Thursday, February 14, 2008
Mendelssohn's Modal Mixture
Mendelssohn utilizes modal mixture chords in his E minor Violin Concerto. While transitioning back to the original motif of the third movement for the solo violin, he uses a prolonged progression of mixture chords. The transition starts at letter V or measure 708 and continues until it reaches the original theme at letter W or measure 728. During this transition the first mixture chord is in measure 711 and is a flat III chord followed in the same bar by a minor i chord. The harmony does not return to major I until the restatement of the theme. When listening to this transition, the violin melody is all sixteenth notes starting in the original key and dabbling in keys like E minor and D major to create tension and anticipation for the climax of the piece. Beneath the violin solo, the orchestra/piano is playing a part of the B section of the piece and truncates it as the chords change until there are only three notes of that melody. The truncating of the melody paired with the movement of the harmony back to the tonic area bring an excitement to the piece, signifying that the climax is about to begin.