Author Topic: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?  (Read 1183 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« on: May 03, 2017, 11:38:41 AM »
Aside from history and personalities, the musical principles are there which support the fact that tonality was moving further and further away from its originally intended aim; to establish a tonal center with an hierarchy. Call this expansion if you must, but from an examination of the actual mechanics, it appears more as a convolution going inward, away from expansion, into smaller and smaller iterations and relations.

The circle of fifths is presented as representing key areas. Going clockwise, we step gradually away by fifths into related new areas, in order of their relatedness. Going counter-clockwise, we go by fourths to the next most-related key areas.

A fifth is 7 half-steps; a fourth is 5 half-steps. If you cycle fifths, this eventually yields the complete chromatic; C-G-D-A-E-B-F#-C#-G#-D#-A#. Likewise with fourths.

12 is not divisible by 7 and 5; you must use a larger denominator, 7x12=84, and 5x12=60. They do not cycle within the chromatic octave, but must 'go outside' the octave before finally re-connecting and resolving. This is why tonality is based on root movement by fifths; these naturally travel "away" from the tonic station in the most far-reaching and effective way. Thus, modulation to new keys is facilitated by V-I movements. 5 and 7 are the only two numbers of half-steps (besides 1) which generate the entire chromatic of 12 different notes.

Cycles of 3 (minor third) and 4 (major third) are recursive; they do not cycle the chromatic, but repeat in smaller patterns: 3, 6, 9, 12 (12/4) and 4, 8, 12 (12/3).

Minor thirds are the diminished scale, major thirds are the augmented. Thus, when Wagner uses diminished chords to suspend harmonic movement, he is presenting 4 possibilities of resolution, or with augmented, 3 possibilities.

This is an "expansion of possibilities", but it is also a "shrinking" of the tonal vista. The possibilities of root movement and resolution become subject to smaller "in-octave" parameters of the 3 and 4-based structures, structures which do not 'expand' but instead are confined to "in-octave" cycles which are by nature recursive and repeating, not expansive in the maximum sense.

This recursive nature of the symmetrical intervals of 1, 3, 4, and 6 is exactly what modernism exploited, using Bartok as an example. This created "local" tone centers, but did not encourage travel outside the chromatic.

Wagner remained tonal by "faith," not by actual mechanics. His harmony was "expanded" to possibilities which had several possible tonal meanings or resolutions. The diminished, in one possibility, can be considered to resolve into one of four possible V7 chords, which can relate to four different I's or key areas. This in itself is vague; and if he did not resolve, then we are left circling in recursive patterns of 3 and 4, which is not 'expansion,' but is tighter and tighter spiraling inside a chromatic pattern.

It is necessary to "believe" that there is tonality in the most radical Wagner, because it is not demonstrated clearly; it is a range of possibilities which are not made definitive. We take it "on faith" in our expectations, that the music will resolve, or has a home key. There is still contention as to what the "Tristan Chord" means, or how it functions or resolves. Each per on has a different "belief" as to its nature.

The chromatic does not "expand" tonality; it weakens it to the point that it no longer functions as it was originally intended to function. The hierarchy has no triangular structure any more; it is now a tribal circle. Wagner crossed a line into modernism.

Offline jessop

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3754
    • jessop's SoundCloud
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2017, 12:16:05 PM »
Nice work, millionrainbows, 7/10. I believe that you could have provided a little bit more context to your points with musical examples and perhaps a bit more discussion as to the various ways the Tristan Chord functions... (Personally, to me it seems to have a very obvious subdominant function! What else could it be? How does it tie in to this analysis?)

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2017, 12:55:36 PM »
Nice work, millionrainbows, 7/10. I believe that you could have provided a little bit more context to your points with musical examples and perhaps a bit more discussion as to the various ways the Tristan Chord functions... (Personally, to me it seems to have a very obvious subdominant function! What else could it be? How does it tie in to this analysis?)

I don't know the answer. There is also a chord that the Second Viennese guys used, which has a curious symmetry. It's in the Grove Dictionary "Second Viennese" book, and I will dig that book up & post it, if you are interested. I looked on WIK about the Tristan chord, and there is no definitive answer. Different people hear it different ways.

I'm generalizing, anyway. I don't want to exert much effort on details which may be swept away in the squall of the forum...

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2017, 04:14:01 PM »
The Tristan chord is more significant than its ambiguity, or its function. If you look it up on WIK, the matter is definitely not resolved. It is still thought of as a curiosity today, and it has its own WIK page.

