Wine - Download the EBook Wine MakingInformational Site Network Informational
  Home - Music Terms - Music Lessons - How to Sing - Music History - Singing Choirs - Children Songs - The Voice - Advice for Singers

Most Viewed

The Double-period
Distinction Between Bipartite And Tripartite Forms
Lesson 4
The Sonatine Form
The Exposition
The Recapitulation
T The Second Rondo Form
The Necessity Of Form In Music
The Melodic Figure

Least Viewed

The Exposition
The Recapitulation
The Sonata-allegro Form
Lesson 11
The Principal Song
Lesson 12
Lesson 13

Random Music Lessons

Cadences In General
The Trio Or Subordinate Song
Distinction Between Bipartite And Tripartite Forms
Locating The Cadences
Lesson 16
Perfect Cadence
Lesson 4
Species Of Cadence

The Principle Of Extension

The other cause of modified phrase-dimension
is one of extreme importance, as touching upon the most vital process in
musical composition, namely, that of phrase-development.

Setting aside all critical discussion with reference to the question,
What is good music? and simply accepting those types of classic
composition universally acknowledged to be the best, as a defensible
standard (to say the least), we find that such a page of music exhibits
the pursuit of some leading thought (melodic motive or phrase), with
precisely the same coherence and consistency, the same evidence of
determined aim, as is displayed in the creation of a forcible essay, a
masterly poem, an imposing architectural plan, or any other work of art
that betrays intelligence and a definite, fixed, purpose. This is no
more nor less than might be expected from the dominion of the law of

The equally inflexible demands of Variety are satisfied by presenting
this self-same leading thought in ever new and changing aspects,--not
by exchanging the thought itself for a new one at each successive angle.
This latter faulty process would naturally lead to a conglomeration of
impressions, baffling comprehension and jeopardizing real enjoyment.

In a classic page of music we perceive that each successive unit grows,
more or less directly, out of those which go before; not so directly, or
with such narrow insistence as to produce the impression of sameness and
monotony, but with such consistency of design as to impart a unified
physiognomy to the whole. Hence, it will often be found that every
melodic figure, during a certain section (if not the whole) of a
composition, may be traced to one or another of the figures which
characterized the first phrase, or the first two or three phrases, of the
piece. This was emphasized by our reference, near the end of the first
chapter, to the 8th Song Without Words of Mendelssohn. If the student,
in analyzing the melody of that composition, will endeavor to penetrate
some of the clever disguises employed by the composer (for the sake of
Variety), he will find the whole piece reducible to a very few melodic
figures, announced at or near the beginning. See also No. 45 (C major),
No. 36, No. 26. Also Schumann, op. 68, No. 7, No. 8, No. 18, No. 23.
Also Beethoven, pianoforte sonata, op. 10, No. 2, last movement; op. 26,
last movement.

In musical composition this process is known as thematic development, and
it generally extends over the whole, or a greater part, of the piece.

Its operation on a smaller scale, with more limited reference to one
phrase alone, effects the development of the phrase by extension.

The process of extension or expansion, by means of which the phrase
usually assumes a somewhat irregular length, consists mainly in the
varied repetition of the figures or motives that it contains; and the
continuity of the whole, as extension of the one phrase, is maintained
by suppressing the cadence--suspending all cadential interruption--during
the lengthening process. For example:

These six measures result from a repetition (variated) of the third and
fourth measures of the original--regular--four-measure phrase. A cadence
is due in the fourth measure, but it is not permitted to assert itself;
and if it did, its cadential force would be neutralized by the entirely
obvious return to (repetition of) the motive just heard. Further:--

There is no cadence in the fourth measure,--the current of the melody
obliterates it and hurries on, voicing the last measure again and again
until it dies away in the tenth measure, where a cadence ends it. That
it should be the tenth measure is purely accidental; the number of
measures is of little account in the act of extension; here, it was
continued until a convenient place was found (with reference to chord and
key) for the cadence. Further:--

Measures 1, 2, 3 and 8 constitute the original regular four-measure

The following regular phrase (to be found in the last movement of
Beethoven's pianoforte sonata, op. 28):--

is immediately followed by this lengthy and elaborate extension:--

The portion marked b is a complete repetition, with quaint variation,
of the original four-measure phrase, marked a in Ex. 42; c is a
repetition of the last figure (just one measure) of the phrase, with the
melodic parts inverted, or exchanged; d and e are a literal
repetition of the two preceding measures--(c) and c; f is another
recurrence of (c), with still another inversion of the melodies; g
repeats e an octave higher; and h is nothing more or less than a
curious repetition of g, in longer tones, and in reversed direction.
Distinct cadential interruption is carefully avoided after the original
phrase has been announced, that is, throughout Ex. 43,--which is the
significant proof (borne out by the manifest identity of the melodic
members) that these measures form part and parcel of the original phrase,
as extension or development of it, and not a new phrase. The total
length is sixteen measures, developed thus out of the original four.

For an exhaustive explanation of phrase-extension, with all the technical
details, the student is referred to my HOMOPHONIC FORMS, Chapter III.

* * * * * *

Another method of extending a phrase consists in prefacing a measure or
two of purely introductory material; it is, therefore, rather
anticipation than prolongation, and is composed most commonly of the
figure of the accompaniment, announced briefly before the actual
phrase-melody begins.

This is shown very clearly in the first measure of the 22d Song Without
Words; also in the first measure of No. 7, No. 31, No. 42, No. 40, and
others; the first two measures of No. 34, and No. 1; the first three
measures of No. 19, No. 26, and No. 37,--and needs no further
illustration. It emphasizes the necessity of vigilance in defining the
correct starting-point of the first phrase; for a mistake at the
beginning may interfere seriously with the locating of the cadences
(according to our fundamental four-measure rule). For instance, in No.
42 the cadences do not fall in the 4th, 8th, 12th measures--and so
on--but in the 5th, 9th, 13th, 17th, from the very beginning of the piece.

When the introductory passage is longer than three measures, it
probably constitutes a complete phrase by itself, with its own cadence;
in which case, of course, it must not be analyzed as extension. For
example, at the beginning of No. 29; still more apparently at the
beginning of No. 28, No. 41, and others.

* * * * * *

Next: Inherent Irregularity

Previous: The Small And Large Phrases

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 2247