Alexander Morgan

The Interdependence of Schemata and Form in the Motto Symphonies of Haydn

Through an examination of Haydn's motto symphonies I propose a consideration for the interdependence of schemata and form in this particular analytic context. As described in Music in the Galant Style (Gjerdingen, 2007), a schema is a contrapuntal motion often in two voices that anchors a work in the classical style and simultaneously serves as a point of orientation for the listener. In general, each motto consists of one schema, the familiarity of which renders the motto all the more recognizable.
But a schema corresponds neither to a specific formal function, nor to a given level in the form. In identifying the schemata used, one better understands how each one adapts to the constantly changing formal requirements of the sonata with each successive return of the motto. Despite their status as temporal events that motivate harmonic motion, schemata remain para-formal phenomena insofar as most can embody a variety of formal and temporal functions. My analysis of these symphonies shows how they build musical structures that articulate the mottoes while respecting the sonata conventions of the time, that is, how they repeat without stagnating. A schema will often keep the same temporal function (beginning, middle, or end) in a work, but at different formal levels which occasionally engenders significant analytic reinterpretations. The conventional orderings of schemata are the primary means by which they influence the larger form of a work. Examining motto symphonies is particularly worthwhile because the fact that each motto repeats so often necessitates considerable formal plasticity. The interdependence of the two temporal processes of form and schemata manifests itself in other works by Haydn as well and I will conclude with a consideration for the usefulness of this approach in selected piano sonatas.