 4

The composer’s purpose, then, will be a qualifying factor
in the style of his music. Ability to perceive style completely
in listening, and with it its intimations of purpose, comes
only with experience. Neither this chapter nor any chapter
that has ever been written can teach it. At best, this chap-
ter can prepare the listener for it. Style is implicit in what
a composer makes his tones do, and hearing style is hearing
what tones do.

Every piece of music the listener hears may be an exercise
in musical style. At the present point, however, some listen-
ing should be deliberately devoted to objectifying the hear-
ing of style. Style is a result of what tones do, the tones
considered as tone-color, rhythm, melodic line, and harmony.
The result, a kind of sum of all that happens in the music
or a kind of individual imprint superimposed on the whole,
may give intimations not only of the time when the music
Was written, but of the quality and purpose and identity
of the composer.

3 Beethoven, Fidelfo; Ninth Symphony.
* Beethoven, Seventh Symphony.


An illuminating exercise consists of making a comparison
of the styles of two pieces of music any two pieces by com-
posers who lived at different times. Try these:

Handel Recitative, “For, behold, darkness shall

cover the earth” and air, “The people

that walked in darkness,” from The

Messiah Columbia 686o4-D,

“Wagner “Prize Song,” from Die Meister singer Victor 7105

Play each several times. Try to answer questions like the fol-
lowing as you listen:

How do the two pieces compare as to tone-color?
What makes the orchestras sound different?
Which orchestra has more instruments?
Which orchestra has the larger variety of instruments?
Which piece makes the greater demands on the players?
What class of voice is singing?

How do the two pieces compare rhythmically?

To what degree, in each piece, is the emphasis on the basic


Is the basic measure obscured at any time in either piece?
Are there changes from one rhythm to another?
How much syncopation is there?
Do you hear, in either piece, rhythms that conflict with

the basic measure?
What is the measure?

How do the melodic lines of the two pieces compare?
Do you hear places in either piece where the verbal text

is so important that the composer does not use melodic

What are the important melodic motives in each piece?


How are they used?

Do you hear simultaneous melodic lines in either piece?
Is the fabric monophonic or polyphonic?
Does it change from one to the other?
Do the melodic lines have a characteristically rising or
falling inflection?

How does the harmony of the two pieces compare?


Do not try to answer questions regarding the personal
qualities of the styles represented by these two pieces. You
do not have data enough with one piece from a composer.
Remember these two songs as being Handel’s and Wagner’s.
The recollection of them will start your feeling for the styles
of these two composers. As far as you dare to go is to ask
yourself if the purpose of each of these pieces, as indicated
by the verbal text, has been served with understanding, dig-
nity, and ability.


Hymn to St. John the Baptist Victor 20897

Palestrina Missa Papae Marcelli: Sanctus and Ho-

sanna Columbia 5712

Bach Prelude and Fugue in E minor Victor 9741


Mozart Symphony No. 39 in E flat major

Beethoven Fourth Symphony

Wagner Die Meistersinger: Prelude to Act I

Beethoven Seventh Symphony

Stravinsky “Rite of Spring” (“Sacre du Prin-
temps”) : “Sacrificial Dance”

Franck Symphony in D minor

Handel The Messiah: “For, behold, darkness

shall cover the earth”; “The people
that walked in darkness”

Wagner Die Meistersinger: “Prize Song”


Victor M-2j8
Columbia M-i<?7
Victor M-^74
Columbia, 68854-D
Victor M-3I7

Victor M-/4
Victor M-3oo

Columbia 6 8 60 5 -D
Victor 7105

Chapter 9

NEARLY everyone knows what it feels like to get lost.
The first visit to a new city is marked by the feeling
of being a stranger. An attempt to find the way from rail-
road station to hotel or to go sightseeing usually ends in an
appeal for help. The visitor from the Middle West doesn’t
understand why he can’t walk around the block in Boston,
or the resident of Syracuse can’t understand the numbering
of the buildings in New York City. The stranger is always
lost. Unless he is stubborn, or has more time than he knows
how to use, or just isn’t interested, he will buy a guidebook
or a map. He will learn the plan of the strange place, and
when he does he won’t get lost.

Everyone who has listened to music knows how it feels
to be lost. Hardly any listener can hear music that is new to
him not music of any great length, certainly without get-
ting lost. He takes in some of the most striking motives near
the beginning, perhaps, but as the music proceeds his im-
pressions become increasingly vague, and finally his atten-
tion drifts from the music and he is lost. He feels as if he
were swimming in a sea of sound, with no shore in sight.
No wonder some music seems long! The pleasure is spoiled
when the listener has lost his bearings.

The stranger in a new city might eventually learn his way



about by himself, with no outside help if he got lost in
enough places and remembered each time how he finally set
himself right. The listener hearing a new piece of music
might do the same: repeated hearings would finally bring
the insight of familiarity. A map would hasten the process
in the first case. Is there anything that may be used as a map
by the listener?

Musical form has many aspects. It has been described and
studied from several different standpoints. For the listener it
has some important implications which need not enter the
present discussion. Its great value here is that it can help
keep us from getting lost. An understanding of musical form
can prepare the listener to recognize what is coming next in
a piece of music. It has the same relation to music as a map
has to a city.

For many experienced listeners musical form is a much
stronger support than a map can ever be. If we can discover
at the outset a way to use form as a guide to complete musi-
cal experience, we can soon forget it as a concept in any
degree separate from music and discover that it is, in fact,
the very shape of the musical experience.

As we begin, we need to add a word to the vocabulary
of our musical discussion, the word “phrase.” For our pres-
ent purpose, a phrase is the amount of music that can be
sung in one breath. The breath may be long or short. The
music may even be performed entirely by instruments not
affected by our breathing. Constituted as we are, it is natural
for us to use an expression that relates to our breathing in
referring to the fragments of sense into which our ideas may
be broken. Omit the breath, or the pause that allows for it,
in stating an idea; and the peculiar sense of tension or ex-
haustion such an omission will produce will show how in-


stinctively we use the length of our breath as a norm in
speech, in thought.

Let us examine the phrases of a simple piece of music.
Delightful for this purpose is an old French love song, “Mon
cceur se recommande a vous” (“My heart commends itself
to thee”) composed by Orlando Lasso in 1560. It can be
heard, sung with lute accompaniment, on a Victor record.
Play it.

The first phrase, a kind of introduction by the lute, has
the following melodic line:

In order to remember the identity of the phrases as they
follow each other, let us assign letters to them as they come.
The first phrase will be a; each succeeding phrase, if it is dif-
ferent from any we have heard, will be given a new letter;
if it is a repetition of a former one, it will be given the same
letter as at its first appearance.

As we follow through the song, listening for the places,
where the singer breathes, we will arrive at a letter pattern
about as follows:



“3 ___ i r
^ x_
jffi r
1 j i ji j i j f r i fl r j ^
* i


i i i n rTi I .=? i ~ ill- i i i i i I Jn

n Hi.
i^r r i r– j *\\ \\

If this is not clear at first, play the song several times.
There might be some difference of opinion as to where to
put the letters some phrases are short, and some, like e,
are quite long. Now let us make a row of these letters which
represent phrases:


Our notice is first attracted to the recurrences of a. Not
counting the introduction, it appears four times. Twice it
occurs in the grouping abc and twice in that of ode. We see
that abc and ade together form a section which appears
twice, once at the beginning and once at the end, with the
section fgbi between. Thus we have a pattern like this:

a abcade fghi abcade


The pattern for sections is as follows:

a\abcade fgbi abcade

Notice that section A is closely knit, with two appearances
of phrase a, while section B, in the middle, introduces one
new phrase after another. Such freedom in the middle sec-
tion is not necessary, but is possible because of the close knit-
ting of the outside sections. It has, moreover, the effect of
making the return of section A feel more like a kind of


Here, in this simple three-section or ternary form, we get
a glimpse of an important formal principle: repetition after
contrast. Repetition after contrast, which can be represented
by the formula ABA, is basic to most of the music we hear.
It is hardly fair, however, to insist on deducing a general
principle from only one example. Let us add to our experi-

Another interesting little love song, this time in Italian,
is one composed by Alessandro Scarlatti, < O cessate di pia-
garmi” (“O no longer seek to pain me”). This too can be
heard on a Victor record. Several hearings will give this
analysis: ABA

abb cccdd abb

There may be some disagreement as to the small letters rep-
resenting phrases. Recall that we are mapping the melodic
line, and then remember how a new harmonization may
change the effect of a melody. If we took phrase variation
into account, we would have this result:

The phrase variations, which add so much interest, do not,
however, change the general picture beyond recognition.

Notice that this song begins and ends in minor, that both
A sections are in the same minor key. But the feeling of a
harmonic return from a distant point to the level of the be-
ginning is very marked at the last chord of section B. Where
has the music wandered, harmonically? We need not answer
that question technically. It is sufficient to be aware that the
harmony, too, is at last making a repetition after contrast.



A return to the initial level of the harmony, the key of the
beginning, after a modulation or excursion away from it,
is one of the most powerful supports of musical form. We
first met it in our study of variations. Learn to watch for it.

Let us turn next to a piece of instrumental music in an
entirely different style. The music of this chapter is excellent
for the kind of style comparisons that were suggested in the
previous chapter. We can now do our listening from another
viewpoint. Let us give our attention to the main outlines of
the form, to the sections for which we have used capital let-
ters in our diagrams. As we recognize the sections we will
characterize them as to tone-color, rhythm, melodic motives,
and harmony. Try to catalogue mentally the most notable
characteristics of the music. Usually they will cluster around
the striking melodic motives, which are the substance out
of which the phrases grow.

Play a record of the “Dance of the Flutes 35 from Tchai-
kovsky’s “Nutcracker” Suite. Its general form is the now
familiar ABA structure. A, in major, is enunciated by three
flutes. The most important melodic motive is heard at the


This motive is used in a variety of phrases, but, with the help
of the flute tone-color, there is no difficulty in recognizing
it. B is in minor, on a level distinctly different from A. The
low instruments insist on the new level with a kind of organ
point, a constant, almost monotonous reiteration of do, sol
do, sol do: .. ^ ^. ^ ,,


do sol do sol do


The brass instruments furnish the tone-color that marks this
section, although before it is finished most of the instru-
ments of the orchestra, except the flutes, are playing. The
melodic motive, as in section A y is made of rapid notes:

CUT r r

The return of section A brings back the flutes, with their
characteristic motive, and the original major key level.

The listener will soon discover and remember, further,
that the second section A is shorter than the first, and that
some interesting things that were heard the first time are
missing from the repetition after J5.

It soon becomes apparent that the first A had subsections,
longer than phrases, but characteristic units in themselves.
The first of these units presents the flute trio over a sub-
ordinate accompaniment. The second subsection shunts the
flute trio, still playing its characteristic motive, into the
background, and gives the front of the stage to the English
horn, with a short but completely new melodic line:
This momentary contrast, which ends with four descending
notes in the bass clarinet, gives way to the original flute
music, which returns, in a short passage, to the foreground.
But when the flutes again sing their original music, the
whole fabric is made heavier by the strings, which imitate
the flutes:


FORM 113

Actually, then, the pattern for this piece is a slight varia-
tion of the very simple ternary form, with a kind of sub-
ternary plan used for the first section. In this diagram the
small letters represent subsections, not phrases.




tf 1



r 1

except flutes
tf 1


The interested listener will discover that in this piece, as
in most music, the ternary principle repetition after con-
trast can be followed into even smaller divisions of music
than have been discussed. What is more important, he will
have noticed that repetition after contrast can (and often
does) apply to all of the composer’s materials. Tchaikovsky
contrasts tone-color, melodic line, rhythmic style, harmonic
level, mode, and style. By the simple device of keeping the
rapid motion going, and by returning to music like the be-
ginning, he convinces the listener that it all belongs together.

This chapter should close with a suggestion that the lis-
tener now test what his knowledge of form has done for him.
Play again the three pieces we have studied. Is it not true
that what you have observed of their structure gives you a
completely different feeling about the music? You are ap-
proaching a concept of music as existing in a different kind
of space from that which was discussed earlier in the book
and which may be called simply time. Music exists in the
mind-space of the listener. What is heard at the moment of
consciousness can be related to what has gone before and to
what is coming.


Do not expect this one small pattern to apply to all the
music you hear. Do not expect to be able to pick it out im-
mediately in any music you hear; it will make itself plain
to you only in music in which it has been consciously used
by the composer. We learn a new language slowly. s war
einmal ein Mann “Once there was a man” is the first sen-
tence in an old reader for beginning students of German.
It is a statement that does not fit into very many real situa-
tions. But it is a beginning, and eventually the principle of
sentence structure in Es war einmal ein Mann will be found
to have a universal application.

The ternary (ABA) principle in music has an almost uni-
versal application because composers have learned how to
expand it into large and complex musical forms. We now
turn to an examination of those larger forms.


Lasso “Mon cceur se recommande a vous”

Scarlatti “O cessate di piagarmi”

Tchaikovsky “Nutcracker” Suite: “Dance of


Victor 20228
Victor 21747

Victor M-2j6

Chapter 10

is no limit to the variety o ways in which the
JL simple ternary principle may be made to serve in ex-
tended pieces of music. But several varieties of extension
have become so traditional that the listener will meet them
time after time. The rondo is the least complex of these.

The rondo is probably a “f oik” invention. Imagine a group
of people singing, clapping their hands, and dancing a short
refrainlike song. Between each two refrains a solo singer or
a solo dancer improvises music for his own contribution.
After each solo the group does the refrain. Such a piece
could last all night. Many folksongs must owe their almost
endless length and Variety to some such process. If we apply
the same scheme of using letters as before, we get a diagram
like this:


refrain solo refrain solo refrain

This is the basic design for a rondo. The process of repe-
tition after contrast keeps on going. Though fundamentally
it is extremely simple, the rondo may develop considerable
complexity, and it will take several examples to exhibit its
possibilities fairly.


Before we go on, however, we may as well learn a new
and very useful expression: thematic material. We have dis-
cussed the materials of music and listened for them suffi-
ciently to be able to hear them. We know that a composer’s
interest may shift from one aspect of his material to an-
other. Whatever material he may concentrate on for a desired
effect, this we may call his thematic material. It will con-
tain his melodic motives, and it will have some special
rhythmic, harmonic, or color significance. It may be similar
to the theme in a theme and variations. The expression
“thematic material” will be used to include whatever musi-
cal material, be it motive, rhythmic pattern, harmonic pro-
gression, or special tone-color, the composer has chosen as
subject matter.

For our first rondo, let us examine the Entr’acte from
Schubert’s Rosamunde. Play a record of it.

Section A is based on thematic material which Schubert
liked well enough to use in three different pieces. He uses it
for a string quartet movement (String Quartet in A minor,
Op. 29) and, in a slightly different form, as a theme for
variations in the Impromptu in B flat for piano.

This is the important motive:

You will notice that section A has two subsections with a dif-
ferent use of the thematic material in each. In the first sub-
section the original motive is answered by another.


In the second subsection the motive, with a different melodic
shape, is used by itself:


rir-Lnr n

Notice, too, that a new key level is established just before
the second subsection and that the harmonic journey back
to the original level at the end of the section furnishes some
interesting progressions. Section A could be plotted like this:


key is major

tone-color is predominantly strings
subsection a subsection b


tonal (key) level

For section B the music changes abruptly to minor on an-
other key level; in this case, the relative minor. 1 Along with
the change to the relative minor come changes in tone-color
and rhythm. The thematic material is this:



3 3


With this accompanying rhythm:

The melodic line moves interestingly from one woodwind
instrument to another. Like section A, this one has two dis-

Appendix, pages 335, 338.


tinct subsections. The triplet motion of the motive is fol-
lowed, in the second subsection, by a measure in duple
motion (the beat divided into two instead of three parts) :
The harmonic plan of section B is interesting. At the end
of the first subsection the listener is made to think that there
has been a modulation. But it is a deception and the music
returns immediately to the level which characterizes the

Section B could be plotted as follows:


key is minor (relative)
tone-color melodic line in woodwinds

new rhythmic pattern in accompaniment – \ * m * \

P 1 p ~

subsection c subsection d

tonal (key) level

Section A returns, after B, exactly as it was heard at first.
Then follows section C.

Section C is in minor, and the listener will feel that this
is a more distinct minor than what he heard in section B.
The reason for this impression is that although the music
has changed to minor it has not changed key level. The con-
trast between major and minor is greater when it is made
without changing key level.

With the change to minor this section again emphasizes


the tone-color of the woodwinds. The thematic material is
new, although its triplet is reminiscent of section B:
This motive continues through both subsections. The ac-
companiment is based on a new rhythm:

Here is the diagram of section C:

key is minor (tonic)
tone-color-, melodic line in woodwinds

new rhythmic pattern in accompaniment; 2 1

4 (f

subsection e

subsection /

material \ f

tonal (key) level

same as e

After section C the music returns to section A, with which
the piece ends. This rondo divides into five parts, and the
whole piece has the following form:

A B A c A



relative minor

tonic minor


The listener should notice, before we turn to another
rondo, that section A of the Schubert piece comes to a com-
plete stop each time it ends. It never leads to the next sec-
tion, and the change from A to B or from A to C is always
rather sudden and abrupt. The result of this is that when
A stops for the third time, which is the end of the piece, it
uses an ending that has been heard twice before. This is not
the usual procedure. As a general rule the sections of a rondo
are connected smoothly; the endings for section A lead up
to what follows, and so when the end of the piece is reached,
a period must be put to this suggestion of something more
to come. The composer must fashion an ending, a coda. The
coda has the function of a brake on the forward motion of
the music. It can be either long or short, depending on what
the momentum demands. It must be composed so cleverly
that the listener will not have the feeling of hurtling through
the windshield that results from applying the brakes too
suddenly. In our next rondos we must observe the bridges
between the sections, the relation of the coda to them, and
the braking function of the coda.

Another interesting rondo is the one from Haydn’s little
Trio in G major for piano, violin, and violoncello. The last
movement of this Trio is the well-known ”Gipsy Rondo”
(“Rondo all’ongarese”).

Before we continue our analysis let us note that capital
letters will be used in our diagrams for sections, small let-
ters for subsections.

This is a rondo with five sections. Haydn uses section A
as a kind of unifying frame; between statements of it he
can introduce several gypsy dance strains. Section A is a
small ternary form:



subsection a
subsection b

fz ====



The return to subsection a will be obvious to the listener.
What may not be clear, however, is the device that Haydn
uses to extend this small ternary form. He does it by repeat-
ing the first a and following this by a repetition of ba. The
listener hears this extension of the fundamental aba scheme
as aababa. Its relation to the ternary form may be seen from
the way Haydn used repeat marks:

I * ft * * \

The listener is often asked to accept this conventional de-
vice as an amplification of a small ternary structure.

With section B begins the introduction of characteristic
gypsy tunes and rhythms. There are four of them, each re-
minor (tonic)

E_* f_\ P’ z (violin)

etc, (violin)

etc. (piano)
(violin and piano)


Section A returns, this time without repeats.

Section C introduces two more gypsy tunes, both of them
in minor, on the same key level as the beginning of the



“^g rTT- 1

. J * d *| etc. (violin and piano)

4 JT.
j (violin and piano)

Notice that both these gypsy tunes have the following synco-
pated rhythmic motive:

At the end of the final appearance of section A, Haydn
needs a coda. Notice how he leads to it with this figure, which
is the main theme in a version turned upside down:
Notice, too, how he gradually puts on the brakes in the
coda as he brings the music to a satisfactory ending.

This sprightly rondo is remarkable for the large number
of different motives Haydn has been able to set at ease
within the confines of a short piece of music. A chart of the
form will show what he has done:

b a



By now the listener should know about what to expect
from a rondo, at least when he knows ahead of time that the
music is in rondo form. If he doesn’t know ahead of time
he can hear the music again music is intended for more
than one hearing! Rondos are fun, and no music lover could
object to hearing more. Beethoven used the form twice in
the sonata for piano, Op. 13, that is known as the “Sonata
Pathetique.” The second and third movements are both in
rondo form.



A sketch will serve to guide the listener through the sec-
ond movement of the “Pathetique.” As he listens, however,
he can afford to give attention to all of the materials out of
which Beethoven has made this music:
Melody stated twice, the second time an
octave higher

Notice the passage that leads
back to A.

Melody stated once
r U^E -37

Notice how the forward motion in the accompaniment
turns to triplets

Notice the passage that leads to this
reiteration of A , and how the trip-
let motion continues under the mel-


The coda grows out of the triplet mo-
tion which continued through the last
A from section <?. The melodic line
is related to the motive which ap –
peared in the bass of section C

Now let the listener try himself on the final movement
of the “Sonata Pathetique.” It moves so rapidly that it can
take in a good deal of thematic material. Section A begins
with the most important melodic line of the movement. No-
tice that it is in minor:

A bridge passage leads from section A to section JB, which
contains two contrasting subjects:



2. ;

Section A returns with its original thematic material. Then
we hear section C, based on a theme in half-notes:
Notice how this theme moves from the top to the bottom
of the music, how it is syncopated and then given a rapid
accompaniment. A bridge passage leads back to section A.
This time, part of the melodic line is heard underneath the

So far we have heard five parts of a rondo form, but
Beethoven does not stop there. He goes on to another sec-
tion, but instead of introducing new thematic material he
uses again the material of section B. This double appearance
of section B is perhaps the reason for its two themes. A bridge
leads from the second appearance of section B to another A,
which is short and leads directly to the coda. The coda ends
with a precipitous scale and heavy chord, but this ending is
preceded by a quiet reminiscence of the most important
melodic motive:

In following this Beethoven music the listener must learn
to make a distinction between two functions of the melodic
line. The longer and more complex a piece of music is, the
more careful the composer must be to secure a smooth tran-
sition from one section to the next. As a result of this neces-
sity the melodic line must at times carry the melodic motives
and at other times make the transitions. For the listener this


entails distinguishing between the places where the melodic
line is really saying something and where it is simply mov-
ing toward a point where it will again have important sub-
ject matter. A feeling for this motion toward a goal is not
difficult to cultivate, especially in listening to the Beethoven
piece we are discussing. The passage leading to the coda is a
good example. A motive that has been connected with the
main theme suddenly melts into a long passage of rapid notes:
The careful listener to this rondo will discover that Beetho-
ven uses a special short motive only for transitions. See how
often you can find it:

The last movement of Beethoven’s “Sonata Pathetique” is,
then, a rondo with seven sections. The plan is as follows:




The rondo is an interesting form. As an extension of the
fundamental principle of repetition after contrast, it may
be exceedingly simple or complex. Knowing it, we not only
have a guide to a great deal of music, but we have made
considerable progress toward understanding the logic of mu-
sical architecture.


Schubert Rosamunde: Entr’acte Victor 6673-6

Haydn Trio in G major: “Rondo alFongarese” Victor 3046-!$

Beethoven “Sonata Pathetique,” Op. 13: Adagio can-

tabile; Rondo Victor 6772

Chapter 11

SOME of the oldest o the conventional musical forms de-
veloped out of the practical considerations surrounding
the making of dance music. As the rhythmic and melodic
characteristics of dance music came to the attention of com-
posers and this happened a long time ago the forms also
attracted interest. At the time when the forms of much of
the music we know today were crystallizing, the minuet was
the fashionable ballroom dance. It was natural that com-
posers should adopt the minuet, with its characteristic
rhythm and form, as one of the movements of the sonata
and the symphony.

The minuet, as a dance, invariably in three-four time,
was slow and stately. As a concert piece, it has retained the
three-four time, but not always the slow and stately move-
ment. Just as it would be difficult to use Gershwin’s “Rhap-
sody in Blue” for ballroom dancing, although its derivation
from jazz and its consequent relation to dancing are obvious,
so it would be difficult to dance the minuet of tradition to
the music that appears on concert programs as minuets. The
general outlines of the old minuet, however, have been re-
tained for our conventional form, although for concert
music it has not been necessary to adhere to the precise num-
ber of measures that would fit the figures of the dance.



Looking at the printed score o a minuet would show
that the music has two distinct sections; it would look al-
most like two separate pieces of music, the first labeled min-
uet; the second, trio. The use of the word “trio 5 ‘ in this
connection comes from the fact that the whole ballroom
orchestra played the minuet proper but only three instru-
ments were used in the trio. That tradition remains only in
the use of the word and the fact that the trio is often either
more lightly orchestrated or narrower in texture than the

That the score looks as if it splits into two pieces is de-
ceiving. At the end of the trio the composer writes “Minuet
da capo” (D.C.), and this instructs the performers to re-
turn to the beginning and play the minuet proper again.
Consequently, in general outline, the minuet form as a whole
is ternary:


Minuet Trio Minuet

But each section in itself is also a ternary form. The first two
have, moreover, the kind of repeats that we found at the
beginning of the Haydn “Gipsy Rondo”:

|= a -[* b a 😐

At the return of the minuet, these repeats are omitted.

The minuet, then, may be called a compound ternary
form, and a diagram of it needs to show the internal shape

of each section:


Minuet Trio Minuet

One other characteristic of the minuet must be men-
tioned. The trio is invariably in a different key from the


minuet. If the minuet begins in major the trio will usually
be in the key of the dominant; if the minuet is in minor the
trio will be either in the relative major or in the major on
the same tonic. 1 This means that the minuet must have either
an ending that will lead in two directions back to make
the repeat or on to the trio or it must have two endings.
Such, by the way, is the reason for endings that differ, wher-
ever they may be found.

With this guide to the minuet in mind or with the book
open to the chart, let us listen to some minuets. An excel-
lent one with which to begin is the Minuet from Mozart’s
String Quartet in D minor (K.V. 421).

The melodic line of both subsections a and b of the min-
uet proper grows out of a motive that is really more rhyth-
mic than melodic, a kind of motto:

In the first subsection it is used as part of the melodic mo-


In the second subsection it has this appearance:

The minuet proper is so closely wrought that the texture
is really polyphonic. The use of the three-note motive to
give melodic interest to the parts of all the instruments de-
serves complete hearing. The music is so delightful and so
characteristic of Mozart that the score of the first short part
is given here.

1 This terminology sounds complex. All the terms used have been explained in former
chapters or in the Appendix. The important thing to hear, however, is the fact that a
change occurs in level or mode in key or as between major and minor or in both.


The trio is in major, on the same tonic as the minuet.
Here again the melodic line for both subsections grows out
of a very short motive: fX The first subsection begins
with this melodic line, played by the first violin:

In the second subsection the motive develops into a different
melodic line, characterized by very wide leaps:
The texture of the trio, in contrast to that of the minuet
proper, is monophonic. The melodic line demands most of
the listener’s attention; the accompaniment consists only of
very simple plucked or pizzicato chords. The return of the
minuet, without internal repetitions, brings the music to
a close.

After the listener has heard this minuet several times he
will be as much impressed by its compactness as by its sound.
Before we go on to other illustrations of the minuet form
we may profitably discuss some of the implications of this

First, the kind of close-knit quality that this music exhib-
its is an aspect of the melodic and rhythmic style of the
piece. We may decide, indeed, as we become familiar with
more of Mozart’s music, that it is characteristic of his gen-
eral style. This quality grows directly out of the fact that
only two identifying motives are used. Stripped of all ap-
pended melodic qualities, the minuet proper is a musical
discussion of this motive: jTj | J. The trio is even more
strikingly fashioned from one small motive: f]. These


two motives, moreover, have a distinct relationship to each
other. The second is simply a rhythmic reversal of the first
two notes of the first.

J J reversed , is *

Composers make use of such relationships of mirrorlike re-
versal time after time, with the expectation that the listener
will have no more difficulty than in recognizing a photo-
graphic negative. Actually, then, Mozart made this piece
out of turn te dum (J73 J ).

Aside from its admirable craftsmanship, what does this
compactness imply? What does it imply that will help the
listener hear music? The implication is important to our un-
derstanding of musical form.

We must return, for the moment, to our diagram of the
minuet form:


Minuet Trio Minuet

If this form were only a mold into which the composer
poured as much music as he could, it would have room for
four distinct musical ideas represented by the letters a, b, c,
and d. But composers do not always use a form to unify as
many ideas as possible, as Haydn did in the “Gipsy Rondo.”
Often they use it rather to give variety of treatment .to a
single idea. An important distinction is to be noted between
unifying many ideas and giving variety of treatment to one
idea. These two functions of form are met with wherever
ideas take form. It might even be suggested that ideas do not
exist until they have form.


Mozart, in the minuet from which all this is a digression
more apparent than real, is giving form to one idea. Turn
te dum is not an idea but rather a motto or text. The letters
in our diagram will correspond, for this piece, not to points
at which new ideas are introduced, but stages in the musical
discussion which, in a verbal treatment, might be marked
off by “moreover,” “however,” or “on the other hand.”

