Analyzing Polarity(William Renwick)

Alex suggests that the "importance of Schenker is the process." That came out very well in our September 23 class. By the way, thanks to you all for persevering with our "total immersion" introduction to Schenker. Let me suggest that Schenker himself would probably see the importance as two-fold. On the one hand he would see that the engagement with the music itself that Schenkerian analysis provides is crucial to any penetration of what the particular composition is about (getting to know the music intimately). But, being an "orthodox" Schenkerian, he himself would assert that the ultimate importance is the "truth" of the findings (i.e. the connection to the background that "proves" a composition's ultimate unity).

(A parallel to this might be readings of Christianity, where the non-believer would read the importance of Jesus as in defining a "path" by which we can lead our lives--all good things such as generosity, love, giving, etc.. The "orthodox" would suggest that the ultimate importance is divine revelation and redemption.)

As Alex suggests, this strain of thinking permits Schenkerian technique to join the mainstream of musicology at the level the music-lover is at. And, ultimately, in a critical mode, it is probably the conjunction of various modes of analysis that will come closest to the essence of a given piece.

On Motion. It is interesting that Simon is attracted to the way that Schenkerian analysis portrays musical motion. Although it does do that through the identification of linear progressions etc., at a more fundamental level Schenkerian analysis is sometimes criticized as being a static view of music. In this view the analysis is seen as a total object that represents the totality of the musical object, in contrast to the more narrative or dynamic modes of analysis represented by Leonard Meyer in particular. (Meyer eloquently portrays how implications that appear early in a piece are played out later in a piece, and in this way is allied with Schoenbergian thought as described by Patricia Carpenter.

While Schenker limited his analytical method to the music from Bach to Brahms, (Simon) others have broadened that scope to encompass eveything from Gregorian chant to Broadway (Allen Forte) and Bartok, naturally with varying degrees of success.