Jan Philipp Sprick

Sequences between Affirmation and Destruction of Tonality.

In the history of music theory, we frequently encounter the paradox, that harmonic sequences are on the one side seen as fundamental and affirmative examples for tonality (Rameau, Sechter et al.) and on the other side as structures, that threaten or almost destroy cadence oriented understandings of tonality (Riemann, Grabner et al.). I have argued elsewhere, that the discussion of sequences therefore functions as a kind of ‘testing ground’ for individual conceptions of tonality (Sprick 2011).
In my talk I want to leave the historical perspective in favor of an evaluation of current theories and discussions of tonality. In comparison with the role of sequences in theories of harmony in the 19th and early 20th century, I want to discuss the position of sequences in neo-riemannian- and transformational theories, in schema theory, ‘Tonfeld’-analysis as well as in current pedagogical approaches, based on historically informed music theory, Riemannian functions and roman numerals. The main aim of my talk is to identify, whether we can observe a continuity towards the integration of sequences in the different approaches or significant changes. My point of departure will be the comparative analysis of selected musical examples from the common practice period.