HOST- Jeremy Burns, Matthew Scott Phillips

GENRE- Theory


BUMPER MUSIC- "The Sundials: Sic Praeterit" (Matthew Scott Phillips)

ANNOUNCER- Mike Cunliffe



Schenkerian analysis is a deeper dive into the sea of theory discussions we've had so far. In this episode, we will merely dip our toes into this counterpoint based system. Get ready for another perspective of how classical music works!


PROLONGATION- Most simply put, extending the influence of a note by adding more notes that depart from and return to it over time.

HORIZONTALIZATION-Extending a chord overtime by converting it into a melody. One simple example would be when we arpeggiate a chord but we can also add passing tones and neighbor notes between members of the chord.




There are different levels which musical elements and ideas occur. In the foreground level, is all the musical notes with all of it's embellishments and rhythms. Within the middle ground level, exists certain musical ideas that indicated the structural component of the music. The background level is the structural component of the harmonic motion. Two methods for analyisis we will be discussing in this episode will be PROLONGATION and HORIZONTILIZATION.


-Below we have a group of chords that make a good harmony.
-We are in the key of C. The E is the 3rd of the C major triad. So for harmony and counterpoint purposes, we will consider this a part of the tonic harmony.

-For analysis purposes, this tonic harmony will be considered to be the BACKGROUND LEVEL.

-If we want to PROLONG this note, we could add a MIDDLEGROUND LEVEL, where this F note resides. This F note is acting as a neighbor tone to the E note. So even though we leave that note, we return to it. Ultimately this simple melody serves as one function, the tonic.

-If we want to add another level, the FOREGROUND LEVEL, we could prolong that F note. Let's add two 16th notes (A and G, scale degrees 6 and 5 respectively) that leave and return back to F at the end of the measure. Now we have a "neighbor tone to the neighbor tone".

-Because this brief departure returns to scale degree 4 (F), we could say that it was still resides within the MIDDLE LEVEL, which resides within the BACKGROUND LEVEL.
But this newer elaboration is on it's own level, which we will refer to as the FOREGROUND LEVEL.

-If we were to examine this in Schenkerian analysis, it would appear as below. Notice some new symbols in the notation (long flag, no stems, dotted ties, etc.). These will be covered more in coming episodes. But, as a preview, you can see how this works on a basic level.

This kind of thinking is the basis of how Schenker would've viewed the full melody, from the ground up.
This method of organization can be applied to full compositions.


-Below we have a perfectly lovely chord progression, played out in whole notes: I - ii7 - V - I

-Notice these are "block chords", or simultaneities, where every note of each chord is played at the same time.

-If we want to HORIZONTALIZE these chords, we would play them in consecutive order over time (arpeggiation), breaking these whole notes down into 16th notes.

-In this case we have used HORIZONTILIZATION to turn these simple block chords into J.S. Bach's "Prelude No.1"

-If we were to examine this in Schenkerian analysis, it would appear as below.

PROLONGATION and HARMONIZATION are two musical ideas Schenkerian analysis uses to interperate musical passages. We will touch more on them in coming episodes!