The spanish baroque guitar and seventeenth-century triadic theory

by ThomasChristensen

In searchingfor the origins of harmonictonality, the historianmust be careful not to fall into the trap of fallacious geneticism by anachronistically interpreting some musical event or theoretical formulation in the light of later tonal theory. For example, because a harmonic progressionin a 16th-centurymadrigal might look like a tonal authentic cadence, it does not follow that the progression actually fulfills such a tonal function in context. Likewise, when a theorist from the same time notes that in practice the fourth scale degree of a Lydian mode is often lowered through musicaficta, it would be Procrusteanfor us today to interprethis observation only as an adumbrationof the modern major/minorkey system. Any sophisticated theory of tonality, as Carl Dahlhaus has shown us, must be a dynamic one comprising a nexus of features that cannot be facilely reduced to a composite of individualconstituents, however critical any one of these constituents may be to the theory (…)


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