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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Brief analysis A: "Nachtwanderer"

The Roman Numeral Analysis for Nachtwanderer (mm. 14-17) by Fanny Mendelssohn is... (don't hate me if I'm wrong!)...
m.14: I
m.15:vi bVI V
m.16: viio7/V V
m.17: I

The embellishing scale degree in measure 15 is merely a chromatic passing tone, but it plays a large role in the harmonic movement and continuity of this section. It serves as a transitional point as well, where the piano foreshadows the upcoming viio7/V chord in m.16. In measure 16 Hensel restate the lyrics “Then everything is gray and quiet” which automatically enhances the depth of emotion felt in this passage. Hensel then takes the sense of melancholy even further by using the aforementioned viio7/V chord, wich is minor and therefore generally gloomy by nature. This chord is not a use of modal mixture, but is just as affective. At first, I thought it was a ivo7 chord, which would make it modal, but decided against it because there are no flats which are a part of the fm key signature (I really hope I’m right on that one!) Another argument is that the chord then resolves to a V chord.


Alex A said...

Brief Analysis A- Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel "Nachtwanderer" m. 14-17

The harmonic analysis for measures 14-17 were as follows:
m.14- I I I m.15- vi bVI I65 m.16 viio7/V ___ V7 m.17 I

The embellishing role the modal scale degree in m.15 serves as is somewhat of a descending passing tone between the D and C in the bass line. Also, its descending line contrasts the vocalists climatic point at "grau" on the high F and helps set up for the next measure and the minor feel that it gives before returning back to the major I in m. 17. The translation of the passage by Hensel is "Then everything is gray again, everything is gray and quiet." Hensel contrasts the first and second statement by using different harmonic color. In the first, she uses only I chords and an ascending melody line that gives a less desolate/depressing feel to the work. In the second, "everything is gray and quiet", she starts off in m.15 with the bVI chord descending downward (representing the downward emotional spiral perhaps that the singer is feeling?) and in m.16, Hensel uses a mixture chord which is clear because she makes the B natural and flattens the A, clearly changing the chord to the relative minor (d) and uses a viio7/V to represent this. The effect gives the work an eerie and depressing feel to the work. The return to the major I in measure 17 represents the "quiet" and the singers acceptance that yet again, things have turned to "grey" and shall be this way for a while, like before.

Scott said...

I'll comment on Alaine's analysis first.

The second chord of m. 15 (if it is called a chord) is augmented, so bVI+. But if the Db is a passing tone, then m. 15 is vi and I64 (not V) with no intervening chord.

You make good points, just make sure your sentences are clear. And explain more how the repetition of the lyrics and the use of the viio7/V enhances the depth of emotion. What emotion do you feel here?

The viio7/V is secondary mode mixture, since the major V chord would typically be tonicized with a viiø7/V.

Discuss ways you would perform this passage.

Scott said...

Now Alex's analysis:

See my comments above about the bVI.

Don't waffle, the Db isn't "somewhat of a descending passing tone", it is definitely a descending passing tone. Good discussion of the emotions and feelings. Add something about how to perform this passage to bring out these emotions and feelings.