Re: MD SQ-SQ tension in Mozart's Symphony No38

From: Platt Holden (
Date: Fri Feb 13 2004 - 13:37:15 GMT

  • Next message: Platt Holden: "Re: MD Speaking of musical excellence"

    Hi Mark,

    I don't think a conceptual analysis of Mozart's music (or art in general)
    does much to enhance the aesthetic experience which, in the end, is the
    purpose of creating music in the first place. I agree with Wordsworth who

    Our meddling intellect
    Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things
    We murder to dissect.

    There are certain things, like reality itself, that intellect cannot
    explain. But we understand it anyway.


    > Dear forum,
    > I have been following the recent 'excellence in music' thread and hoped
    > someone would utilise SQ-SQ tension as an MoQ explanation? The following
    > may give an indication of how this is done:
    > Exceptional SQ-SQ coherence in Mozart's Symphony No. 38 in D major.
    > Music has been analysed as a branch of rhetoric. The tool used in such
    > analysis is semiotics - the study of signification. (I am going to ignore
    > this and merely note patterns of value which such analysis may indicate.)
    > Below is an analysis of Mozart's Symphony No. 38 in D major by Leonard G.
    > Ratner from Classic Music: Expression, Form and Style. (New York: Schirmer,
    > 1980.)
    > Ratner: 'The most impressive introduction in classic music opens Mozart's
    > Symphony No.38...Mozart here has achieved an exquisite rhetorical balance
    > between the two principal sections':
    > Part I, mm. 1-15
    > D major
    > Irregular rhythm
    > Changes of affect
    > (French overture, coups d'archet, exordium
    > Sensibility, antithesis - Transposition
    > Singing style, antithesis, circumlocutio, gradatio
    > Hint of learned style, anadiplosis, antithesis
    > Fanfare, peroratio
    > Cadence, distributio
    > Sensibility, dubitatio
    > Fanfare, peroratio)
    > Deceptive cadences.
    > Part II, mm. 16-36
    > D minor
    > Regular rhythm
    > Single affect (ombra)
    > Drive to half cadence.
    > Mark: My understanding of semiotics in music analysis is rudimentary to say
    > the least, but there are interesting observations to be made in the above
    > account which will be familiar to readers of both ZMM and Lila. The phrases
    > i have highlighted are, 'The most impressive introduction in classic
    > music...' and '...exquisite rhetorical balance...' Quite a claim you may
    > agree? What may be said to justify such claims? If we apply SQ-SQ
    > tension/coherence it appears clear: Mozart discovers exceptional coherence
    > in his static repertoire of patterns - this is a Dynamic creative activity.
    > The static notated music can then be experienced by us as a sympathetic
    > harmonisation with the static patterns, moving us into a similar state of
    > coherence as that experienced by Mozart himself. (One may remember the
    > master archer of Zen in the art of archery could raise the quality of a bow
    > by merely stretching it a few times for his pupil.) When we listen to
    > Mozart, his static patterns give us a Dynamic jolt as we experience the
    > beauty of our static repertoire in SQ-SQ tension/coherence
    > It's that simple - life lives in the event stream, and at the same time
    > moves closer to DQ. When this process is exceptional, as it is here with
    > Mozart's introduction to his Symphony No. 38 we experience beauty. Where
    > ever we find such harmony - coherence - tension in a static repertoire we
    > discover ourselves moved to a higher quality state.
    > All the best,
    > Mark

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