Accidentals in early Berg

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David Ward
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Accidentals in early Berg

Post by David Ward » 24 Oct 2018, 09:50

Can anyone comment on why the singer has a B :f rather than an A :s in the second bar of the first of Berg's 7 Early Songs? In 1959 I vaguely recall asking my composition teacher Sandy Goehr why it was written this way, but I don't remember his response (if any).

In a different context, and freed from the keyboard tyranny of equal temperament, B :f and A :s may not be the same pitch; but here?
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John Ruggero
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Re: Accidentals in early Berg

Post by John Ruggero » 24 Oct 2018, 15:23

Berg is generating dissonant chords by using unresolved appoggiaturas alla Schoenberg. The Bb and G# are double chromatic appoggiaturas resolving to an understood A in the basic D harmony represented by the first two measures. The Bb is spelled as a neighboring tone as usual. Note the E augmented triad used as neighbor-chord to introduce the D triad throughout the two measures.
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David Ward
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Re: Accidentals in early Berg

Post by David Ward » 24 Oct 2018, 18:03

Yes, I think it probable that Sandy's explanation was just as yours. It makes sense.

I think it does make it difficult for the singer, though, and perhaps it could have been notated differently.

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John Ruggero
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Re: Accidentals in early Berg

Post by John Ruggero » 24 Oct 2018, 22:45

Thanks, David. For me, its actually a little easier to sing as notated, since my ears are firmly stuck in tonality and don't make much sense out of a series of chromatic intervals unless they hear the underlying harmony.
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