Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period

4-30-2014

Degree Program

Music

Degree Type

Master of Music (M.M.)

Year Degree Awarded

2014

Month Degree Awarded

May

Advisor Name

Brent

Advisor Middle Initial

L.

Advisor Last Name

Auerbach

Abstract

A new analytical tool called “voice-leading class” is introduced that can quantify on an angular scale any transformation mapping one pitch dyad onto another. This method can be applied to two-voice, first-species counterpoint or to single-voice motivic transformations. The music of Béla Bartók is used to demonstrate the metric because of his frequent use of inversional symmetry, which is important if the full range of the metric’s values is to be tested. Voice-leading class (VLC) analysis applied to first-species counterpoint reveals highly structured VLC frequency histograms in certain works. It also reveals pairs of VLC values corresponding to motion in opposite directions along lines passing through the origin in pitch space. VLC analysis of motivic transformations, on the other hand, provides an efficient way of characterizing the phenomenon of chromatic compression and diatonic expansion. A hybrid methodology is demonstrated using Segall’s gravitational balance method that provides one way of analyzing textures with more than two voices. A second way is demonstrated using a passage from Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. Finally, the third movement of the String Quartet #5 is analyzed. Families of geometrically related VLC values are identified, and two are found to be particularly salient because of their relationship to major and minor thirds, intervals which play an important role in the movement. VLC values in this movement are linked to contour, form, motivic structure, pitch-class sets and pitch centricity, and are thus demonstrated to be useful for understanding Bartók’s music and the music of other composers as well.

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Music Commons

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