Download Added-Tone Sonorities in the Choral Music of Eric Whitacre

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Full-collection sonorities – Whitacre’s full-collection sonorities were discussed in the
previous chapter, and no particular combination of added tones appears frequently
enough to merit individual discussion here. In general, Whitacre uses fullcollection sonorities as stable entities, often holding them without resolution for
several beats or measures. This stability results from the fact that the added tones
completely fill all the spaces between the triad tones, leaving no room for
An added-tone sonority is an interpretation of a complex chord as an ornamented
form of a basic tonal entity: the triad. Once the underlying triad and root has been
established for a given chord, that chord can be related to its musical surroundings in a
specifically tonal way that was not possible before. Analysts are thus enabled to make
statements about the extent to which Whitacre’s compositions emulate common-practice
tonality, project a tonal center, etc. Through an interpretation of Whitacre’s chords as
added-tone sonorities, analysts may begin to interpretively segment Whitacre’s music,
understanding specific chords as part of an underlying progression or as decorating that
underlying progression through neighboring or passing motion.
As will be seen in the following chapters, an analysis of Whitacre’s music using
added-tone sonorities reveals much about his compositional style, his distinctive twist on
traditional tonal language. Whitacre’s compositions, when viewed on a larger scale, may