The difficulty for the listener is to get the slight distinc-
tions in musical treatment which mark the “moreover” or
the “however.” It is by those distinctions that he may keep
his place in the music. Let us practice with another Mozart
minuet, the famous one from the Symphony No. 40 in G


For a in the minuet proper, Mozart immediately states his
most important musical idea:

It is so striking that it would be difficult to forget. Notice
that it is in minor and that its rhythm conflicts with the
basic three-four measure of the minuet. It could be written
more comfortably in a two- four measure:

When Mozart gets to the “however” marked by the b on
our diagram he makes his point by emphasizing even more
strongly the syncopation of this subject theme. To accom-
plish this, the theme at b is characterized by a strong disso-
nance on the down beat, a beat normally lost under the syn-
copation. The listener must feel the bite of this dissonance
and how its quality continues in the musical discussion:


flute, oboes,

E *
r i


viola, violoncello
1 “J

* J
– ^


At b 9 too, the subject has momentarily gone into the rela-
tive major. Thus the position of b in the form is marked not
by a new melodic motive, but by a new treatment of the
original motive.

The return of a (after b) is not a mechanical repetition
of the beginning of the piece, as it might be and as it ac-
tually is in many minuets, but, with less space, different
tone-color, and new harmony, a return, in the flute, of the
original -minor form of the motive. Notice the descending
chromatic notes in the bassoon part at this point.

The trio introduces another motive. Its relation to the
subject of the minuet proper is perhaps a little remote, but
it can be shown by putting one above the other and com-
paring the melodic contour.




V * *

The four eighth notes which appear after two statements of
the trio motive are similar to the eighth notes in the minuet



The trio, then, has a kind of “on the other hand” relation
to the minuet proper. Its tone-color is in complete contrast,
and its key is G major, the tonic major of G minor. Here,
as in the minuet, the same motive is the motto for both parts
of the form:

c violins

r I r ir
violoncello bassoon

The return of c, like the return of a in the minuet proper,
is not a literal repetition. The French horns are added to the
violin statement of the motive, and its second statement is
piled up with a polyphonic imitation by the French horns
and woodwinds.

This Mozart minuet, one of the most interesting in all
symphonic literature, deserves many hearings. It will well
repay, in musical understanding, a close attempt to bear
what has been outlined in this discussion. To aid in this hear-
ing, a full score of this minuet has been included at the end
of this chapter. When the listener can close this book and
trace in his listening all the things that Mozart makes this
music do, he has made real progress in the language of music.

The minuet form has been presented as a conventional
musical structure; yet the examples used have been uncon-
ventional minuets. A conventional minuet, if it could be
found one that made the process of illustrating the form
easy would convey an entirely false impression of the de-
lightful variety of minuets. The listener must learn to take
music as it comes from the hand of the composer, even
though it varies from the textbook form. Form and idea or



content are not to be separated except as an aid in learning.
The experienced listener will invariably give his most
ardent admiration to music which, for a reason, departs even
radically from the imaginary norm. With only a few hints
as to what the listener may find, let us hear another minuet,
this time one by Schubert, from his String Quartet in A
minor, Op. 29. Play it. Notice first how Schubert uses the
little motive that Mozart used in the first minuet we heard:

Later :

And at b ‘

And later :

More than from his use of the motive, however, the pure
magic of this minuet results from Schubert’s avoidance of
the conventional key relations of the form. The listener is
actually left up in the air until near the end of the second
a in the minuet proper. The violoncello begins the second a
clearly enough, but after it has reiterated the motive several
times it slides off into a completely strange key. “Why? The
answer must be found in what the music does to arrive
finally at the long organ point which tells us that the har-
mony has come home. Listen for the magnificent harmonic


forward motion that is outlined by the violoncello. Here is
the richness of chromaticism. Try to hum the ‘cello part
from the return to a to the trio.


‘cello part


Notice in the trio how the original motive is used to make
the change to major. But then try to decide on the form of
the trio. The lack of definiteness which, in the minuet proper,
appeared in harmonic relations, affects form and melody in
the trio.

With these hints, study this minuet for yourself. You will
find that it is a remarkable piece of music. It is interesting
partly because it represents a great genius’s departure from
a conventional form for the sake of what he had to say.

Musical form is a guide, a map, for the listener. In that
function, however, it must be used as much to determine
departure from the conventional norm as conformity to it.
This has been true of the rondo and the minuet. It will be
even truer of the sonata.


Mozart String Quartet in D minor (K.V. 421) : Minuet Victor 7608
Symphony No. 40: Minuet Victor 8885

Schubert String Quartet in A minor, Op. 2.91 Minuet Victor 11718




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Chapter 12

MANY listeners have been puzzled by the word “sonata”
because it has so many meanings in current usage
among musicians. An explanation which will clarify those
meanings will be o value as we proceed.

At almost exactly the same time that our English fore-
fathers were planting colonies on this continent the first
third of the seventeenth century musicians in Europe were
discovering that music for instruments could be different in
style from music for voices. They had been playing the same
music they sang. For the new market which was created by
the growing number of instrumentalists amateurs like Sam-
uel Pepys, for example printers, with the connivance of
composers, began to announce on title pages that pieces were
“apt for voices or viols.” In Italy the expression was “per
cantare o suonare.” But as the style of writing for instru-
ments began to differentiate, composers discovered that they
could write passages for instruments {per suonare) that were
not suitable for voices (per cantare) . As this difference be-
came more and more obvious even the publishers had to rec-
ognize it. Composers and printers alike fell into the custom
of calling a piece that was intended to be sung a cantata,
and a piece to be played a piece of instrumental music a

sonata. Since the beginning of the seventeenth century peo-



pie have called single pieces of instrumental music by so
many other names that this first use of the word “sonata”
has all but disappeared. Occasionally, however, pianists and,
more recently, harpsichordists play some of the sonatas of
Domenico Scarlatti, which are rather short single pieces.
Thus the word still has some slight currency with this early

Composers very soon began to compose groups of pieces,
with the intention that all the pieces be played in sequence,
and they called these groups of pieces sonatas. From this
practice we get our common meaning of the word: a group
of movements which somehow belong together. Two consid-
erably different uses appeared for the sonatas of this early
period. Out of each use a style developed, and for each style
a modification of the name was applied. Thus a group of
instrumental pieces of a style proper to church use was
called a sonata da chiesa or church sonata. A group of less
serious, more amusing pieces, characteristically containing
several dances, was called a sonata da camera or living-room
sonata. This, by the way, is the source of our expression
“chamber music.”

The story at this point, to be accurate, would have to be
too complex for our present purpose. It is sufficient to note
that suites, lessons, partitas, and ordres were groups of pieces
which, had they been composed in Italy, probably would all
have been called sonatas.

Our concert and radio programs and the shelves of record
dealers often make sonatas of this second type available to
modern listeners. The sonatas, suites, and partitas of com-
posers like Bach, Handel, Corelli, and many others give this
meaning currency.

During the eighteenth century, styles in music, like styles


in everything from, manners to government, underwent a
radical change. And just as a change in the style of govern-
ment brought with it new governmental forms, so a change
in musical style made necessary new musical forms. Com-
posers wanted to continue composing groups of movements
which gave them a sonata of adequately large dimensions,
but they had to have new forms for the movements of the
sonata. The problem was particularly acute with regard to
long, rapid movements. The form, then, that was devised
for the individual movements of the sonata, particularly the
first, came to be called the sonata form.

We have, in consequence, the following uses for the word

1. A name for a single piece of instrumental music.

2. A name for a group of movements.

3. A name for a form for single movements within a

Some sonatas include movements in sonata form; some do
not. The matter is further complicated. A symphony is really
a sonata for symphony orchestra; a string quartet is a sonata
for two violins, viola, and violoncello; a trio for piano, vio-
lin, and violoncello is a sonata for those three instruments.
Operatic overtures composed since the sonata form devel-
oped are often in sonata form. The sonata form is heard
more often than any other. The complications of its history
and use drop out of sight when the form becomes familiar.
But the listener must not look for it where it could not pos-
sibly be, as, for instance, in the pieces and groups of pieces
called sonatas that were composed before the sonata form
was invented.

The sonata form is a form for one single movement. What
is it like?


In the scale of complexity, as in the scale of value as a
vehicle for great music, it is at the top of the group of forms
which have grown out of the application of the basic princi-
ple of repetition after contrast. Its main outline, from the
standpoint of the listener, is ternary:


Each section exhibits a characteristic inner organization
which is implied in the name given to that section. The first
or A section is the exposition. The B section is the develop-
ment. The second A is the recapitulation.


Exposition Development Recapitulation

Each of these words describes the function of the section to
which it is applied. In the exposition the composer states the
subject matter for the movement. In the development he
explores and discusses the implications of the subject matter.
In the recapitulation he restates the original subject matter
and brings the movement to a close.

The formal organization within the exposition allows for
the introduction not only of contrasting thematic material
but of change in key. It begins with a first theme which not
only presents the first musical subject matter but establishes
the key. The contrasting section which follows states the
second theme. The second theme is in a new key, and be-
cause the arrival of both the new theme and the new key
requires preparation, the first theme and the second are con-
nected by a bridge passage. The bridge may be accorded
greater or less space and emphasis, depending on the require-
ments of the particular piece of music; it is, however, al-
ways a passage in which the motion from one theme and


key to another should be obvious to the listener. This first
bridge, too, has another significance, which will appear in
relation to the recapitulation. The exposition ends with a
closing episode which may introduce either new subject mat-
ter or a different form of any earlier thematic material.
When it is time to leave the second theme and move to the
closing episode, another bridge provides passage to the latter.
The closing episode is, however, conventionally in the same
key as the second theme.

The composers who first conceived the sonata form ha-
bitually indicated that the entire exposition was to be re-
peated in performance. Modern performers use their own
taste and judgment about making the repeats. If the repeat
is made, the music must shift from the key of the second
theme back to that of the first theme. If the repeat is omit-
ted or after it has been made, the music must move on to
the development. Thus the final measures of the exposition
must be so fashioned that they will lead in either one of two

The traditional sonata form also establishes the exact key
relationship between the themes. If the first theme is in
major, the second theme is on the level of the dominant. If
the first theme is in minor, the second theme is in the rela-
tive major. The exposition ends, naturally, in the key of the
second theme. All this is rather complex; it is, moreover, a
tradition which composers themselves often find reason for
breaking. For the listener who is struggling to understand
the sonata form it is sufficient at the beginning to try to feel
the movement away from one level toward the establishment
of the new level. This is not difficult.

A diagram for the exposition looks like this:


bridge bridge

first theme”‘ “””^ second theme ^ “””””””closing episode

tonic key level

new key level

The development section of the sonata form has no con-
ventional pattern. This fact, on first thought, may appear
to leave the listener without guidance for part of the music*
Although no aspect of the sonata form can be described
without making a reservation for possible exceptions, the
development is almost certain to be based on material which
is familiar from having been presented in the exposition.
While there is no set form for the development, at least its
very nature stipulates its subject matter. The listener who
has really heard the exposition will find satisfaction, as his
experience with music increases, in the composer’s having
been left free in the development to follow the bent of his
own originality. Most music composed in this most monu-
mental of musical forms is worth hearing many times. As
the listener begins to live with his favorite sonata-form
music, he will find that each development section has its own
inevitable structure. This individual form is a logical pro-
jection from the exposition and grows out of the implica-
tions of the subject matter. Those implications will usually
include considerable change of key. The piling up of in-
tensity as the music proceeds makes the tension which may
result from rapid modulation more valuable here than at any
other point in the sonata. The development can be the most
thrilling part of the music. As it comes to a close it returns
to the key level on which the exposition began.

The recapitulation follows the general outline of the ex-
position with two important differences. Composers have


learned, after long experience, that the sense of completeness,
of inevitability, which they wish to convey in a piece of
music, depends to a considerable extent upon the emphasis
given at the end of the piece to the key level of the begin-
ning. This is especially true of the sonata, where the develop-
ment permits so much fluctuation. Here repetition after con-
trast is vital. We have seen, in our study of theme and varia-
tions, the care with which Haydn and Schubert, by means
of an organ point, emphasized the return to the tonic after
chromatic or modulatory excursions in the previous varia-
tion. In the recapitulation in the sonata form this increased
emphasis is secured by keeping all of the section on the key
level of the first theme. As a result, the bridge between the
first and second themes must end where it began. The pas-
sage which was heard partly as a shift in key level in the
exposition takes on a novel sound and often has different
length and importance in the recapitulation. This is the first
important difference between the exposition and the reca-

The second difference also grows out of the fact that the
music must finally come to an end. Neither of the endings
of the exposition, both of which led toward a continuation,
could be satisfactory endings for the whole movement. They
usually go in the wrong direction harmonically, and they
are not long enough in relation to the momentum that the
movement has gathered. All this means that the recapitula-
tion must end in a coda; it may consist either of a different
final turn to the closing episode or of an addition to it.

One other detail of the sonata form must be noted. The
sonatas which were written before the change of style that
necessitated the invention of the sonata form often began
with a comparatively short slow movement. Such a slow

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c E


movement did not continue as an integral part of the new
sonata form, but it furnished a tradition for a slow introduc-
tion to the movement which was to be in sonata form. A
slow introduction precedes the movement in sonata form
only when the composer has a particular reason for using it.
Some sonatas have it; others do not. One of the most inter-
esting sources of insight for the listener may be speculation
as to why a composer uses or omits a slow introduction.

We are ready for a diagram of the entire sonata form. It
will be a diagram which, even more than that of the rondo,
must be looked upon as a guide in cases of both conformity
and nonconformity. Music would be a poor thing indeed if
composers were forced by law to conform to a convention.

The foregoing description of the sonata form is too long
to make interesting reading. Hearing a sonata, however, may
become a fascinating musical experience, and it would be un-
fair to deny the listener any of the information which makes
real hearing possible. Do not try to use a description of music
like this as light reading. No one ever yet read himself into
an understanding of music, any more than a prospective air-
plane pilot reads himself into a pilot’s license that takes
hours in the air. With music, intelligent mastery takes hours
“with the music. This description must be used as a manual.
Reference to it should be continued until the listener knows
the sonata form well enough to be able to refer to it from

Experience with music which uses the sonata form will
make the form itself much more intelligible. We must now
accumulate some of our hours with the music.

Chapter 13

NO composer has excelled Mozart in the sheer perfec-
tion with which he used the sonata form. For him
it was the perfect vehicle. Because it grew out of the musi-
cal language that he spoke, he used it time after time with
no reservation as to its suitability. To observe the sonata-
form structure and to feel the real simplicity of its logic, we
can do no better than to turn to Mozart.

We have made the acquaintance of the Minuet from Mo-
zart’s Symphony in G minor. We will use the rest of that
symphony for practice in hearing the sonata form. Let us
turn, then, to the first movement of this symphony.

For the first hearing do not try to grasp too much detail.
The outlines of the form as they are made clear in the sub-
ject matter must be recognized first; later hearings will fill
in the details. Try to hear at least this much the first time:


First theme grows out of this motive: [j*j p

ir i r Lr r LT i r ‘ ; -” M ui i u i r r

Bridge passage. First theme motive disappears. Momentary
chromatic harmonies prepare for the new key major.


A short pause announces the arrival of the second
theme. Try to hear an extra theme which Mozart uses
in this bridge passage. It will have considerable impor-
tance later:


Second theme. Melodic line is divided between strings and
woodwinds. The theme is this:
Notice that the second theme is slightly chromatic.

‘Bridge passage. The melodic line o the second theme is
replaced by chromatic chords and rapid notes.

Closing episode. An echoing use, between oboe and bas-
soon, of the motive from the first theme:



ir rrr > i
. rn
ir c_rr

This is followed by scale passages and reiterated domi-
nant-tonic chords; sol-do is heard at the bottom of the


Repeat of exposition. Notice that the key of the begin-
ning is prepared for by one loud chord at the very end
of the exposition. This quick dive back into the original
key is not hard to feel. The exposition of this move-
ment is almost invariably repeated in performance. No-
tice how, after the one loud chord which took the music
back to the beginning, two more chords take it away
from its home level for the development.




Follow the use of the motive: MM. Notice the rapid,
shifts in key level. Notice, too, the gentle chromatic
fall back to the key of the first theme and how the first
theme arrives a moment before this can be completed.


First theme. Try to hear that the last part of the theme is
here stated differently in harmony from its first presen-
tation in the exposition. It consequently moves over
slightly different intervals from those used before. It is
already preparing for the second theme’s re-location
as to key level which is characteristic of the recapitula-

Bridge passage. This is much longer and more important
than the corresponding passage in the exposition. Try
to hear the rather extended treatment of the little sur-
prise theme that was noticed in the exposition:


Try to hear how Mozart piles up the last four notes in
an imitation between the first violins and the violas,
violoncellos, and bassoons:

rV r , ,
J- h
r ‘ 7 j^


Second theme. After a long bridge passage the second
theme enters as it did before. Try to hear, if from noth-
ing else than the quality of its sound, that it is on a
lower key level than in the exposition.

Bridge passage. The same, except for key level, as in the

Closing episode. The same, except for key level and end-
ing, as in the exposition. Notice that it leads to the
coda by a chromatically ascending syncopated passage:






Coda. This brings back the material of the first theme, but
with an imitative treatment:

violin I

violin II
Notice how the first violin continues with what is desig-
nated here as b, and how it is imitated in turn by the
viola. In the final ending, notice the use of the rhythm
of the first theme, with the long insistence on the
dominant-tonic or do-sol harmonies.

If this sketch is not clear after one or two hearings, try
listening to the music while you keep your place on the
map on page 155.

As the listener’s acquaintance with music grows, he will
find that a sketch of the form which will help him to keep
from getting lost serves only as a clue to the true character
of the music. As he penetrates the movement under discus-

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sion it should continue to grow on him, not only until its
form seems clear and logical, but until hearing it becomes
a unified living experience.

Is there any relationship, for instance, among the follow-
ing qualities of this music? Both first and second themes em-
phasize a quality of melodic motion that is rather gentle.
The listener may choose, with perfect justice, other ad-
jectives to describe them; he must be sure, however, that
they fit what the music does. Aside from all differences in
actual motive material, these two themes have a quality in
common. The first theme presses forward with more in-
sistence than the second; the second has a tentative, sus-
pended quality as a result of the fact that it postpones the
arrival of the clear tonic harmony until the final note of its
second phrase:

‘ “~ ^
first phrase

[7S> .1. .
second phrase (r)

Try to hear that suspended quality. Compare it with the
long tonic harmony at the beginning of the first theme.
There is considerable difference in degree between the two
themes, but they do have a graceful, gentle quality in com-

Compare that quality with the force tremendous by con-
trast of the momentary theme of the bridge passage be-
tween them in the exposition:


ol- . f

o’i r o >r \


Notice, too, that once in the statement of the first theme
Mozart has hammered on the plain rhythmic aspect of the

Then consider the momentary strength of the dive which
returns the music to the beginning and then takes it on to
the development. These almost hidden qualities of strength
contrast with the main themes. What happens to them as the
music proceeds?

There can be little question concerning the development.
Although it ends with a graceful and gentle dropping back
to the first theme in the recapitulation, it has devoted its
whole space to adding vitality, strength, and force to the
first theme. Notice its rhythmic and harmonic energy and
the power of its climax even within the limited orchestra
Mozart employs no kettledrums, no trumpets, no trom-
bones. Then, above all, feel the effect of the remarkable de-
velopment of the bridge passage in the recapitulation. It is
as if the hidden strength of the exposition, beginning to ap-
pear in the development, now finds justification for a burst
of exuberance. And finally, after a rather wistful beginning,
the coda hammers at the rhythmic strength of the first
theme: i ou d


And it ends with a display of what most listeners and com-
posers will always feel to be the most tremendously power-
ful relationship in the whole realm of musical materials, the
repeated harmonic movement from dominant to tonic.

Is this a plot? Does the movement of the music move the
listener? Does Mozart control how the listener is moved?

The sonata form is a form for experience!


The final movement of the same symphony is another op-
portunity for insight. Our discussion, as we proceed, may de-
pend more and more upon the listener’s growing understand-
ing of musical language. The sketch of this movement on
page 1 60 should be sufficient. Here the music has a compact-
ness which is apt to characterize the final movements of sym-
phonies, and the exposition is seldom repeated in perform-

Notice that the first theme is actually a small ternary
structure, with its parts repeated in the convention of the

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The motive of the closing episodi

Although the sonata form was developed primarily for
the rapid first movement, it has sometimes been used in slow
movements. This is the case with Mozart’s G minor Sym-
phony. The slow movement shows a slightly different use of
the form. Because of its leisurely pace the subject matter may
be more complex. The sketch on page 161 will indicate the
outlines of this movement. Here are the themes:
First theme:


with this phrase at the end of the first complete statement



Second theme: Kfopi?ft P f f l=6
-^ -i 3 -j ^

Closing episode: IA.1AU h^TFV I ‘ 3 .-? ‘

The intricacies of this slow movement, which flows past
the listener with such seeming lack of complexity, will re-
spond to several, hearings, and the movement will become
as clear as any of the others.

The reader who has been following this book with some
care should now be reminded that he has acquainted himself
with all of Mozart’s Symphony in G minor. He owes it to
himself and to Mozart to hear the movements in the order
which the composer intended. Notice that the second move-
ment is in a different key from the others. Play them now
straight through in turn. This symphony is a great master-
piece. If you now can hear it well enough so that it takes
shape in your mind so that it has a distinct personality of
its own you are learning the language of music.

Mozart Symphony No. 40 in G minor (K.V. 550) Victor M-2^3

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Part Two


Chapter 14

HENRY ADAMS, in The Education of Henry Adams,
an autobiography in which the sole interest is in the
growth of its author in his relation to ideas, devotes a short
passage to the beginning of his education as a listener. That
passage contains two interesting phrases. After telling how
bored he had been with music, Adams related his great sur-
prise when he discovered that music could form a “pattern
in his mind/’ In describing his astonishment he says that “it
was as if a curtain had been raised upon a new sense/’ This
from a Bostonian who had been hearing music all his life!

If the first part of this book has succeeded only partially,
the listener must have felt music becoming a pattern in his
mind. Perhaps his astonishment was not remarkable, but if
a new sense, a new power, has developed ‘with regard to
music, he is making progress as a listener.

The fact that music can have the power that Adams found
in it the power that we all find in it as we begin to under-
stand it is sufficient support for the title of this chapter.
Music actually is thought. One can, with equal justification,
use the expressions “English thought,” “German thought,”
“musical thought.” The individual who, like Henry Adams,
has an intense curiosity concerning what happens to him
from the ears up, reads English or German books for their



thought for the thought of the men who wrote what he
reads. Likewise he listens to music for its thought for the
thought of the men who expressed their ideas in the lan-
guage of music.

One difficulty confronts us at this point. It is a difficulty
largely of habit. In verbal language and this is true even
with poetry we habitually give more attention to the mean-
ings of the words and sentences than to the sensuous charm
of the sound, which every true lover of language knows has
its own musiclike significance. We follow the idea through
the maze of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and chap-
ters which are necessary for its complete embodiment.

In music, on the other hand, the sensuous charm of the
sound of the language too often makes the strongest appeal
to our attention. We enjoy the gratification of our senses and
get from such gratification as vague a meaning as we would
from a strange language well spoken; but we fail to follow
the musical idea through the structure in which it is em-

Music exerts its charm in spite of our failure to under-
stand it, but such partial value is too much like the pleasure
the old lady got from hearing her minister use the word
“Mesopotamia.” It leaves the intelligent person with a sense
of futility. Out of that sense of futility comes, tragically,
the feeling that music is not a language. The habit of not
understanding music leads to the judgment that music, by its
very nature, cannot be understood.

With considerable justice it can be said that the very
charm of the sound of musical language may be a handicap
to the perception of its meaning. Why did Beethoven, for
instance especially in his mature works avoid lusciousness
unless from the desire to focus his listeners’ attention on


inner meaning? This notion may seem revolutionary to many
listeners. Without it, however, much music could not even
be enjoyed, for its attraction is not wholly or even mostly

The purpose of the whole first part of this book has been
to give the listener the means whereby he may develop the
habit of understanding music. That purpose cannot be con-
summated unless we are willing to look upon the desire to
convey meaning, or thought, as the fundamental reason for
the existence of great music and great composers.

The reasons for our interest in music, then, are the same
as for our interest in any other literature. We want to know
what and how men have thought. We want the minds of
others to touch our own. We want to be enriched by the
great minds of the world, including the great musical minds.

There is a thirst for knowing which has tremendous force
even when its objects are only things and facts. But the thirst
for knowing people and being known by them is much
stronger. It rules our lives. It is almost strong enough to
break through the mask we wear the front that protects us
from the fear that when we are known we will be disliked.
But not quite, because that mask is a negative expression of
the same essential thirst. For this reason we know only a very
few of those whom we meet face to face. We feel that we
are known by a similar few. Free, open, true contact of minds
is rare indeed. In the sorrow that we so often feel at our
failures in our relationships with others we say, “If I had
only known” and almost always our concern is for one
whom we have, in some meager fashion, known for years.

The loneliness of human beings is usually felt more strongly
by creative artists than by others; it is, nevertheless, normal
to all of us. This feeling of loneliness, this craving to be


understood, provides a powerful motive for self-expression.
By expressing and communicating his ideas and feelings, the
artist, whether musician, writer, or painter, diminishes his
own loneliness.

Thought does not exist entirely by itself. It is accompanied
by a state of feeling, by a constant flow of emotion. Homer
W. Smith, in Kamongo, gives a vivid description of the
source of this emotional flow:

Your cave-man is the key to the whole question. Without him
we would be lost, but with him we can find our way. You have to
understand that brain of his.

His brain worked in a quite simple fashion. On one side, so to
speak, there was a storehouse where he could keep the sensory pic-
tures sights, smells, sounds, touch of the world about him, and
on the other there was a delivery room where he could send out
orders to his muscles for action; in the middle there was a clearing-
house where he could sort everything out and size it up. All his
life this brain of his was busy collecting sensory information in
the one side, correlating that information in the clearing-house,
and acting upon the final product in the other. When he saw a
mango, he ate it; when he saw a stick, he passed it by; but when
he saw a mammoth, he ran!

But there was yet another part of his brain, a fourth part which
we can call his emotional sounding-board. It was just as important
as the other three. Whenever any sensory picture came to his brain
it passed, on its way to the clearing-house, across this sounding-
board where it evoked some typical emotional reaction which was
itself delivered to the clearing-house simultaneously with the orig-
inal sensory picture. Thus the final sensory image consisted of a
picture of the object coloured by the man’s emotional reaction to
the object. The mango evoked in him a sensation of delight min-
gled, perhaps, with hunger pains and a desire to have it; the stick
produced no emotional response, while the mammoth filled him
with awe and fear. He did not see hunger pains in the mango or
awe and fear in the mammoth these sensations were born en-


tirely within him by resonance from his emotional sounding-board
at the base of his brain. Yet, to him, they were just as real and just
as much a part of the picture as the colour and size of the mango
or the length of the mammoth’s tusks.

That sounding-board was a very old part of his brain. The gen-
eral pattern of it had been laid down in his ancestors back in by-
gone ages. So, also, had its motor connexions, and for this reason
the general emotional pattern and the typical emotional responses
were much the same in all men, and relatively invariable. But the
specific connexions between the sounding-board and the sensory
paths to his brain were mostly left unattached, so that each man
was free to plug them in with the sensory pictures from the world
about him according to his individual experience. As his experi-
ence widened, more and more objects came to evoke some typical
emotional response, and he came to classify the world more or less
in terms of his emotional reactions: good things and bad things,
pleasant and unpleasant, beautiful and ugly, indifferent and awful.

That sounding-board played a very important part in his life.
Its purpose was to reinforce the cold sensory image, to make it
more vivid and to give it some personal, sensual colour; to give
outside things a purpose, a meaning in his eyes. To meet his need
it put delight in the mango; to meet his danger it put awe in the
mammoth. It made the world significant for himself.

This “sounding-board,” with its long-established motor
connections which control emotional responses, is the area
of the mind to which music makes its appeal. As our discus-
sion continues, the relationship between music and that
sounding-board will emerge.

We may return for a moment to the suggestion that was
made in a previous chapter that great music is composed by
men who have qualities of greatness. In the light of our pres-
ent discussion, it may be said that music gives the listener,
if he understands its language, an opportunity to have a free,
open, and true contact with the mind which has expressed


itself in the music. Music cannot tell an untruth about the
man who wrote it: it may be bad music, it may be dishonest,
but in its badness or dishonesty it must tell the truth about
its composer.

