Tonal Enigma: A Study of Problematic Openings and Endings

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When talking about tonal music, we sometimes tend to take for granted the idea that the tonic should always be clearly established either at the beginning or the end. However, there are composers who sometimes deviate from the normal path by creating different types of riddles or tonal enigmas in their works. Some of these riddles can be solved later on as the piece progresses; yet others may need to bexplained with the help of some external references. This thesis examines three such examples, each of which poses its unique enigma. The second movement of Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 presents ... continued below

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Yun, Xiao August 2018.

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  • Yun, Xiao

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When talking about tonal music, we sometimes tend to take for granted the idea that the tonic should always be clearly established either at the beginning or the end. However, there are composers who sometimes deviate from the normal path by creating different types of riddles or tonal enigmas in their works. Some of these riddles can be solved later on as the piece progresses; yet others may need to bexplained with the help of some external references. This thesis examines three such examples, each of which poses its unique enigma. The second movement of Bruckner's Symphony No. 1 presents a dualism between Ab and F (paralleled by their dominants Eb and C); Brahms's Alto Rhapsody involves an enormous auxiliary cadence spanning 2/3 of the piece and a seemingly plagal cadence which turns out to be authentic with the V suppressed; and eventually, Grieg's setting of Dereinst, dereinst, Gedanke mein provides a paradoxical ending which may be understood as incorporating the composer's attitude towards the text.

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  • August 2018

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  • Sept. 26, 2018, 6:16 p.m.

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Yun, Xiao. Tonal Enigma: A Study of Problematic Openings and Endings, thesis, August 2018; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1248491/: accessed December 10, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .