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Schenkerian notation summary

The presentation of various types of Schenkerian graph is discussed at length in Chapter 5 of the handbook. This page briefly summarizes some of the principal notational conventions found in middleground graphs. The points made below are exemplified in the graph at the bottom of the page.

Background features

  • the Urlinie is marked with open noteheads, stems and a beam, with each note of the descent marked with a caretted number to indicate the scale degree (, etc.)
  • the Bassbrechung is similarly marked with stems and a beam
  • an interruption of the Urlinie is shown using a double vertical line after the point of interruption (||)

Middleground features

  • middleground connections are shown by means of a combination of slurs and stems. In examples with a greater level of detail, stems and beams can also be used to clarify middleground progressions
  • while solid slurs group together adjacent notes, dotted slurs are used to show connections between notes that are separated, such as the two Ds at measures 8 and 12
  • large-scale progressions from I to V are often shown with a slur that curls up and over the dominant
  • shifts of register such as that in the arpeggiation at m. 9 can be clarified using arrows
  • quaver flags can be used to clarify middleground connections. The flag just before m. 51 in the example below draws attention to the reaching over of the F onto the E.
  • unfoldings are most often shown using the notation in m. 51. The upper voice is marked with an upward stem and the lower voice C with a downward one. The two notes are connected with a beam and two further stems.
  • labels (N, 3-prg etc.) can be used to clarify where necessary what type of elaboration is being proposed in the analysis



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© Copyright Thomas Pankhurst