Music Theory Online
The Online Journal of the Society for Music Theory
Volume 5, Number 1 January, 1999
Copyright � 1999 Society for Music Theory
KEYWORDS: motive, hidden repetition, Grundgestalt, musical idea, Schenker, Schoenberg, Beethoven
ABSTRACT: A process akin to Schoenberg's "musical idea" accounts to a large degree for motivic coherence in the first movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 10, No. 1. My article illustrates this process by means of a synthesis of Schenker's and Schoenberg's approaches to analysis. I use Schenkerian analysis to identify potential motives at various levels of musical structure, then interpret the treatment of some of these segments according to Schoenberg's model. I also show how the primary motivic process interacts with other such processes in the first movement.
Among followers of Schenker, the notion of "hidden repetition" has garnered a good deal of interest in recent years. Articles by Beach, Burkhart, Cadwallader and Pastille, Kamien, Rothgeb, and Schachter, among others, have illustrated how repetition of a given motive or motives at different levels contributes to organic coherence in a variety of tonal works.
 There is another analytic tradition originating in the same time and place as
Schenker's that concerns itself specifically with the question of how a single process can
organize motivic relations (or other kinds of relations) across the surface of a tonal
piece. That tradition stems from the theoretical work of Arnold Schoenberg. Schoenberg's
analytic approach has not been adopted as commonly in studies of tonal music as has
Schenkerian analysis: one possible reason is a disagreement among scholars who use
Schoenberg's method about its basic terms and concepts, such as "developing
variation," Grundgestalt, and "musical idea."
 I believe "Schenkerian-Schoenbergian Analysis" introduces a new way of
amalgamating the two approaches. Others have attempted to combine them, most notably David
Epstein in Beyond Orpheus, but in ways considerably different from the present
 Another, more recent, contribution that combines aspects of Schoenberg's
theoretical writings with the Schenkerian approach is Janet Schmalfeldt's Music
Analysis article on the "Reconciliation of Schenkerian Concepts with Traditional
and Recent Theories of Form."
 In Beethoven's Op. 10, No. 1, first movement, the Grundgestalt is mm. 1-9,
the initial period plus the downbeat of the following measure. See Example 1. This opening unit contains two voice-leading strands
within the i - viio6/5 - i6 progression that can be heard as opponents to one another. The
reasons are: 1) they present diminutions of different kinds, and 2) they are given
contrasting characters through the surface characteristics applied to them such as
register, dynamics, and diminution. These motives are the ascending third harmonized by
parallel tenths (labeled delta in Example 1)
and the double neighbor figure (labeled alpha).
 According to Schoenberg's "idea," the next step in Beethoven's process,
having established an opposition between motives delta and alpha, would be to elaborate
that opposition. Analyses by Schoenberg, Patricia Carpenter, and Severine Neff (as well as
others) illustrate a variety of ways that tonal pieces elaborate such oppositions; often,
one of the opposing elements is a foreign pitch or chord with respect to the home key and
the other is the tonic triad, and the elaboration consists of allowing the foreign element
to simulate a tonic. In the movement under consideration, however, the procedure is a bit
different, since the opposing elements are two motives, both members of the
tonal-prolongational structure of mm. 1-9, which are marked as divergent by surface
characteristics such as register and dynamics rather than by the tonalities they
represent. In a few words, Beethoven gradually increases motive alpha's salience by giving
it delta's original surface characteristics, while at the same time submerging motive
delta by replacing its dominant characteristics with more recessive ones. This process
then culminates in delta becoming a diminution of alpha, which, it seems to me, makes the
motivic process resemble Hegelian dialectic. The exchange of status between the two
motives begins at the exposition's second theme, directly following a transition based
almost entirely on the inversion of motive delta. See Example 2.
