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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Pine Apple Rag

Scott Joplin, “Pine Apple Rag”

Key- Eb Major

m. 77-78******bVI****
m. 79-80 I64
m 81 IV7
m. 82 I
m. 83 V753
m. 84 I



As Joplin resolves the mixture chord in measure 79 observe the voice leading of me to mi in the soprano and bass voices. This pulls us away from the tension of the flatted g, therefore emphasizing the bVI while resolving away from it. The I64 chord (unusual!) in m 79-80 provides the listener a release from the tension and intensity that was suddenly tugged at in measures 77-78. The listener feels released and at ease again because they are returned to the tonic. However, Joplin makes use of the second inversion because it allows for chromaticism between the two measures which emphasizes the mixed harmony even more. The flatted c pulls directly to B flat from measures 78 to 79 which works very nicely in contrary motion with the flatted g to g natural in the same place. In other words, me and le move to mi and la in the soprano and bass voices, respectively.

This piece is repetitive and predictable in harmony and melody. However, the harmony moves out of it’s comfort zone and moves to bVI in the last section of the piece, where repetition definitely works for the mixed harmony’s advantage. The mixed harmony in m. 77-78 creates a sense of urgency. After such a repetitive, fluffly song, it is as if there is finally something important to say, but it only has two measures to try to express itself, and slids chromatically back into rag happiness. Only, this section of the rag will inevitably repeat itself, just as the rest of the piece does, and this allows the performer to create increasing tension. I agree with the performance on the anthology recording. The performer broadens the mixed text each time around as if to but in, “wait, I have something to say!!!!” and finally, the last time, performs broader than ever, forging on into a very broad and statemented finish. This allows for a climactic experience to the piece. If the performer had just played through the section both times the same way, we wouldn’t feel the broadening and feel satisfied at the end of the piece. I have learned from this because I can look for mixed harmonies in pieces I am preparing, and emphasize the chromatic tones and tensions between them- consider the tension and interest to such passages and how they should be emphasized (broaden? A different color? A different dynamic?)

A “foreshadowing” pitch (to the modal mixture in m. 77-78) is evident in the last eighth beat of measure 81, where there is a c flat. C flat is the root of bVI in the key of Eb Major. I think, since this section is repeated, and we have already heard the modal mixture by the time the flatted C shows up in measure 81, it functions as both a foreshadowing and an afterthought/reminder of the mixture harmony preceding it in measures 77-78.

2 comments:

Scott said...

m. 81: ii65 shifting to iiø65 when the C becomes a Cb.
m. 82: I64, or better, a cadential 64 (V864-753).

The I64 in m. 79-80 is a passing chord, leading the bass line from Cb down to Bb and then to Ab in m. 81.

"Copland"? Yes, good observation of the contrary motion, except Le moves to Sol instead of La in the bass.

That's an interesting view, of bVI as moving out of the comfort zone. And good ideas about stretching out the mixture chords.

sarah said...
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