For music to furnish a complete experience the listener
must have felt it communicating to him within its special
province. It is a quality of music which the listener has to
know from his emotions. Review, for a moment, your ex-
perience with the first movement of Mozart’s G minor Sym-
phony. Is it not true that when you perceived that Mozart
was interested more in the qualities of his thematic material
than in the material itself, that the growth of vitality and
strength was the point of the movement is it not true that
then, and not until then, you felt you were beginning to
understand this music?

The sheer beauty of musical sounds is the initial attrac-
tion which music offers the listener. The opportunity to
search for and finally understand the meaning of music is
the abiding reward. It is a reward which opens a vast store-
house of great thought, a magnificent literature.

In the search for meaning the listener needs as much guid-
ance as in learning the obvious mechanism of the language.
After he has learned to hear a piece of music completely,
how is he to understand what he has heard? Unfortunately
the answer is not easy, because music is a language for which
words are a poor substitute. How does music talk? We can
but skirt the fringes of an answer. Even a glimpse, however,
will confirm us in the right to think of music as literature.

Chapter 15

“A TUSIC is a source of a wide variety of experiences for
JLVJL the listener. Music accompanies his activities and
thoughts in many different environments. He hears it in
church, in the ballroom, at the theater, at the stadium, over
the radio, in the restaurant, and in numberless other places.
He hears it when he is in love, in sorrow; when he is study-
ing; when he is relaxing; when he is marching; when he is
worshiping. He hears it in moments of strong emotion, at
times of good-fellowship and conviviality. What can it mean
how can it talk to him?

Music says -what the tones do. Such a statement is clear
enough, especially after we have seen how tones behave. It
does not go quite far enough, however. After the listener has
learned how to hear everything that the tones of any given
piece of music do, the statement may be enlarged. Music
says what the tones do to you. The “to you” is in effect all
the time, of course, but the listener has no right to feel that
there has been a complete meeting of his mind with the
music while he is only partially hearing it. The sense of true
meaning waits for the listener to hear the music completely.

How does this connect with what has been said earlier
about the numerous contacts we have with music? In this
Way: Music as a background for other activities, moods, and



emotions is not music at its best and highest, no matter how
good the music. It supplies a way of listening that is not
really listening; we do not hear all of the music we fail to
give it our complete attention. We hear only what fits our
own mood at the time and thus we reverse the process by
which music may be apprehended in its own meaning. In
partial listening we take music into the area from which
spring most of the false meanings by which the human mind
is misled, the area of false association.

It cannot be denied that music has a tremendous power
of associating itself with extramusical circumstances and
ideas. Music, as we know it, originated because people per-
ceived that it has such power; composers make use of it
whenever they compose songs, operas, or program music*
Its most modern use is on the sound track of the motion
picture film. There is a subtle but very real difference, how-
ever, between true and false associations.

The listener, if he examines his own experience, will find
example after example of false association. The whole of the
United States, for instance, has associated intense patriotism
with a tune which was originally a drinking song, “The Star-
Spangled Banner.” Perhaps the association is only superficially
false; the lustiness of eighteenth-century conviviality may
have woven a musical fabric which, when the original as-
sociation has been forgotten, can be also a true reflection in
music of patriotic emotion. No one has failed, at some time
or other, to associate the emotion of love with some popular
or even ribald song which he heard accidentally when he was
deeply stirred. One may have associated an unforgettably
moving incident with such a piece as “Darktown Strutters’
Ball” so that the two have come to have, by association, the
same nostalgic solemnity.


Can such associations furnish a basis for musical expres-
sion? Can a great composer depend upon them for the trans-
mission of meaning from his mind to that of the listener?
Music as literature could not exist if the answers to such
questions were positive. Yet some investigators, with well-
meaning diligence, have evolved numerous experiments in
the attempt to measure the meaning value of exactly such
associations. They might as well try to determine the meaning
of words in the same way. The attempt to use such mean-
ings is a blind-alley deduction from the supposition that
music is a universal language in the sense that it need not be
learned. Too many listeners go astray at exactly this point.
The distinction between true and false associations must be
kept in mind. True associations are possible are sometimes
indicated by the composer and are made just often enough
by pure accident so that they seemingly justify the listener
who thinks he can depend upon them for the meaning of

One of the most prolific sources of seemingly justifiable
associations is that musical sounds can be made to imitate
natural sounds. The bleating of sheep and the sound of the
windmill in Strauss’s “Don Quixote/* the thunderstorm in
Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Symphony, the striking of the clock
in Saint-Saens’s “Danse Macabre,” or the gait of the donkey
in Grofe’s “Grand Canyon Sketches,” are a few examples
among many. This possibility cannot be lightly waved aside.
It has been used too often with telling effect by too many
composers. Upon it, moreover, depends a great deal of the
expressive power of tone-color. The determination of the
truth or falsity of such associations depends upon the pur-
pose of the composer in using them. They are, at best, a side
issue in the language of music.


If associations which music can make so powerfully are
not wholly to be trusted as a clue to musical meaning, in
what aspect of music is meaning to be found? An answer
to that question must be given by each composer for him-
self if his music is to justify its existence. It must be given,
too, by the listener if he is to make a true contact with the
composer. The answer has been given, thousands of times,
by those for whom it was vital. It has been given by com-
posers whose music talks; it has been given by listeners who
have understood. But it has never been given in words so
that it could be convincing.

The following attempt to furnish a verbal guide so that
the listener may try to answer the question for himself must
not be misunderstood. It grows out of no special claim to in-
sight Q U t of no claim to have found an answer where others
have failed. It grows, rather, out of the necessity of th*
listener’s possessing, at this most crucial point in his relation
to music, at least a dependable clue to what the composer
puts into his music in the way of meaning. It must be prac-
tical., usable! The listener must be able to prove it in his own
experience. It will, in consequence, be open to criticism from
the psychologist and philosopher, to whom it will seem too
simple and lacking in needle-sharpness of terminology. The
listener may criticize it because it is too complex! Whatever
the reaction, it is utterly unfair to talk about music appre-
ciation without attempting to answer the question: HOW


We have suggested that music as literature is thought and
experience plus feeling-tone or flow of emotion. If it can
be shown how music, which says what the tones do, can
stimulate, under the conscious direction of the composer, a


flow of emotion, the answer to our question will be within

Let us begin by discussing for a moment the art of the
composer. After he has become a master of the technicali-
ties of composition, he is ready to compose music which will
convey whatever he has to express to the listener. He knows
before he begins what he wants his music to say. He may
know it almost subconsciously undoubtedly has not ex-
pressed it in words but know it he must. It is something
that can be felt in an immeasurably shorter space of time
than is taken by the process of composition. He cannot main-
tain the mood of the music within himself the whole time
he is composing. He must know how to translate a complex
pattern of feeling-states, which he has experienced in the
past, into a piece of music. Herein consists his art. He can-
not express emotion without it. We can give way to emo-
tion, but that is not expressing it. If you see somebody in
a tantrum, you will react emotionally, but hardly by reflect-
ing the tantrum.

What is emotion? We do not want a psychologist’s answer
to that question. Even composers, who must arouse and di-
rect emotion, can know psychology only in a limited way,
from their own practical experience. The experience of the
race, as it has crystallized in words, will give us all the clue
we need. What do we mean when we say that we have had
a moving experience; that we have been deeply moved or
stirred? Is it an accident that the word which represents
what we are discussing is all motion except the first letter:
e-motion? The other words which actually describe how we
feel all imply motion: depressed, elated, thrilled, strained,
restrained, released, repressed, etc. We use such expressions
as “I felt like jumping up and down” or “that stopped me


in my tracks,” These words and expressions, and more like
them which the reader can list for himself, seem to indicate
that there is a close relationship between motion and emo-
tion. Our emotions feel to us like motions that we usually
do not make. They are “pent up” even in situations for
which we normally would not use that expression. We ac-
tually know our emotions to an appreciable extent through
our blood pressure, viscera, and muscles through the con-
stant, kaleidoscopic accumulation and release of bodily ten-
sions. It might be added, parenthetically, that the so-called
lie detector is based on this relationship between emotion and
bodily tension.

Emotion, then, is felt as motion.

What is music? The answer should be clear and obvious.
Music is motion. Rhythm is forward motion. Melodic line
is another kind of forward motion to which the possibility
of pitch variation has added upward and downward motion.
Harmony is forward motion for which the qualities of wide-
ness and thinness, major and minor, rest and activity, con-
sonance and dissonance, and diatonic and chromatic supply
an immense variety of tensions. Tone-color in its most ob-
vious aspect is not motion, but its function, aside from the
associational values previously mentioned, is to clarify the
lines of melodic motion. In the sense that loudness and soft-
ness are tone-color, this aspect of musical materials does
supply the motion between dynamic extremes.

The conclusion toward which we are moving should be
taking shape. It has been summarized by a psychologist who
has long been interested in the meaning of music in the fol-
lowing paragraphs:

In trying to solve this ancient problem in aesthetics it is neces-
sary to realize clearly, but at the same time to avoid, the verbal


confusion which has arisen from the marked similarity between
the way emotions feel and the way music sounds. Emotions are
internal experiences. As felt, they run their course and are located
within the body of the person who has them. The human body is
the sounding board for the reverberations of all the complicated
patterns of emotion, so that if a person could describe adequately
how it feels, for example, to be agitated, he would probably refer
to general bodily restlessness, trembling, rapid shooting sensations
in various muscles, possibly draggings and pressures in the stomach,
tingling of the hair, gritting of the teeth, etc. This whole internal
bodily pattern or form is the material basis for the experience
which is labelled agitation. But external forms composed of visual
and auditory materials also assume shapes and patterns which
closely resemble internal bodily disturbances. Music may sound
agitated. The tempo is more rapid, the dynamics louder and
harsher, the tonal design is thicker, the interval-leaps are wider
and more dissonant, etc. Such a tonal pattern is fittingly described
as one of agitation, but music of this kind, or of any other kind,
is not itself an emotion, nor need it give rise in the listener to any
real emotion. Music sounds the way an emotion feels.

This interpretation of the relation of emotion to music avoids
the difficulties of older solutions which aestheticians have offered,
and is also closer to the facts of musical experience. Music does not
embody or contain emotion. This is psychologically impossible. Nor
need it give rise to real emotion in the listener. Yet more than any
other art, music is the language of emotion, the objective medium
for the expression of the life of the spirit. Great composers weave
kaleidoscopic patterns of sound which follow the contours of emo-
tional patterns as they originate in the subjective experience of the
composers’ own lives. Only from this point of view does it make
psychological sense to say that tonal design is the objectification of
the subjective, that music is the language of emotion. 1

Music sounds the -way emotions feel. With this statement
we are very close to our goal. Dr. Pratt, from whom, the two

1 Carroll C. Pratt, “The Relation of Emotion to Musical Value.” Volume of Proceed-
ings, 1938, Music Teachers National Association.


previous paragraphs are quoted, indicates that even though
music sounds the way emotions feel it does not necessarily
follow that it will give rise to real emotion in the listener.
This is perfectly true, but every intelligent and sensitive
listener will agree with Dr. Pratt’s hesitant “yet” when he
goes on to say that “more than any other art, music is the
language of emotion.” The “yet” implies that much music
does give rise to real emotion in the listener. Certainly when
the listener fails to be moved by moving music, he is missing
the composer’s message. We are moved by music.

The title of this chapter is “How Music Talks.” So far in
our attempt to explain the “how” we have arrived at two

Music sounds the way emotions feel.
The listener can be moved by music.

The final answer to our “how” depends upon bringing
these two conclusions together. “Music sounds the way emo-
tions feel” is a statement that places music outside the lis-
tener, but when he is moved by music he is moved within
himself. How is the moving contour of the music communi-
cated to the listener’s interior being? Psychologists have not
answered that question, nor has anyone else, but we know
that a kind of induction must take place. We know that
when we are completely aware of and sensitive to a piece of
music we go along with the music.

Here, then, is the substance of how music talks:

Emotion is motion.

Music is motion.

Music sounds the way emotions feel.

The listener goes with the music.


Before we turn to a musical demonstration of how music
talks it will be valuable to make a comparison. How, by com-
parison, does the method of a story teller who wishes to in-
duce emotion differ from the method of a composer? Both
refer to their own past experiences for the emotion they
wish to represent and, by representing, present to their audi-
ence. Both take the next step which must be to remember
how the emotion felt. The composer stops there. He tries to
reproduce the contour of how he felt (how he was moved)
in his music. The story teller, however, must take one more
step. He must remember the chain of incidents which caused
his emotion. Then he must tell, in words, that chain of inci-
dents or a similar chain. Both composer and author hope
that the individuals in their audiences will go along with the
music or the story: the listener with the contour of the
music; the reader through the incidents of the story to a
line of emotion. The story teller must tell his story because
his medium is words. The composer need not tell a story,
could not if he wished, because his medium is music.

The extra step which the writer must make but which
the composer cannot make is the source of nearly all the
misapprehension concerning the meaning of music. It is the
difference between describing an experience or emotion
the extra step and making the listener apprehend it directly.

Chapter 16

problem of how to transmute the way emotions feel
-L into the way music sounds has not been an easy one for
composers. Just as an architect must know the structural
strength of his materials before he can create a functional
design, so must the composer understand the structural im-
plications of his materials before he can explore their power
as an emotional language. Some composers have been more
successful, and more often successful, than others. In music,
too, as in other languages, certain styles have come to have
an archaic sound. It is as difficult for the average listener to
feel the living pulse in music that to him sounds archaic as
for the ordinary reader to feel the human qualities of
Chaucer. “When we call a composer great, it is because enough
listeners, over a long enough period of time, have felt that
his music has the power of speaking to them. He has, within
the limitations of the style of his own time, spoken, in musi-
cal sounds, in a moving way with an authentic voice.

A demonstration of music which will move the listener
might begin at almost any point in the history of music. To
make the demonstration not too difficult for the listener
several things have been taken into account. First, a point
must have been reached where composers no longer take a
childlike pleasure in the tricks that they can do with music;



the technic of musical construction, in other words, must
have ceased to be an end in itself. Second, the style must
have vitality for modern listeners. Finally, a point must have
been reached where composers are learning, with increasing
penetration, that form, even musical form, is the farm of
experience not that form and content are separate entities,
but that content cannot exist until it has taken form.

In describing how a knowledge of the conventional forms
can give guidance in listening, Mozart’s music has been ideal
for purposes of illustration. Lest the reader suspect that
Mozart spoke only the language of formal perfection, let
us now turn to Mozart’s music for a demonstration of how
music talks. It is quite true that Mozart lived in a period
when formality was a kind of substitute for spontaneous
speech a time when it would have been impolite to give
public utterance to the deepest emotions. Occasionally
Mozart was, in that eighteenth-century sense, impolite. Two
movements of the Quintet in G minor (K.V. 516) will show
us the man under the powdered wig.

Play the first movement until its thematic structure is
familiar. The themes themselves are easy to find. It is clearly
in the sonata form.

First theme:


JHJT’ [ TML I i i n i ? UN rri i r[fip

Second theme:
t\ i

‘y ” JL’ r’ ^ Y M r3^ ? J^ [ r ^

Closing episode (motto) :



The listener recognizes the minor quality of the harmony,
the almost monotonous feeling of the repeated notes in the
accompanying parts, and the somberness of the melodic lines.
Most listeners would be willing to agree with one of Mozart’s
biographers, who said of this quintet that it is a “deeply- felt
work . . . yielding, forcibly, a picture of bitter resigna-
tion/’ Is it possible to analyze the contour of this music so
that the listener can feel with conviction that its moving
qualities are inherent in the music? Let us try.

The contour of the first theme gives the first hint. It be-
gins with an upward thrust, but moves over the depressed
minor third: |
The upward thrust carries to the first note of the answering
fragment, but from that high point the melodic line sags
loses energy to the end of the phrase. The accompaniment
also marks the downward motion:
Notice, in the middle of the second measure of this long de-
scending passage, the unsuccessful effort of the melody to
break away from the downward pull. The contour of the
line so far has been a short, almost energetic rise, followed
by a long descent:
The long descent ends, moreover, on an active harmony,
which pushes the music forward to the next phrase. Here


the melodic group which corresponds to the rise at the be-
ginning has the opposite motion, as if the loss of energy had
had its effect:
This is answered by a rising line in which every small group
of notes ends by falling away from its high point:

A l.

rr i r j

The music is right back where it started; but hear what the
‘cello does immediately. It moves to a much lower point:

Then, with the somber tone-quality of the ‘cello and two
violas and the music moving an octave lower, the whole
pattern is repeated:
It should be noted that the upward thrusts of the second
half of the viola’s melody are followed by a more decided
falling off. The loss of energy is accentuated:
At the point where all five instruments play together for
the first time, which marks the bridge between first and


second themes, the music has reached a climax by picking
itself up by its bootstraps. It has called forth a comparatively
tremendous display of energy. Notice how it falls away from
that climax to a point where the used-up energy has de-
pressed and slowed down the whole fabric. Perhaps the most
poignant effect comes when the violins appear unable to
reach high enough to maintain the normal tones of the key:
The bridge ends with repetitions of the falling figure of the
first theme:
This brings the listener to the second theme. If he has been
listening carefully he makes an amazing discovery. The music
has not developed energy enough to move to a new key. It
hasn’t arrived anywhere! The ineffectual, self -consuming
vigor of the bridge passage has resulted only in a fall back
into the minor key in which the music began. As the second
theme unfolds, the reason for this becomes clear. The mo-
notony of the accompaniment continues, but, more impor-
tant, the second theme gives a new and more poignant
emphasis to the drooping quality of the music, which it
could not do if it had followed the rule that calls for the
second theme to be in the major:

Notice that the three high points in this melodic line are on
the flatted sounds of the key the sounds from which the
normal progression is downward.

First and second theme sound different they grow out
of different motives but they are talking about the same
emotional contour:
As the music continues, notice how this contour deter-
mines everything the music does. The bridge to the closing
episode is introduced by first violin and violoncello with this
almost stumbling version:

f ff’.rr
The high passage is an elongation of the upward-thrusting
aspect of the contour, but the motto of the closing episode
insists on the downward aspect:
The exposition ends with an emphasis on the upward mo-
tion, another attempt to force the music to accumulate en-
But the beginning of the development gives the answer:




The conflict between the two opposing aspects of the con-
tour continues through the development, which finally falls
back into the recapitulation. The recapitulation retraces the
contours that by now have become inevitable. The coda adds
new poignancy to the drooping quality as it summarizes the
idea which has dictated, throughout the movement, the con-
tour of the music. Notice the effect of the descending chro-
matic scales in the first violin against the second theme in
other parts of the fabric, while a reiterated organ point in
the second viola emphasizes to the end the monotonous
quality of the forward motion.
The two final chords may perhaps sound out of character.
They must be understood as a kind of punctuation mark
a bow that Mozart made toward convention, after having
composed an unconventional piece of music. The artificial
quality of such an ending adds emphasis to what has preceded


Turn now to the fourth movement of the same Mozart
quintet. It is slow and rather short and serves as an introduc-
tion to the final movement. It has no ending of its own, but
leads directly to the forced liveliness of music which, al-
though it is in a major key and is dancelike in character, has
this main subject:
Because its function is partly that of introducing the final
movement, this slow movement says what it has to say with
absolute directness. When its message has been uttered, it
goes about the business of preparing for what is to come next.
The listener should play this movement several times to
discover how well he can follow its contour. He must notice
a good many things: Its pace is slow, and it is carried forward
by the constantly reiterated eighth notes of the inner voices.
Notice how one after another of these middle parts tries to
break away from the monotonous repetition by moving
downward and upward, but finally subsides on its straight-
line forward motion. The second violin part at the beginning
is characteristic:

Under this the violoncello treads more slowly, in plucked
notes, across the tones of the tonic chord:




The first violin begins its melodic line, which has something
of the quality of impromptu speech, with a phrase that
frankly loses energy in its downward movement. The violin
phrase is immediately echoed an octave lower by the violon-

– 1-
4y | ij
J m

The violin answers with a characteristic contour:

This much of the music has the function of setting the emo-
tional stage. The inner voices try to squirm out of their
monotony. The violoncello begins with a rising thrust, only
to fall back, after the frank depression of the first violin’s
phrase, to an echo of that part. Then the first violin’s second
utterance makes a vigorous upward thrust, only to fail, after
a second attempt, to maintain its highest point. The upward
motion of the first violin has, however, swung the music
to the activity of the dominant harmony, which makes pos-
sible a repetition of the whole statement on a higher level:
The upward shift of one tone is important. It indicates what
the composer has in mind. He is making music that is at-


tempting to lift itself, in the face of the fact that that lifting
must be done in spite of all its normal tendencies. It is try-
ing to achieve an elevation, an elation, which requires that
it overcome its stronger, more insistent depression. The con-
tinuation of the melodic line displays the contour of the
At the high note the melodic line has struggled to its highest
point. The effort it makes to stay there is superlative. The
underlying parts add as much strength as possible to the
effort. Notice the effect of their movement and the increas-
ing volume of the sound. After five strenuous attempts to
maintain the high point as a goal, with a further falling
back after each attempt, the climax of the whole effort is a
sudden quiet and failure to regain the high point:




High point
After the failure to reach the high point the line stumbler
down as though its energy were dissipated. From that failure
to achieve a climax the music makes one last try, as an echo
of what has gone before:



At that point the music stops “talking” to move rather aim-
lessly, as far as its emotional contour is concerned, to the
next movement.

It is rather difficult to write calmly of this movement. It
is impossible for the listener who has discovered what to hear
to listen calmly. The final failure of the melodic line to
reach what it has spent so much effort to attain and to main-
tain is a kind of musical futility which must parallel the
emotion the composer wished to communicate. It is impos-
sible to believe that such music was accidental. It is impos-
sible not to be moved by it. It is impossible to understand it
without understanding the little man under the wig

Play it again!


Mozart String Quintet in G minor (K.V. 516) Victor M-i^o

Chapter 17


EJDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN was prevented from tak-
ing lessons from Mozart by a series of misfortunes which
culminated in Mozart’s death. The younger man felt an in-
tense curiosity about what lay beyond the gate which Mozart
had opened in music like the Quintet in G minor. It was a
new world; he had to explore it for himself.

Beethoven wrote at the top of the first page of his “Missa
Solemnis” ( te Solemn Mass”) : **Von Herzen Moge es zu
Herzen gehen.” It is difficult for anyone to affirm what the
preceding three chapters have attempted to place before the
listener with any greater emphasis than that: “This comes
from the heart may it go to the heart”

How did Beethoven know that he had composed music
from the heart? One of the reasons he knew was that he had
taught himself how to do it. Would it be possible for us, as
listeners, to confirm our understanding of how music talks
by watching Beethoven teach himself how to make music
talk? A visit to Beethoven’s workshop should be illuminat-
ing. It must not be inferred, however, from the title of this
chapter that he began his efforts to learn to talk only with
the music we are about to discuss.

Beethoven’s first symphony was composed during the years

1799 and 1800 and was first performed at Vienna in April,



1800. In this work Beethoven opened the door not only to
his own series of symphonies but to the century in which all
composers were to be preoccupied with the problem of the
expressive power of music.

It is not strange that the generation which emphasized
the dignity and limitless perfectibility of the individual
human being should have produced composers who had con-
fidence in the importance of what they, as individuals, had
to say. It is not strange that a generation which produced the
“Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” of the French Revolution
and such documents as the American Declaration of Inde-
pendence should also have produced a Beethoven. It would
be a perverse reckoning of the importance of individuals to
the now rather wistful hopes of mankind which could omit
Beethoven’s name from any list of the men who have given
urgent form to a statement of those hopes. Few voices have
said with greater emphasis that “all mankind are brothers
plighted/’ x This great composer stood at the threshold of a
new world, a world to which his music must speak. He had
to learn to make it speak. No small part of Beethoven’s great-
ness is due to his tenacity of purpose. He did learn.

The first symphony, Symphony No. i in C major, Op. 21,
can show us how he learned.

As the listener attempts to penetrate the meaning of an
extended musical work it is more important than ever to
hear the music completely. To this end the ability to follow
the materials and forms of music must continue to be cul-
tivated. The listener who is lost in the music cannot hope to
discover its meaning. The starting point for all listening
must be the pattern of the music. To that end, the listener
must make himself a mental map of the music. Such maps

1 Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.


for Beethoven’s first symphony follow. The important theme
is given in ordinary notation before the diagram in each

First theme

Second theme




Second theme

Closing episode


ond Them
hythm from








‘ 1

2 .2

w E
-2 w

rs o

.2 S >ti


co 55 o -2 & ~



Minuet at:

Minuet C (Trio)


Minuet d (Trio)



n o P

n o



V aS,



First theme

Second theme

Closing episode




^5 d

rfj .2

,+j ^t

s –

& I

^ W




f t-11


*s 1 g g o


K i >,
| 5||

ho <u o !

5 l?s*

** w o




When we have acquainted ourselves well with this sym-
phony, we are ready to analyze the music from the stand-
point of Beethoven’s care to give it an emotional contour.
We need not expect a profound emotional experience, but
we will find that, beyond question, Beethoven was thinking
of a unified expression for the whole symphony, to which
each of the movements should contribute its part. He was
transmuting the conventional forms which he inherited into
a new form for which we have no name because it cannot
be conventionalized. The whole symphony develops and dis-
plays an emotional contour. Here, as with the Mozart music,
the thematic material gives the clue.


The first theme emphasizes, with imperative strength, the
level of the key. It does this by making upward thrusts to
that level, and the thrusts establish what has been mentioned
previously as the strongest musical relationship that of
dominant-tonic. After an upward thrust between two long
notes, the music gathers too much energy to wait for long
notes, and doubles the rate of its upward motion. This ac-
cumulation of energy pushes the keynote up an octave over
a series of notes, the last three of which are again an echo of
the upward motive:
This first theme is not the beginning of the symphony.
The introduction cannot be understood, however, except in
the light of the first theme’s extraordinary insistence on the
tonic. If the first theme were the first music the listener



hears, its long tonic harmony would be felt only as a starting
point. Placing it so that it becomes a consummation of a
previous process makes its long tonic seem important and
fresh. The introduction, which begins on a dissonant chord
in a foreign key and how that horrified some of Beethoven’s
contemporaries! leads to and emphasizes the strength and
vitality of the first theme. The sudden change of pace from
slow to fast is also not without effect.

The first theme actually begins with a four-note falling
figure, which in this case has no feeling of depression, but
rather one of consummation. The suspended feeling of a
long dominant is satisfied :


The first theme, then, borrows part of its strength from
the introduction, which, in turn, has its justification and
purpose in the importance it gives to the first theme.

After the first statement of this theme the music does
what more experience will lead the listener to expect of
Beethoven’s themes it transplants itself one step upward.
Beethoven’s themes do this because so many of them contain
the upward thrusting strength which makes such a leap pos-

Here, then, in a short introduction and two statements of
a theme, the listener must recognize a tremendous vital en-
ergy. Everything that happens to the first theme adds to that
energy. The following is one sample:



The hurrying upward tension breaks the motive pattern.
The second theme is a distinct contrast. Its mood is quiet,
its quality lyrical, and part of its motion is downward. The
loss of energy is not real; too many of the qualities of the
first theme are present. The second theme begins with the
same rise from dominant to tonic in the new key that
characterized the first theme, and the whole downward mo-
tion is counteracted by the appearance of the last five notes
of the first theme in the accompaniment:
Beethoven gives short shrift to even the very slight pensive
quality which he leaves to the second theme. After an almost
boisterous passage which serves as a bridge, but not to a new
theme, he shows the true quality of the second theme. It
sinks, in the violoncello, down through the music to the bot-
tom, only to turn around and come back, with a burst of
energy, to the first theme motive, which is the bridge to the
closing episode. Compare this passage with the drooping
music we heard from Mozart.

suddenly quiet



Even the apparent drop at the very end is counteracted by
the first violin and by the fact that, like the initial drop into
the first violin, it is the consummation of a long harmonic
circle. Experience of Beethoven’s style will show that such
a long harmonic circle, ending in a burst of accumulated
energy, is an important characteristic.

The bridge to the closing episode continues the accumula-
tion by insisting on the two strong motives of the first theme,
the first one now piled up in an imitation:



fe Lj ‘

The second motive:


r r i j J

The closing episode hammers insistently on the upward
The general purpose of this movement should now be
clear. The development adds to the intensification. Near its
end it even inverts the figure with which the first theme

^ &**

inverted, is

After the development the first theme cannot enter quietly
as it did originally. It enters with the full force of the whole
orchestra. Then, for a bridge to the second theme, Beethoven


uses the falling first five notes of the first theme against a
long rising harmonic progression. It is a final denial of the
early weak element of the first theme, and that was weak
only to the extent of moving downward.

