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

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the bass arpeggiates the triad as it moves down an octave. In measure 55 the upper
voices reenter on their G-sharp major triad, but this time they are joined by the lower
voices to create a full, pure G-sharp major triad.
F# was very prominent in measures 49 through 54. At first the tonality appeared
to be F-sharp minor, but then it changed to F-sharp Lydian at the key signature. The
heavy emphasis on the G-sharp major triad in measure 55 heralds a change of tonality.
The soprano line supports this, visiting E natural, rather than E sharp, as an upper
neighbor. Whitacre returns the key signature to original three sharps just as he has the
voices move to a b(2)/0 chord on the downbeat of measure 56. The bass immediately
begins stepping up the B minor scale, traversing an octave and a fourth before coming to
rest on an E minor chord. After a fermata, the sonority resolves into a pure B major triad.
Here again, in measures 56-58, Whitacre outlines the progression from B minor to
E minor to B major. This time the progression is unambiguous: the bass outlines the
entire B minor scale, and the added tones within the E minor chords deter listeners from
interpreting that chord as tonic. Whitacre confirms an interpretation of B as tonic when,
for the rest of the piece, he has the choirs reiterate that single triad, moving to an E minor
chord in second inversion as a pedal IV decorating this tonic triad.
The climax of Whitacre’s Sleep (Figure 37) is a compelling musical moment that
has brought me to tears on several occasions. The moment of climax occurs on the
downbeat of measure 58, but I have included the surrounding passage in my analysis as