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SchenkerGUIDE: Guide to Schenkerian analysis logo

Stage one summary
(foreground harmonic analysis)

[introduction / next stage]

The first step is a harmonic analysis in preparation for stage two, in which melodic elaborations of various kinds will be identified. The harmonic analysis allows us explore how dissonant notes (those not in the relevant harmony) can be shown as elaborations of consonant ones (those notes that are part of the relevant chord).

  • Label harmonies using Roman numerals and, where necessary, figured bass (it is often helpful to show first inversions, six-four chords and suspensions).
  • At this stage of the analysis identify chords according to the local key (i.e. if it modulates to the dominant show the harmonies as chords of the new key).

In the short example used here, the process of harmonic analysis is simple enough. You will find in longer and more complex passages, however, that it is sometimes useful to think ahead to the next stage of the analysis. A good example would be where a dominant chord appears briefly between two tonics in a series of running quavers - is it worth giving it a separate harmonic label, or might it be better just to treat it as a passing harmony. The end result will end up being the same, but you can save yourself some time in this way as you become more experienced. When you are starting out, however, it will pay to be as fastidious as possible.

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© Copyright Thomas Pankhurst