The coda begins quietly with an attempt, in the descending
lines of the woodwinds, to depress the first theme material.
That attempt, in failing, adds one more emphasis to the
vitality of the music. The ending is a burst of energy so
great that it is a tremendous effort to get the movement
stopped. Here is music to which the brakes have to be ap-
plied gradually to prevent the listener’s going through the

The first movement has been, for the listener, a remarkable
accumulation of energy and vitality, marked by themes
which all have the elation of upward motion. The surge of
strength sounds the way Beethoven wanted the listener to
feel. Its perception is far more important for the under-
standing of Beethoven than any mere ability to notice that
Beethoven used a conventional form. Beethoven is learning
to be Beethoven: later he will acquire still more subtlety and
grandeur of purpose.


The second movement, in a quieter mood, has exactly the
same fundamental subject as the first. The important motive
of the first theme is the two rising notes:

The imitative entrances of the first theme emphasize its


The bridge to the second theme continues the accumula-
tion of energy. The second theme emphasizes even more
strongly than the first the rising pairs of notes:

The bridge to the closing episode begins with a rising
figure whose crisp rhythm is a new sign of vigor:
It leads to the closing episode with a strong emphasis on the
ascending pairs:
The closing episode introduces a new variety of energy
in the rapid violin part over a long organ point in the kettle-
drums, violoncellos, and basses:


bass viols


” rri ***’* * ^ )’ M ^ ^ ^t ^ ^,, ,

At the very end of the exposition the music says, “I
if you haven’t discovered what this is all about, listen”:
, “Now,



The development is noteworthy for the manner in which
it sticks to the subject. At no time is the listener permitted
to be more than a short moment away from the rising con-
tour, which may be derived from either first or second
themes. To this is added the insistent rhythm of the kettle-
drum part from the closing episode:

One aspect of this development is especially interesting from
the standpoint of the contour. At the fourth measure after
the kettledrum takes its rhythmic figure from the strings,
the music starts a harmonic curve that will lead eventually
to the key of the recapitulation. The chords descend against
the organ point of the tympani, but they descend in rising


strings Brings ww<
The recapitulation again demonstrates how the subject mat-
ter has been accumulating energy. The first theme now
brings with it a rapidly moving countersubject, which
marches up and down across the fabric of the music:



The coda brings another example o the ability o this
music to increase in vitality. It begins with a reminder of
the first theme. The violins soon take up a reiteration of a
single tone, in sixteenth notes, which insists on being heard
after it has started very quietly. The lift of its upward mo-
tion is tremendous:

First violins
After this high point the music settles back to the strength
of the kettledrum rhythm, heard in the strings, and ends
with a final statement of the basic contour. As the music
comes to an end the rhythmic movement becomes a scale,
first downward and then both downward and upward:

First violin

Second violin


First violin

Second violin
Here, again, Beethoven has discussed, in terms of the con-
tour of the music, exactly the same emotions of strength and


vitality that furnished the subject for the first movement.
The mood of the second movement is quieter, less hurried,
but the fundamental purpose is the same. These two move-
ments belong to the same symphony not because they were
accidentally composed about the same time but because they
are parts of the same idea.


Beethoven calls this movement a minuet, but he marks
its speed as allegro molto e vivace very fast and vivacious.
In spirit it is about as far away from the traditional minuet
as it could be; it anticipates the type of music for which
Beethoven was later to use the word “scherzo/*

Here the upward thrust from one tone to a higher piles
up into a scale:

\&’$L j i j * i r* . . f i r r ff F

r 1 1 i “i 1 1 ii 1 ‘i

The b part of the minuet proper uses the same contour
with only slightly less exuberance:

ijPii f

|fik I

After a forcible descent this becomes a scale fragment:
To lead back to a, over a gradually ascending line in the
violins, the low strings and the oboe and bassoon answer back
and forth:





bass viols


The return of a is extended in a passage in which the forward
motion tips over into a long syncopation:



. I ‘ I

|> f I I | II r \\ f [ [p etc.

In the trio the chief rhythm of the minuet proper is car-
ried forward, decorated by scale passages whose speed is suffi-
cient indication of their enormous vivacity:




— P4-M
The b section of the trio breaks this material up into
smaller groups and again uses the device of syncopation.
The music is moving forward so energetically that it cannot
wait for the normal three-beat pattern:

12 3|l 2

To reproduce the effect of this syncopation, read aloud
the numbers in the bottom line, emphasizing those printed
in large type.


Beethoven’s plan for this symphony is three-quarters fin-
ished. He is talking about the emotional contours that result
from accumulation of energy. The moods of strength of the
first two movements have given way in this third movement
to a vivacious display of good spirits. Would it be beyond
the realm of possibility for Beethoven next to play a prac-
tical joke on his listeners? Could good healthy horseplay be
a subject for music, and if so, could it come as a logical de-
velopment from the first three movements of this symphony?


The final movement begins with a slow introduction:


It builds up, with the utmost solemnity, a scale on the domi-
nant: the long-held first note, then three-, four-, five-, six-,
and seven-note scale groups. Notice the mock hesitancy with
which the top note of the six-note group is touched, and the
delicacy of the last group. This is Beethoven’s way of fore-
warning the listener that, first and second themes notwith-
standing, this movement is going to be about scales.

As we follow it we will hear scales pell-mell from all di-
rections, plain scales, hidden scales, all sorts of scales. The
energy of the preceding movements has burgeoned in a
wilderness of scales.

After the lesson in scale anatomy of the introduction the
first theme begins allegro molto e vivace, like the third
movement with a scale:


do re


The theme itself is but a decoration of do-re-mi. Immedi-
ately the violins sing an elaborated downward scale, with ris-
ing scales below:

sot /<

i P ” 1 1 r f I” f i f r-

First violin Ifri % V 1 I f ‘ ‘ ] I L







This is followed by:

and then:
ti la sol fa mi re do
which is answered in the bass by:

Then comes the second theme, which is a jolly elaboration
of a scale. It should be noticed that, appropriately among all
these scales, the second theme emphasizes the tone D, one
scale-step higher than the key of the first theme:


After this phrase is repeated, the theme, which now has a
running start, becomes much more frankly an elaborated
The exposition closes with the same scales, rhythmically,
that the first theme began with:
But the fun has just begun. Hear for yourself how scales
govern the development and how they are used in the coda.
Notice at the end how long it takes to get this exuberance

This final movement of Beethoven’s First Symphony has
been called banal unworthy of its composer. It is difficult
to describe a piece of music with one word, but certainly
the use of such a word indicates a complete failure to under-
stand this movement as the natural outcome for Beethoven,
at the age of twenty-nine, of the tremendous accumulation
of energy in the former movements.

Beethoven was learning. In his hands the whole symphony
has a plan. That plan controls the contours of the music, and,
by controlling them, makes every aspect of it tone-color,
rhythm, melodic line, harmony, form contribute to the
fundamental idea. In his hands and by his example, music
in the nineteenth century was to enter a new world.



Beethoven First Symphony in C major, Op. 21 Victor M-/3

Victor M-4o<?
Victor M-5O7
Columbia M-32I

Part Three

Chapter IS

purpose of this book so far has been to help the
JL listener perceive how composers use musical sounds as
an intelligible language perceive how composers, using the
language of music, create the literature of music. By tracing
the composer’s use of musical sounds, the listener learns how
to listen and moves toward an independent ability to under-
stand music. He now has the means for that independence.
Of course there are other forms than those we have discussed,
other styles, other composers. But other forms and styles and
composers may be approached in the same way that we have
learned to listen.

The literature of music is vast. No listener, no musician,
can know more than a very small segment of it. But as a
listener approaches that literature some suggestions about
where to turn his attention should be valuable. The rest of
this book will attempt to furnish such hints.

Music is essentially a method of human communication
through the medium of ordered sounds. As we listen to
music that is strange or new to us it is well to remember
that fact. Modes of thought and expression change from one
period to another, but the need to communicate the ideas for
which music is the best medium is permanent. Music which
at first repels the listener, which seems by its style to defy



comprehension, will often reveal an inward order of its own
to the listener who bears in mind that it, too, is human.
Contact with unfamiliar music, taking in new styles, detect-
ing the principles of contrast and repetition in novel fabrics
and forms, can be an adventure of great delight.


The symphony, for the ordinary listener, begins with
Haydn and Mozart. Symphonies were composed before
Haydn, and hundreds were written by other composers dur-
ing his lifetime, but they are seldom heard today. Haydn
and Mozart are often mentioned in the same breath because
they were both giants, because the^w^^^ontempoories, and
because they learned from each other. Their dates will show
the interesting relationship in the span of their lives:

Haydn 1732-1809

Mozart 1756-1791

Haydn was already famous as a composer while Mozart was
a child prodigy. When Mozart had composed his greatest
works and died at thirty-five, Haydn still had eighteen fruit-
ful years before him.

The “must” symphonies of Mozart are the last two: No.
40, the Symphony in G minor, which we have already lis-
tened to carefully, and No. 41, the Symphony in C major,
the “Jupiter.” At least a dozen others will more than repay
the effort of making their acquaintance.

The Haydn symphonies that are best known to modern
audiences are those that were written for London during
visits there in 1790-92 and 1794-95. Of these the two known
as the “Clock,” No. 4 in D major, and the “Surprise,” No. 6


in G major, are the most popular. These so-called London
symphonies were composed after the death of Mozart; they
show JJaxdnjit the height of his powers. They are altogether
delightful, and no music lover can afford not to know them,,
(IChe great successor to Haydn and Mozart was Beethoven.

came of age. Each of Beethoven’s

symphonies is a monumental human document in its own
special way. We have already listened to the First. A good
order in which to continue with them is: Third, Fifth, Sec-
ond, Fourth, Eighth, Sixth, Seventh, Ninth; but there is no
compulsion or absolute necessity about this. No new listener
should expect to understand them immediately. Some of the
elements of their greatness are inner relationships which be-
come apparent to the listener often after the music has
stopped sounding sometimes long after. It is a mistake to
read too much about them; they have been discussed from
the special viewpoints of several generations, which do not
always make sense for us of the twentieth century. The lis-
tener should let Beethoven, through his music, do most of
the talking.

With Beethoven, it should be noticed, the symphony be-
came more difficult to compose. Haydn composed in the
neighborhood of one hundred and twenty-five symphonies,
Mozart forty-one, Beethoven only nine. As we move on into
the nineteenth century even nine will seem a large output
for one man.

Franz Schubert lived in Vienna at the same time as Bee-
thoven and died in the year after him (1828), but he was
too shy to make acquaintance with the older man except
through his music. He left at least two symphonies without
which we would be much poorer. The “Unfinished,” No. 8
in B minor, is his most famous. It is greater than any of the


pieces that have been mined from it could possibly indicate.
Notice how Schubert uses the melody with which he begins
the first movement as a frame around the themes of the con-
ventional sonata form. Here is the theme:
This introduces the movement, furnishes the material by
which the music moves to the development, and gives the
basis of most of the development; then it returns again in
the coda. But it is not first or second theme or closing episode.

Schubert’s Symphony No. 7 in C major is a gigantic work
of haunting beauty. At the hands of a great conductor and
orchestra, its length it lasts almost an hour is a convinc-
ing proof of the genius of its composer.

Only two symphonies that are heard with any frequency
were composed in France during the whole of the nineteenth
century. The first of these is the “Symphonic Fantastique”
by Hector Berlioz, which illustrates many of the forces by
which the composers of the nineteenth century were in-
spired. The “Fantastic” Symphony is an important landmark
because of the way Berlioz used a verbal explanation to tell
the listener what he was attempting to make the music say.
The verbal explanation is called a program, from which we
get the expression “program music.”

Berlioz* verbal program runs like this:

A young musician of morbid sensibility and ardent imagination
poisons himself with opium in a fit of amorous despair. The nar-
cotic dose, too weak to result in death, plunges him into a heavy
sleep accompanied by the strangest visions, during which his sen-
sations, sentiments, and recollections are transformed in his sick
brain into musical thoughts and images. The beloved woman her-


self has become for him a melody like a fixed idea which he finds
and hears everywhere.

The melody “like a fixed idea” begins like this:

The titles of the movements identify the “strangest visions.”
The listener must hear what the music does, must follow not
only the appearances of the “fixed idea” but the different
forms it takes and the effect its appearances have on the
music which follows them, and ought not imagine too much
story. With the roll of the kettledrums and the melody
played by the English horn and oboe in the third movement,
and also with the waltz rhythm in the ball scene and the
“Dies Irae” 1 melody in the last movement, Berlioz asks the
listener to make direct (and truthful) associations with his
own experience. The “Symphonic Fantastique” is a tremen-
dously interesting work.

The symphonies of Mendelssohn, especially the two known
as the “Scotch” and “Italian,” appear with some frequency
on concert programs. Mendelssohn’s style is refreshingly
clear. Nineteenth century interest in musical qualities appar-
ently peculiar to individual countries is reflected in these
symphonies, which also display Mendelssohn’s brilliant han-
dling of the orchestra. Notice particularly the salterello, the
fast Italian dance with which the “Italian” Symphony ends.

Schumann composed four symphonies, heard less often
than they deserve, because they are full of difficulties for the
conductor. Schumann’s great work for piano and orchestra,
the Piano Concerto in A minor, written for his wife, is often
played and has been recorded by several pianists. It contains

1 Berlioz uses (and caricatures) the ancient plain-song melody to the “Wrath of God”
text of the requiem mass.


some of the most truly inspired music of the nineteenth cen-
tury. The first movement sings its way into the listener’s
mind with gentle strength, and the second movement, with
its altogether charming musical dialogue, summons him, over
a reminiscence of the first movement, to the great vitality of
the last.

The four symphonies of Johannes Brahms are a contribu-
tion to symphonic literature which for most listeners estab-
lishes his title to a place in the three B’s: Bach, Beethoven,
Brahms. Each movement of each symphony is a masterpiece,
and each symphony speaks with moving warmth and rich-
ness. But Brahms’s music is not intended to be light enter-
tainment; it holds the listener off, and its fabric is not easily

The symphonies of Tchaikovsky have won a special place
in the affections of most music lovers. The last three of his
six have beaten down the opposition which met them at first.
Even though critics condemned them, listeners soon found
that these symphonies were profoundly moving musical ex-
periences. They are the honest, sincere expression of a man
of great genius who was tortured by his pathological in-
ability to adjust himself to life. They do not speak with a
godlike quality of understanding and serenity, but discuss
the hopeless depression of failure.

Since Brahms and Tchaikovsky, only a few composers
have produced symphonies of the first rank. The one sym-
phony of Cesar Franck (D minor) , the Belgian composer,
is the other great symphony composed in France during the
nineteenth century. It is worth studying for its chromatic
style, its polyphonic fabric, and the way in which its themes
accumulate from one movement to another. Once he under-
stands its language, the listener will find that, from its first


note to its very last, it speaks to him. Another notable sym-
phony is the Fifth of the Bohemian, Anton Dvorak; he com-
posed it while living in New York and Spillville, Iowa. He
gave it the title “From the New World/’ and it is notable
for the way in which it attempts to convey the spirit of
America by using thematic material which is not borrowed
from Negro and Indian music but suggested by it. The sec-
ond movement, with its famous English horn melody, at-
tracts many listeners. The kaleidoscopic use, in the last move-
ment, of themes from previous movements gives an interest-
ing example of a device in music which is similar to the flash-
back technic of the motion picture.

The symphonies of Mahler and Bruckner are heard less
often than they deserve. They represent a mode of musical
thought to which it is not always easy to be sympathetic.
The symphonies of Sibelius, on the other hand, have at-
tracted increasing interest. Most composers of great sym-
phonies have framed the emotional contour of their music
within a semblance of conventional forms and by the use
of a melodic line growing out of well-defined motives. This
is often Sibelius’ procedure, but at times the listener must
seek for the meaning in the contour alone, without assistance
from conventional form and motive structure. This char-
acteristic is not necessarily a fault; often it occasions effects
of great interest.

Even a short discussion of symphonic literature would be
incomplete without mention of the works of American com-
posers. Symphonies by Howard Hanson and Roy Harris can
be heard on phonograph records and are produced more and
more often in concerts. The listener might ask himself, as he
hears works by these men, if the aspects of the music which
make for terseness and pace are not a portrayal, in terms


of music, of emotional contours which have vitality and
validity to twentieth century America.


We have seen that music is an ideal vehicle for the expres-
sion of emotion. We noted, moreover, that in producing an
emotional reaction in the listener the composer takes one less
step than a storyteller does. Because human beings often
refer their emotions to external experiences which aroused
them, just as the storyteller does, and because the emotions
that come from music feel the same as those resulting from
external experience, many listeners conceive of the meaning
of music in terms of their own actual life. One of the impli-
cations of this process is that even when listeners perceive
the same emotional contour the same meaning in a piece
of music, they can hardly refer it to the same actual experi-
ences and hence will apparently disagree as to its meaning.
Most disagreements arise, however, from the fact that lis-
teners really have not heard the same music; each has heard
a different aspect of the same piece.

Composers have tried to get around this difficulty by in-
dicating, when they could, the source of their ideas for their
music. The help given by the composer is often a simple
title like some that we have noticed in our brief discussion
of symphonies. But as composers, especially during the nine-
teenth century, discovered more and more ways of establish-
ing direct associations between music and other types of ex-
perience, as Berlioz did, this desire to indicate the source of
ideas led to what has been called a new musical form, the
symphonic or tone poem. The symphonic poem is not actu-
ally a new form in music. What is new about it is that its


use of the formal principle of repetition after contrast pro-
duces a series of connected musical episodes whose character
is dictated, at least in part, by its program. The program,
then, is the composer’s verbal indication, more or less ex-
tended, of the source of his ideas.

The dramatic or operatic overture, when it attempts to
trace or prepare for the contour of the drama which it pre-
cedes, has much of the character of a symphonic poem.
Beethoven’s overtures for his opera, Fidelio (Leonora),, as
well as his overtures to plays like Coriolan and Egmont, are
of this type. Others are Weber’s overtures to Der Freiscloiitz,
Euryanthe, and Oberon and Wagner’s overtures to Rienzi,
The Flying Dutchman, and Tannhauser and the preludes to
Lohengrin, Tristan and Isolda, Die Meistersinger, and Par-

These and other overtures and preludes, however, are not
of large enough dimensions to be symphonic poems as the
term has come to be used. For many composers, the sym-
phonic poem has provided a substitute for, or successor to,
the symphony.

The listener’s approach to a symphonic poem should be
primarily an attempt to understand the music. A search f on
musical illustrations of incidents in the program too often
takes the place of really listening to the music. The whole
function of the program fails if the listener attends to the
story at the cost of the music.

There is an extensive and interesting literature of sym-
phonic poems. Liszt’s “Les Preludes” remains one of the most
interesting. If parts of it seem hackneyed, it is because his
descriptive episodes are so felicitous that they have been ap-
propriated wholesale for use on the sound track of moving-
picture films. Smetana, Sibelius, Rimsky-Korsakov, and Saint-


Saens have had varying success with the symphonic poem.
Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade’ 3 Suite is a set of four
symphonic poems. Most important among composers of this
type of music is Richard Strauss. His works are, for many
listeners, the crown of symphonic program music. Most of
them can be heard on phonograph records and are part of
the permanent repertoire of all great symphony orchestras.
They exhibit a high virtuosity in orchestral writing which
grows out of Strauss’s sensitivity to the resources of individ-
ual instruments and his feeling for great masses of sound.

The listener will do well to make acquaintance with
Strauss through the symphonic poems “Don Juan” and “The
Merry Pranks of Till Eulenspiegel.” Hear them as a series of
musical episodes which are connected by threads of thematic
development and which appear in rondolike sequence. Then
go on to the other, more massive works: * ‘Death and Trans-
figuration/’ “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” “Don Quixote”
a set of variations and “A Hero’s Life.”


Most songs literally speak for themselves. The first prob-
lem for the composer of a song has always been to combine
music and text so that the text may receive the correct in-
flection and emphasis. As composers gained skill in conceiv-
ing and controlling the expressive contour of music, a new
type of song came into existence, the art song or through-
composed song. In the art song a further problem for the
composer is that of reflecting in the music the emotional
contour of the poem. When he is successful he makes music
that is so welded with the text that neither music nor text
can be thought of separately.


The literature of the art song furnishes a fascinating test-
ing place for the way in which music communicates. Try to
understand the text; then follow the motion of the music
as it reflects and amplifies the emotion of the poem. The
whole problem of understanding songs lies in perceiving and
feeling this relationship. Schubert’s songs are an excellent
starting point; hundreds of them are worth knowing, and
mafiy have been recorded. Among those that will not only
appeal to most listeners but will also furnish interesting illus-
trations of the way in which Schubert’s music talks are “The
Erlking,” “Atlas,” “The Double,” “The Guidepost,” “The
Trout,” “The Wanderer/’ “Death and the Maiden,”
“Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel,” “My Lone Abode,” and
“The Linden Tree.”

Nearly every nineteenth century composer was interested
in the art song. Try to hear at least a few of the songs
of Schumann, Franz, Brahms, Wolf, Grieg, Tchaikovsky,
Strauss, Duparc, and Faure.


The greatest difficulty that opera presents to the American
listener, when he can hear it, is that of understanding the
words. There seems to be no help except in either learning
the drama ahead of time or letting a complete understanding
emerge very slowly from many hearings.

Opera combines music with drama. Hearing operatic
music is not different from hearing other music. The forms
of operatic songs or arias, insofar as they are musical forms,
grow out of the principles we have studied. The function of
music in the opera grows out of its ability to enhance the
emotional contour of the drama.


The musical methods of one great composer who confined
himself almost altogether to composing for the stage call
for some special description. Richard Wagner was one of the
musical giants of the nineteenth century. His dissatisfaction
with the traditions of opera and his belief that music drama
had a vital social function to fulfill, together with the special
qualities of his own genius, carried him into a field which he
holds alone.


A sketch of the domain covered by the literature of music
would not be complete without some indication of the great
riches that are to be found in music for solo instruments
and for small groups of instruments.

The piano has attracted the sustained interest of almost
every great composer. The listener must learn, however, to
discern the difference between music composed for the pur-
pose of technical display and music composed because its
composer had something vital to say. The keyboard music
of Bach and his predecessors, the volumes of piano sonatas
of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and the piano music of
Schubert, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, and Brahms, will point
the way into a magnificent literature.

Every instrument of the orchestra has attracted great
composers to some degree. This is especially true of the violin
and the violoncello. Because of their melodic nature, orches-
tral instruments usually play as a solo voice with piano ac-
companiment. The sonatas for violin and piano, extending
from before Bach to the present day, contain a wealth of
great music. Here, too, for the sake of a splendid literature
which does not deserve to be forgotten, mention should be


made of the violin music of Corelli, Nardini, Tartini, and
Vivaldi. Sonatas for violoncello and piano cover, in a more
limited way, about the same area of musical style.

The literature of concertos for solo instrument and or-
chestra contains much great music. Nearly every composer
who has written for orchestra has written music of this type.
Beginning with the concertos of Bach and his immediate
predecessors, music for piano, violin, and other solo instru-
ments with orchestra covers a wide range of styles.

Chamber music is for small groups of players and is to be
performed in the intimate atmosphere of a small gathering.
It is, moreover, music which has usually been composed not
for a public audience, but for the composer’s friends. For
this reason a composer’s chamber music may often be the
truest expression of his genius. Traditional chamber music
combinations are the trio for piano, violin, and violoncello;
the quartet for two violins, viola, and violoncello, commonly
called the string quartet; the quartet for piano, violin, viola,
and violoncello; the quintet for two violins, two violas, and
violoncello; and the quintet for piano and string quartet.
Composers have occasionally written also for instrumental
sextets, septets, and octets.

The music lover will find much that is unsurpassable in
the chamber music of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert,
Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, and Franck, to say noth-
ing of the composers of the twentieth century.


A book that tries to lead the listener to an appreciation of
music would not be complete without some discussion of the
problems involved in hearing the music of Bach. And that


discussion belongs properly at the end of the book, chiefly
because Bach’s music requires experience.

Bach’s music represents the apex of a long development
in which music was composed and heard entirely as a poly-
phonic texture. Musicians have regarded that kind of music
as a system of complex formulas. The consequent complexi-
ties disappear if the music is examined simply from the lis-
tener’s standpoint.

The so-called polyphonic forms are, with one possible real
exception, organized on the principle of repetition after con-
trast. That exception is based on a remarkably interesting de-
vice for using repetition and contrast at the same time a
device which we have already encountered in our study of
the theme and variations. Polyphonic forms actually are tex-
tures. We know how textures must be heard. The texture of
the fugue is characterized by the manner in which entrances
of the thematic material appear one after another, in imita-
tion. After these entrances have been made, the lines of the
texture grow out of the motives of the subject matter. For
contrast, the form depends on a change of key in the middle;
it may be analyzed as ABA, depending not on change of
subject matter but on change of key. The fugues of Bach’s
Well-Tempered Clavichord or his fugues for organ will pro-
vide magnificent examples.

The concerto texture is like that of the fugue except that
it makes use of two sets of thematic material, comparable in
some ways to the first and second themes of the sonata form.
These subjects usually enter in imitation in several melodic
lines. The first is called the tutti subject, because it is played
by all the instruments; the second, the solo subject, because
it is given to the solo instrument or group of instruments.
Any or all of Bach’s concertos for one or more pianos and


orchestra or for one or more violins and orchestra, and also
the “Brandenburg” Concertos, exhibit this texture. For the
listener who wants to go back of these great riches to other
music that does not deserve oblivion, the concertos of Corelli,
Nardini, Vivaldi, Tartini, Handel, and a host of others will
prove a treasure-trove. No music lover should miss Corelli’s
“Christmas” Concerto.

The so-called dance forms are all, with the exception al-
ready mentioned, of the ABA pattern. As in the other poly-
phonic forms, the contrast is in the key or mode, not in me-
lodic material. Dance forms are usually short. Their texture
in each case grows out of their rhythmic characteristics. Al-
though musicians habitually call the dance forms poly-
phonic, their textures are often monophonic; because of that
fact they are the ancestors of our ternary, rondo, minuet,
and sonata forms. The names of the dance forms apply not
to the forms as such but to the rhythmic figures and speeds
which are characteristic of them. The listener will meet
these forms as movements in partitas, suites, and sonatas (re-
member the different ways in which “sonata” has been used) ,
under names like allemande, gavotte, pavane, sarabande,

The polyphonic texture which uses repetition with con-
trast appears under a number of names such as chaconne,
passacaglia, folia, or variation. Sometimes it is not given any
characteristic name. One piece of subject matter is repeated
over and over again, while around or above it is woven a
texture of melodic lines, usually growing out of their own
melodic motives. Such a texture may be very simple if the
repetitions of the ground are literal and kept at the bottom
of the music, or it may be complex if the repetitions change
level and almost disappear through the process of variation.


A simple use of this texture occurs in the “Crucifixus” from
Bach’s Mass in B minor. Examples of its complex use are his
famous Chaconne for solo violin, Passacaglia in C minor for
organ, which has been transcribed for orchestra, and the
“Goldberg” Variations.

Here, then, is a great literature, in which each listener will
find something to interest him especially. His sympathies
may lead him in directions which this book has not indicated.
There is the vast treasure of religious music, extending from
plain song through motet and anthem to oratorio. There is,
too, the intensely interesting music of the twentieth century.
Whatever he hears, his experience will show him the land-
marks. Some of those landmarks will be great monuments,
works of peculiar and enduring significance. It is not neces-
sary to agree on a list of works to be thought of as monu-
mental, but landmarks may be nearly the same for everyone.
The last four chapters are intended to serve as a guide to
some musical landmarks. After that the listener must use his


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Album No. 159

Chapter 19


What is our life but a series of preludes to that unknown song,
the first solemn note of which is sounded by death? The enchanted
dawn of every existence is heralded by Love, yet in whose destiny
are not the first throbs of happiness interrupted by storms whose
violent blasts dissipate his fond illusions, consuming his altar with
fatal fire, and where is to be found the cruelly bruised soul, that
having become the sport of one of these tempests, does not seek
oblivion in the sweet quiet of rural life? Nevertheless, man seldom
resigns himself to the beneficent calm which at first chained him
to Nature’s bosom. No sooner does the trumpet sound the alarm
than he runs to the post of danger, be the war what it may that
summons him to its ranks. For there he will find again in the
struggle complete self-realization and the full possession of his

WITH this quotation from Lamartine’s Meditations,
poetiques et religieuses, as a guide and source of in-
spiration, Franz Liszt composed his third symphonic poem,
“Les Preludes/ 3 The work was completed in 1850 and had
its first performance at Weimar in 1854.

At the outset the listener must realize that there is no sym-
phonic poem form comparable to the sonata form. Each
symphonic poem will make its own use of the formal prin-
ciples which are dictated by the nature of musical materials.