 The principal way that Beethoven increases motive alpha's salience in this movement
is to bring it from the middleground closer to the surface (and then he gives it delta's
surface characteristics, as I suggested above). Authors on hidden repetition generally
refer to this technique as "contraction"; see for example the Rothgeb and
Burkhart articles mentioned in footnote 1. There are three contractions of alpha in the
second theme's closing measures--one at mm. 82-84 (which is repeated at mm. 84-86) and the
others at mm. 86-90, in the alto and bass. See Example
3. Beethoven highlights the first contraction of alpha as a segment by repeating it,
while the second and third at mm. 86-90 are set off by registral and textural changes, as
well as by the reintroduction of the ascending arpeggio prefix characteristic of delta
when it first appeared in mm. 1-9. These three double neighbors are not literally on the
surface of the music, but are certainly closer than their counterparts in mm. 56-70
(actually, not being on the surface helps us hear them as increasingly salient, given the
fast tempos at which the passage is normally played). The last two alphas at mm. 86-90
incorporate a Bb passing tone between the upper neighbor C and the lower neighbor
A-natural--creating ascending and descending spans of a third within the viio7/V chord.
This is a significant move, because the ascending and descending thirds, delta and its
inversion, now serve as diminutions of the double neighbors, alpha and its inversion;
prefiguring Beethoven's ultimate synthesis later in the piece, where the ascending third
ornamenting the double neighbor moves up out of the inner voice into the soprano.
 The codetta in the exposition summarizes the direction of the foregoing measures and at the same time brings alpha forward all the way to the surface of the music. See Example 4. The tonic pitches in the descending Eb arpeggio from m. 98 to m. 105 are all decorated by lower and upper neighbors; the former harmonized, the latter dissonant. The dominant pitches receive a single upper neighbor.
 The development section begins with a presentation of motive delta, the ascending third, in C major, which retains many of the surface features that accompanied delta in the first theme: the ascending arpeggios leading up to E-natural and F, the alternation between forte and piano dynamics, the accents on repeated E-naturals and Fs. See Example 5. But two essential features of the original ascending third are now missing; and because of this, it makes more sense to hear high E-natural, F and G as surface diminutions rather than the low-middleground motive that delta had originally been. First, motive delta no longer prolongs a tonic triad--while the E-natural is harmonized by I and the F by viio4/3, just as before, the G is now supported by a viio6/5 of iv, leading into the next section of the development which tonicizes F minor. Second, the harmonization in parallel tenths that delta had originally had has disappeared: instead, we hear E-natural-F-G in the lowest voice, which would cause middleground parallel octaves with a manifestation of delta in the highest register. Possibly we could hear this low-register ascending third as delta without the accompanying tenths, but in that case the members of delta would all lack the surface characteristics such as diminution, accent, and dynamics that marked them as dominant in mm. 1-9. All these factors work together to make the ascending third less salient. Meanwhile, motive alpha also bridges I to viio6/5 of IV, but as a diminution circling around a single note--E-natural this time rather than C--it seems better able to retain its aural identity while reinforcing the ultimate direction of the passage (toward the subdominant).
 The trend of bringing motive alpha forward to the surface and thus increasing its salience, which we heard in the exposition, continues in the development. See Example 6. At mm. 119-21, we hear the double neighbor at the surface in the soprano: this is the original form, with lower neighbor first. It appears again a perfect fourth higher at mm. 127-29, as part of a sequence tonicizing first iv, then iv of iv. At the same time, the inversion of alpha underlies the tonicizations of F minor and Bb minor, in a manner very similar to the second theme. All the notes of alpha get a consonant skip of a third, as they had in the earlier passage, and the harmony, I - V 4/3 - V 6/5 - V7 - I, only slightly varies that of the earlier passage (though the addition of V7 turns alpha into a motive projected by a combination of two voices; the third note of alpha--E natural in m. 121 and A natural in m. 129--is, according to my reading, a tenor note). In mm. 118-33, then, the alpha motive appears simultaneously at two levels--foreground and low middleground--saturating the pitch structure in a way we have not heard to this point. In the measures almost immediately following, the double neighbor begins to saturate the piece in another way. See Example 7, my graph of mm. 136-41 and their immediate context. Here, every two-measure unit contains alpha, presented in sixths and tenths without accompaniment to call the listener's attention to it. These measures are a culmination of the double neighbor's gradual growth in salience--at this point in the movement, nothing is happening except alpha. The graph makes clear the function of these motivic repetitions in their larger context: they embellish a prolonged neighbor Ab which resolves back to the primary tone at m. 148. One interesting aside about Beethoven's approach to the primary tone: note that the Bb neighbor that supplants Ab in mm. 143-45, the Ab, and the eventual resolution G are counterpointed by lower neighbors in the bass, E-natural-F and B-natural-C. The notion of balancing upper and lower neighbors affects this piece in ways beyond the process involving the alpha motive. We'll see another, higher-level, example later on.
