Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

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Anastas
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Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Anastas » Tue May 09, 2017 8:25 am

Hello all,

I am wondering about the interpretation of the harmony in bar 23, last two beats of Op. 35, study 17 in D major.

The chord contains B flat in the bass, G sharp and E on the top and it leads to the dominant chord A major.

Any suggestions?

Anastas
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Anastas » Tue May 09, 2017 11:16 am

I've been thinking about this chord and I have noticed, that the note before E on the top is D,

So, in my opinion it should be augmented 6th, or French sixth - B flat- G sharp- D - E in the D major key, which is solved into the dominant A chord.

I am wondering if some of you has another idea. Thank you

Pirooz Emad
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Pirooz Emad » Thu May 18, 2017 6:19 am

Hello Anastas,

In m. 23 Sor makes a strong approach to the dominant by half steps from both directions at once creating the augmented 6th interval Bb - G#. In my opinion, although it is tempting to consider the D and E as parts of a French augmented 6th chord, they are non-chord melody tones.

Regards,

Pirooz

Rasputin
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Rasputin » Thu May 18, 2017 8:58 am

Pirooz Emad wrote:
Thu May 18, 2017 6:19 am
In m. 23 Sor makes a strong approach to the dominant by half steps from both directions at once.
I certainly agree with this bit.

I would suggest the following:

At a cadence like this, it's often worth considering whether the first chord of the cadence could be a dominant 7th. Here the cadence goes to A, so we would be looking for E7 (E G# B D). That is exactly what we find, except that in place of the B we have a Bb. It's easiest to come back to that later and treat the chord as E7 for now, to see where that takes us.

The Neapolitan sixth chord is often / always found before a dominant seventh. It looks like the major triad a flat fifth above the root of the dominant seventh, so here we would be looking for the same notes we find in Bb major (Bb, D, F). That is what we find, except that there is also an A.

One theory holds that the Neapolitan sixth is an altered version of the IV chord, meaning that in this case Bb would be standing in for A and the A itself could (re)appear while the chord was sounding. Interestingly, that is exactly what happens on beat 2.

The question that leaves us with is why Sor does not go to the B on beat 3, instead giving us an altered version of the E7. It often happens - especially in basslines - that a note that would be a whole step away from where it is going is replaced by the note a half-step away. Here, rather than have the bassline Bb B A, Sor has held on to the Bb giving us a chromatic move down to the root of the tonicized A. It's not really so different from a progression like E7 E7/Bb / A, which you get all the time.

There are loads of video lessons and resources out there that help you assign names to chords, but in my opinion it is more useful to consider what the underlying progression is and what alterations have been made. This is really just a IV / V / I progression in A, but Sor has put in 3 or 4 alterations that make it much more interesting without altering the basic function. One mark of a good composer!

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guitareleven
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by guitareleven » Sun May 21, 2017 1:57 pm

Pirooz Emad wrote:
Thu May 18, 2017 6:19 am
Hello Anastas,

In m. 23 Sor makes a strong approach to the dominant by half steps from both directions at once creating the augmented 6th interval Bb - G#. In my opinion, although it is tempting to consider the D and E as parts of a French augmented 6th chord, they are non-chord melody tones.

Regards,

Pirooz
Why wouldn't they be chord tones of a french sixth? That is what a french sixth looks like, that's how a french sixth works, and just about every other melodic note in the piece is a chord tone.

johnhall
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by johnhall » Sun May 21, 2017 2:28 pm

Yes. It's a textbook example of a French Augmented Sixth chord. I have posted an analysis of this study with a PDF at the end of the article showing the voice-leading that should make it clear.

http://www.johnhallguitar.com/blog/sor_ ... _analysis/

John

Rasputin
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Rasputin » Sun May 21, 2017 2:49 pm

It is a French sixth - but isn't that just a name for V7/V with a flat fifth that resolves down?

What is gained by applying the label?

Often when a chord is altered by raising or lowering one of the chord tones by a half-step, the altered tone resolves another half-step in the same direction.