The symphonic poem is episodic, with the character of the
episodes growing out of the program. Musical coherence and
variety is secured by the introduction of new and the recur-
rence of already familiar thematic material.

“Les Preludes 53 begins, after two soft plucked notes on the
tonic, with a melodic line containing the motive which, in
various guises, will unify the whole work:



As the first episode proceeds, Liszt’s method of theme
transformation, by which his basic motive is subjected to
numerous variations, will become clear. The original motive
is given numerous forms:





This process of theme transformation carries the music to
the broad, flowing melodic line in the violoncellos and second
violins, a melody which later appears as a horn solo:
This melody prepares the way for a new episode, in which
Liszt marks the melody “expressive but tranquil.” Here an-
other motive appears:

;vi LI i.i

The music based on this motive grows in intensity, rises to a
climax, and subsides very quietly into a statement in the
flutes of the original motive:
A third episode begins with the original motive, combined
with chromatic scale passages for the violoncellos:


This episode grows in loudness and intensity as the motive
appears in the trumpets and trombones:
The agitation increases as Liszt calls for the music to be
“tempestoso” and “molto agitato/’ and the original motive
is turned upside down:

il r * v


This third episode reaches a thunderous climax in which sev-
eral previous transformations of the thematic material are
to be heard. As it comes to an end, the oboe sounds a familiar
melodic line:
The fourth episode is a remarkable example of Liszt’s
tone-color imagination. With only very slight reminiscence
of former subject matter at first, but with a consummate
use of instrumental effects, he composed music without
which Hollywood could hardly show white birches reflected
in quiet water. Liszt composed long before the cinema was
imagined, too soon for his music to be protected by the
copyright laws.

As this episode proceeds, the violins come in unobtrusively
with the melodic figure that was characteristic of the second
episode: iflttJL . ^c ^ . <CT^-_. ^ ^


This familiar melody grows in breadth and strength until it
is finally interrupted by the trumpet call:

The reiterated trumpet call is the signal for a tremendous
display of musical energy which leads to the fifth and final

The final episode is announced by the horns and trumpets,
which play, at a different speed and with new dynamic
quality, the familiar thematic material:

\$v\’ f : frlf”

Again many of the already familiar transformations of the
theme appear, almost in the manner of the recapitulation in
the sonata form, but now surrounded by maximum activity
of all the orchestra. The flowing theme of the second episode
becomes a march:

f, J J I J J j Jl J=i

? ^ < v . ^ ^ * j l I <y := *f


At the end the original theme is heard in its most energetic
transformations, played by the noisiest instruments and sur-
rounded by a mighty fabric of tone from the whole orches-

This description of what tones do in “Xes Preludes” should
make clear the fact that this music has form its own form.
How does it correspond to its program? Listening to the
music, we have found that it divides readily into five epi-
sodes. Each episode doubtless represented a part of the pro-
gram to the composer:


Episode I: “Enchanted dawn 3 ‘
Episode II: “First throbs of happiness”
(The first two episodes are sometimes regarded as a unit.)
Episode III: “Storms whose violent blasts”
Episode IV: “Oblivion in … rural life”

Episode V: “The trumpet sound [s] … in the struggle com-
plete self-realization” is found.


Strauss describes “Don Juan” as a “tone poem according
to Nikolaus Lenau for large orchestra.” He quotes part of
Lenau’s poem opposite the first page of the music:

A magic realm, illimited, eternal,
Of gloried woman, loveliness supernal!
Fain would I, in the storm of stressful bliss,
Expire upon the last one’s lingering kiss!

Through every realm, O friend, would wing my flight,
Wherever Beauty blooms, kneel down to each,
And, if for one brief moment, win delight!

I flee from surfeit and from rapture’s cloy,
Keep fresh for Beauty service and employ,
Grieving the One, that All I may enjoy.
My lady’s charm today hath breath of spring.
Tomorrow may the air of dungeon bring.

When with the new love won I sweetly wander,
No bliss is ours upfurbish’d and regilded;

A different love has This to That one yonder,
Not up from ruins be my temple builded.

Yea Love life is, and ever must be now,
Cannot be changed or turned in new direction;
It must expire here find a resurrection;

And, if ’tis real, it nothing knows of rue!
Each Beauty in the world is sole, unique;


So must the love be that would Beauty seek!
So long as Youth lives on with pulse afire,
Out to the chase! To victories new aspire!

It was a wond’rous lovely storm that drove me:
Now it is o’er; and calm all round, above me;

Sheer dead is every wish; all hopes o’ershrouded,
It was perhaps a flash from heaven descended,
Whose deadly stroke left me with powers ended,

And all the world, so bright before, overclouded;
Yet perchance not! Exhausted is the fuel;
And on the hearth the cold is fiercely cruel. 1

“Don Juan” was first performed in 1889 at Weimar. It
was Strauss’s first symphonic poem, and it was destined to
introduce a long list of such works for orchestra.

“Don Juan,” like “Les Preludes,” is constructed as a suc-
cession of contrasting and related episodes, which move
along without pause between one and another.


The beginning introduces three rhythmic motives which
are to have importance throughout the music:
The first striking melodic line follows very shortly in the
violins, with a rushing accompaniment based on the triplet
motion of the second introductory motive. Notice that the
melodic line is developed from the third introductory motive:

1 Translation by John P. Jackson. Used by permission.




The episode based on this theme continues until a sudden
tranquil passage introduces a new motive:
Then follows a bridge passage in which the motives of the
first episode are heard again, but in which the new motive


The second episode, in distinct contrast to the first, moves
very quietly, with its motive, already heard in the previous
transition, in the solo violin:

Sfi p’^Xff?

\ ‘.?’ T I

As the music of this episode broadens, its motive takes on
fuller form and becomes part of a sweeping melodic line
even of a polyphonic fabric in which the motive is heard in

French Horn

|MiU 11
– ^-
^^ ^^

This second episode moves through a broad climax to a quiet
close which is disturbed by two appearances in the violon-
cellos, against dissonant harmonies, of the three measures with


which the piece began. The woodwinds then take up the
same three measures, and the music moves to the next epi-


This episode is based on the material of Episode I, treated
similarly, but somewhat more briefly.


The beginning of the fourth episode is marked by the sud-
den disappearance of the theme of the first:

Trumpets , Q # it ft

ff motto diminuendo

Immediately the violas and violoncellos sing a new melodic
line which contains a motive that will appear repeatedly as
accompaniment in this section:


Appearances of this melody are separated by a syncopated
figure in the flute and by rhythmic reminders of the theme
of the first and third episodes:

^1 tel

flute [Afl v I ^ I K h

motives from fir^t and third episodes:

After this rather fragmentary beginning the chief theme of
this episode appears in the oboe:

The fifth episode begins with the entry, after a sudden
increase of volume, of a new theme, given out by all four
French horns:

j ij j j. M,

“- ^ ^ * w

The theme of the preceding episode makes one agitated ap-
pearance, in a different guise, before the second appearance
of the new theme:

After this single reference to the mood of the preceding epi-
sode, the new theme takes complete control of the music. It
brings with it, however, continual reference to the three
motives of the introduction:

fg te .

53=^1 _|



Strauss marks this episode giocoso jocose, mirthful. Here
bits of new melodic material and references to former themes
follow each other in what might almost be called a kind of
musical disarray. Try to hear the following short themes:

f^ffftr ..*ff ..four .. i

r>L(P, h M .i…..d r *< ^*>y * -~-y >.


The climax of this episode subsides into a reminiscence of the
themes of Episodes II and IV:

from Episode two

English horn , Q

3 3_

and . . –

Bassoon eJ ^ “7

from Episode four

. ^.z**

Solo violin [g^
Notice how the theme of the fourth episode breaks down
and loses its identity as it appears here.


The final episode, the seventh, enters with the familiar
motives of the introduction. Instead of an immediate state-
ment of the theme of the first episode the music seems still


to carry the weight, the downward pull, of one of the mo-
tives of the sixth episode:

Second violin

Very soon, however, the theme of the first and third episodes
returns, and is followed by the theme of the fifth episode.
It is important to notice that here these two most important
themes appear in the same episode. The music rushes on to a
tremendous climax and ends with a complete silence.


After the silence that concludes the last episode, the music
begins very quietly, with no motion except a fluttering
tremolo in the violins, on the minor chord of the subdom-
inant. This complete change of pace and subject matter con-
cludes the music.

Our discussion of this music began with a quotation of
the poem which the composer quotes as his program. Thus
far, however, we have been making the acquaintance of the
music without attempting to connect the two. What have
we heard?

For “Don Juan” it is helpful and not at all difficult to


construct the kind of map which we have already used. As-
signing letters to the episodes gives the following diagram:

Introductory motives:



Motive out of which theme grows:

r r
‘ ‘ —




Motive o accompaniment:






y. u y; –

Recurrence in accompaniment of motives from episodes which have been
marked with letter A.



Numerous motives:


Motives and themes of A and D.


Bringing these letters together gives a form very much
like a rondo:

ABAC D(A) E(D) A Coda

If the listener can grasp a musical substitution that grows
out of the program and can accept the theme of A and the
theme of D as representing two aspects of the same thing,
there is no difficulty at all in hearing this music as a rondo of
seven sections:

A B A C A* D A* Coda

The composer has a right to expect the listener to give his
work as careful attention as this; yet a real hearing has no
more than begun.


What do these episodes mean in relation to the program?

The beginning theme, the theme substituted for it later,
and the motives growing out of them must be understood
as representing Don Juan, Not only do they become asso-
ciated in the listener’s mind with this character, but they
depict, by their motion and tensions, the flow of Don Juan’s
emotional reactions to his experiences. Thus Don Juan him-
self is the subject of four episodes. The first two intervening
episodes create, by the kind of motion, tone-color, and the-
matic material in them, an impression so decidedly con-
trasted to the brusque, often tempestuous qualities of Don
Juan’s music that it is natural to connect them with the
feminine elements of the Lenau poem. The tentative begin-
nings of these episodes and their dissonant, unmelodious end-
ings are illuminating, as is also the change in character from
the thematic material of the first to that of the second.

The substitution of Don Juan themes after the second
feminine episode is a stroke of genius. Notice particularly
the difference in pace, direction, and weight loudness, tone-
color, range between these two themes:
Coming after the second Don Juan theme, the sixth epi-
sode speaks for itself, with its several jocose brief subepisodes
and the slight reminiscences of the two former feminine epi-
sodes which occur at its close. No verbal explanation is


needed for the final Don Juan episode, in which the dashing
quality of the first Don Juan theme is caught with difficulty
and the coarser substitute theme is used; from a hysterical
climax it collapses into silence. Finally, there can be no diffi-
culty in connecting the strange harmony, the absence of
motion, and the use of the low resonances of the orchestra
with the words:

. . . Exhausted is the fuel;

And on the hearth the cold is fiercely cruel.

The listener will meet many other symphonic poems as
his musical vista broadens. Always he should approach them
first as music. No program can explain music which has not
been completely heard.


Liszt “Les Preludes” Victor M-45 3

Strauss “Don Juan” Victor M-3 5 1

Chapter 20


span of Wagner’s life covered most of the nineteenth
century: 1813-1883. His music dramas, for him and for
many of his listeners, spanned the whole area of human
thought and emotion. Whether Wagner was right in his own
evaluation of his work need not trouble us here, but it is
certain that music lovers in ever-increasing numbers are
finding that his music speaks to them.

Wagner’s plans were vast and his ability to realize them
extraordinary. No other composer has brought such a com-
plex array of aims and resources to his work, and a listener
needs considerable information to appreciate it.

Wagner was not only the musician, but also the philos-
opher, playwright, and poet of his works, which were con-
ceived as dramas to be played on the stage, with all that
poetry, costume, setting, music, and actors could contribute
to the total effect. His use of music was governed, aside from
the qualities of his own genius, by two ideas to which he
often gave expression. They concerned the relation, first, of
the theater to society and, second, of music to drama.

Wagner felt that the theater could be a great unifying:
institution for any society that wanted it to be. He was sure
that from the stage, with a work of art as the vehicle, ideas



that Would make for general social solidarity, loyalty, and
well-being could be disseminated. He looked back with nos-
talgia to the part played by the theater in the ancient Greek
city state and craved the same influence for the theater of
the nineteenth century.

The ideal relation between music and drama constantly
occupied Wagner’s mind. He wished to utilize the power of
music to move the listener, and at the same time he sought
for music the function of another language which should
comment on the text and action of the stage drama. He
cited the part played by the chorus of the ancient Greek
drama discussion of character, examination of motives un-
derlying speech and action on the stage, implications of the
drama that were to be recalled or foreseen a kind of run-
ning psychological commentary on what is going on on the
stage. Music, Wagner was sure, could fulfill a like function
in connection with drama.

Much of the drama of human relationships proceeds be-
yond physical observation in the emotions, in men’s souls.
Wagner felt that the symphonies of Beethoven dealt with
drama of that kind. Might not music drama be the true suc-
cessor to the Beethoven symphony, by restoring to the op-
eratic stage the part of the total drama that action and
gesture not only fail to depict, but may even, by themselves,

Wagner’s musical problem was hardly less acute than that
of a composer wishing to substitute the symphonic poem for
the symphony. He solved it by directly associating powerful
thematic material with characters, incidents, and properties
in such a way that when it was heard again, the thematic ma-
terial would suggest the original association. These short, terse
musical motives, in their relation to the drama, are known as


leading motives (Leitmotiven) . They are used with all the
emotional shading that the processes of variation, develop-
ment, and transformation can give them. Woven through
the complex fabric of voices and orchestra, they carry the
emotional line of the drama. For Wagner, music was above
all else “the language of emotion.”

The Valkyrie (Die Walkiire) is the second of the cycle
of four dramas, The Ring of the Nibelungen (Der Ring de$
Nibelungen) . The whole cycle, consisting of The Rhine gold
(Das Rbeingold) , The Valkyrie, Siegfried, and The Twilight
of the Gods (Gotterdammerung) , deals with the struggle
for mastery and power between the gods who live above the
earth, the giants who live on the earth, and the Nibelungen
who live beneath the earth. In the struggle the dignities and
common failings not only of humanity but of codes and
institutions take their part. Many listeners find in the cycle
an immense allegory of the life of the nineteenth century,
but the realization of any such significance must wait for
more than introductory acquaintance. 1

The first drama, The Rhinegold, ends with the procession
of the gods, led by the one-eyed Wotan, 2 into their newly
built stronghold, Walhall. The triumphal entry, however, is
not without misgivings. Wotan, hiring the giants to build
the place, had promised to give them Freia, the goddess of im-
mortality, as payment. He had made this pledge only because
he had been assured by Loge, the god of deceit, that he would
not need to fulfill it. Indeed the gods could hardly survive
without immortality. Loge finds a way to save Freia. He
leads Wotan to the cavern home of Alberich, the master of

1 See George Bernard Shaw, The Perfect Wagnerife.

2 The English version of Wagnerian proper nouns is taken from the complete vocal
score as published by G. Schirmer. German w has not been changed; it should be pro-
nounced like English v.


the Nibelungen, and there by a deception which is not at all
godlike they steal Alberich J s gold, even to the symbols of its
power, the Tarnhelm, which is the cap of invisibility, and
the Ring. They justify their theft by reminding themselves
that Alberich himself had originally stolen the gold from the
Rhine maidens and that he had not only forsworn love in
stealing it but used the gold to enslave his fellows.

Wotan and Loge do not get the gold, however, without
a strong intimation of what the theft is to cost them. Albe-
rich curses the gold and threatens that he will get it back;
when he does he will use its power, as symbolized by the Ring,
to destroy the gods. The giants, coming for their pay, are
not satisfied to take the gold as a substitute for Freia until
it has been piled high enough to hide her completely from
their sight. This takes even the Ring, which Wotan had hoped
to keep. But he could not give up immortality for a distant
threat to his existence. The curse of the gold begins to work.
The giants quarrel over its division. One of them kills the
other and then has to bury the gold in a cavern and change
himself into a dragon, with the aid of the Tarnhelm,, to
guard it. As the gods enter Walhall, then, they are moving
into a castle which has cost them a threat to their very
existence. If Alberich can get the gold from the giant, the
gods will be destroyed. Wotan must find some way to lift
that threat.

Between The Rbinegold and The Valkyrie considerable
time has passed. Wotan has been busy with his problem. As
a temporary defense he has created a race of warrior maidens.
They are the Valkyries, and it is their duty to carry to Wal-
hall the heroes who fall on the battlefields of earth. The
heroes will partake of the immortality of the gods and will
act as an armed guard for the castle. But this army, re-


cruited by the warrior maidens, is only a temporary expedi-
ent; to be free of his difficulty Wotan must find a way to
return the gold to its original owners, the Rhine maidens.
Wotan cannot do it himself. By the same moral code that
he has pledged himself to support he is prevented from again
stealing the gold. But if he can find one who is free from the
laws that bind even the gods, one who, out of his own free-
dom and fearlessness, will kill the dragon and restore the
gold, his problem will be solved.

Wotan tries to create such a hero, or at least a race from
which the hero may spring. He goes to the earth and, as
Walse, becomes the father of the race half god, half human
known as the Walsungs. The first generation of that race
are Siegmund and Sieglinde. Act I of The Valkyrie takes up
their story.

The Prelude begins with the motive of the storm which
will be the background of the opening of the act:

The Storm

The ebb and flow of the storm motive, punctuated by bril-
liant flashes from the high woodwind and brass instruments,
bring the Prelude to a close.

As the curtain rises it discloses a room built around the
trunk of a great tree. The storm is heard continuing outside.
As Siegmund stumbles through the door, the orchestra an-
nounces him with a motive characterized by its descending
motion: . . .

Siegmunds Fatigue

Siegmund asks whose house he has entered and, as he sinks to
the floor exhausted, says that here he must rest. As the or-


chestra continues with the motives of the storm and Sieg-
muncPs fatigue, Sieglinde enters, sees Siegmund as a total
stranger, and is anxious over his identity and condition. The
orchestra describes her anxiety and compassion with the mo-
tive of Sieglinde’s compassion:

Sieglinde’s Compassion

j j t j


Siegmund asks for a drink of water, and as Sieglinde brings
it, the orchestra develops the Siegmund and Sieglinde mo-
tives. Almost imperceptibly, as Siegmund and Sieglinde
watch each other, the orchestra introduces two very impor-
tant motives, which are to be associated with the growing
attraction of Siegmund and Sieglinde to each other. The
first is the motive of brother and sister affection, for al-
though they are strangers and unaware of their relationship,
they are actually twin brother and sister, the children of

Brother and Sister Affection

I aL\> 8 J J.i K I J . ^

This motive is heard twice and is followed immediately by
the very important love motive:



Notice that the love motive actually includes part of the
brother and sister motive:

The drama continues to develop as Siegmund inquires
where he is and who has taken care of him, Sieglinde answers
that she is the wife of Hunding and that this is Hunding’s
house. Siegmund answers that he has been in battle and is
now weaponless and exhausted by his flight from his foe.
The motives of Siegmund’s fatigue, Sieglinde’s compassion,
brother and sister affection, and love are woven into the or-
chestral fabric which accompanies this part of the scene.

After a tender orchestral interlude Siegmund starts to
leave, saying that he always has bad luck and will go before
he brings it to Sieglinde. Notice here the new form of the
compassion motive, which can be heard at the beginning of
the Victor record 8933-6 (Schirmer vocal score, page 13,
third and fourth lines) :

One of Wagner’s most felicitous uses of the leading motive
follows immediately. Sieglinde asks Siegmund who pursues
him that he must leave, and he replies, twice, that it is bad
luck that follows him. Each phrase of his answer is preceded
by a long-held note in the orchestra, each time rising and
increasing in intensity. After the second phrase the long-
held note is heard again, as though to introduce another
phrase from Siegmund. Instead, however, the orchestra sub-
sides into a gentle reiteration of the love motive:




-J’ ua E * i*f * K
‘”1P X Siegmund
#%0 pur -sues thee, that thou must fly?
Wer ver-folgt dich, dass du schon flieh’st?
H- F P ‘

Miss-wen – de
r =4
* v 4 3 * ‘
1 1


us me wher-e } er I
ican- der-j
I | 1 V

III -fate 3er~
n^^’l’ P ^

fajte* ma inker- eer I
folgt mir wo-hin ich flie- he Miss-wen-de naht mir wo i’chmich
*r \f– – \: , – – i – – ~
}) r f’ *
: A-“^ ^

fc J JK > ‘
nei – ge
i L rr
^; i
^=~ r
H ^
r L
b l’ Tf f ^
” –

Love motive

A moment later Sieglinde tells Siegmund that he may as well
remain. He cannot bring ill fortune to a place where it has
already made its home. Part of the phrase which Sieglinde
sings is the brother and sister motive:


i y P pi \r if v v v \ i i *’ Trp *’

iTAen dt’dfe ^Aott Aere/ III fate thou candt not bring Jt>ere t

So blei – be hier Nicht bringst du Un-fceil da – hin,

This is followed immediately by the announcement of an-
other important motive, the song of the Walsungs. This is
one of several motives associated with this race; its solemn
upward swing and fall back to a position which gives it a
feeling of incompletion hint at its peculiar significance:

Song of the Walsungs

This new motive is interwoven with the motive of compas-
sion, and as it moves along at the bottom of the music, it
almost imperceptibly changes, first to the love motive and
finally, at the very end of the scene, to the motive of Sieg-
mund’s fatigue (Schirmer vocal score, page 15).

The second scene begins with the distant announcement
of the approach of Hunding, Sieglinde’s husband. The
Hunding motive is gruff and requires a tone-color which
Wagner supplied by using the so-called Wagnerian tubas:

As Hunding enters he looks inquiringly at Siegmund. Sieg-
linde and then Siegmund try to explain the presence of the
stranger. The storm motive is heard momentarily, and as
Hunding settles himself for his evening meal, the Hunding
motive again.

As Sieglinde prepares the meal, Hunding watches her and
the strange guest and remarks upon their resemblance to
each other. The orchestra prepares for his remark with the



compassion and the brother and sister motives. At the end of
his remark the orchestra whispers a motive which, in The
Rbinegold, has been associated with Wotan, who, as Walse,
was the father of Siegmund and Sieglinde. It .symbolizes his
spear, upon the handle of which had been carved Wotan’s
promise to uphold the law:

Wotan’s Spear Cand Promise)
Thus the orchestral fabric hints at what is known to none
of the characters on the stage.

The scene continues as Siegmund is persuaded to tell what
he knows of his own background. He does not tell his name,
but recounts that he called his father Wolfe. He was born a
twin. But the Neidings, at mention of whom the Hunding
motive is heard in the orchestra, had murdered his mother
and carried off his twin sister. Let him be called Wehwalt
the Wolfing, 3 son of Wolfe, says Siegmund. Hunding has
heard dark rumors of Wolfe and Wolfing and wants to hear
more. Siegmund tells of the battle in which his father was
lost to sight; he does not know where his father is. At this
point (Victor 893 y-A; Schirmer vocal score, page 26), the
orchestra answers Sieglinde’s question as to the whereabouts
of Wolfe, which Siegmund himself cannot answer. This an-
swer is the powerful motive that stands for both Wotan and

Walhall : Wotan –

3 A characteristic Wagnerian play on words: Weh = woe, waltento govern;
Wehwalt = ruled by woe; Wolfing diminutive of wolf.


Siegmund goes on to explain that after his father was lost,
he longed for the company of other men and women, but
that his ill fortune prevented him from ever making friends.
As the recital continues, it is punctuated by the motives of
compassion, love, Hunding, and the song of the Walsungs.
Sieglinde finally asks how Siegmund came to be in his present

The answer is fatal, because it shows that Hunding and
Siegmund must be deadly enemies. Siegmund had interfered
in the marriage of a girl against her will, had fought and
killed many of her kinsmen, and had been forced to flee from
the rest, of whom Hunding was one. The orchestra supplies
a highly effective background by mirroring the ebb and flow
of movement in Siegmund’s narrative. The motives of Sieg-
mund’s fatigue, the storm, and the song of the “Walsungs
are used with telling effect. At the end of Siegmund’s tale,
the orchestra presents a new motive, another motive for the
Wiilsung race. Notice its resemblance to the Wotan-Walhall
motive and its unfinished-sounding conclusion (end of Vic-
tor 893 j-B; Schirmer vocal score, page 32):

The Walsungs


Hunding, enraged to find his enemy sheltered in his own
house, allows Siegmund hospitality for the night, but chal-
lenges him to mortal combat for the morrow. Hunding bids
Sieglinde make ready his evening drink and prepares to leave
the weaponless Siegmund for the night. As Sieglinde pre-
pares the drink, she watches Siegmund, and the orchestra not


only follows her thoughts, but indicates the as yet unrealized
relationship of the twin brother and sister. After this little
tone poem based on the motives of compassion and of brother
and sister affection, Sieglinde tries to direct Siegmund’s gaze
to the trunk of the tree around which the room is built. At
that point (Victor 89 3 6- A; Schirmer vocal score, page 35)
the orchestra plays the motive of the sword:

The Sword

Sieglinde puts a sleeping potion in Hunding’s drink as she
goes out the door. Hunding, after one more threat, leaves,
and his motive echoes through the orchestra.

The room darkens to the glow of the hearth as Siegmund
sits alone; the final scene of the act is beginning. The music
suggests Hunding and the sword. Siegmund remembers that
his father had promised him a weapon, to be ready to his
hand at his time of greatest need. Surely this is the time. He
is a hostage, weaponless, in his enemy’s house a hostage to
this beautiful woman whom he has just now met! Notice the
form of the love motive here:

He calls on his father, asking for his sword, with music
which, later on in this act and again in Siegfried) will be
connected with the sword under its name of Nothung:


As the fire brightens, Siegmund sees a reflection from the
trunk of the tree. The orchestra speaks insistently of the
sword, but Siegmund imagines the reflection to be a glance
of Sieglinde’s lingering in the room after she has gone.

A reminiscence of the motives of Hunding, of the song of
the Walsungs, and of Sieglinde’s compassion announce the
entrance of Sieglinde, who has come to show Siegmund a
weapon. But first she must tell her story, because the weapon
and the man who alone shall be able to use it are bound up
with her own fate. At her sad, loveless marriage to Hunding
a stranger appeared, a stranger who looked at her from only
one eye. As she mentions the stranger the orchestra identifies
him with the tremendously resonant motive of Wotan-Wal-
hall. As the Wotan-Walhall motive disappears, Sieglinde
speaks of the tenderness with which the stranger regarded
her. Here is a passage which is Wagner at his greatest:


-tr- –


ir al – leia
lin-gered his
week – te das

)k with
u _ ge
yearn- ing .re –
seh. – nen – den
e? 3

*>ft& #’


* ^ a Brother and Sister


&” r i


37* _ TOW and
ran – en und
solace in one.
Trost zu – gleich.
^ 1
J Jf-fl^

i, tT
T j d
r- -r

Sword |

The orchestra mentions the sword as Sieglinde tells how
the stranger thrust his own sword into the trunk of the tree.
There it remains; the hero for whom it is intended has not
yet been disclosed. Now Sieglinde realizes who the stranger
is and for whom the sword was intended. The orchestra
makes a powerful crescendo with the Wotan-Walhall and
the sword motives as Sieglinde expresses her hope that the
hero who shall claim the sword and avenge the shame of her
marriage with Hunding has at last arrived.

Siegmund, overcome by Sieglinde’s hope and affection,
pronounces the oath that weds him to Sieglinde and prom-
ises to be her avenger. They embrace, and the mood of the
music suddenly changes; the storm is over; spring has come.
The storm motive resolves into a gentle introduction to the
famous love duet. Siegmund begins with the motive of love
and spring:

Love and Spring

” ‘ ” ”

Win – ter storms have iraned in the month
Win-ter- stur – me wich – ert dem Won –

of May,

Notice how Wagner, as this scene proceeds, weaves the mo-
tives of love and of brother and sister affection into the
fabric, now in the orchestra, now in the voices.


As they become accustomed to the enchantment of their
love for each other, the mood of the music changes. Wagner
accomplishes this by introducing a new motive which we
may indicate as the joy of love (Victor 8938-6; Schirmer
vocal score, page 61) :

Joy of Love



n v

sweet – est en – chant-ment
O siis – ses – te Won – ne

Notice the exhilarating effect of the use of only the first
part of this motive in leading to a reiteration of the love

J T P I vjnf jJ ] r J *[ iMl

t Joy of Love . , Love

As the lovers look at each other more closely, Sieglinde’s
memory begins to bring back sounds and pictures. She seems
to have seen before what she sees now, and the orchestra
gives forth the Wotan-Walhall motive. The surface of the
brook that mirrored her face showed her the face she now
sees as she gazes at Siegmund; the voice she now hears, which
she seems to remember faintly from her childhood, is the
same voice that echoed back from her own call in the forest.
The light of the eyes she now sees reminds her of the earlier
stranger who brought the sword. Is the newcomer’s name
really Wehwalt? Notice the echoing use of the brother and
sister motive, the suggestion of the Wiilsung motive, and the
use of the sword and Wotan-Walhall motives.