Regardless of its function or context, the Tristan chord is perceived as a 'harmonic entity' unto itself. It has a 'declamatory' effect. This sort of declamatory 'aural harmonic object' shows up later in R. Strauss' Elektra, and Salome, which are still tonal works.

Mahler makes use of a declamatory chord with what I call his "heart attack" chord in the 10th; and Schoenberg has a loud, dissonant, shocking chord in Pelleas und Mellisande, which recurs several times.

The Tristan chord is just one example of the actual, written-out mechanics of Wagner's music which resist clear analysis. One guess is as good as any other.

Debussy did not cross much of a line with his modernism. All he did was create 'new synthetic tonalities' which lay outside the purview of the major/minor system. The materials, even the way he used the whole tone scale, still had hierarchies, and therefore functions, and are therefore nothing more than a 'different ' kind of the same old tonality. It just didn't have the same kind of development over time, which seems to be what Wagner is so lauded for.

Chromaticism doesn't have much real power, if all you intend or expect it to do is resolve from a diminished ambiguity to one of four possible Vs, and then to one of four possible tonics. Root movement and chord function is what really gives tonality its identity and power; if those functions and that hierarchy based on the diatonic scale are weakened by diminished sevenths and other intervals of root movement, the music is rightly seen as a chromatic 'synthetic' tonality of a different sort, as unrelated to CP tonality as Debussy is; maybe to a slightly lesser degree.

Wagner did not 'extend' tonality; he merely did what all other modernists like Debussy and Stravinsky did: he created his own brand of tonality which lay outside the strict bounds of what can be rightly considered the major/minor diatonic tonal system.

In the most radical Wagner, where he was 'reinventing music,' all he was doing was leaving the diatonic scale behind, and immersing himself into the chromatic, into which he seemed most comfortable dividing it into 3 parts, namely, the diminished chord. That's his "brand," that was his solution to being 'modern.'

Other modernist composers like Ernest Bloch, and parts of Bartok, simply dropped the tonal pretense and descended into what I call "diminished-itis."

So how many ways can you divide a chromatic scale? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6: the rest are inversions. 4 and 5 are already covered by traditional tonality; that leaves us with 1, 2, 3, and 6.

Debussy's use of "2" (the whole tone scale) is nothing more than an alternate tonality, with the ambiguity built-in.

In Voiles, Debussy is simply using the whole tone scale for its harmonic implications. The WT scale is not "atonal" but is ambiguous; that's a crucial distinction. The WT scale has 7 notes and is totally symmetrical, so it can have 7 possible "roots" or tonics, if one wishes. Note at the end how the bass note underneath "anchors" the whole thing to a "root."

Debussy was interested in exploiting the harmonic possibilities of the WT scale to create a sense of "tonality"; Schoenberg was not, in his free atonal and 12-tone works. If he used it, he was always more interested in the WT scale as representing the total chromatic gamut in more motivic and melodic/thematic ways, not as creating a "tonal hierarchy" out of a scale.

The real modernist is, therefore, Schoenberg and the 'atonal' music approaches which grew out of that, because they escape the confines of harmonically-derived "tonalities" which are limited to six possibilities of interval projection. With motivic and thematically-derived structures, the possibilities are greater.

Schoenberg may have been influenced by Wagner more in his early years. Later, the harmonic aspects of Wagner had been taken up in other ways by Debussy and others.

I reserve the use of "atonal" to refer to music which does not attempt to create harmonic tonalities from scales, any scales. Atonal music uses motives and thematic devices, and does not create hierarchies of harmonic function from any kind of scale.

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2017, 12:48:14 PM »
Common practice tonality has no exclusive claim to the V-I relation, because this is a universal harmonic device that is inherent in all harmonic sound. It's derived from the fifth as being the most prominent harmonic after the octave. Any triad with a fifth will gain a sense of stability from this. Even Indian raga's tamboura drone-instrument is tuned in fifths to give this stability. All tone-centered music uses the fifth as its anchor.

Wagner is holding on by a thread if the ubiquitous V-I fifth "function" is his connection to CP tonality, because the functions in a chromatic formation, like a diminished chord, are now multiple, with 4 possible meanings. Function must operate with actual sounds, not as a proposition or a possibility.

If traditional voice leading is his connection, it facilitate these sorts of resolutions, so this is a superficial, stylistic element.

Wagner is part of the CP tonal tradition because of history, and his role, and what he accomplished within that context, but if you look at the mechanics of the music from a purely formal perspective, in musical and harmonic sound-terms only, he was doing nothing different than all the 'modernist' tonalists who came after him: creating music which was chromatic, and existing as a new form of chromatic tonality apart from the diatonic major/minor system. He tried to relate it tp CP tonality, but this was an effort which was contrary to the nature of chromaticism.

