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Monday, February 04, 2008

Schubert Mass No. 6 in Eb, Kyrie, mm. 158-164

Here is a sample analysis of what I'm looking for in your essays.

The rolling, pastoral rhythms of the previous section continue through the first three measures of this excerpt. The key of Eb major also lends a pastoral feel, used by Wagner as a nature key in the ring cycle. The texture suddenly shifts to the long dotted-halves of the final four measures. The text, “eleison” is Greek for “have mercy on us.” This whole section, the Kyrie of the mass, is about asking God (Lord and Christ respectively) for mercy, forgiving humankind for sins. This final iteration of “eleison” is harmonized with a plagal extension using the borrowed minor iv chord. The “real” V – I cadence of the movement has already occurred before this excerpt begins, followed by an arpeggiation of the tonic chord with the rolling rhythms mentioned above. The use of the minor iv chord on the final “eleison” is not the first time Schubert uses mode mixture in this movement. Throughout the Kyrie minor four chords color the happiness and joy of the Eb major key with pleading and fear, like the tremulous quaver in a sincere “thank you.” The sopranos and tenors slide up by a half-step in a melisma of “lei” that then resolves back to their starting notes. This half-step neighbor motion sounds like a little cry, or perhaps a sigh of fearful gratitude. Schubert already sets the minor chord off with the hairpin dynamics on that particular harmony. I would have the sopranos and tenors stronger in the mix than the altos and basses, and would experiment with using portamento on the upward half-step motion to indicate the emotional insecurity of that motion.

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