No longer, Siegmund agrees, can he be called Wehwalt
Sieglinde has changed all that she may give him a more
fitting name. But was his father really Wolfe? No, not ex-
cept to cowardly foxes; he was really W’alse.


This is the news that Sieglinde had been awaiting. It is
Siegmund the Walsung who stands before her, the one for
whom the sword in the tree was intended. As the sword mo-
tive resounds in the orchestra, Siegmund grasps the sword and
draws it from the tree.

At this point Wagner uses a motive new to this act to
make a powerful reference. In The Rbinegold, Alberich, in
stealing the gold from the Rhine maidens, renounced love.
Wagner uses the motive of that renunciation here as Sieg-
mund proclaims that his great love will drive him to heroic
deeds and to death:

Renunciation of Love


Then he names the sword Nothung, while we hear the
Nothung motive with which he called on his father at the
beginning of the scene.

As Siegmund offers the sword as a bridal gift, the two
lovers pledge, as brother and sister and as bride and bride-
groom, that the race of the Walsungs shall flourish forever.
This final moment builds to a tremendous climax with a
musical fabric in which the first half of the Walsung motive,
the sword motive, the joy of love motive, and the love mo-
tive are all woven together. Notice the acceleration produced
by the different forms in which the love motive appears:

As the listener masters the complex musical fabric of this
act, he will undoubtedly want to refer to music and text.
The following tables will lighten the difficulty of keeping his
place. For keep his place he must if he wishes to partake of
the true riches of a Wagnerian music drama.


Wagner Die Walkure, Act I Victor M-245


8932-A 1-6 first measure of fourth staff

B 6-9 middle of third staff

^933 ~A 9- J 3 beginning of third staff

B 9-16 middle of second staff

8934-A 16-20 middle of third staff

B 20-24 end of second staff

893 5-A 24-28 first measure of page

B 2,8-32 next to last measure of third staff

893 6-A 32-36 end of first staff

B 3 6-3 9 middle of second staff

89 3 7- A 39-44 fi rst measure of second staff

B 44-49 next to last measure of third staff

89 3 8 -A 49-5 8 first measure of page

B 58-63 beginning of fourth staff

893 9-A 63-70 first measure of page

B 70-77 end of Act I


The Storm
Siegmund’s Fatigue

Sieglinde’s Compassion
Brother and Sister Affection


Song of .the Walsungs

^ h- *

Wotan r s Spear (and Promise)

q r r



* ^S \





y’t”l> A


The Sword

) – – 1- J.

Love and Spring
^ i.


Wafw – ^er storms have vaned in the month of
Wm-ter- stur – me wich – en dem Won – ne-mond,

Joy of Love

O sweet – e$t en – chant -ment
O siis – ses – te Won – ne

Renunciation of Love

lf& A J ^^


Chapter 21


JOHANNES BRAHMS’S First Symphony was first per-
J formed in 1876 when its composer was forty- three years
old. Brahms once wrote that “in these days a symphony is
no joke.” He began to sketch this symphony in 1862; that
he worked on it over a period of fourteen years indicates
how seriously he took it. The length of time a composer
spends on a symphony is not, however, a matter of great
importance to the listener unless there is a connection be-
tween it and the problems involved in listening to the music.
In this case there is such a connection. Brahms explored the
implications of his subject matter so thoroughly that the
resulting musical fabric demands of the listener an effort of
hearing and understanding comparable to the care the com-
poser used in writing it. Through this complex but mag-
nificent musical fabric the listener may come to feel and
understand the warm-hearted message of its composer, if he
will but give himself the opportunity.

To penetrate Brahms’s First Symphony is no easy under-,
taking. Hearing and understanding must reinforce each
other. The listener is advised to make two sorts of approach.
First, get used to the sheer sound of the symphony. After a
few hearings Brahms’s idiom or style will begin to seem f a-



miliar, and landmarks within the music will catch the atten-
tion. Then use, for one or two hearings, the first, sketchy
analysis which follows. The main themes of each movement
will by then have become clear, and the listener will be ready
to perceive the relationships to which the second, much more
detailed analysis will serve as a guide. Finally, hear the sym-
phony over and over until even the detailed analysis in this
chapter begins to seem sketchy.
The first guide follows.


Introduction (slow) :

First theme (change to faster time) :


Second theme:

low strings

Closing the

r i




A somewhat complex ternary form in which section A has two motto

Qtt..ttn.- .^T-^ r*a

Ai K




First section: A 1/ki? I/ jl f f > I f p >Tp | f F . F 1 JJ

Kg) -1 l LJ I ij f j ‘ [ I I I 1 ^-?
Middle section: C







A. violins

low strings

r r
& lrn >f * r
u-O ‘

Piu Andante

French horn

B- ifl> i LT” i ^’ 1 1 r I iTi

chorale – trombones

C. \fy11 j TJIJ. J |J


First theme:
Second theme:

Closing episode:

: jf =:g T :
After the listener has heard this thematic material often
enough to anticipate its appearance in the various move-
ments, let him proceed to the following more detailed


The first movement may be heard as a rather complex
sonata form. It begins with a slow, sustained introduction
which grows out of the lines of the first two measures:

Violins and

Flutes, oboes,
clarinets , bassoons,

bass viol, kettle*
Try to hear the important motives contained in these early
measures. First the three-note chromatic ascending figure:

Second, the counterpart of the first, the descending line
which contains a three-note chromatic fall:
Then, the rhythmic figure with which the rising line ends:
As the introduction proceeds, Brahms momentarily re-
leases the tension of these lines moving toward and away
from the pounded reiteration of the bass instruments; but
that release only leads to another statement, on the domi-
nant level, of the music of the beginning.

At the moment when the music changes from the rather
slow pulse of the introduction to the rapid movement, the
woodwinds sound the essence of the whole introduction:
The first violins then give out what is usually called the
first theme. Even a first hearing should show that part of
the introduction remains as an accompanying line in the
violoncellos and bassoons:

First violins



=f-rf 1
Q\>\,}\ TT;iL[L
1 ‘ P
‘. p r p
“T 1
U f~
i i


Brahms has now given himself at least five motives with
which to continue. His use of them will be complex. To
follow him is a test for any listener. Almost immediately
he begins to hide the ascending and descending chromatic
lines in seemingly novel material:

The passage which follows gives the listener a hint of the
processes by which Brahms is going to carry this music for-
ward. The figure that the violoncellos had before is given
to the higher instruments, and the low parts continue with
another version of motive b:
The relationship of motive d with motive b is soon estab-
lished. It was first heard against a and c.

Clarinets and

and bass viols

The careful listener will soon discern that the passage cited
above contains all five of the motives. This complexity of
texture is characteristic of Brahms. As the first-theme sec-
tion continues, many other similar passages will occur. The
result is a fabric of great richness.

The preparation for the second theme is made during the
first quiet passage of the Allegro. The theme itself is not
new material, but a new combination of motives previously
heard; compare with the first theme (page 276). Here
motive a is heard above the rest of the fabric, while motive d
is below. Motives c and e do not appear:





G 1
l \a

This statement of the second theme is followed immediately
by a lovely melodic line in the oboe. Although this oboe
melody at first hearing seems to bear very little resemblance
to any of the motives previously heard, the listener’s mind
will in time perceive a characteristic Brahmsian relationship
to motive b:
In the very quiet accompaniment to this part of the second
theme, the music opens in diverging lines which are remi-
niscent of the more familiar appearances of motives a and b.
The quietness of the second-theme section is broken by the


marked entrance in the violas, against a background of
plucked chords, of a short figure out of which will grow a
theme of such strength that it must be thought of as a
closing theme. This short figure is actually a new form of
motive b: . .

At this point, with a burst of tremendous vitality, Brahms
achieves a remarkable recombination of already familiar
motives. The violins play a melodic line which is a new form
of motives a and b:

Simultaneously, the lower instruments play an inversion of
the line in which motives d and e were first heard:

p ,1^
1 e
original form
4 f
r r [

r ,r
r i
‘$ ” ^ ^ ‘

Try to hear how these go together:
Before the development section is reached, the closing theme
receives another interesting inversion:




Second violins


bass viols,

contra basso on




This description of the subject matter of the first move-
ment should furnish the listener with a guide to further dis-
covery. He must penetrate a complex musical fabric. Brahms
asks his listeners to accept musical relationships which tax
their perceptions. Many instances are apparent in the exposi-
tion; the development presents many more. Only one will
be cited here. The listener will enjoy finding more for him-

The development begins with the upward rush of motive
d, which recurs several times before it ends with motive e.
Immediately after motive e, however, the music becomes
suddenly very quiet, and the bassoon sings motive d in a
much slower version:
With the last part (d 1 ) of this new version of the motive
as a pattern, the music develops an interesting version of
motive a:

Flute and




The second movement begins with a very simple and un-
obtrusive statement of three motives:

Andante sostenuto

JIH-3 IJ J^’


Motive b will be heard as a kind of motto throughout
the movement. A submotive will be derived from b, and the
derivation will be reinforced by the fact that it contains the
rhythmic figure common to all three motives:
This will be heard as the heart of a later melody.

Motive c will be recognized immediately as a reminiscence
of motive a of the first movement the upward thrust of
three semitones. The reminiscence becomes clearer when the
listener notices the presence here again of the downward
counterpart, called motive b in the first movement:
The music grows from these motives toward the lovely
melodic line which is first given out by the oboe. Notice that
this melody contains the reference to motive b:



One statement of this melody suffices for the beginning.
The movement continues with a long, florid melodic line
carried by the violins which also contains references to the
motive which is a memory from the first movement:
The working out of this melodic line fills the middle section
of the movement.

Motives b and c announce the appearance of the final
section in which the melody that originally appeared in the
oboe is given to French horn and solo violin. Here Brahms
brings all of the material of the movement together into a
magnificent orchestral fabric which furnishes a background
for the soaring sweetness of the solo violin.


Brahms marks the third movement nn poco allegretto e
grazioso rather lively and gracefully flowing. In form this
movement is derived from the earlier minuet, although its
rhythm is not that of the minuet and there are some devia-
tions in form. The melodic material of the first subsection
appears immediately in the clarinet. Notice that Brahms
uses one of his characteristic methods of melodic treatment.
No sooner has the five-measure statement been heard than
it is heard again in an inverted form:

1 tr *


4 r u r



The subsection is completed by a kind of answer based on the
following material:

After a repeat, with changed tone-color and a slightly dif-
ferent ending, a new melody from the clarinet announces
the next subsection:
This subsection contains and ends with references to the
material of the previous subsection. Thus the movement so
far bears considerable resemblance to the part of the earlier
minuet which is the minuet proper:

The repeat of subsection a was different from the original
statement, and the subsection ba was not repeated.

A change of time and rhythm, of key, of tone-color, and
of thematic material marks the appearance of what would
be the trio in the older minuet. This section, which is re-
peated, grows entirely out of the thematic material first
announced by the woodwinds and strings:



The return of the first section is presaged by the use of
the first measure of the original thematic material in two

Notice how the woodwinds carry over into this section
some of the characteristic rhythms o the middle section.
Notice, too, how Brahms avoids the literal inversion of his
thematic material. The clarinet theme is answered, not by
its exact inversion, but by a variation of that inversion:
The movement closes with a coda based on the material of
the middle section.


The final movement of Brahms ‘s First Symphony is one
of the monuments of symphonic literature. Many listeners
are on the alert for the great “tune” of its first theme and
rather endure most of the rest of its broad expanses. It is
difficult to understand, however, how the message of the
whole symphony can be grasped unless this movement even-
tually comes to mean more than a series of brackets around
a magnificent melody. Here, as never before, the listener
must follow the fabric of Brahms’s music in intimate detail
before he can hope to understand it. The composer did not
spend fourteen years on this work in waste motion.

The movement begins with a slow introduction. The im-
mediate statement of thematic material is rich in motives:


i I I


violins and
French horn

low strings
As the music proceeds, Brahms will utilize every implica-
tion of this beginning that fits into his plan. Those implica-
tions eventually become clear; the process may be hastened by
an analysis. The downward flow of the first three notes is twice
echoed by the woodwinds:
nr i IT

The most important motive of this beginning may be said to
contain several submotives:
Notice that the woodwind figure has a simultaneous variation
of submotive ai, which is labeled ai r , and that submotive
a2 has two versions:


a i al-

a, rftii.r^Tr i o r ~

at- |(fo b I; (

“When these submotives are translated into terms of motion
we get the following picture:




The utilization of these various motives becomes evident
immediately as the music proceeds. After the original state-
ment of motive a the violins continue with submotives:

f a? i t a j

The pizzicato or plucked passage that follows is a kind of
musical “moreover/’ discussing the motion of the beginning
slow-starting, but with a tremendously vital upward rush in-
herent in it. After the first pizzicato passage the music of the
beginning is heard again, now at the tonic level instead of the

dominant, and with motive a below and motive b above the
chromatic motion. Following the second pizzicato passage, for
two measures Brahms pits the descent of motive b against up-
ward-rushing scales:





The scales introduce a complex pattern in which all the
motions of the original motives are discussed, with the em-
phasis onai:

. m



low strings

The climax of this passage is followed by a fluttery disap-
pearance of a very rapid version of motive b, accompanied,
however, by an equally rapid version of motive a2:

first violins ‘

second violins

From this passage the music subsides to the second part of
the introduction. Here the music has a slightly more rapid


pulse pin andante and it is in the major. The thematic
material is the simple but powerful horn-call theme:
I r M I

After this theme has been transferred to the flute, the trom-
bones and bassoons announce one of the most famous short
passages in modern symphonic literature, the one-phrase


Following this chorale, the horn theme is heard again.
Notice how it is given increased intensity by the manner in
which Brahms treats its first measure as a motive for succes-
sive entrances. This process by which the composer empha-
sizes a particular motive within a theme is important. The
motive will appear again:
This music comes to a quiet close on the dominant, nd after
a moment of silence, the body of the movement begins with
its magnificent first theme. The listener must not fail to
notice that the beginning of the theme melody is motive
a from the introduction, with all the possibilities for de-
velopment that have already been hinted:


As the theme proceeds, Brahms takes care to point to another

The bridge to the second theme becomes apparent when
the music begins a more fragmentary discussion of the the-
matic material. The process of the introduction with regard
to motive a begins anew:

first violins



p rju i

f f JJ
bass viols
fll i , n1

The bridge ends with one statement of the horn theme from
the introduction, immediately followed by the second
Brahms’s ingenuity is nowhere better illustrated than with
this second theme. As a theme it has its own individuality.
As an integral part of this movement and this symphony
it is a recombination of submotives (14 and #3, in their major
key version, from the introduction:


As one becomes acquainted with this second theme, its
growth from these two submotives will become increasingly
i I I

decoration o first
four notes

decorated inversions of first four notes

The second theme, with its accompanying figure growing
out of motive b of the introduction, develops into a lovely
melody in the oboe and finally leads to a closing episode
based on two motives:

f pT p i 1 t j r $ ||
i&*.i iqj j

L l-ftji ( F , f F f

Notice the appearance of submotive ai in both of these
motives. Notice, too, that they both appear in conjunction
with other motives from the introduction.

Our discussion has covered the thematic material for this
movement. It should be clear that because of the very nature
of the thematic material, the process of development begins
with the statements of the themes. It is not an exaggeration
to say that the whole of the main body of the movement
is a development, an expansion into a sonatalike form, of
the material which is first heard in the introduction. Because


of this fact, Brahms does not give us a long development sec-
tion followed by the traditional restatement of the first-
theme part of the recapitulation. At the point where the de-
velopment section would normally occur, we hear what is
actually the only recapitulation of the first theme. Between
this restatement of the first theme and the normal recapitu-
lation of the second theme a broad development takes place
sufficient for Brahms’s purpose and sufficient, too, to give
a masterly logic to his procedure. This development adds its
weight to the intensity of Brahms’s interest in discussing
what all the thematic material has been hinting, the tre-
mendous upward-thrusting vitality of the basic motives of
the music.

At the close of the development the horn-call theme is
heard in a very rapid form:

This in turn changes to the original form, which leads to
the return of the second theme.

As the music approaches the final closing episode, motive
a appears in imitation, accompanied by a figure which, first
heard in the exposition, grew out of the inversion of the
decorated version of the second theme:



low strings
contra bassoon

This leads to an accelerated use of submotive ai which, with
the start of the faster coda, becomes a new form of sub-
motive az: i j , , ,

fTr became * r r r ^ 7 LC/

Here in the coda it lias this form:

This rushing form of submotive a2, which by now is a re-
minder of one aspect of the first theme, piles up until its
intensity expands into a gigantic statement of the chorale
of the introduction. From this magnificent climax the music
moves rapidly to the end of the movement. In so doing it
makes use of the triplet motive which was associated, not
only in the exposition of this movement, but also in the
first movement, with a closing episode.

The listener who lingers over Brahms’s First Symphony to
become intimately familiar with it deserves, but hardly
needs, a third analysis. He hardly needs it, because, if he has
reached some independence in his listening, he has been
making it for himself. What does this music mean?

Begin to think of the music of this symphony in terms
of tension and motion. The introduction to the first move-
ment outlines the drama of the whole work. Against the
thunderous reiteration in the bass, against, too, the steady
fall of the inner voices, the violins, through consonance and
dissonance, soar upward. As the movement gathers momen-
tum that upward thrust pervades every theme. It gathers to
itself the new motives of other themes. No matter what
momentary emphasis or appealing form the contradictions


of that upward thrust may take, its strength and vitality
are sufficient to bring the movement to a triumphant close.
On a more complex level and with heightened dramatic in-
tensity, we find here the emotional line that was traced in
our analysis of Beethoven’s First Symphony.

The second movement, by moving immediately into a
distant key and a quiet, lyrical mood, seems to attempt to
take the symphony and the listener as far from the intensity
of the first movement as possible. But the attempt is not
wholly successful. The strength of the first movement is not
long in returning, though reminiscently, and with its return
the pulse of the music quickens. Yet the movement con-
tinues the attempt to reconcile the loveliness of its own
themes with the remembered vitality. At the end the two
prove not incompatible.

The third movement is really an intermezzo, a moment
of relief between more important matters. The mood of
great drama cannot be sustained too long. This rather quiet
and gracious movement releases the tension. But Brahms has
calculated the amount of the release. This intermezzo has
its somber moments, its small tensions, and it ends with a
quiet abruptness that asks for renewed attention.

With the final movement comes a return to the conflict
between the upward thrust and downward pull of the first
movement. The themes are new, but again they embody a
dualism from which release can come only through the most
intense and persuasive analysis and development of the forces
involved. The long and unabating process of musical devel-
opment finally establishes, through passages which are of
almost ugly strength, the triumphant message of the sym-


This discussion, of a Brahms symphony needs a footnote
reference to one of Brahms’s great contemporaries. A music
lover will not have achieved a fairly comprehensive ac-
quaintance with great music until he knows Tchaikovsky.
If he can really hear Brahms, the utter directness of Tchai-
kovsky will offer no difficulties. But as he listens to the Fifth
or the Sixth Symphony of the Russian master, let him make
comparisons of the meaning of this music with that of
Brahms. The Tchaikovsky of the last two symphonies com-
posed music in which the same conflicts appear as in the
Brahms symphony, but in which the depressing weight in-
herent in the thematic material overwhelms all other aspects.
The final result is in direct contrast to what the music of
Brahms achieves. A comparison of the two will help clarify
the whole question of musical meanings; it will, moreover,
prove with what certainty one may speak of the triumphant
message of this Brahms symphony.

Brahms Symphony No. i Victor M-3OI

Chapter 22

IN May, 1723, Bach moved his family to the city of
Leipzig, where he was to have charge of the music at
the St. Thomas Church. For the following Easter, his first
in Leipzig, Bach prepared a new cantata. It is known as
Cantata No. 4, “Christ lay fast bound in Death’s * harsh
chain” (“Christ lag in Todesbanden”) .

When the St. Thomas congregation came to church that
Easter day, its members brought with them much the same
background with regard to church music as could be found
among many devout congregations today. They knew the
standard hymns or chorales of their church, and they under-
stood that many of those chorales had a special significance in
relation to the church calendar. They undoubtedly knew,
probably from memory, Martin Luther’s great Easter hymn;
as youngsters, they had learned it before confirmation; as
adults, they began to understand it.

One can easily imagine that many of the good Leipzigers
came to church that day with rather eager curiosity about
the music they were to hear. Easter is a time for music, and
they had within the year secured one of the best musicians
of Germany as their cantor. Undoubtedly, too, they had
heard from members of the choir and orchestra that some
interesting music was in preparation, that they were going



to be treated to a new version of the Easter hymn they knew
so well.

What did they hear?

The modern listener cannot hope nor should he desire to
recapture the mental preparation of Bach’s congregation for
a first hearing of this cantata. But that audience had one
very important qualification; it knew the tune of Luther’s
hymn. Bach must have counted on that familiarity. If the
curiosity of the modern listener is to be satisfied, he too
must know the hymn. Fortunately, Bach ended the cantata
with the hymn in a simple version, in the singing of which
the congregation was probably expected to take part. It is
the seventh verse. Turn first to the last two thirds of the last
record side and learn it. Learn it so well that you can hum
the tune. You are hearing it performed in Spanish by a choir
in Barcelona. The performance is slightly shaky in one or
two places, but the music is so great that it can withstand
an occasional mishap. There is no reason to believe that Bach
or any other genuine lover of music would let a slight acci-
dent in performance stand between him and the understand-
ing of great music. Here is the music:

A* \


Now that the listener has a preliminary acquaintance with
the hymn out of which this cantata grew, let us turn to the
beginning of the music.

The cantata begins with a short introduction, played by
the organ and string orchestra, which Bach calls a Sinfonia.
This music was written before the time of either our modern
symphony or our symphony orchestra. Bach’s use of the
word “sinfonia” meant simply that he was writing music
for an instrumental ensemble. As the cantata proceeds, it
will become increasingly clear that Bach understands his text
as a drama, a small religious opera. As a preparation for what
is to follow, the Sinf onia has a function similar to that of the
operatic overture. The text of the drama begins with the
words which give the cantata its title. The music of the
chorale begins with a falling inflection:

For the Sinfonia, Bach begins by exploiting that falling in-
flection: ^ .^


Notice how the music continues this motion at the bottom
as it resolves into the first phrase of the chorale tune at the


top. The depressed quality of the beginning of the Sinfonia
lasts only until the lift of the first phrase of the tune has
made itself felt; after that the free movement of the melodic
lines leads to a strong climax.


Christ lay fast bound in Death’s harsh chain,

Who for our sins was given.

Now is He raised up again

And brings us Life and Heaven.

Therefore let us joyful be.

Praise God and thank Him heartily

In singing Hallelujah!


In this verse, for full chorus, organ, and orchestra, the
listener meets a highly complex polyphonic texture. Hearing
it is not difficult, however, because all of the melodic lines
grow so obviously out of the tune of the chorale. Notice
first that the sopranos sing the text of the verse straight
through, to the melody of the chorale. But here the melody
is in long notes. As the sopranos proceed slowly with the
melody, the other parts weave a rich polyphonic web around
it. That fabric, even to the details of figuration in the ac-
companiment, is drawn from the phrase of the melody which
is being sung. Thus a complete hearing of this verse must
grow out of a phrase-by-phrase analysis.

First phrase:

i-fl-tt s p ranos ^

Christ . lay fast bound in Deaths harsh, chain.

The other voices enter under the long first note of the
phrase, one after the other.







lay fast
$ n f 7 J’ flj J =

Christ lay fast-

jp)L . K i
Christ lay fast

Christ lay in Deaths

Notice that both alto and bass enter with a melodic line
which imitates the first three notes of the chorale tune* After
two measures the orchestra develops a short figure from those
same three notes a figure which continues through most
of the verse:

*i J i * psyq i


n i
This fabric goes on past the soprano statement of the phrase
and ends at the point where the next soprano phrase begins.

Second phrase:




Who for our sins was giv – en

For this phrase the other parts are given melodic lines which
grow out of the chromaticism of the first two notes of the
first phrase, one climbing upward, the other sinking down-



19 =|
ifll C-

* mo

18 , . , –
for our
sins was
Who for our
sins was giv –
en, Who for our
i):jt’ –
Wnofor our sins was giv –

Who for our sins was giv – enJVhofor our sins

The polyphonic choral treatment of this phrase ends at the
point where the sopranos end it. Another reading of the text
will show that the mood changes at the end of the second
line. For the third phrase Bach changes the musical mood.

Third phrase;

The third phrase is a repeat, in the chorale, of the first.
To continue the soprano part as he has begun it, Bach will
use the phrase again, but because the text now speaks of the
resurrection, the long-note version is postponed. The melodic
phrase is heard first in quicker notes, with a counter melody
which describes the motion involved in the text:



iJg*,, i i i 1
fr- iL ^-ffJ-‘ *

Kow is He
t\ ii ,
rais _ ed tip
f ” f 3-^UIV.J | ,,, pv L
-J fcJ

Now is He rais-ed up

a – gain

Alto, tenor, and bass enter, one after the other, with the
chorale phrase before the sopranos sing it in long notes:

Now is He rais-ed up a – gain


Under this soprano phrase the accompaniment turns again to
the three-note figure mentioned previously, and the other
three voices enter consecutively with a new phrase, which
again uses the characteristic three-note motive:


Now is He rais – – ed

Fourth phrase:

In the fourth phrase the treatment is similar to that of the
third phrase in postponing the soprano statement of the
phrase. The listener should notice how the text, “And brings
us Life and Heaven,” is reflected in the increased activity
of the music. The tenors begin with the choral phrase for
the fourth line in quick notes. No sooner have they begun,
however, than the altos give out an imitation which is so
altered that its first three notes sound like the beginning of
the first phrase:



eP 1
M ^
And “brings us
Life and Hea .

And “brings us Life and Hea – ven

Out of this beginning develops the exuberant setting of the
word “Heaven”:

ffl*rjjJ3]J J’JJiii


This exuberance continues under the statement of the phrase
by the sopranos:



And brings us Life and Hea – ven


Fifth phrase:

The fifth phrase again postpones the soprano statement
while the other three voices build up an imitative passage
based on the melody of the new phrase. Notice particularly
how the music continues to gather energy how the word
“joyful” inspires Bach to write long chains of rapid notes:





let us joy

There-fore let

– fill

joy –

– ful

There . fore * let

us joy –

As this texture gathers momentum, the sopranos sing the
fifth phrase of the chorale tune above it:


There-fore let us joy-ful be.

A short continuation in the orchestra and organ leads to the
music which surrounds the next phrase.

Sixth phrase:

In the sixth phrase, the long-note version of the chorale
phrase is again postponed. The tenors, however, begin it im-
mediately in quick notes, and the altos embellish it with a
rapid counter melody:






Praise God.^. ___ and thank Him heart – i –



Praise God


thank Him heart – i


After the basses answer the tenor version of the phrase, the
texture which grows out of the alto counter melody con-
tinues under the soprano statement:
Praise God and thank Him heart – i – ly

Seventh phrase:

By the seventh phrase the music has gathered so much
momentum that the long-note phrase does not appear. The
tenors sing the phrase, and then it enters consecutively in
the bass, alto, and soprano parts, accompanied by fragmen-
tary echoes of the syllables of “Hallelujah.”

^ . _ _

In sing- ing Hal-le-lu – jah,

Final phrase:

“Hallelujah” ends each verse of the cantata. In the origi-
nal chorale tune the music for this final phrase is simple:
Hal-le . lu-jah!

As a climax for this first verse, a climax which must carry
to completion the remarkable accumulation of momentum
which has preceded it, Bach builds a long passage from this
simple scale which descends from dominant to tonic. He in-
creases the speed of the music, syncopates the entrance of
the scalelike subject, piles it up in imitation, and gives it a
counter melody which climbs an octave in rapid notes:



. j __ p.] 1 n
Hal-le –
lu – j^>
Hal – le-lu –
is.., .n
i i
i * – ‘ i –

HaUe-lu –
ji P r r ^
TP 1J fr ^

jah,Hal-le – lu-jan,

ff U L, =
*~ “UO ^
vr^i i> ^” n i i P-P^V i^’ti’^t-

Hal-le -In – jab,Hal-le -lu – jat^Jal-le-ln-jalipIal-le-lu-jah,

The members of Bach’s Easter Sunday congregation in 1724
never heard of swing, but Bach swings this “Hallelujah,”
and there can be no doubt that he did it for the very reason
that we of the twentieth century enjoy swing. Energy ac-
cumulates to a degree where its forward motion is irrepressi-
ble, and it begins to tumble over itself to reach its goal. The
musical process induces the sense of energy in the listener
by its own superabundant display of energy. Reiterated syn-
copation, whether in the music of Bach, Beethoven, Brahms,
or the twentieth century swing musicians who sometimes
think they discovered it, results in a magnificent display of
energy. Notice, too, the effect of massive strength which
results, at the end of this verse, from the organ point on
the dominant.

