Theory & Lit III
CONTRIBUTE

BREATHING A BAROQUE PHRASE

The following exercise is intended as a way of beginning a compositional process for a simple tonal musical sentence. Before composing with pencil and paper, try this a few times with your voice, improvising melodically with your primary instrument, or just under your breath.

Each of the 10 descriptions below reflect common phrases comprising tonal melodies written in the 18th century and later. Arrows connect a harmonic start-point (basic motive, beginning of the phrase) to a harmonic endpoint (the goal-harmony of a cadence). After the endpoint, likely scale-degrees are listed for the conclusive note(s) of the melody.

In brackets, where appropriate, an accidental indicates what distinctive altered scale degrees will help to clarify and distinguish the harmony in question. Try singing the top phrases first, one at a time. Then plan an approach that involves a pair of phrases, or three, in quick succession.

MAJOR KEYS:

I —> I: 1^ 3^ 5^
I —> V: 2^ 5^
I —> V/V -> V: 2^ 5^ [+#4^]

IV [+b7^] —> I: 1^ 3^ 5^
V [+#4^] —> V: 2^ 5^ [+n4^]
V [+#4^] —> I: 1^ 3^ 5^

vi [+#5^] —> I: 1^ 3^ 5^
vi [+#5^] —> V: 2^ 5^

I —> vi: 1^ 3^ 6^
vi —> II: 2^ 6^
You will notice that not all phrases follow all other phrases gracefully. For example, phrases beginning on IV usually follow phrases ending on I or vi. Phrases beginning on vi should normally not follow phrases ending on vi. (Disjunction is the norm when moving to or from the relative minor.) Now try minor keys…again, with easy examples first, and more difficult ones further down:

MINOR KEYS:

i —> i: 1^ 3^ 5^
i —> V: 2^ 5^
i —> V/III -> III: 3^ 5^ [no non-diatonic notes needed, but emphasize 6^->5^ and 2^-3^…]
IV [use raised 3 for temporary tonicization] —> I: 1^ 3^ 5^

VI —> I: 1^ 3^ 5^
VI —> V: 2^ 5^

I —> VI: 1^ 3^ 6^
VI —> III: 3^ 5^

tonicizing V (these are difficult…):
I —> V/V -> V: 2^ 5^ [+#4^]
V [+#4^] —> V: 2^ 5^ [+n4^]
V [+#4^] —> I: 1^ 3^ 5^