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The Fundamental Structure (cont.)
Back to Guide | Introduction | The descent from 3 | Three Blind Mice | Other Descents | Prolonging the Fundamental Structure


Three Blind Mice (Part I)
A long standing joke about Schenkerian analysis is that it reduces every piece of music to "Three Blind Mice" and this nursery rhyme provides a beautifully simple example of how the fundamental structure works as an analytical tool.

A suggested working method is properly discussed in How to do a Schenkerian Analysis but the example below shows the initial stage - labelling diminutions:

  • any consecutively repeated bars are ignored - e.g. bars 2 and 4
  • foreground diminutions are marked - e.g.:
    the descending third that prolongs I (C) in bar one
    the neighbour note that prolongs V (G) on the second beat of bar five
  • this analysis also shows a further layer of diminutions in bar five - the neighbour note on the second beat and the consonant skip on the fourth decorate a neighbour note prolongation of I that spans the whole bar


Note the way that Schenkerian analyses are notated: there are no stems on the noteheads and a slur spans the linear unit or diminution in question. Stems, beams and minim noteheads are used at other stages of an analysis (see Notation Guide)

Remember that Schenker's fundamental structure can occur at various levels of a piece and in "Three Blind Mice" an instance of it can be seen in the first bar. In a Schenkerian analysis, however, we are seeking to explain the whole piece in terms of this progression. Once the initial stage of an analysis is completed, we are looking for two things:

  1. an appearance of the tonic in the bass near the beginning of the piece
  2. a - over a V - I bass progression towards the end of the piece

Have a look for these features in the above example and then click on it to see the answer and more explanations.

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