Author Topic: Schoenberg Harmony Book  (Read 2062 times)

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johnc

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Schoenberg Harmony Book
« on: June 28, 2011, 06:46:52 PM »
Hi,

Am slogging through "Structural Functions of Harmony" by Arnold Schoenberg.  Analyzes common practice harmony with the argument that there is one tonal center.  All compositions are in one key, because all tonal centers relate to that key, either strongly or weakly.  Great idea, but I find it hard to follow at points.   I like playing his harmonic progression examples at the piano.  They sound nice, and seems to help me understand a little.

Has anyone heard of this book, and if so, any comments about it?

Thanks very much,

John C

Ron

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Re: Schoenberg Harmony Book
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2011, 08:01:27 PM »
I haven't read that particular book. However, the idea that there is one tonal center to a work is a very classical idea. The keys of all sections of a classic and early romantic work relate to the main key--which is why you get "Symphony in Bb major"  or "Sonata in C#minor." Schoenberg tried to break away from the central nature of tonality in his concept of compositions based on rows. Ironically, his "tonal" works have a very sophisticated harmonic structure and I would be interested in exploring that further. Do you recommend his text book?
Ron
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johnc

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Re: Schoenberg Harmony Book
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2011, 03:21:02 PM »
Hi Ron,

This book is in addition to his textbook on harmony.  I did look at it once, but briefly.  So not fair to judge.

http://www.amazon.com/Theory-Harmony-California-Library-Reprint/dp/0520049446

This "Structural Functions..." book is interesting, but I'm having trouble understanding some of it.  Uses unfamiliar terms.  I'll keep you posted as I get into it more.

He seems to have a whole theory on how tonal areas are related.  Uses the concept of "transformations" (altered chords), and "substitute" tones which is familiar to me from jazz theory.  For example, a ii chord in major might have its substitute a ii dim on that same note (ii), which is the ii chord in minor. (In C natural minor, a ii chord would have an Ab instead of an A nat.)  From there stems relationships of keys.  Or the fact that major and minor parallel keys share the same dominant.

I will keep you posted.

John