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

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well. The passage seems fairly self-contained and has a clear melodic and dynamic
contour that rises to the climax and then settles down again. The high range and loud
dynamics clearly mark this passage as climactic, but it is the use of added-tone sonorities
in the passage that heightens the beauty of the passage for me.
Whitacre begins the passage with an octave C between the voices. This single
pitch expands outward to form a pure A-flat major triad. The bass then moves down by
step, passing through an Eb/4 chord to an F minor chord, and then to a Bb(5)/7 chord.
Measures 46 through 48 repeat this basic chord progression, though the upper voices
move much higher this time, bringing the clash between 5 and 7 to the top of the soprano
register. One might recall from the analysis of the first phrase of Sleep that this piece is
strongly in the key of E-flat major. The B-flat chord here thus asserts itself as a
dominant, giving these two phrases the effect of half cadences. Especially in measure 48,
the Bb(5)/7 chord strongly demands a resolution.
Whitacre does not provide that resolution, however. Instead, the bass reiterates its
descent from Ab to F in measures 50-51, while the upper voices ascend to form an
f(2,5,t) chord on the downbeat of measure 51. The upper voices hold their parts while the
lower voices sing an echo figure in a higher register. Because of this motion in the lower
voices, the added 2 in the first soprano, the most dissonant pitch in the chord, is last heard
as the added 11 of an A-flat major chord.
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