Being chromatic, Wagner's 'new reinvention of tonality' is fundamentally no different than Debussy's or Bartok's chromatic excursions; the styles are different, Wagner wants to be more connected to tradition, but the mechanics remain the same: localized tone centers created out of the chromatic backdrop by geometry, which are created by various divisions of 3 half-step cycles (diminished) or 4 half-step cycles (augmented/whole tone), which are, by their very nature, 'glitches' in the diatonic system, with built-in ambiguity. These are "harmonic mechanisms" which are derived geometrically from divisions of 12. They are not "harmonic mechanisms" which are derived from sound or consonance/dissonance.

Wagner had to consciously relate his music to earlier common practice tonality, because now the chromatic was the playing field. His music itself (at its most radical) could not do this; he had to use traditional forms and stylistic references in order for it to be supposed to relate to CP tonality.

The elements of the music we are concerned with here, the music itself at its most chromatic and most radical harmonically, was not CP tonal: that part was chromatically-derived. Chromaticism is chromaticism; it is not some form of 'extended' diatonic tonality. If it does relate to tonality, it does so just as Debussy's or Bartok's chromaticism did; anything can be made to resolve into the ubiquitous fifth of the home triad.

CP tonality was not originally designed to be 3 or 4 different possible key areas at once, or as arbitrary resolutions into whatever 4 keys are closest-by, or 'expectation without resolution' by faith. Tonality is diatonic. This means one key, with modulations, and sound based on harmonic, not geometric, principles.

Resolution is harmonic, and is to be heard as consonance, not as an intellectual possibility.
Wagner's music, and its supposed connection to CP tonality, becomes more tenuous as he becomes more chromatic and radical, until it finally becomes an intellectual exercise, divorced from sonic tonality and real sonic resolution. This was not an 'extension' of tonality, as a harmonic accomplishment, but was an idea.

Chromaticism is a geometry, using the number 12, which is arbitrary (the Pythagoran comma compromise), and has no basis in harmonically-based sound such as that which tonality is based on.
Chromaticism is based on a "12-ness" which was not always present in Western music. It came after the consonant triad of 1-4-7 (root, M3, 5th).

"12-ness" came from Pythagoran ideas. Pythagoranism was a cult which 'believed' in the significance of number. It was an intellectual pursuit.

Musically, "12-ness" or chromaticism is not related to the 7-note harmonic basis of tonality. "12-ness" is not harmonically derived. The division of the octave into 12 pitches is totally arbitrary, and has caused the entire development of Western music to fulfill this arbitrary path.

Tonality is sound, not idea. It seems that tonality, so ingrained into us, is so strong that it can become more than it really is. The "expected resolutions" are 'beliefs' which never materialize. We have 'faith' in tonality that allows us to think of Wagner in this way.

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #5 on: May 05, 2017, 11:34:46 AM »
To hear the Tristan chord as startling only because it is not 'normal' does, indeed, reinforce the qualities of tonality and consonance as the norm.

This also suggests elimination of any other ways of hearing musical constructs which are dissonant, or which are outside the bounds of what is presumed to be the norm.

It eliminates the possibility of hearing Wagner as anything but tonal. This is fine, but we should also realize that the materials he was working with are the 'givens' of any music which uses the same chromatic pitches.

Like I have always said about tonality, it is the expression of Western culture, as it originated in the Church.

Tonality is God, and is the "1" at the top of the hierarchy, to which all other things are related. Even chromaticism and the Devil's own tritone are within his command and purview.

The net result seems to say that Wagner at least had a direct connection to God, if not replacing him.

Richard Strauss retreated, after Elektra, and took his chances with the powers that be, who turned out to be in league with "Satan";

Mahler was a "believer," who wanted a cosmopolitan Beethovenian unity of all men, whose reward was to be kicked out of his own Germany to seek refuge in America;

Shoenberg was a believer until he realized that "the law of God" was from a certain Christian "God" that he could not belong to, and was likewise shuttled off to UCLA where he relegated himself to playing ping-pong with George Gershwin;

This is stuff of history, before postmodernism woke us up from our slumber, when men like Wagner were touted as "geniuses" while trampling over women and the less powerful, creating war, and ultimately creating the means to his own destruction.

If Wagner's Western version of tonality is considered the apex of all possible tonal-centered music, as well as extending its grasp and claim to hold sway over the chromatic area, then Wagner has been transformed into an idol, and a dogma, as the law-giver whose judgements and actions are final.

Tonality is God, and Wagner has been elevated into its avatar.

