Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



Before the later nineteenth century, the principle governing nearly all earlier tonal composition was monotonality. Monotonality explains the structure of most tonal compositions, but there are numerous examples for which monotonal analysis is inadequate, especially in music of the later nineteenth century. Deformations of monotonality often arise from off-tonic openings, but some compositions may be understood in terms of two or more co-equal tonics, making monotonal models insufficient. Such compositions exhibit polyfocal tonality, also known as directional tonality. In order to adequately address polyfocal structures, I propose a new method of analysis that combines Schenkerian analysis with interpretive approaches derived from the work of Harald Krebs, Edward T. Cone, and Patrick McCreless. Cone believes that a third level of hearing should be attained in which one synthesizes the diachronic (naïve) and synchronic (retrospective) levels, appreciating each level separately and as a whole. Polyfocal analysis is my representation of Cone’s third level. Additionally, McCreless’s hermeneutical analysis is incorporated into polyfocal analysis because it highlights important chromatic events, showing their relationship to the overall tonal structure of a composition. Such chromatic tonicizations are common in polyfocal structures and will be referred to as tonal allusions. More specifically, proleptic allusion will refer to chromaticism that anticipates a tonic, and analeptic allusion to chromaticism that recalls a tonic. Many composers have written polyfocal compositions, but the first to write a significant number of them is Franz Schubert. Polyfocal tonality is found primarily in Schubert’s Lieder; poetry seems to be the original inspiration for his polyfocal tonality. Polyfocal analysis will be applied to a representative number of songs from this body of early polyfocal repertoire, including revisions he made to some of them. These revisions (some altering the structure from monotonal to polyfocal, or vice versa) may reflect his later reinterpretation of texts, or merely a maturing perspective on the poetry he set. By analyzing Schubert’s Lieder polyfocally, new insights will be gained that contribute to the scholarship on Schubert’s compositional strategies, as well as to the general understanding of polyfocal structures.



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Committee Chair

Perry, Jeffrey

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Music Commons