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

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Chapter 6: Added-Tone Sonorities in Analysis: The Closing Phrase
Let us now examine the final phrases of Whitacre’s choral works to see how he
uses added-tone sonorities at the ends of his pieces. As will soon become evident,
Whitacre seems to prefer to end his pieces with added-tone sonorities rather than with
pure triads. Additionally, he sometimes chooses to end with a second-inversion chord
rather than one in root position and often opts out of a final cadence; in fact, none of the
pieces included in this study end with an authentic cadence of any type. How does
Whitacre achieve closure in the absence of the traditional V-I motion? How can listeners
be expected to attribute a sense of rest to an added-tone sonority, especially one not in
root position? A close examination of the final phrases of Whitacre’s pieces will
enlighten us.
When David Heard
The final section of this piece (mm. 195-214) mimics the opening passage
analyzed in the previous chapter. The section begins with a free tempo, recitative style,
an oscillation between A minor and F major triads, and the same text as at the start of the
piece. At measure 206 the voices take up the “my son” motive from the beginning of the
piece. The sonority here is not as full as in the first phrase, but is a repeated d(2,5)/7
chord. The phrase “my son” is repeated four times, after which the choir holds the chord
for another three measures. Finally, in measure 213 the voices move to form an empty
fifth: A and E (see Figure 26). The hollow sound of this would-be triad is well suited to
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