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Some Considerations on Schenker’s Position in the Formenlehre Tradition

Marc Rigaudière - pag. 41-59

Despite Schenker’s sarcastic comments on many aspects of the traditional theory of forms, it is undeniable that his analytical work until Das Meisterwerk in der Musik II (1926) still largely made use of terms and concepts that belonged in the nineteenth-century. Furthermore, his numerous citations show his thorough knowl- edge of theoretical writings by different authors, including Adolf Bernhard Marx, Hugo Riemann, Ernst Kurth and Hugo Leichtentritt. This is also confirmed by the inventory of his personal library. However, Schenker’s use of the Formenlehre ter- minology is often idiosyncratic. A noteworthy instance is the pair of terms Vorder- satz/Nachsatz (antecedent/consequent), which Schenker uses in order to describe interrupted structures, even in cases where antecedent and consequent are clearly asymmetric in length and motivic content. With regard to thematic units, Schen- ker retains the term Motiv (motive), even though in Der Tonwille years he uses it in conjunction with his early concept of Urlinie, whence the specially coined term Urlinie-Motiv. As for the schematic representation of musical forms, Schenker includes quite traditional formal tables up to Der Tonwille and will never give up refer- ring to the established formal patterns, to which he adds undivided form (ungeteilte Form) and 4-part form (vierteilige Form).