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

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Chapter 7: Added Tone Sonorities in Analysis: Interesting Moments
In this chapter, I wish to explore certain passages within Whitacre’s output that I
find especially compelling, moving, climactic, or otherwise interesting. I take up the
question that I believe to be the true essence of music theory: Why does this passage
sound the way that it does? What gives this music its special affect? In Whitacre’s case,
I suspect, much of the answer will have to do with his added-tone sonorities.
Go, Lovely Rose
Measures 18-25 of this piece constitute their own eight bar phrase, which to me is
very beautiful and peaceful, especially at the cadence in measure 25 (see Figure 35). The
phrase begins by quoting the opening gesture of the piece, a chord build starting on B.
While at the opening the chord build formed a full B(2,6)/0 chord, here the motion is cut
short after the first three notes, and the choir moves to a root-position A major triad
instead. Halfway through measure 19, part of the choir moves up to form a B major triad
against the sustained A major triad, resulting in an A(2,6,9)/0 added-tone sonority. The
choir continues to repeat this gesture, which is similar to Whitacre’s breathing motive,
until measure 23. Every other measure, the moving voices step down to form the B
major triad, resulting in a sonority that could be construed as an f#(5,9,t)/0 chord;
context, however, suggests that this chord be interpreted as an A(2,6,9)/7 sonority.