Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Michael Armstrong

Retrograde: How Important Is It To Avoid?

Recommended Posts

So, when I first started theory I was told that retrograde (movement from a dominant function chord to a pre-dominant function chord) was strictly forbidden in common practice harmony. However, while working through Hindemith's "Traditional Harmony" I found that several of Hindemith's prescribed progressions in the exercises have retrograde progressions. So, is retrograde strictly forbidden? Are there exceptions? Am I just stupid? 

 

Discuss.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hard to say without an example, but you can follow a V with II or IV in the context of a sequence, for instance. certainly if something like you described *were* to happen, the V would not be analysed as having a dominant function. Another possibility is modulation, in which case it also wouldn't be considered dominant. finally, a chord might just be part of a prolongation of a predominant harmony.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmmm… could you be thinking of something to do with resolving the leading tone properly, since the V contains the leading tone and the IV contains the tonic?  If I'm understanding you correctly, you can really follow any triad with any other triad.  Some progressions are more common than others, and some are particularly useful in certain situations, but there is nothing that is not allowed in common practice.  There are firmer rules about which chord factors are doubled in a particular chord to make your voice leading as smooth as possible, and which inversions and spacings you have in your chords for the same reason.  So that the individual lines are all as smooth and lyrical and intuitive as possible for someone listening or sight-reading a part.  So that your fingers can stretch easily to play them if it's a keyboard piece.  And so that the piece feels firmly rooted in a particular key, and really feels resolved when you resolve at the end, rather than wandering all over the place.  

 

That's my best guess without being able to read the rule you were talking about.  Something to do with proper resolution of the leading tone.  ):  Helpful?  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not forbidden by any means, though it is certainly not as common as some other progressions. Use your ear if anything. If it sounds interesting and "right" to you in a particular context than go for it. I usually only have three rules I consistently stick to when it comes to harmony; no parallel fifths, no parallel octaves, no doubling a leading/chromatic tones. Everything else is fair game and a product of good voice leading, creativity, and invention. Bach chorales are great to look at because many times they utilize movements between voices and chords that are unexpected and interesting. I also recommend looking at the Well-Tempered Clavier, some of the preludes are harmonic treasures; Prelude No. 21 in Bb Major has a section that might as well be Gospel music, it's wonderful. Good luck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hindemith eats tacos filled with strictly forbidden. 

 

Hindemith wakes up every morning and pisses strictly forbidden.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not 'strictly forbidden' per se, but such progressions are used either for special effect, in sequences or in a way that was not often used by the composers (Beethoven, Bach etc.) whose works most theorists base their studies on.

 

Here are a few musical examples of IV (or related harmony) coming in after V; observe how they function:

 

Coming in after a 'back-relating' dominant as part of a larger scale progression (I-ii6-V7):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXfaBXGgwbc#t=3m49s

 

As part of a diatonic sequence in ascending fifths:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVcdTZH7qvM#t=8m39s

 

As an expansionary harmony of the dominant (although these examples are remnants of the Phrygian mode):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISVrFVspCJI#t=25s

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yyBP3t7g90#t=2m1s

(This one leads the music away from it)

 

Coming in after a dominant (again, remnants of the Mixolydian mode):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLT_FqiTd5c#t=2m28s

(Here the dominant is tonicised, and could be read as back-relating; ii participates in an imperfect [half] cadence in the tonic)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCQjtr7tJU4#t=1h18m24s

(A later example that audibly demonstrates the 'rewinding' effect of such progressions)

 

As part of some very expressive interrupted cadences:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2C8AId2gmkI#t=5m13s

(Neapolitan sixth)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_0q8hxMy_w#t=10m2s

(German tenth)

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndCMwRCuP-Q#t=5m10s

(A highly unusual effect; certainly not commonplace for its time despite the modal tendencies of this piece)

 

Hope this helps!

 

N.B.: V-#IV7 is common; I'm assuming you're excluding this progression.

 

Could you provide measure numbers? I have no idea what passages you are referencing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to be rude or anything, but are you actually saying you can't hear these things, or are you just too lazy to find the specific passages in the score yourself?

 

both.

Edited by p7rv

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm. Why study functional harmony if you don't use it when you listen to music, I wonder. I might put up the relevant excerpts of the score when I have the time.

 

The examples I listened to do not have any dominants followed by predominants, it's all sequences and modulations. That's why I was asking you to be more specific (with measure numbers), because it's impossible to tell what you are referring to with only a timestamp, Even one example would be good enough.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the mozart example are you talking about, do you mean going to ii6 after the half-cadence? I'd say that doesn't count because it's a new phrase (so it's not really a progression V-ii6-V97, rather a new section). Lots of bach chorales have parallel fifths if you count the next note after a fermata, but it shouldn't count because it's really a new section

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My point is, it doesn't happen in CPE music often, and when it does, it's either at a new phrase, or it is best seen as an allusion to the church modes (like the beginning of bach's chorale 187)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...