This first verse has been analyzed in considerable detail
because it sets the pattern for the sort of thing the listener
may expect in the succeeding verses. As with the Brahms
symphony, the listener must expect to have this music grow
on him. Listen to it many times. Its magnificent fabric and
the relationship of that fabric to the text will become in-
creasingly clear.




Death’s thrall not one could hope to break
Among the children of mankind;
Our sin it was. Death’s power did make,
There was no guiltless soul to find.
Therefore came Death’s bitter hour
“When he took o’er us the power,
Held us in his kingdom fast.

The second verse is a duet between the sopranos and altos
of the chorus, with an accompaniment by the organ and the
violoncello. Bach indicated that other instruments should
play in unison with the voices, as he did for the first verse;
but this indication is seldom followed in performance. A
reading of the text for the verse will indicate that the mood
has changed. Verse I started the resurrection drama at Easter.
Verse II turns back momentarily to the somber background
of the Easter celebration. Bach’s setting has the effect of
lifting the curtain on a scene of lamentation.

Notice how the short introduction slides downhill and
how the bass grows out of the first two notes of the chorale
The voice parts, when they enter, imitate each other with
the same descending figure, the first two notes of the





Deaths thrall, Death’s thrall, Death’s

Notice the powerful downward pull of the dissonances in
the setting of the “Hallelujah/ 3 We used this as an illustra-
tion in Chapter 6. There is no jubilation here!

Death’s thrall,

A li
-I * 8 1
Death’s thrall,
_ f it _{
Deaths thrall not
1 j


Jesus Christ, God’s only Son,

Came to help us in our need.

All sin’s works He hath undone,

From Death’s presence hath us freed.

Gone his powers and his domains

The form alone of Death remains,

And Christ has robbed Death’s sting of pain.


As the text indicates, here is the happy answer to the
gloom of the previous verse. Again the mood of the music
changes completely, and again Bach signifies the change not
by composing new music but by devising a new treatment
for the tune of the chorale. The rapid accompanying figura-
tion grows out of the first three notes of the chorale:
The upward march of the bass is calculated to add strength
to the rapid motion of the upper parts:



Above this fabric the tenors of the chorus sing one phrase
after another of the chorale, with rests between phrases:

sus Christ Gods on – ly
Notice how effectively Bach calls attention to the word and
the idea of “Death” by first transferring the rapid motion
to the bass and then stopping the instrumental parts alto-
gether while the voices hold the long note. The whole effect
is increased by the sudden rush of the original speed when
the vocal phrase is finished:


The form a – lone of

As an ending for this verse Bach writes another jubilant,
although short, setting for the “Hallelujah.” The music here
grows out of the rapid accompanying fabric:

^ r-r i 1 1– J_l_ TT1 1^



Hal-le – lu – jah, Hal-le – lu – jah, Hal-le – lu . jah, .


It was a wondrous war to see,

When Death and Life engaged in strife.

“With Life remains the victory.

For Death is swallowed up in Life.

Scripture tells the tidings true

How one death the other slew.

And Death is made a mockery.


The war between Life and Death was “a wondrous war to
see.” For this verse Bach made a polyphonic fabric which is
wondrous to hear. Each pair of lines of the text has a little
war in which their melodic phrases take part. The tenors
sing their first phrase, and as they repeat “a wondrous war to
see” with a new continuing phrase, the altos answer with the
second phrase. All the parts are talking at once as the fabric
weaves on:

1 second phrase

u J3J1
whenDeathandLife en-gaged in
strife, It was
^ ^ bsT

a won-drous
+ first phrase
9J r r
It was a
won-drous war to
” r
see, a won – drous war to
se’e, when Death i
md Life en –

It was a won. drous
, first phrase



When this rapid-moving polyphonic web is well started,
the altos sing, in slower notes, the first phrase and later the
second phrase of the chorale tune. As the verse continues,
the music of each pair of phrases receives a comparable
musical setting. The excitement of the music is heightened
by the device of bringing the imitation between parts closer
together. For the lines beginning “For Death,” “Scripture
tells,” and “How one death,” each part follows upon the
heels of the preceding in imitation which has the intensity
of a canon:

rTrr^^^ j rjJJJ^
For Death is swal -low’d up In
it j”^
*> For ]
Death is swal – lowd up
J tf(/ LT ff *JL J ‘

For Death is swal – low’d up .


tells th
e ti –
7 air ^ ‘ ^

Scrip-ture tells the
YrP’y r
mlSS .

Scrip-ture tells the ti – – – dings true

\ 1 \
xgi J p fl ._

How one death.
the oth – er slew, How one death
^tt.. , , i
e) .
one death the oth – e
r slew, How
‘ ‘- J^TIJ”

How one death _ the oth- er slew


The setting of the “Hallelujah” brings all four parts to-
gether. Notice the effect of tremendous vitality as the tenors
punctuate the smooth motion of the other voices with their
crisp, quick notes.


Behold our rightful paschal Lamb,
Whom God long since ordained,
Should hang upon the Cross’s stem
By fires of love constrained.
Whose blood shall be upon our door
A pledge of faith, when Death goes by,
To warn him he can harm no more.

Bach has by no means exhausted the devices by which he
can extract a new mood from the original chorale tune.
This verse is given to the basses of the choir. The rhythm is
changed from four beats in a measure to three. The accom-
paniment begins with a softly descending progression which
again reflects the first two notes of the chorale tune. Above
this a rolling eighth-note figure gives a forward motion that
will continue through most of the verse:





r f
& & &

The structure of the melodic line for this verse is inter-
esting. Except for the one beginning “Whose blood/’ each
line of the text is sung twice, first to the melody of the
chorale and second to a free-flowing phrase of equal length.
Above the free melodic phrase the orchestra answers, at a


new level, with the melody that the voices have just sung.
The treatment of the first line is characteristic:

‘chorale melody

Be – hold our
right – ful pas – chal
1 LJ ‘

Lamb, Our

f” I ‘ 1 1 1 1
_JJ ^
1 M 1 =h-J
” ” i
=^-^-4- **it^=^
H JJd-i’

pas –
chal Lamb,
A M melody ,
ri ffJ 1
,| J u J !
^ a
Jvlj: 1 –

‘ T <
J 2

As the verse continues, notice how Bach emphasizes the idea
expressed in the line beginning ”Whose blood” by changing
momentarily to major and by extending his treatment of it.
Notice, too, the wide range of the voice parts from a very
low, long-held note on the word “Death” to the long, high
note on the word “warn.” Again there is an interesting and
new treatment of the “Hallelujah.”


So let us keep the Easter feast
With heartfelt joy and gladness,
Since God Himself is now our Sun,
And doth dispel our sadness.


Who by His most gracious light
Hath made our spirits pure and bright.
The night of sin has vanished.

The mood is now one of jubilation. The verse is given to
the sopranos and tenors. The accompaniment begins with a
marchlike passage in which the first three notes of the
chorale are hidden and from which the rapid motion of the
voice parts will later develop:
Notice the imitation between parts as the voices move from
one phrase of the melody to another. The long chains of
triplets with which Bach illustrates the ideas of “gladness,”
of “dispelling sadness,” of “gracious light/’ and of “spirits
pure and bright” are memorable, and so is the long passage
on the word “vanish.” The music for the “Hallelujah” grows
out of the light and rapid motion which has characterized
the whole verse, but it is at the same time related to the cor-
responding phrase of the original melody:



Hal –

– le -lu-jah



Lo, now we eat true paschal bread
Sent down to man from Heaven,
Because the gracious God hath said,
We need not the old leaven.
Christ is now our food indeed,
On Christ alone our souls must feed,
For faith no other Life admits.

This is the final verse, the simple harmonization of the
tune for which Luther originally wrote the text. We knew
it before we heard the cantata. Heard at the end, it has the
effect of a monumental benediction. Bach must have antici-
pated the effect of climax which would be given by the
massive simplicity of this chorale. The six verses that precede
it are, in a sense, a prelude to its magnificence.

Bach and his congregation must have felt at the close of
the cantata that both composer and listeners had had a suc-
cessful day. Many of the listeners, perhaps, had missed some
of the intricacies of the work, but its grandeur would grow
on them. And they were not unused to intricate music; their
musicians served it to them often. Bach often played fugues
for them on the organ, and a fugue is intricate.

What is a fugue? It is, above all, not a formula. Prospec-
tive composers have to study it as though it were a formula,
but the listener may regard it simply as a vehicle which uses
in characteristic patterns the devices for weaving an expres-
sive musical texture which have been observed in the cantata.
Some of the verses of the cantata approach fugue form.
They all make a f ugal use of the thematic material. To think


about them as fugues would be a mistake from the stand-
point of the listener. In all probability Bach did not think
about them in that way. He was using his manner of making
music to develop an expressive setting for his text.

The most characteristic aspect of the fugue texture is its
beginning. Each voice there may be from two to six
begins the subject afresh when it enters, and at a new entry
of the subject each voice already sounding goes on with the
counter subject. The second entry of the subject is called
the answer, because it comes on a different level from the
first announcement of the subject. The fact that subject and
answer occur on different levels sets up for the fugue a basic
pattern in which the whole fabric moves, in its middle sec-
tion, to the key of the level on which the answer appeared.
For its last section it moves back to the original key. The
last section is marked, too, by a re-entry of the voices in an
imitative procedure similar to that of the beginning.

The listener has the feeling at the beginning of a fugue
that the parts of the texture are taking their places and
speaking their pieces one by one.

subject countersubject

answer<subject) countersubject

subject countersubject continuationdnotives from subject

and countersubject)

The movement of the Bach Concerto for two violins that
was studied in Chapter 5 is a fugue with an accompaniment.
The two solo violins enter characteristically:


ft Lta
rin ,’- m r r7?>
f | subject ‘

answer- a fifth higher than subject


When all voices have entered, the melodic lines in the con-
tinuation grow out of the motives of the subject matter.

Music, like any other language, can be used for many
purposes. We have studied music which was composed for a
high purpose. We have tried to learn to perceive that pur-
pose in our listening. In the twentieth century, great music
is accessible in a physical sense to nearly everyone. In any
other sense it lies open only to those who will learn its lan-
guage. Such music, if the listener will but give it the oppor-
tunity, can speak to him of an ideal world where the
struggles and disappointments and achievements of man-
kind are transmuted into another kind of reality into elo-
quent fabrics of sound which lend their perfection to what-
ever of human striving and aspiration they express and
which thus create for a moment not the illusion but the
actuality of perfection.


Bach Cantata No. 4, “Christ lay fast bound in Death’s
harsh chain”

Victor M-iio




THE sounds that constitute the raw material out of
which music is made range approximately from 28 vi-
brations per second to 5000. The ear can perceive slightly
lower and much higher sounds sounds which function as
overtones and thus determine tone-color, but which are not
directly notated for music. Thus the range of sounds notated
for musical use because they can be played on musical instru-
ments is fairly wide. Not all of the distinctly perceptible
sounds within this range are usable for Western music, be-
cause no systematic relationship can be established among
them. One sound by itself is not music, nor are many
sounds if they lack perceptible relationship.

The musical experience of the Western world Chinese
and Hindu musicians are among those who have had differ-
ent experience has led to the establishment of a definite
musical system within the range of sounds which has been
described in terms of vibrations. This system is perceptible
to all of us who have been conditioned by our participation
in Western musical culture. It consists of a means of identi-
fying sounds, an organization of sounds on the basis of scales
and keys, and a means of notation.




For the purposes of music, sounds are identified by letters.
Because the whole system of musical relationships is based
on the repetition of the octave, only seven letter names, the
first seven letters of the alphabet, are necessary. Thus the
letter A represents a series of sounds separated by octaves,
for which the vibration speeds are as follows:

3520 (highest A)




27^2 (lowest A)

The letter C in like manner represents another series of




256 (middle C)
32 (lowest C)

It should be noticed that, beginning at the bottom of each
column, the next highest number is always twice as big as
the one below. In terms of vibrations, this means that the
sound of any tone in the series is produced by a vibration


just twice as fast as that of the next lowest tone with the
same letter name. This relationship between octaves the
distance from any tone to the nearest tone with the same
letter name can be represented in terms of vibration speed
by the formula 2:1. The physical properties of such closely
related sounds account for the fact that our musical system
is organized on the basis of octave repetition. Because of that
fact we need only seven letter names.

Sounds that are related to each other in the octave rela-
tionship are not, for musical purposes, totally different
sounds. A soprano and a bass singing the same melody, for
instance, will hardly be conscious that they are singing an
octave apart. Each will be singing sounds which have the
same letter name.


The background of the discovery of the diatonic series is
obscure. Probably it was used for musical purposes before
it was completely understood. Whatever its derivation, how-
ever, it furnishes patterns for the sounds within the range
of each octave of our musical system. When the octave was
first perceived as a musical relationship which could be ex-
pressed in terms of a mathematical formula, the discovery
led to an examination, in terms of similar formulas, of other
musical relationships. That examination located, within each
octave, an intermediate tone which implies the whole dia-
tonic scale pattern. The new tone within the octave had the
relationship to the lower tone of the octave of 3:2. It was,
in modern terminology, the fifth.

Once the relationships of the fifth and the octave were
defined, the diatonic series could be produced by moving



around a circle of fifths. Beginning with C (256), for in-
stance, the process would be as follows: The fifth below C
is K The fifth above C is G. Moving up by fifths from G
gives the following row: G, D 3 A, E, B. Making use of the
octave relationship and placing the tones consecutively gives
the diatonic series:






This series of tones represented for the present by their
letter names falls into a distinct ladderlike pattern which
is called diatonic. The pattern arises out of the fact that the
intervals between the steps in the series are of two kinds,
large and small whole steps and half steps. The half steps
fall between E and F and between B and C. All the other
intervals are whole steps. A diagram of the pattern looks
like a ladder, with the rungs closer together in two places
than in any others:

– F




As a pattern for the diatonic series, this ladder can be
used at any position in our musical system. Moving it, how-
ever, entails the use of sounds other than those represented
by the simple letter names. To understand the derivation of
these other sounds we must turn to a discussion of the chro-
matic series.


As musicians used the diatonic patterns, they discovered
that it was necessary to locate half steps within all of the
whole-step intervals. Because the letter names already had
been used in their alphabetical order to describe the posi-
tions within the diatonic series, another terminology was
necessary. Out of this necessity grew our rather confusing
use of the sharp and flat signs. If the half step below a dia-
tonic position is to be used as a substitute for the sound with
the simple letter name, it will be known by the name of that
sound with the word “flat” added. Thus when the half step
below B is substituted for B, it will be called B flat. If, simi-
larly, the half step above a diatonic position is to be substi-
tuted, it will be known by the name of that sound with the
word “sharp” added. Thus if the half step above F is to be
substituted for F, it will be called F sharp.

The row of tones which includes all of the half steps
within the octave is called the chromatic series. Its structure
can be shown by a diagram. Notice that each position not
shown in the diagram of the diatonic series (and other posi-
tions too, in substitute relationships) may be known by
either of two names.



Cf 1a +

is snarp
B flat..
A sharp
A flat .
G sharp
G flat
F sharp
Ft 1_A …
E flat ..
D sharp
D flat
C sharp

It should be noted that the chromatic positions can be
explained also on the basis of a continuation of the circle of
fifths with which the diatonic positions were located. A con-
tinuation of the circle past seven positions produces the
chromatic tones:

Cflat|Gflat Dflat Aflat Eflat Bflat PC G D A E B F sharp G sharp D sharp A sharp | E sharp

The picture of musical fundamentals would be compli-
cated unnecessarily by an attempt to show why F sharp and
G flat, for instance, are not absolutely identical. For all prac-
tical purposes they are; by a long-standing compromise be-
tween natural fact and practical necessity, which is called
equal temperament, the octave is divided into twelve equal
half -step intervals the chromatic series.


Long before an understanding of musical materials had
progressed to the point where the chromatic series was recog-
nized, musicians found that the preservation and perform-
ance of their music necessitated a notation which would be


more usable than the letter names of sounds. Our notation
has developed in conjunction with expanding concepts of
our musical system; it contains some anomalies which mu-
sicians are forced to tolerate largely because of tradition.

The symbols by which music is notated consist of the fol-

i. The Staff

The staff has five lines. Each line and each intervening
space represent a pitch position:

The lines and spaces of the staff have no definite meaning,
however, until a clef is placed upon the staff.

2. The Clef

The clef is always seen at the left end of the staff. Three
clefs are in common use in present-day music.

G clef (commonly called “treble” or “soprano” clef) :
This clef locates the G above middle C by its position
on the staff.

Thus, with the G clef placed on the staff, the lines and
spaces take on definite meaning:

F clef (commonly called the “bass” clef) : 9 :
This clef locates the F below middle C. The F line runs
between the two dots. ^

With the F clef placed on the staff, the lines and spaces


take on a definite meaning, a meaning which does not over-
lap with that of the G clef.

Music for the piano is commonly written on two staffs.
When two staffs are used, with the G clef on the upper and
the F clef on the lower, the pitch which is common to both
is notated by an added or ledger line below the upper or
above the lower staff. Ledger lines may be used at will with
any clef. They and the spaces between them will represent
a continuation up or down of the relationship established by
the clef on the staff to which they are connected.


The C clef locates middle C. It is used in two positions. It
is commonly called the “alto” clef when it locates middle
C on the third line of the staff:

When it locates middle C on the next to the top line of the
staff it is commonly called the “tenor” clef.

3. Notes

Individual sounds are represented by placing notes in the
desired position on the staff. Notes are used, however, not
only to locate pitch, but to indicate duration. The scale of


duration values, which are represented relatively, is as fol-

whole note o o = p p

half note p n – ~

quarter note j C = |T

eighthnote p f ‘ ?

sixteenth note p ? ‘
thirty-second note
sixty-fourth note

From this chart it will be seen that each note is equal in
length to two of the next shorter notes. When it is necessary
to show a division in multiples of three each note is followed
by a dot. Thus a dotted whole note is equal in duration to
three half notes; a dotted quarter note equals three eighth

O- i O O O

f ‘ 8 91 r r LJLT

The dot has the effect, then, of lengthening by half as much
again the note which it follows. Naturally it does not cover
all of the necessities which may arise. If, for instance, it is
desired that the length of time normally allotted to a given
note be divided into three equal parts, the sign indicating
triplets must be used:


J – /TJ


4. Rests

The entire system of notes indicating duration of sounds
is duplicated in a similar system of “rests” indicating dura-
tion of silences. The system of rests may be diagrammed as

whole rest “* p

half rest *
quarter rest f

eighth rest 7

sixteenth rest 7

thirty-second rest y

sixty-fourth rest 3

Rests may be dotted and may be used with the sign of
triplet value in exactly the same manner as notes.

j. Beat and Measure

The basic time unit in music is the beat. The forward
motion of music is measured by the more or less regular re-
currence of strong and weak beats. The pattern formed by
the succession of strong and weak beats is the measure. Its
length is determined by the number of beats it contains.
Each measure is marked off by a bar line.

6. Time Signature

The time signature states the relative duration values and
the length of the measure. It consists of two numbers, or a
conventional sign understood to replace two numbers, at the
right of the clef at the beginning of any given piece of
music. If there are to be four beats in the measure and a
quarter note is to receive one beat, the time signature will
indicate the number of beats in the measure with the number


4 in the numerator and the kind of note to get one beat
with the number 4 in the denominator:

Here is a table of commonly used time signatures:
4 beats to a measure, J (4) gets one beat

3 beats to a measure, J (4) gets one beat

2 beats to a measure, J (2) gets one beat


6 beats to a measure, J) (8) gets one beat

2 beats to a measure, J (4) gets one beat

3 beats to a measure, J> (8) gets one beat

12 beats to a measure, J* (8) gets one beat


7. Indication of Speed

Two methods are used, often together, to indicate the
speed at which beats will recur. The oldest method makes
use of a word or group of words which have a traditionally
accepted meaning. Although composers would probably pre-
fer to use their own language, the conventional language for
indicating speed of movement is Italian. Thus largo means
very slow, adagio means slow, andante means moderately
slow, allegretto means moderately fast, allegro means fast or
lively, presto means very fast.

The second method for indicating speed is based on the
use of the metronome, a clocklike device which may be ad-
justed to click any required number of times a minute. The
metronome was invented by Maelzel. The composer uses
the abbreviation for the words Maelzel Metronome (M.M.) ,
followed by the note which gets one beat, the sign of equal-
ity, and a number which indicates the number of beats per
minute. The occurrence of two beats each second, or 120
per minute, with a quarter note getting one beat, would be
indicated thus: M.M.J=i2o

8. Sharps, Flats, Naturals

The use of chromatic alterations necessitates a method for
their indication in notation.

To raise by one half step the pitch indicated by any note
on the staff, the sharp sign S is placed before it.

To lower by one half step the pitch indicated by any note
on the staff, the flat sign !> is placed before it.

To raise by two half steps the pitch indicated by any note
on the staff, the double sharp sign x is placed before it.

To lower by two half steps the pitch indicated by any
note on the staff, the double flat sign bb is placed before it.


To remove the effect of any sharp or flat sign, the natural
sign k is used.

9. Key Signature

Key signature & part of the mechanics of notation, and as
such must be discussed in that connection. It will be ex-
plained at this point, however, in terms only of what already
has been covered.

Key refers, fundamentally, to the position within the
chromatic series of the particular seven-tone diatonic series
which is to govern any given piece of music. The letter name
for the sound which appears at the bottom of the diatonic
pattern is the name of the key.

It will be remembered that the staff was originally con-
ceived to notate the diatonic series in which each sound is
represented by an unmodified letter name. As the sounds of
the chromatic series became available and the possibility of
moving the diatonic series to other pitches became apparent,
the staff itself needed to be altered. This alteration was
brought about by placing the necessary sharps or flats in a
key signature at the immediate right of the clef on the staff.

At this point it will help to return to the diagrams of the
diatonic and chromatic series.






Dv r
< ‘

ct <
A v
^ At

The ladder in the center represents the chromatic series, ex-
tended over more than an octave. The ladders on each side
represent the diatonic series. Examine first the one at the
right. With its lowest rung placed opposite D it points out
the diatonic series D E F* G A B C* D. To represent a
diatonic series beginning on D, then, the F line and C space
on the staff (using the G clef) would have to be raised
one half step. The key signature for this series on D would,
in consequence, have two sharps:




The same process applies to the ladder on the left. Its bottom
rung is placed opposite Dk The ladder points out the
series Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db. Thus the lines or spaces
for D, E, G, A, B must be lowered. The key signature will
contain five flats:
Db Eb


These diagrams have been used simply to demonstrate the
source of the key signature as a part of notation. The key
signature uses sharps or flats to alter the pitch meaning of
the lines and spaces of the staff. That alteration continues,
not only for the staff but for all ledger lines and spaces that
may be added on either side of it.


We have been using the expression “diatonic series” in
order to establish concepts which are prerequisite to the de-
scription and understanding of scale and key. A scale is a
series of sounds in any pattern for which recognizable rela-
tionships can be established. The diatonic series is one very
important scale pattern. The music which we ordinarily
hear makes use of several scale patterns or, more simply,

1. The Major Scale

Here we meet another name for what we have been call-
ing the diatonic series. It is the familiar do re mi fa sol la ti do
scale, with half steps between mi and fa, the third and fourth
steps of the scale, and between ti and do, the seventh and
first steps of the scale.

2. The Minor Scales

It is possible, if the relationships can be established, to use
any consecutive seven steps of the diatonic series as a pattern
for a scale. By extending the diatonic series two octaves it
will be clear that any seven-tone segment may function as
a scale without alteration. Only one such segment is in com-
mon use. It begins and ends on the sixth step of the major
scale, and it is the basis for all our minor scales: the natural


minor scale. Basically it is a rearrangement of the intervals
of the major scale:

major scale

major scale


6 \










natural minor scale

Side by side, the differences of the patterns show plainly:


natural minor



-When a major scale and a minor scale are both made up
) the same sounds, the difference being simply that of pat-
:ern, they are said to be related. Thus each major scale has
ts relative minor. If the major scale pattern covers the
:ounds represented byCDEFGABC, the relative natural
ninor will cover the same sounds arranged in a different
pattern: ABCDEFGA.

The natural minor has some characteristics which are
Irawbacks to its usefulness. By introducing slight changes
ivhich do not spoil its feeling of “minorness,” two other
types of minor have resulted. The first of these is the har-
monic minor. For the harmonic minor scale the seventh step
;>f the natural minor scale is raised one half step:

harmonic, minor

The second modification of the natural minor is called the
melodic minor. Here the scale has one pattern ascending and
another descending. For the ascending scale, steps six and
seven of the natural minor are raised one half step. The de-
scending scale is the unchanged natural minor:







melodic minor

The major scale and the various forms of the minor scale are
all considered to be diatonic patterns. As patterns they may
be used at any pitch level within the chromatic series.

3. Tonality

The sounds which make up the pattern of any scale, major
or minor, fall into a relationship to each other which consti-
tutes a kind of musical solar system. Those relationships have
become crystallized in a name for each scale step which de-
scribes its functional relationship to the scale as a whole:








leading tone







The tonic is the end tone, the final, the governing sound
of the scale. Its position defines the tonality, the level, of the


The supertonic has the function which its name implies.
It is immediately above the tonic, and it has a tendency, both
melodic and harmonic, to point toward the tonic.

The mediant is so named because it falls halfway between
the tonic and the dominant. It is a stepping stone for move-
ment between the two.

The subdominant is the sound which dominates the scale
series from five steps below the tonic. It has a strong point-
ing relationship to the tonic and a somewhat weaker rela-
tionship to the dominant.

The dominant governs the direction of movement within
the scale from the position five steps above the tonic. Next
to the tonic, it is the most important position in the scale.

The submediant is the position halfway between the tonic
and the subdominant. It serves as a stepping stone between
tonic and subdominant.

The leading tone points strongly to the tonic from below.

This series of relationships, only the barest outline of
which is indicated by the functional names, constitutes one
important aspect of key for which the word tonality is often
used. Whether a scale is in major or minor mode, the sounds
within it are drawn together into a strong and definite rela-
tionship by tonality.

4. Key

We have now established the fundamental characteristics
of scales and tonality. Any scale, and the tonality of which it
is the skeleton, may start at any of the pitch levels repre-
sented by the sounds of the chromatic series. The level at
which it is used is the key. The key is identified by the letter
name of the sound upon which the tonic occurs. Thus, if
the tonic of a major scale pattern falls on C, it .will be the
C major scale, and the music will be in the key of C. If the


tonic of any minor scale falls on E flat, for instance, it will
be an E flat minor scale and the music will be in the key of
E flat minor.

5. Key and Key Signature

Key signature has been discussed as a means of changing
the pitch meaning of the positions on the staff. It is obvious
that such changes are made in order to match the pitch
meaning of the staff positions with the key of the music.
The fact that the key may be either major or minor has an
important implication with regard to key signature. Because
the diatonic series may be used in either a major or a minor
pattern, every key signature will fit two keys, the major and
its relative minor. An illustration will make this clear:

major relative minor

C major A minor (natural)

Ml Q

D major B minor (natural)

A major F sharp minor(natural)

_ rt -& Q fl ft

1/ ^ ” n ‘

m* ” ” – :

tJ *s

E flat major C minor (natural)


One other point should be mentioned in this connection.
A major key and a minor key on the same level that is,
having the same letter name will have different key signa-
tures. Major and minor keys which have the same tonic are
said to have a tonic relationship:


major tonic minor

A major A minor (natural)

** -<-_ . * ” e “-
C major C minor (natural)



-^j -o- ** eJ


i. Intervals

An interval is the distance between two sounds, whether
they are heard consecutively or simultaneously. Our discus-
sion will be limited to the simultaneous relationship.

