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

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sonorities that cannot occur within a diatonic sound-world: a minor triad with added e
and a major triad with added 8. The addition of a traditionally “major scale” element to a
minor triad, and of a “minor scale” element to a major triad allows Whitacre to introduce
listeners to his main idea for the piece, the mixing of light and dark, in a way which is
still relatable to a tonal context (motion from i to V).145
Water Night
Figure 22: Water Night, measures 1-5
A more extended example of motion within stasis can be found in the first five
measures of Water Night, given in Figure 22. The piece starts with a root-position B-flat
minor triad, which will likely be interpreted as the tonic. While the bass tone never
moves from its initial pitch, the upper voices begin to add pitches to the underlying triad,
introducing the entire B-flat minor collection by the third beat of measure three. This
beat is also the peak of the initial phrase, after which the texture gradually thins to reveal
a root-position tonic triad that is nearly identical to that which began the piece. This
expansion of tonic seems analogous to the Classical idiom of writing a full phrase over a
145
Whitacre, “Nox Aurumque,” weblog.
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