Reading between the Lines

Scott Burnham

in The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Riemannian Music Theories

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195321333
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

  Reading between the Lines

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This article examines Riemann's most sustained treatment of harmony and meter, as found in his analyses of the Beethoven piano sonatas. In this article, Riemann's analyses are used as a basis, not only to elucidate on how Riemann's theories work but also to demonstrate how they can illuminate Beethoven's music. Focusing on three sonatas of Beethoven's Op. 31, the article reveals the circumstances in which Riemann does not have the luxury or freedom to make abstract or systematic pronouncements, but is instead confronted with the concrete situation of having to make sense of a musical composition. In this article, the focus is on Riemann's rhythmic analysis. It aims to answer how Riemann uncovers periodic logic in Beethoven's labile phrase rhythm, and what this logic means for the examination of Beethoven's compositional trajectory.

Keywords: harmony; meter; Beethoven piano sonatas; periodic logic; labile phrase rhythm; Beethoven; sonatas

Article.  7261 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Music Theory and Analysis

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