It's just my opinion, but I think it is much more useful to understand this general principle and see it being applied here to what is really an E7, than to learn a new name and see it is a special kind of chord with its own rules.

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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by johnhall » Sun May 21, 2017 3:27 pm

The reason we have a new designation for this sound is that it does not sound as an E7 chord. It sounds as a Bb7 chord with a flat fifth or an E7 with a flat fifth in the bass. It is true that the function is the same: resolving to the dominant, but the sound is completely different. This, by the way, is the equivalent to the jazz tritone substitution concept where a a dominant seventh chord a tritone away from the dominant is substituted for the actual dominant.

John

Rasputin
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Rasputin » Sun May 21, 2017 4:05 pm

OK well I understand that logic. It comes to down to a choice to label the sound rather than the function. In analysis we are concerned with function, so in my view that is what should be labelled. If you do it that way, you make it easy to discover that the same chord can be subject to various alterations and can end up sounding quite different while still retaining its original function. If you do it the other way, and label according to sound, you make it hard to see the wood for the trees - it's quite a leap to realise that progressions that sound quite different can be instances of the same basic function or process taking place.

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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by johnhall » Sun May 21, 2017 4:33 pm

Yes and I understand your way of thinking. It is very much like labeling a C# diminished triad as V7 in D major when it resolves to tonic (as I often do) rather than vii since the function is the same.

John

Anastas
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Anastas » Wed May 24, 2017 6:59 am

Many thanks for your comments. I haven't looked at the forum recently and I have just seen them.

John, I have seen your attached article, especially your comments about the augmented sixth. Thanks, your point of view gave me inside about the origin of that chord.

I completely agree with Rasputin that “In analysis we are concerned with function, so in my view that is what should be labelled.” Thanks for your comments.

To your question “What is gained by applying the label?”

My aim is to understand the way of thinking of the composer, especially of great masters like Sor. When I play some music I always try to analyze it, staying in terms and techniques used in the composer’s time.

About the question discussed here- why Sor put Gsharp, not for example A flat in this chord? The sound is the same, but the way of thinking not. What is his reason for this? In fact this is my question- Why did composer choose this way?

Related to that I have some personal story with augmented sixth:)

I first see “such and animal” in my ABRSM Grade 8 theory exam. There was an example in the key of E major (very good key for guitar indeed:) and a question about a chord written as C natural- E- G natural – A SHARP!!!

Why not B flat??? I was wondering why a composer put this instead of simply C7 dominat chord?

Later I started looking for augmented sixth in guitar literature. I have found a lot of examples and I thing guitar composers from that period use often these chords.

Thanks again for your comments and wish you all the best.
Anastas

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Stephen Kenyon » Wed May 24, 2017 8:54 am

Anastas wrote:
Wed May 24, 2017 6:59 am
...
About the question discussed here- why Sor put Gsharp, not for example A flat in this chord? The sound is the same, but the way of thinking not. What is his reason for this? In fact this is my question- Why did composer choose this way?

Related to that I have some personal story with augmented sixth:)

I first see “such and animal” in my ABRSM Grade 8 theory exam. There was an example in the key of E major (very good key for guitar indeed:) and a question about a chord written as C natural- E- G natural – A SHARP!!!

Why not B flat??? I was wondering why a composer put this instead of simply C7 dominat chord?

Later I started looking for augmented sixth in guitar literature. I have found a lot of examples and I thing guitar composers from that period use often these chords.

Thanks again for your comments and wish you all the best.
Anastas
Just in case it wasn't clear from the other answers, in principle the reason for choosing a sharp or a flat in these contexts is to do with the 'direction' the note (voice) will follow. In the ABRSM case you mention, the chord (a German 6th so-called) was probably followed by a B major chord, and the voicing would probably have been that the C root would have fallen to a B root, the A sharp risen to a B, the G natural fell to an F sharp and the E to a D sharp.
I like to describe the strongest effect as being that the aug 6 interval, the C-A sharp acts like a wedge forcing the interval out to an octave.
Had the A sharp been spelled as B flat, it would have 'wanted' to fall to an A and the obvious direction to a C 7th is -> F major.
In guitar repertoire, the chord of this type most often seen is the Italian (so-called) 6th, probably because it is so much easier to play, only needing three notes, root, third and augmented 6th. The other type is the French 6th, root, third, dim.5/aug.4, aug.6. All have different sounds of course, though the German is not that different from the Italian because its 'only' got the padding of a 5th, and 5ths are not that colourful. The French 6th is extremely colourful!
In principal they tend to have different applications in how they are treated, though one can find pretty much any use if you look hard enough.
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Rasputin
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Rasputin » Wed May 24, 2017 9:16 am

Anastas wrote:
Wed May 24, 2017 6:59 am
When I play some music I always try to analyze it, staying in terms and techniques used in the composer’s time.

About the question discussed here- why Sor put Gsharp, not for example A flat in this chord? The sound is the same, but the way of thinking not. What is his reason for this? In fact this is my question- Why did composer choose this way?
I don't know how Sor viewed this type of chord, i.e. what he would have called it or where he would have seen it as coming from. Where it comes from is key to the spelling though - in a key that contains G natural and A natural, a G# indicates that it a G that has been sharped, whereas Ab indicates an A that has been flatted.

From the point of view that the chord is an altered E7, the chord is the third of E, so must be some kind of G, not some kind of A. The key would normally contain Em7, but here the third has been raised by a semitone from G natural. That makes it G# and not Ab. It also makes the note in question the leading tone of A major, which also has to be G# rather than Ab (you can't have Ab to A in a scale). Equally the Bb has come about by lowering the fifth B, so is Bb and not A#.

According to Wikipedia (!) the Italian sixth has been considered to come from the subdominant, in this case G, but with the root raised and (in major keys) the third lowered. The French sixth is the same with the addition of the second scale degree. Again that would give you G# and Bb. Possibly you could still call the G# the leading tone of A, though this usually suggests it is part of the dominant chord. Also, if you spelt the notes Ab and A#, you would have a double-augmented octave rather than the augmented sixth that the chord is named after. In a sense there isn't much in that point, because they had to decide it was an augmented sixth before they gave it that name. Still, if Sor, coming along later, was thinking of it as containing an augmented sixth, he really had to spell it that way.

PS I saw Stephen's post just as I was submitting this one. The link between what I am saying and what he is saying is that a resolution is a real change in harmony and not just an alteration of a chord tone (or the reversal of an alteration). But of course Sor might have been thinking along those lines, for all I know.

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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by johnhall » Thu May 25, 2017 12:57 pm

This may help to show the voice-leading in measures 22-24. Notice how the augmented sixth interval resolves to the dominant (A). The distinction between the different types of augmented sixth chords is not important here. It is the voice-leading that is most important.
SorOp35No17.jpg
John
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Pirooz Emad
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Re: Question about Sor, op.35, study 17

Post by Pirooz Emad » Mon May 29, 2017 7:07 am

guitareleven wrote:
Sun May 21, 2017 1:57 pm
Pirooz Emad wrote:
Thu May 18, 2017 6:19 am
Hello Anastas,

In m. 23 Sor makes a strong approach to the dominant by half steps from both directions at once creating the augmented 6th interval Bb - G#. In my opinion, although it is tempting to consider the D and E as parts of a French augmented 6th chord, they are non-chord melody tones.

Regards,

Pirooz
Why wouldn't they be chord tones of a french sixth? That is what a french sixth looks like, that's how a french sixth works, and just about every other melodic note in the piece is a chord tone.
Strictly speaking they are parts of a Fr+6 chord. What I was trying to convey is that the heavy lifting is being done by the augmented 6th interval resolving to the dominant in the next measure, not the contribution of the melody notes in making this a particular type of an augmented 6th chord (i.e.Fr+6). John Hall subsequently made this point very clear in his post below.

One can view harmony either as a series of chords, or several lines of melody that form chords between them as they move. I would suggest that in this case the latter should be the view.

Pirooz

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