It's no wonder that the post-WWII modernist generation, after the devastation of Europe, and with the hydrogen bomb looming ahead, decided that this paradigm had reached its logical conclusion.

Offline jessop

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3754
    • jessop's SoundCloud
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #6 on: May 05, 2017, 05:56:29 PM »
You begin to lose me when you start to mention anything remotely religious in relation to the changing tendencies of composing harmony.

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2017, 11:39:08 AM »
You begin to lose me when you start to mention anything remotely religious in relation to the changing tendencies of composing harmony.

Yes, I understand that. How about a little sociology/history? His real significance is ties in with the general thought-currents of the nineteenth century, Nietzsche, and the modern era. The Church had lost its power, and secular philosophical thinking took over. Influential? Inspiring? Yes, even to the evil. But Wagner was a product of his times.

This new iteration of the old paradigm, a dangerous inversion of the old order, elevated Man to the top of the hierarchy; there is now no higher power; the Age of God had passed, replaced by pseudo-religious mythology, psychology, social science, enlightenment, philosophy, and weapons of mass destruction.

Now it was the Age of the Gods, personifications of Man's hubris, leading to WWI and WWII, and finally the hydrogen bomb.

Offline Mirror Image

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 39334
  • Steven Wilson (1967 -)
  • Location: Northeast GA, US
  • Currently Listening to:
    Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Steve Hackett, Anathema, Rush, Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree, Ozric Tentacles, Björk, David Sylvian, Peter Gabriel
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2017, 08:13:10 PM »
Nielsen is often attributed with expanding tonality with what was called later on ‘progressive tonality’.
“Music is enough for a lifetime but a lifetime is not enough for music.” - Sergei Rachmaninov

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2017, 11:00:47 AM »
Nielsen is often attributed with expanding tonality with what was called later on ‘progressive tonality’.

I can see that; I don't think Wagner should get all the credit, and I see a lot of different versions of tonality out there. Certainly by now, "tonality" is a more general, inclusive term these days.

Offline Monsieur Croche

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1270
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2017, 09:14:23 PM »
There is that famous / infamous dual analysis of the Tristan Chord, but the biggest very big deal about it was that it not only did not resolve, but in sequencing promised to again, and again and again, not resolve.  This was, literally, a kind of 'opening up' of prior chordal hierarchy, and in that sense only I think of it as expansive... but at the same time I would not think to call Wagners harmony truly 'expansive,' as much as -- per the dramatic gesture, its ambiguity and lack of resolution, it is most fundamentally about extension.

This fits in with the composer's aesthetic premise of "endless melody," and, for the time, his wildly extended [edit add: in length] pieces which no longer relied on early common practice modulatory tricks or procedures to keep the ball in the air before it fell back to earth and home. 

I don't hear Wagner's harmonic vocabulary as notably or particularly expanded; to my hearing, Liszt and Chopin were far more adventurous and 'traveled further.' 

It is the extended length shtick that is Wagner's bailiwick... and he is, of course, famous for that!
« Last Edit: May 15, 2017, 08:52:39 AM by Monsieur Croche »
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 42007
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2017, 03:29:14 AM »
Just going on and on about it, you mean?  8)
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Monsieur Croche

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1270
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2017, 08:53:34 AM »
Just going on and on about it, you mean?  8)

Uh-huh. ;-)
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2017, 12:20:05 PM »
Beavis and Butthead: "Ha ha, he said "extension."

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 42007
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2017, 03:01:25 AM »
I refer you here.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2017, 09:56:58 AM »
One has to "believe" in Wagner for it to work as tonality; because in reality it is chromaticism.

 If one insists on referring Wagner back to tonality, we could call it "shriveled chromaticism."

Offline jessop

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 3754
    • jessop's SoundCloud
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #16 on: May 18, 2017, 12:19:51 AM »
One has to "believe" in Wagner for it to work as tonality; because in reality it is chromaticism.

 If one insists on referring Wagner back to tonality, we could call it "shriveled chromaticism."

Same goes for any other kind of music that we talk about as being tonal. In the end it's just all sound that we like to play around with. It's all make believe. We made this up by experimenting with the physical properties of sound and some of us in some location at some time liked some things we heard and that became the music of that culture....then we added words to describe it...and words are stuff we made up as well. Meaningless sound until we agree that 'chromaticism' means a certain thing. We just believe anything to be so and it is so. It's all a kind of fictional reality we are dealing with where you can say what you just said even if you do look like a bit a loony by saying it.

