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Trace the development of harmony from Schumann through Brahms to Debussy. Drawing on pieces you have studied. In studying three composers, Schumann, Brahms and Debussy, it is possible

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Introduction

Trace the development of harmony from Schumann through Brahms to Debussy. Drawing on pieces you have studied. In studying three composers, Schumann, Brahms and Debussy, it is possible through analysis, to construct a Harmonic development through time - from early 1800's to early 1900's. I will go about deducing a harmonic timeline by individually looking at each composer then will conclude with a final comparison summarizing how different harmonic elements develop with the Romantic Movement and its progression. The harmonic journey will start with Schumann's Kinderszenen, or Scenes from Childhood. This is a set of thirteen reminiscences of childhood, written during a temporary separation from Clara. They are works about children, rather than music written for children, and require a high degree of polish to perform them. It is interesting as the two sides of Schumann's personality can be depicted in his Kinderszenen for instance in the 13th movement Frightening, one could say that Eusebius is scared by Florestan in random bursts. The harmony in these pieces play a large part in distinguishing between the personalities, for instance in Frightening, section A Is mostly homophonic with mainly conjunct harmonic movement. Section B, however, doesn't move in one functional unit, with the melody in the left hand and chords in the right hand - this top heavy harmony creates juxtaposition, magnifying the sense of craziness and vigour that is a trait of Florestan's personality. ...read more.

Middle

The most obvious is the use of syncopation, melodically and harmonically, which is certainly not as apparent/frequent in the Schumann pieces. With a key signature of G Minor, in the first sequential few bars, Brahms writes around the key through F C B. In this sense, Brahms' work is less tonal and more harmonic, with more notes, more chromatics and also more chords that are used mainly just for colour - even if it affects a harmonic movement. For instance in bar 37, the D flat on beat 2 creates a diminished dissonance which creates colour yet completely diverts the sense of key. In this way Debussy's Sarabande incorporates both modality and tonality (earlier French composers such as Faur� had used modal aspects in their works) and he is reported by Maurice Emmanuel to have said around 1889-90 that 'music is neither major nor minor', something evident in this Sarabande. This vagueness in terms of key is caused by his general avoidance of 'traditional' diatonic cadences. Also, he uses parallel block chord harmonies, where a chord is used not within the context of a harmonic progression, but specifically for its sound and "colour" and so in this way, he is developing the use of discordant chords for sound as seen in Brahms's works. ...read more.

Conclusion

It could be pointed out that there is a mediant (third) relationship between these keys. So in this way, Debussy has tied in the harmonic patterns with other elements to the piece, helping the fundamental elements of the music to reach a state of symbiosis which, perhaps, is lacking or is not as well expressed in other pieces. Lastly, Debussy made use of a variety of scales such as the whole-tone, octatonic and pentatonic. In this piece, he mainly uses the whole tone scale; its relevance is that it helps hide the key to create tension for the listeners and performers. Here, despite having a key signature of four sharps, the music never settles comfortably in E major or c-sharp minor, with many more keys suggested than actually reached; this is heightened by his general avoidance of 'traditional' diatonic cadences. Debussy is representing the latter end of the harmonic development and it has been interesting to depict this evolution from Schumann through Brahms to Debussy's Sarabande, exploring the ways the composers innovated previous works, creating new experiences for the audience. The fundamental developments are the depth of texture, the use and building up of different intervals, the movement of the parts on top of one another and finally the harmonic movement through keys; be it ambiguous (Debussy), established via writing around the key (Brahms) or a cocktail of diatonic and tonal writing (Schumann). ?? ?? ?? ?? 24/03/06 ...read more.

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