A Chord in Time: The Evolution of the Augmented Sixth from by Mark Ellis

By Mark Ellis

for hundreds of years, the augmented 6th sonority has interested composers and intrigued song analysts. right here, Dr Mark Ellis provides a sequence of musical examples illustrating the 'evolution' of the augmented 6th and the altering contexts during which it may be discovered. strangely, the sonority emerged from one of many final remnants of modal counterpoint to outlive into the tonal period: the Phrygian Cadence. within the Baroque interval, the 'terrible dissonance' was once almost always linked to adverse textual imagery. Charpentier defined the augmented 6th as 'poignantly expressive'. J. S. Bach thought of an prevalence of the chord in a single of his forebear's motets 'remarkably bold'. in the course of Bach's composing lifetime, the augmented 6th advanced from a comparatively infrequent chromaticism to a nearly average point in the tonal spectrum; the chord displays specific chronological and stylistic strata in his song. Theorists started carefully to simply accept the chord, yet its inversional probabilities proved relatively contentious, as commentaries by way of writers as assorted as Muffat, Marpurg and Rousseau exhibit. in the course of the eighteenth century, the augmented 6th grew to become more and more major in instrumental repertoires - it was once might be Vivaldi who first liberated the chord from its detrimental textual institutions. via the later eighteenth century, the chord started to functionality nearly as a 'signpost' to point very important structural barriers inside of sonata shape. The chord didn't, in spite of the fact that, fullyyt lose its darker undertone: it indicates, for instance, the subject of revenge in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Romantic composers exposed far-reaching tonal ambiguities inherent within the augmented 6th. Chopin's Nocturnes usually look beguilingly basic, however the floor tranquillity mask the composer's strikingly unique harmonic experiments. Wagner's much-analyzed 'Tristan Chord' resolves (according to a couple theorists) on an augmented 6th. In Tristan und Isolde, the chord's mercurial

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