Folker Froebe

On Synergies of Schema Theory and Schenkerian Analysis. A Perspective from Riepel’s ‘Fonte’ and ‘Monte’

Instances of the schemata that Joseph Riepel called ‘Fonte’ and ‘Monte’—taken up recently in Robert Gjerdingen’s work—involve routine contrapuntal and melodic patterns. Riepel, however, identifies the schemata not with these patterns themselves, but with their functional coordination within a tonal ‘Kadenzordnung’. This talk focuses on the relation between ‘Gestalt’ and function of cognitively anchored schemata, which is implicitly addressed by Riepel and more or less unresolved by Gjerdingen. Gjerdingen’s concept of directly perceptible complexes of ‘Gestalts’ and the Schenkerian concept of relations mediated by the diminuation of deeper structural levels are examined for their connectibility and/or complementarity. In fact, Schenkerian middleground reductions of different works frequently result in similar sub-coherencies. It therefore seems possible to apprehend typical tonal configurations represented in Schenkerian graphs as hierarchically superordinated schemata that regulate the use, instantiation, and sequence of small-scale schemata, while the reference on small-scale schemata reinforces Schenker’s idea of a quasi improvisational growth of large-scale contexts out of elementary patterns. Conversely, slight variants in the instantiation or contextualisation of a schema may cause significant shifts within a Schenkerian analysis. Signal-like schema events imply a network of expectations that works itself out in the course of further choices. The conjunction of both concepts—schema-identity and hierarchical functionality—thus opens up a processual perspective on functional analysis. Analysis of compositions by Robert Schumann illustrate ways in which the functional implications of galant schemata like ‘Fonte’ remain aesthetically meaningful in atypical and displaced contexts. Certain effects in musical poetics of the 19th century seem due to the fact that the ‘Ursatz-tonality’ begins to lose its self-evidence, allowing for the reemergence of other modes of musical coherence.