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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Tonal multiplicity in Schoenberg’s first string quartet, op.7 Cavanagh, Lynn Marie


This study describes the integration of harmonic idiom and tonal design in Schoenberg's First Quartet, op. 7. Two general questions are answered: whether the composition should be judged by common-practice-period norms, and whether a coherent tonal structure is truly discernible. Chapter 1 first surveys the existing literature. It then describes a prime motivator of foreground chromaticism in the quartet—the chromatic surrounding of tonic and dominant pitches—and discusses two features of large-scale pitch organization applicable to Schoenberg's first-period music that contravene common-practice-period norms: tonal structure consisting of a pattern of keys, and systematic use of dual or even multiple tonics in place of monotonality. Examples illustrate three types of graphic representation of tonal duality to be used in the study. The next four chapters describe tonal process within and across the four "movements" of the quartet (Schoenberg's Parts I through IV). Chapter 2, which studies Part I, reveals systematic avoidance of V-I function in the opening key, D, tonal rivalries between D and each of its two semitone-related keys, and the beginning of a large-scale chromatic surrounding of the key of D. Chapter 3, on Part II of the quartet, demonstrates continuation of the rivalry between tonics D and Dt> by their use as competing secondary tonics within the Scherzo, and the harmonic progression VII-I replacing V-I at a crucial structural point. Chapter 4, on Part III of the quartet, describes tonal duality as it occurs in the Adagio, the furthering of the tonal plot in a section that engages in a "plagal" system of tonality, and the beginning of a large chromatic surrounding of A. Chapter 5 shows that Part IV eschews a simple relationship between the A-major tonic of the Rondo and the D-major tonic of the Coda by allowing the infiltration of elements of the Db-major collection. Chapter 6 summarizes the evidence contradicting a monotonal understanding of the composition and reviews evidence that the demonstrated multi-tonal coherence is part of the musical reality of the work.

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