Because I think most people understand that Wagner's use of tonality is the result of his chromaticism anyway. The way he uses chromaticism to create mediant relationships in Tristan und Isolde that result in localised tonal centres, the way he moves between subdominant functioning and dominant functioning chords and the way he even does provide resolutions to these progressions can all be described as being functionally  t o n a l  as anything else written in the Common Practice Era.

Chromaticism is something Wagner used to extend his harmonic vocabulary whilst still staying within the limits of tonal harmonic progressions. 'Chromaticism' isn't something separate from tonality in this sense. It's a part of it.

Offline k a rl h e nn i ng

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 42007
  • Et quid amabo nisi quod ænigma est?
    • Henningmusick
  • Location: Boston, Mass.
  • Currently Listening to:
    Shostakovich, Frescobaldi, Stravinsky, JS Bach, Liszt, Chopin, Haydn, Henning
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #17 on: May 18, 2017, 01:10:47 AM »
One has to "believe" in Wagner for it to work as tonality.

Thank you for conceding that your fundamental thesis is irrational.
Karl Henning, Ph.D.
Composer & Clarinetist
Boston MA
http://www.karlhenning.com/
[Matisse] was interested neither in fending off opposition,
nor in competing for the favor of wayward friends.
His only competition was with himself. — Françoise Gilot

Offline Monsieur Croche

  • Veteran member
  • *
  • Posts: 1270
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #18 on: May 18, 2017, 07:36:24 AM »
At first I really liked Wagner, but then he screwed my wife.

Expanded Tonality = Expanded Fidelity.
~ I'm all for personal expression; it just has to express something to me. ~

Offline millionrainbows

  • Full Member
  • *
  • Posts: 139
  • Location: USA
Re: Wagner: "Expanded" tonality?
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2017, 08:46:26 AM »
I question the concept of "extended tonality" in Wagner, if Mozart and Bach were doing the same thing earlier. Like all profound musical thinkers, they realized that diatonic tonality is boring.

We are behooved to define "Common Practice" tonality in dual terms: diatonic tonality coupled with chromaticism and the "chromatic/fifths" methods used by the great composers.

This makes Western Common Practice Tonality, at its best, a special kind of tonality which constantly moves and modulates and redefines the tonic. Thus viewed, Western tonality always contained the seeds of its own "expansion" into total chromaticism and the mechanisms of chromaticism.

Just because Wagner used these geometric resources at the service of his ostensible "tonality" does not change their essential forward-looking nature, which is chromatic and based on geometry and symmetry, and is "at odds" with simple diatonic tonality.

To deny the evolution of music into these geometric areas, which were always present and available, and claim that these concepts and "automatic" mechanisms (diminished, whole tone) are an intrinsic feature, or the exclusive domain of tonality, is short-sighted and myopic.

In this link, Bernstein discusses how Mozart uses diatonic tonality and chromaticism:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCP58BigEfw

Notice how he distinguishes the two methods, seeing them as separate methods, yet working together in the service of making diatonic tonality more interesting and alive.

This is the perfect example of the "dual nature" of tonality: its diatonic origins and the use of chromaticism, in the form of diminished seventh chords. Chromaticism serves tonality, yet it creates movement away from tonic and creates vagueness. It is a destabilizing influence.

Just because Mozart, and Wagner, used diminished chords in this tonal way does not mean that the chromatic materials are "tonal" intrinsically. It all depends on how they are used, and in what context.

This does not mean that chromaticism, and diminished sevenths are, or have been, an "intrinsic" part of diatonic tonality, or that we should see these mechanisms (the results of interval projection and geometric divisions of the 12-collection) as being "born" of tonality. These mechanisms are always "abstract" in the sense that they are geometric in nature (not harmonic or sensual, but cerebral and mathematic).

Therefore, the chromatic elements in Mozart should be viewed no differently than Wagner's use of it; they are both "moderns" in this regard. They serve tonality, but both are serving modernism and abstraction as well.

Therefore the very same elements which make tonality "interesting," "profound," "extended," or "great" are those exact same elements which make the composers profound musical thinkers, who, intentionally or not, were paving the way for 12-tone, serial, and other forms of "abstract" or geometrically-based (cerebral/mathematical) music of the future, which is in direct opposition to diatonic tonality, which by its very nature is sensual, limited, and boring!

Thank goodness that "great" composers like Bach and Mozart were progressive and "modern" musical thinkers, who were paving the way for the fruition and ultimate evolution of music away from diatonic (boring) tonality and towards an ultimately abstract and geometric music, based on symmetries and more cerebral principles.


Buying Music From Amazon?
Please consider using these links. A small percentage of every sale using these links is passed on to GMG and helps keep this forum online.
Amazon US
Amazon Canada
Amazon UK