Intervals are measured by counting the distance in scale
steps from the lower to the upper sound of the interval in
terms of the major scale of which the lower sound would be
tonic. The interval will have, first, a numerical name. If the
bottom sound is C and the top sound A, the interval will
be a sixth:

Theoretically, intervals may be given any numerical name
that does not exceed the pitch range of musical sounds;
practically they may be unisons, seconds, thirds, fourths,
fifths, sixths, sevenths, octaves, ninths, tenths, elevenths, etc.
Because of the differences between the major and minor
patterns and because, too, of the possibilities of chromatic
alteration, a numerical name is not enough to complete the
identification of an interval There may be, for example,
several different sizes of thirds or sixths. The size of the in-
tervals between the tonic and the succeeding scale steps in
the major scale are taken as the norm:


unison, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, octave
perfect major major perfect perfect major major perfect

A major interval made smaller by one half step becomes
a minor interval:

major sixth minor sixth

A -minor interval made larger by one half step becomes a
major interval:

minor third major third

A perfect interval or a minor interval, made smaller by
one half step, becomes a diminished interval:

perfect fifth diminished fifth

minor seventh diminished seventh

o or

A perfect interval or a major interval, made larger by one
half step, becomes an augmented interval:

perfect fifth augmented fifth

t> 4* t) *-e- tU.

major third augmented third

2. Interval Inversion

An interval may be inverted in two ways. The lower
sound may be placed an octave higher, or the upper sound
may be placed an octave lower:


By inversion, unisons become octaves;

seconds become sevenths;

thirds become sixths;

fourths become fifths;

fifths become fourths;

sixths become thirds;

sevenths become seconds;

octaves become unisons.
By inversion, major intervals become minor;

minor intervals become major;

augmented intervals become diminished;

diminished intervals become augmented;

perfect intervals remain perfect (hence the use
of the word “perfect” in the nomencla-
ture) .

3. Triads

The simplest complete chord consists of three sounds, a
root, a third, and a fifth:

The seven triads belonging to any key are built on the
seven scale steps of that key. Each triad has one of the scale
steps as its root and consists of that root with the third and
the fifth above it. Each triad gets its name from the func-
tional name of the scale step which is its root. In minor the
scale steps of the harmonic minor are the root tones for the


C major

& &

I i
g- |

5 ft
o” g
P g-
{3 S-

The triads which appear normally in major and minor fall
into four classes: major, minor, diminished, augmented.

A major triad is composed of root, major third, perfect
fifth. The triads on the tonic, dominant, and subdominant in
major, and on the dominant and submediant in minor, are
major triads.^

A minor triad is composed of root, minor third, perfect
fifth. The triads on the supertonic, mediant, and submediant
in major, and on the tonic and subdominant in minor, are
minor triads.

A diminished triad is composed of root, minor third, di-
minished fifth. The triad on the leading tone in major, and
the triads on the supertonic and leading tone in minor, are
diminished triads.

An augmented triad is composed of root, major third,
augmented fifth. The triad on the mediant in minor is an
augmented triad.

Triads are used as the basis for four-tone chords by using
one of the tones of the triad again in the octave relationship.
This device is called doubling. Usually the root of the triad
is doubled:


4, Triad Inversion

The intervals within triads may be inverted without caus-
ing the triad to lose its identity. The root of the triad remains
its root even when, in an inversion, it is not the lowest sound.
Thus a triad on any step of the scale retains its functional
identity when it is inverted.

Two inversions of triads are possible. The first inversion
is the form of the triad in which the third is the lowest
sound. The second inversion has the fifth at the bottom:

root position first inversion second inversion

5. Chords of the Seventh

It is possible to build a chord of the seventh on any scale
step. The chord is composed of the root, third, fifth, and
seventh. The seventh chords most commonly heard are those
on the dominant and leading tone in both major and minor.

Seventh chords are susceptible to inversion. Because they
have one more tone than triads they have one more inver-

6. Altered Chords

Triads and seventh chords may be altered chromatically
as the composer desires. Altered chords are usually consid-
ered to be substitutes for the chord which would normally
appear in the diatonic position of the altered chord.


accumulation of musical materials,

acoustics, 25
active harmony, 71-72
Adams, Henry, quoted, 163
allemande, 231
altered chords, 343
American Jazz M.^^,sic, Hobson,

quotation from, 56-57
appreciation, definition of, 3, 4
art song, 226-227
associations, power of music to

make, 172-73
“Atlas” (Schubert), 227
augmented intervals, 340
augmented triad, 342

Bach, 229-32; “Brandenburg” Con-
certo, 231; Cantata No. 4, 73-
74, 295-313; Chaconne for solo
violin, 232; Concerto for two
violins, 60-62, 314-15; con-
certos, 230-31; “Crucifixus”
from Mass in B minor, 232;
fugues, 230; “Goldberg” Varia-
tions, 232; Passacaglia in C
minor, 232; piano music, 228;
Prelude and Fugue, 98; Sinfonia,
Cantata No. 4, 73-74, 295-313;
violin music, 228; Well-Tem-
pered Clavichord, 230

bass clarinet, 14, 18

bass drum, 15, 22

bassoon, 14, 18; double or contra,

*4> 19
bass trombone, 15, 21


bass viol, 15, 25

beat, 328

Beethoven: chamber music, 229;
Coriolan overture, 225; Egmont
overture, 225; Fidelio overture,
225; Leonora overtures, 225;
“Sonata Pathetique,” 122-125;
orchestra, 99; piano music, 228;
Seventh Symphony, 99-100;
symphonies, 219; Symphony No.
i in C major. Op. 21, 191-213

“Bella figlia delTamore,” ‘Bdgoletto
(Verdi), 57-59

bells, orchestral, 23

Berlioz, Hector, 220-21, 224; use
of “fixed idea,” 221; use of “Dies
Irae,” 221; “Fantastic” Sym-
phony, 2 20- 2 i

bolero, 36

bouree, 231

Brahms: chamber music, 229; com-
parison with Tchaikovsky, 294;
First Symphony, 272-94; piano
music, 228; songs, 227; sym-
phonies, 222

“Brandenburg” Concertos (Bach),

*3 J

brasses, 13, 19-22
bridge passage, 1 20 ; in sonata form,

Bruckner, symphonies, 223

Byrd, 98

Cantata No. 4, “Christ lay fast
bound in Death’s harsh chain”
(Bach), 73-74* 295-313


castanet, 23

celesta, 23

‘cello. See violoncello

chaconne, 231; Chaconne for solo
violin (Bach), 232

chamber music, 229

chimes, 23

Chopin, piano music, 228

chord, altered, 343

chord of the seventh, 343

chord, triad, 342-43

u Christ lag in Todesbanden”
(“Christ lay fast bound in
Death’s harsh chain” Bach) ,
73-74, 294-313

“Christmas” Concerto (Corelli),

chromatic harmony, 74-75

chromaticism, Haydn’s, 81-83

chromatic series, 323-24

circle of fifths, 321-22

clarinet, 14, 17; bass, 14, 1 8

clavicembalo, 23

clef, 325-26

closing episode, sonata form, 146

coda, rondo, 120

concertos: Bach, 230-31; “Bran-
denburg” Concertos (Bach),
231; “Christmas” Concerto (Co-
relli), 231; Concerto for two
violins (Bach), 60-62, 314-15;
Concerto in A minor for piano
and orchestra (Schumann) ,
221-22; Nardini, 231; poly-
phonic, 230; solo, 229; Tartini,
231; Vivaldi, 231

consonant harmony, 73-74

contra bassoon, 14, 19

Corelli: “Christmas” Concerto,
231; concertos, 231; violin
music, 229

Coriolan overture (Beethoven),

“Crucifixus” from Mass in B minor

(Bach), 232
cymbals, 15, 23

“Dance of the Flutes” (Tchaikov-
sky), 11-13

dance rhythms, 35-37

“Death and the Maiden” (Schu-
bert), 227; Variations, 84-94

“Death and Transfiguration”
(Strauss), 226

development: Brahms’s First Sym-
phony, first movement, 280;
fourth movement, 280-91; so-
nata form, 145, 147

diatonic harmony, 74-75; series,

“Dies Irae,” used by Berlioz in
“Fantastic” Symphony, 221

diminished intervals, 340

diminished triad, 342

dissonance, Haydn’s use of, 81-83

dissonant harmony, 73-74

dominant, 65-67, 69-70, 336, 337

“Don Juan,” poem by Nikolaus
Lenau, 242; tone poem (Strauss),
226, 242-52

“Double, The” (Schubert) , 227

double bass. See bass viol

double bassoon, 14, 19

double flat, 33

double sharp, 330

drum, bass, 15, 22; kettle, 15, 22;
snare, 15, 22

Duparc, songs, 227

Dvorak: symphony “From the New
World,” 28, 223

emotion, relation between music

and, I75-9 8
“Emperor” Variations (Haydn),

English horn, 14, 17



Entr’acte from Kosamunde (Schu-
bert), 116-20

“Erlking, The” (Schubert), 227
Ewyanthe overture (Weber), 225
exposition, sonata form, 145, 146-

expression, 165-79

Faure, songs, 227

Fidelio overture (Beethoven), 225

fifth, 321-22

first theme, sonata form, 145

“fixed idea” (Berlioz), 221

flat, 323, 330; double flat, 331

flute, 14, 1 6; sound wave pattern
of, 12

flying Dutchman, The, overture
(Wagner), 225

folia, 231

form, 106-14; dance forms, 231;
fugue, 313-15; function to lis-
tener, 100-07, 113-14; harmonic,
no-n; minuet, 126-28, 231;
minuet from Beethoven’s First
Symphony, 197-98; polyphonic
concerto, 230; rondo, 115, 125,
231; sonata, 142-50, 231; sonata
in Beethoven’s First Symphony,
191-213; sonata in Brahms’s First
Symphony, first movement, 273,
275-80; fourth movement, 274-
75, 284-92; ternary, no, 114,
231; ternary in Brahms’s First
Symphony, second movement,
274, 282-84; three-section, no;
symphonic poem, 250-51

“Four Minutes and Twenty Sec-
onds” (Harris), 31

fox trot, 35

Franck, Cesar, Symphony in D
minor, 28, 99-100, 222; chamber
music, 229

Franz, songs, 227

Freischutz, Der, overture (Weber) ,


French horn, 15, 19
fugue, 313-15; Bach, 230

gavotte, 231

“Gipsy Rondo” (Haydn), 120-22

glockenspiel, 23

“Goldberg” Variations (Bach), 232

gong, 15, 23

Gotterdammerung (Wagner), 255

“Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel”

(Schubert), 227
Grieg, songs, 227
“Guidepost, The” (Schubert), 227

Handel: concertos, 231; The Mes-
siah, 103

Hanson, symphonies, 223

harmonic form, uo-n; minor
scale, 335; style, 99

harmony, 9, 63-76, 77-94, 339-435
active-rest, 71-72; augmented
intervals, 340; augmented triad,
342; chord of the seventh, 343;
consonant-dissonant, 73-74; dia-
tonic-chromatic, 74-75; dimin-
ished intervals, 340; diminished
triad, 342; interval inversion,
341; intervals, 339-41; major in-
tervals, 340; major-minor, 69-
71; major triad, 342; minor in-
tervals, 340; minor triad, 342;
perfect intervals, 340; root tone,
341-43; triads, 341-43; triad in-
version, 343; wide-narrow, 68

harp, 15, 24

harpsichord, 23

Harris, Roy: “Four Minutes and
Twenty Seconds,” 31; “Sym-
phony: 1933,” 31; symphonies,

Haydn: chamber music, 229; dates,
218; “Gipsy Rondo,” 120-22;


String Quartet in C major, Op.

76, No. 3, 78-83; symphonies,


“Hero’s Life, A” (Strauss), 226-27
Hobson, “Wilder, American Jazz

Music, quotation from, 56-57
Hymn to St. John the Baptist

(plain song), 97

instruments, 14-30

intervals, 339-41; augmented, 340;
diminished, 340; inversion of,
341; major, 340; minor, 340;
perfect, 340

introduction, sonata form, 148-49

inversion, intervals, 341; triad, 343

jazz, 56-57

kettledrum, 15, 22

key, 64, 331-32, 338; signature,

33*-33> 338, 3395 major, 338-

39; minor, 33 8 ~39
keyboard music. See piano music

“La donna e mobile,” Rigoletto
(Verdi), 41-45

Lamartine, Meditations, poetiques
et religieuses, 237

Lasso, 98; “Mon coeur se recom-
mande a vous” (“My heart com-
mends itself to thee”), 108-09

leading motives, 254-55; Act I of
The Valkyrie (Wagner), 257-71

Lenau, Nikolaus, “Don Juan,” 242

Leonora overtures (Beethoven) ,

“Les Preludes” (Liszt), 225, 237-


lesson, 143

letter names of sounds, 320
“Linden Tree, The” (Schubert),


Liszt: “Les Preludes,” 225, 237-42;

piano music, 228
literature of music, 217
Lohengrin Prelude (Wagner), 225
Luther, Martin, 295

Maelzel metronome, 330

Mahler, symphonies, 223

major: harmony, 69-70; intervals,
340; key signature, 340; scale,
333; triad, 342

minuet, 126-36; form, 231; String
Quartet in A minor, Op. 29,
Schubert, 135-36; String Quar-
tet in D minor (K.V. 421, Mo-
zart), 128-31; Symphony No.
i, Op. 21 (Beethoven), 197-98;
Symphony No. 40 in G minor
(Mozart), 132-33

Mass in B minor, “Crucifixus”
(Bach), 232

mazurka, 36

measure, 33-34, 328

mediant, 336, 337

Meditations, poetiques et religieuses
(Lamartine), 237

Meister singer, Die, Prelude (Wag-
ner), 225; “Prize Song,” 103

melodic line, 39-52; minor scale,
335-36; motive, 42-52

melody, 8, 9, 39-52

Mendelssohn: chamber music, 229;
“Italian” and “Scotch” Sym-
phonies, 221

Messiah, The (Handel), 103

metronome, 330

minor: harmonic, 335; harmony,
69-70; intervals, 340; key sig-
nature, 338-39; natural, 333-34;
melodic, 335-36; scales, 333-36;
triad, 342

minuet, 126-36; Beethoven’s First
Symphony, 197-98; form, 231;
Symphony No. 40 in G minor,



Mozart, 132-33; String Quartet
in D minor (K.V. 421, Mo-
zart), 128-31; String Quartet in
A minor, Op. 29 (Schubert),


“Mon cceur se recommande a vous”
(Lasso), 108-09

monophonic texture, 54

motive, leading, 254-55; melodic,
42-52; “sleep magic” from The
Valkyrie (Wagner), 68-69; Act
I of The Valkyrie, 257-71

Mozart: chamber music, 229; dates,
218; orchestra, 99; piano music,
228; Quintet in G minor (K.V.
516): first movement, 181-86;
fourth movement, 187; third
movement, 187-90; Quartet in
D minor (K.V. 421), minuet,
128-31; symphonies, 218-19;
Symphony No. 40 in G minor:
first movement, 151-57; second
(slow) movement, 158-61; min-
uet, 132-33; fourth movement,

musical expression, 165-79

musical form, 106-14

musical meaning, 171-79

musical thought, 165-79

music: as language, 5, 13, 315; lit-
erature, 217; materials of, 7;
drama, Wagnerian, 253-71; value

of, 4. 5
musical materials, accumulation of,

musical sounds, 319-21; musical

style, 95-105; musical texture,

“My heart commends itself to thee”

(Lasso), 108-09

“My Lone Abode” (Schubert) , 227
“My Name is Solomon Levi,” 5 5

Nardini: concertos, 231; violin
music, 229

narrow harmony, 68

natural, 331

natural minor scale, 333-34

notation, 324-33; beat, 328; clef,
325-26; double flat, 331; double
sharp, 330; flat, 330; key signa-
ture, 331-33; measure, 328; nat-
ural, 331; notes, 326-27; rests,
328; sharp, 330; speed indica-
tion, 330; staff, 325, time, 328;
time signature, 328-29

notes, 326-27

oboe, 14, 17

“O cessata di piagarmi” (Scarlatti) ,

octave relationship, 321

“O no longer seek to pain me”
(Scarlatti), 10

opera, 227-28; Wagnerian, 253-54

orchestra, of Beethoven, of Mozart,
of Wagner, 99

orchestral bells, 23

orchestral instruments, list of, 14-
15; orchestral score, 13-15; or-
chestral style, 99

organ music: Passacaglia in C minor
(Bach), 232; Prelude and Fugue
(Bach), 98

organ point, Haydn’s use of, 82-
83; Schubert’s use of, 91

overture, 225; Coriolan (Bee-
thoven), 225; Freischiitz, Der
(Weber), 225; Euryanthe
(Weber), 225; Flying Dutch-
man, The (Wagner), 225; Leo-
nora (Beethoven), 225; Oberon
(Weber), 225; Rjenzi (Wag-
ner), 225; Tannbauser (Wag-
ner) , 225

Palestrina, 98
partita, 143



passacaglia, 231; in C minor
(Bach), 23 z

pavane, 231

percussion, 13, 22-24

perfect intervals, 340

phrase, 107

piano, 15, 23-24

piano and violin sonatas, 228

piano and violoncello sonatas, 228

Piano Concerto in A minor (Schu-
mann), 221-22

piano: music for, 228, 229; Bach,
Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin,
Haydn, Liszt, Mozart, Schubert,
228; Schumann, 221-22, 228;
quartet, 229; quintet, 229; so-
natas by Beethoven, Haydn, Mo-
zart, 228; trio, 229

piccolo, 14, 1 6

plain song, Hymn to St. John the
Baptist, 97

polonaise, 36

polyphonic forms, 230; polyphonic
music: Cantata No. 4 (Bach),
295-313; concerto, 230; poly-
phonic style, 97-98; polyphonic
texture, 54-62

Pratt, Carroll C., quoted on the re-
lation of emotion to musical
value, 176-77

Prelude and Fugue (Bach), 98

preludes (Wagner) : Lohengrin)
225; Meistersinger, Die, 225;
Parsifal, 22$; Tristan and Isolda,
28, 47-51, 225

“Prize Song,” Die Meistersinger
(Wagner), 103

program music: defined, 221; “Les
Preludes” (Liszt), 237-42; “Don
Juan” (Strauss), 242-52

quartet: “Bella figlia dell’amore,”
Rigoletto (Verdi), 57-59; piano,
229; string, 229

Quintet in ( G minor (K.V. 516),
Mozart: first movement, 181-86;
fourth movement, 187-90; third
movement, 187-90

quintet: piano, 229; string, 229

quodlibet, 55-56

rattle, 23

recapitulation: sonata form, 145,


recording, possibilities of tone-color
in, 26

reeds, 13-19

rest harmony, 71-72

rests, 328

Rhine gold) The (Wagner), 255

rhythm, 8, 31-38, 35-37

rhythmic patterns, 35-37

rhythms, dance, 35-37

Rienzi overture (Wagner), 225

Rigoletto (Verdi) : “La donna e
mobile,” 41-45; quartet, “Bella
figlia deH’amore,” 57-59

Rimsky-Korsakov, “Scheherazade,”
27, 226

Ring of the Nibelungen, The
(Wagner), 25 5-56

“Rite of Spring” (Stravinsky) , 99-

rondo, 115-26; Entr’acte from Ro-
samunde (Schubert), 116-20,
231; form, 115; “Gipsy Rondo”
(Haydn), 120-22; “Sonata Pa-
thetique” (Beethoven), 123

root tone, 341-43

Rosamunde, Entr’acte (Schubert),

round, 54-56

“Sacre du Printemps” (Stravin-
sky), 99-100
sarabande, 231
saxophone, 19



scale: harmonic minor, 335; major,
333; melodic minor, 335-36;
minor, 333-36; natural minor,
334; pattern, 65

Scarlatti, A., “O cessata di pia-
garmi,” no

Scarlatti, D., sonatas of, 143

“Scheherazade” (Rimsky-Korsa-
kov), 27, 226

Schubert: songs, 227; chamber
music, 229; Entr’acte from Ro-
sawunde, 116-20; piano music,
228; String Quartet in A minor,
Op. 29, 135-36; String Quartet
in D minor, Op. posth., 84-94;
Symphony No. 8 in B minor,
“Unfinished,” 219-20; Sym-
phony No. 7 in C major, 220

Schumann: art songs, 227; chamber
music, 229; Piano Concerto in A
minor, 221-22; piano music, 228;
songs, 227

score, orchestral, 13-15

“Scotland’s Burning,” 54-55

second theme, sonata form, 145

seventh chords, 343

sharp, 323, 330; double, 330

Sibelius, symphonies, 223

Siegfried (Wagner), 255

signature: key, 33 r -33> 33 8 ~39;
major key, 338-39; minor key,
338-39; time, 328-29

Sinfonia, Cantata No. 4 (Bach),

Smith, Homer W., quotation from
Kamango on source of flow of
emotion, 168

snare drum, 15, 22

solo concerto, 229

sonata da camera, 143

sonata da chiesa, 143

sonata form, 142-61, 231; bridge
passage, 145; closing episode,
146; development, 145, 147; dia-

gram, 149; exposition, 145, 146-
47; first theme, 145; introduc-
tion, 148-50; key relationship be-
tween themes, 146-47; Quintet
in G minor (K.V. 516, Mozart),
1 8 1-86; recapitulation, 145, 147-
48 ; second theme, 145 ; Symphony
No. i, Op. 21 (Beethoven), 191-
213; Symphony No. i in C
minor (Brahms) : first move-
ment, 273, 275-80, fourth move-
ment, 274-75, 284-92; Sym-
phony No. 40 in G minor (Mo-
zart) : first movement, 151-57,
fourth movement, 158-60, sec-
ond movement, 158-61

sonatas: Beethoven, Haydn, Mozart,
228; piano, piano and violin,
228; piano and violoncello, 229;
Scarlatti, D., 143

“Sonata Pathetique” (Beethoven) ,

song, art, 226-27; “Atlas” (Schu-
bert), 227; Brahms, 227; “Death
and the Maiden” (Schubert),
227; “Double, The” (Schubert),
227; Duparc, 227; “Erlking,
The” (Schubert), 227; Faure,
227; Franz, 227; “Gretchen at
the Spinning “Wheel” (Schubert) ,
227; Grieg, 227; “Guidepost,
The” (Schubert), 227; “Linden
Tree, The” (Schubert), 227;
“My Lone Abode” (Schubert),
227; Schumann, 227; Strauss,
Richard, 227; Tchaikovsky, 227;
“Trout, The” (Schubert), 227;
“Wanderer, The” (Schubert),
227; Wolf, 227

sounds, 319-21; letter names, 320;
vibration speeds, 320; indication,

34? 3*
staff, 325



Strauss, Richard: “A Hero’s Life,”
226, 227; “Death and Transfigu-
ration,” 226; “Don Juan,” 226,
242-52; “Don Quixote,” 226;
“Till Eulenspiegel,” 226; songs,
227; symphonic poems, 226;
“Thus Spake Zarathustra,” 226,

22 ?
Stravinsky, “Rite of Spring”

(“Sacre du Printemps”), 99-100

string quartet, 229; String Quartet
in A minor, Op. 29 (Schubert) ,
Minuet, 135-36; in C major, Op.
76, No. 3 (Haydn); (K.V. 421,
Mozart), Minuet, 128-31; in D
minor, Op. posth. (Schubert),
84-94 _

string quintet, 229

strings, 13, 24-25

style: exercises in hearing, 102-05;
harmonic, 99; influenced by
composer’s purpose, 101-02; in-
fluenced by composer’s taste, 100-
01 ; musical, 95-105; orchestral,
99; polyphonic, 97-98

subdominant, 65-67, 69-70, 336,


suite, 143

supertonic, 336, 337

symphonic poem, 224-26, 237-52;
“Death and Transfiguration”
(Strauss), 226; “Don Juan”
(Strauss), 226, 242-52; “Don
Quixote” (Strauss), 226; form,
250-51; “Hero’s Life, A”
(Strauss), 226; “Les Preludes”
(Liszt), 225; “Scheherazade”
(Rimsky-Korsakov) , 27, 226;
Strauss, 226, 242-52; “Till Eu-
lenspiegel” (Strauss), 226;
“Thus Spake Zarathustra”
(Strauss) ,226

symphony, 218-24; Beethoven, 99-
100, 191-213, 219; Berlioz, 220-

21 ; Brahms, 222, 272-94; Bruck-
ner, 223; Dvorak, 28, 2235
“Fantastic” (Berlioz), 220-21;
“From the New World”
(Dvorak), 28, 233; Hanson,
223; Harris, 31, 223; Haydn,
218, 219; instruments of sym-
phony orchestra, 13, 30; Mahler,
223; Mendelssohn, 221; Mozart,
131-33, 151-57, 158-61, 218-19;
orchestra, 12-30; Schubert, 219-
20; Sibelius, 223; Tchaikovsky,
294; D minor (Franck), 28, 99-
100; “Italian” (Mendelssohn),
221; No. i in C major (Bee-
thoven), 191-213; No. i in C
minor (Brahms), 272-94; No. 7
in A major (Beethoven) , 99-100;
No. 7 in C major (Schubert),
219-20; No. 40 in G minor (Mo-
zart), 132-33, 151-57, 158-61;
“Scotch” (Mendelssohn), 221;
“Symphony: 1933” (Harris),
3 1 ; “Symphonic Fantastique”
(Berlioz), 220-21

“Trout, The” (Schubert), 227

tambourine, 15, 23

Tannhauser overture ( Wagner) ,

Tartini: concertos, 321; violin
music, 229

Tchaikovsky: songs, 227; compari-
son with Brahms, 294; “Dance
of the Flutes,” 111-13; Fifth
Symphony, 294; Sixth Sym-
phony, 294; songs, 227; sym-
phonies, 222

ternary form, 231; Brahms’s First
Symphony, second movement,
273-74, 281-82; third move-
ment, 274, 281-84; principle of
form, 114



texture: monophonic, 54; musical,

53-62; polyphonic, 54-62
thematic material, definition, 116
theme and variations, 77-94
theme transformation, 238-39
“The Spanish Cavalier,” 55
“Thus Spake Zarathustra”

(Strauss), 226

“Till Eulenspiegel” (Strauss), 226
time, 31, 32, 328; time signature,
m 33-34. 3^8-29
timpani, 15, 22
tom-tom, 23
tone-color, 8, 10-30; recognition,


tone poem. See symphonic poem
tonic, 65-67, 69-70, 336
tonality, 336

triads, 341-43; augmented, 342; di-
minished, 342; inversion, 343;
major, 342; minor, 342; root,

triangle, 15, 23

trio, piano, 229

Tristan and Isolda, Prelude (Wag-
ner), 47-51, 225; to Act III, 28

trombone, 15, 21; bass, 15, 21

“Trout, The” (Schubert), 227

trumpet, 15, 21

tuba, 15, 21

Twilight of the Gods, The (Wag-
ner), 255

Valkyrie, The (Wagner): Act I,
253-71; motives of Act I, 257-
71; motive of “sleep magic,” 68-
69; story of Act I, 255-69

variations, 231; “Goldberg” Vari-
ations (Bach), 77-94, 232; on
“Death and the Maiden” (Schu-
bert), 84-94; on “Emperor
Hymn” (Haydn), 78-83

Verdi, Rigoletto, “La donna e mo-

bile,” 41-45; “Bell figlia dell’a-

more,” 57-59
vibration speeds, 320
viola, 15, 24
violin, 15, 24; sound-wave pattern

Of, 12

violin music: Bach, 228; Chaconne
(Bach), 232; Corelli, 229; Nar-
dini, 229; Tartini, 229; Vivaldi,

violoncello, 15, 25; and piano so-
natas, 229

Vittoria, 98

Vivaldi: concertos, 231; violin
music, 229

Wagner, 227; Act I of The Valkyr-
ie, 253-71; concept of opera,
253-54; concept of theater, 253-
54; Flying Dutchman, The, over-
ture, 225; Gotterdammem.ng,
255; leading motives of Act I of
The Valkyrie, 257-71; Meister-
singer, Die, 103, 225; music
drama, 253-71; orchestra, 99;
Prelude to Act I, Tristan and
Isold a, 47-51, 225; Prelude to
Act III, Tristan and Isolda, 28;
Prelude to Lohengrin, 225; Prel-
ude to Die Meister singer, 225;
Prelude to Parsifal, 225; “Prize
Song,” Die Meistersinger, 103;
Rhine gold, The, 255; Rienzi
overture, 225; Ring of the
Nibehvngen, The, 255-56; Sieg-
fried, 255; Tristan and Isolda,
Prelude to Act I, 47-51, 225;
Tristan and Isolda, Prelude to
Act III, 28; Twilight of the
Gods, The, 255; use of leading
motives, 254-55; “Wotan’s Fare-
well and the Magic Fire,” from
The Valkyrie, 68-69

waltz, 35


“Wanderer, The” (Schubert), 227 wide harmony, 6%

Weber: Der Freischiitz overture, wind machine, 23

225; Evryanthe overture, 225; “Wolf, songs, 227

Oberon overture, 225 woodwinds, 13, 19
Well-Tempered Clavichord (Bach) ,

2 o xylophone, 23

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