 As one would expect, the recapitulation replays the motivic process we heard in the exposition, with few changes (although one of those changes is extremely significant to the motivic process as a whole). Motive delta reasserts itself at mm. 168-76, "pushing alpha back down into the inner voice," as it were. And although the recap's transition points toward F major rather than Eb as it originally had, it still relies heavily on inversions of delta. Motive alpha does not begin to regain the upper hand until the second theme at m. 215. See my graph of mm. 215-47 in Example 8. Since Beethoven states the first two phrases of his theme in F major, then repeats them in C minor, we have two opportunities to hear the repeated inversion of alpha in the bass, counterpointed against ^1-^7 ^4-^3 and ^1-^7 ^2-^3 in the soprano. Not only has the composer "corrected" the key of his second theme, but he has given himself an opportunity to powerfully reassert the alpha motive through repetition.
 In mm. 251-53, the movement's fundamental line makes its descent to ^3, and this is followed almost immediately (at mm. 259-67) by the statements of motive alpha that we heard first in the latter measures of the exposition's second theme. See Example 9. In the recap, the double neighbors ornament the fifth scale degree, G, setting the listener up for the movement's final cadence. The first two of these at mm. 259 and 261 are not that different from their counterparts in mm. 82 and 84. (One might comment on the way the upper neighbor is delayed in the second alpha through consonant skip diminutions.) But the third and fourth manifestations of motive alpha at mm. 263-67 add something significant to their counterparts at mm. 86-90: the double neighbor that mirrors that of the bass has been moved up from the alto into the soprano. As the alto had earlier, the soprano here projects a transposition of the original alpha motive (that is, with lower neighbor first). Like its alto predecessor, this soprano occurrence of alpha includes an ascending third as a diminution between the lower and upper neighbors, and the ascending third, like the original delta of mm. 1-9, is ornamented by arpeggios. This subsumption of delta and its diminutions by alpha, as I suggested before, constitutes the motivic synthesis that completes the movement's overarching dialectic. While this synthesis had been buried in an inner voice at mm. 86-90 (like the alpha motive itself at mm. 1-9), here it bursts into prominence, capturing both of the outer voices that had belonged to delta at the beginning of the movement.
 Thus the surface, foreground, and low middleground manifestations of motives alpha
and delta project a process akin to Schoenberg's musical idea, which gives a kind of
motivic coherence to Beethoven's work that goes beyond simple unity. One question remains
to be answered, however, concerning my account of this motivic process, a question that
may have caused some skepticism on the part of the reader. Namely, to what extent can we
think of entities such as alpha and delta as motives, since many tonal pieces
depend on and often feature double neighbors and ascending thirds harmonized in parallel
tenths? Shouldn't these rather be thought of as common voice-leading components of the
tonal system? David Epstein in Beyond Orpheus suggests one answer to this question;
I will consider his and then contrast it with my own. According to Epstein, a common tonal
element such as a major triad can be heard as a motive if it displays some "unusual
property or characteristic" that it shares with other manifestations of that motive
in the piece. For example, his attribution of motive status to the two Eb chords that open
the first movement of Beethoven's Eroica Symphony hinges on the fact that their
(rather unusual) spacing replicates almost exactly the pitch- class sequence of the
beginning of the first theme.
