Schenkerian analysis
April 27, 2011 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Teach yourself Schenkerian analysis?

I feel like I need to learn some formal analysis techniques (sadly missing in my music degree...), and Schenker seems like a good place to start. What are the best resources for learning on my own?

Also, what other systems are worth investigating (I'm only really going to have a use for it in tonal classical music)?
posted by monkey closet to Media & Arts (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I was in a similar situation after I finished my degree, and I bought myself a copy of Cadwallader's Analysis of Tonal Music. It's remarkably plain-spoken and beautifully type-set. I found it a real pleasure to read.

Another angle you might try is Salzer and Schachter's Counterpoint in Composition, which starts off as a species counterpoint text, but then proceeds to show how species counterpoint encodes a lot of the aspects of the Schenkerian notion of prolongation. The last chapter is a collection of counterpoint analyses of music ranging from Dufay (or may des Prez) to Wagner; the fact that their theoretical framework is robust enough to admit a consistent treatment of such a variety of styles is impressive and thought-provoking.

If Forte's text on Schenkerian analysis is anything like his text on atonal analysis (bad, overwrought, divorced from the music), I would avoid it. I'm also under the impression that Schenker's original writings are really only of interest or value to Schenker scholars.

An alternate approach is Peter Narmour's "Implication-Realization Model," detailed in The Analysis and Cognition of Basic Melodic Structures, which looks at music from more of a cognitive standpoint and doesn't have as many assumptions about compositional unity built in to it, which makes it a lot more flexible. I've just started reading that book myself. I think Narmour has yet to fashion a formal extension to his framework for the handling of harmony, but it's an interesting read anyway.
posted by invitapriore at 8:40 AM on April 27, 2011 [4 favorites]

Seconding Cadwallader.
posted by dfan at 11:51 AM on April 27, 2011

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