Motivic design and tonal structure in the mazurkas of Frederic Chopin, as illustrated in graphic analyses based on the theoretical concepts of Heinrich Schenker
Viljoen, Nicolaas Gert Johannes
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This dissertation presents a study of motivic design and tonal structure in selected mazurkas by Frederic Chopin. The principal objective is to demonstrate the coordinated interaction of harmony, counterpoint and motivic design in the mazurkas. The analytic method used is that of the Austrian pianist and music theorist Heinrich Schenker (1868-1935), a method based on the conception of a tonal composition as an organic hierarchy of structural levels ("Schichten"). Analyses of mazurkas are presented through sets of carefully worked out voice-leading graphs depicting the various levels of structure and their content. The merit of Schenkerian analysis for interpreting motivic and structural elements is given in the preface, the principal point being the identification and interpretation of harmonic, voice-leading and motivic events on different structural levels. A general introduction to Chopin and the mazurka follows, comprising a historical overview of the mazurka as genre, a chronological listing of all the mazurkas of Chopin, and an assessment of his contribution to the mazurka. Part One presents Schenker's method, using analytic illustrations. A set of analytic voice-leading graphs for a complete mazurka, serving as comprehensive model analysis, and intended to demonstrate the whole apparatus of Schenkerian analysis, is provided with commentary in a separate chapter. Various areas of investigation concerning motivic design and tonal structure in the mazurkas are followed through in Part Two. These include motivic design as a unifying factor, its influence on tonal structure, the influences of motivic design and tonal structure on form, and of chromaticism and specific folkloric devices on motivic and tonal structure. The seventeen mazurkas analysed in Part Two reveal concentrated interactions of harmonic, voice-leading and motivic elements, many instances of hidden motivic repetitions or parallelisme, and motivic networks. Motives also play a decisive role in tonal and formal unification. Chromaticism and folkloric elements are no longer pure stylistic or idiomatic features, but part of the motivic and tonal-structural content. Through the application of Schenkerian analysis, new insights are gained into the nature of motivic and tonal-structural elements in the mazurkas which cannot be arrived at through conventional methods of analysis.