Toward a quarter-tone syntax: Analyses of selected works by Blackwood, Haba, Ives, and Wyschnegradsky
Skinner, Myles Leigh
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In this dissertation, I examine selected quarter-tone works by four composers: Easley Blackwood, Alois Hába, Charles Ives, and Ivan Wyschnegradsky. In the works under consideration, I show how each composer employs quarter tones to extend traditional models of harmony, counterpoint, tonal syntax, and prolongation. Chapter 1 considers fundamentals of music theory such as pitch names, enharmonic equivalence, intervals, chords, and scales, and proposes notational conventions and terminology for discussing quarter-tone music. Chapter 2 considers counterpoint and dissonance treatment in Blackwood's 24 notes: Moderato . Chapter 3 shows that traditional consonant triads and allusions to tonality are important components of Hába's Suite für vier Posaunen im Vierteltonsystem , op. 72. Chapter 4 shows that Ives's Three Quarter-Tone Pieces display stylistic features that often appear in his more conventional works. Chapter 5 explores the characteristics of Wyschnegradsky's diatonicized chromatic scale (or DC-scale) and shows how he uses it in 24 Préludes dans l'echelle chromatique diatonisée à 13 sons to create tonic prolongations. Chapter 6 further explores properties of the DC-scale and reveals parallels between chords derived from it and neo-Riemannian transformational theory.