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

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however, for the second soprano had joined the first soprano on the G one beat earlier
and continues to hold the pitch, creating a half-step dissonance between the soprano
voices on beat three. At the same time, the lower voices introduce a Db, the only pitch in
the entire piece that is outside the E-flat major collection. This change causes the chord
on beat three of measure 57 to be a Db(6)/7 chord, a highly dissonant but beautifully
unexpected chord. The bass arpeggiates through a Db(6) chord in root position, and the
sonority finally resolves to a pure A-flat major triad on the downbeat of measure 58. The
sudden release of the tension, combined with the change of key, the high register, and the
fortissimo dynamics, make this moment glorious.
The Db chord resolves to a root-position Ab major triad on the downbeat of
measure 58, which itself resolves to an Eb chord later in the measure. This chord
progression is thus another example of an applied subdominant progression: IV/IV – IV –
I. In the remainder of the passage, the voices elaborate the dominant chord, so that the
entire passage ends on a half cadence.
Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine
Measures 110-116 may be viewed as the climax of Leonardo Dreams and take
place just before Leonardo’s “flight” (see Figure 38). Sonority does not come into play
until the very end of this passage; rather, the majority of the chords Whitacre uses here
are root-position pure triads. I focus here particularly on the pure E major triad, which
arrives on the downbeat of measure 114. For me, the arrival of this chord feels for a
moment like a sense of repose. Not only does this chord have a much longer duration
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