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Thursday, February 07, 2008

i wish my post was as good as tiffypoo's

Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel’s piece “Neue Liebe, neues Leben” is a beautiful and sad tale of love. The first eight measures in 56-77 work as a parallel period. The first phrase, ending on the first half of measure sixty, is a cadential 64, ending on the word “Weise”. The second cadence is an imperfect authentic cadence on the word “los” in measure sixty four. The harmonies are identical for the first three measures in each phrase, changing only for the cadence. Hensel employs an ascending fifths sequence in alternating first inversions, making the bass descend in a stepwise motion. There is an accented passing tone in measure 63, a B flat on beat three that is being used to accent the German word for let, changing the lyrical line to “love, let me free”. I would divide measures 64b-72 into phrase units by ending phrase one at the first half of 68. The first of those phrases has a secondary dominant on the fourth beat of measure sixty six, a vii065/ii leading to a ii6 on the downbeat. It also contains a mixture chord on the downbeat of measure 68, at the cadence. There is a major seven chord leading to the one chord. The second phrase begins with a secondary dominant, a V65/ii leading to a ii. That is followed by another secondary dominant, the V65/bIII going to a bIII. This repetition of secondary dominants in this passage serves to destabilize tonic. That gives the music an unsettled and tortured feeling, which appropriately matches the repetition of “love, let me free” in the lyrics. The climax is reached by a chromatic style chord progression that includes a quicker harmonic rhythm, in measure seventy one. IV goes to IV+ to ii6 to #iv07, resolving to a I64 on the downbeat. The chromatic movement in the left hand piano part added to the sustained high G in the voice creates increasing tension. The tension is added to in performance by a subtle accelerando in measure seventy one, and a ritard in measure seventy two, the denouement. This enhances the picture to the listener of reaching without having caught, or, as in this specific song, trying to escape love and failing. Hensel writes a chromatic passing tone, the f sharp, on the fourth beat of measure seventy, which I would choose to stretch to make the climb up to the high g even more dramatic. Hensel uses accented dissonance in measure sixty eight, on the cadence. As a performer I would not linger on this beat, and instead let it propel the audience forward into the build up of the climax. There is also a suspension in measure sixty eight, adding more to the unfinished feeling of the cadence. A diminished seventh chord is used in the fourth beat of measure seventy one, to accentuate the unhappiness of the lyrics as much as possible. An augmented triad is used in measure seventy one as well, on beat two. It serves to continue the chromatic line and increase tension with its dissonance. So the dissonance, in passing tones, mixture chords, secondary dominants, etc. in this piece can really make you sad. Don’t listen. Be happy.


Tiffany! said...

don't worry. be happy.

Scott said...

The first phrase ends on a half cadence with the V6 that resolves the cadential 64. Measure 64 is not a cadence. Hensel avoids the cadence with a deceptive motion from V7 to IV6, then climbing upwards in the bass through V6 - I - V43 - I6 - V65+/IV - iv - V64-53 - I, finally an IAC at m. 68. The sequence used is descending thirds, notice the pattern from 56.3-57.2 repeating down a third at 57.3-58.2 and another third at 58.3-59.2.

Good observation of the accented passing tone.

M. 68 is not a mixture chord, it is a tonic chord with two accented passing tones and one retardation.

Good connection between tonicization and unsettled emotions.

There is no such thing as a #ivo7. As soon as you find yourself writing something like that, immediately think of secondary dominants or secondary leading-tone chords (this one is a viio7/V).

Good performance ideas.