 In the opening movement of the Op. 10, No. 1 sonata, however, it is difficult to
find unusual characteristics of (for instance) the alpha motive in mm. 1-9 that it shares
with the other manifestations of alpha in the piece. Indeed, alpha's gradually taking on
new characteristics as the movement progresses is a crucial reason for my hearing the
piece as the elaboration of an opposition between alpha and delta. It seems that here the
motives should be justified as such on different grounds. Possibly the fact that they take
part in a process that spans the entire piece is enough; in other words, it is the motivic
progression itself that invests alpha and delta with motivic significance. My
viewpoint here does not go too far beyond Schoenberg's when he asserts in Fundamentals
of Musical Composition that "every element or feature of a motive must be
considered to be a motive if it is treated as such, that is if it is repeated with or
 One other voice-leading component that Beethoven identifies as a motive through the process in which it plays a part is what I will call motive beta. Motive beta gives rise to a non-dialectical process that also helps to structure the work, and in addition beta combines with delta and alpha in ways significant to the shaping of the piece. Motive beta is the stepwise descent through a perfect or diminished fifth. Its most common version, G-F-Eb-D-C, makes its initial appearance at the end of the Grundgestalt (mm. 9-10) at the surface. See Example 10. Motive beta is repeated immediately at the surface, then repeats with identical pitch classes at the middleground in mm. 16-22. An incomplete beta, G-F-Eb-D, also provides a middleground framework for the closing measures of the development, mm. 148-58. Finally, motive beta at the same pitch classes, G-F- Eb-D-C, provides the Urlinie for the entire movement. As we progress through the movement, then, we realize that beta is undergoing a progressive expansion--it contributes to the pitch structure on progressively higher levels. At the same time, all this expansion is balanced by beta's occurrence (again as G-F-Eb-D-C) on the surface at the end of the piece. My Example 11 illustrates this. These surface reminders of beta at piece's end hook up with motive alpha in an interesting way--notice that the C that ends beta at m. 273 reappears as the goal note of alpha two measures later. In this way, beta seems to lead into alpha. But at the beginning of the piece, delta had led into beta in a similar way--see Example 1 again--the last note of delta becomes the first note of beta. We could characterize the interaction between the three motives at beginning and end of piece as delta "handing off" to beta, which in turn "hands off" to alpha. Here also, we have a motivic process that shows alpha supplanting delta.
 Another aspect of the piece's motivic structure that my account of the dialectic involving delta and alpha ignored is the occurrences of these two motives at levels higher than the low middleground. There are a number of them, but we will focus on only one, portrayed in Example 12. This example verticalizes the unfoldings from the second theme in the exposition and changes some registers to clearly illustrate the underlying voice-leading. As it turns out, the unfoldings in mm. 56-70 project an upper neighbor G-Ab-G followed by a lower neighbor G-F-G--a close relative of the inverted alpha motive on Eb that structures the bass line in that same passage.
 We have seen that a segmentation of Beethoven's Op. 10, No. 1 according to Schenkerian principles reveals a succession of motives that closely resembles the compositional dialectic of Schoenberg's "musical idea." I believe that this approach constitutes a new way of combining Schenkerian and Schoenbergian analysis, one that could have value for the analysis of works other than Beethoven's. Recently I have tried a similar "hybrid" approach for the analysis of the first movement of Mahler's Tenth Symphony and for some of Schoenberg's Op. 6 songs. With both composers, "Schenkerian-Schoenbergian Analysis" led to some significant insights about how the music makes sense as a process in time. What is most interesting is that Schoenberg's "idea" is able to form a framework for pitch structures in Beethoven and Mahler as well as Schoenberg's own music--possibly this musikalische Gedanke could be one among several keys to understanding the development of music in German-speaking countries in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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1.David Beach, "Motive and Structure in Beethoven's Piano Sonata Op. 110, Part I: The First Movement," Integral 1 (1987): 1-29; Charles Burkhart, "Schenker's Motivic Parallelisms," Journal of Music Theory 22 (1978): 145-75; Allen Cadwallader and William Pastille, "Schenker's High-Level Motives," Journal of Music Theory 36 (1992): 119-48; Roger Kamien, "Aspects of Motivic Elaboration in the Opening Movement of Haydn's Piano Sonata in C# Minor," in Aspects of Schenkerian Theory, ed. David Beach (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983), pp. 77-93; John Rothgeb, "Thematic Content: A Schenkerian View," in Aspects of Schenkerian Theory, ed. David Beach (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983), pp. 39-60; Carl Schachter, "Motive and Text in Four Schubert Songs," in Aspects of Schenkerian Theory, ed. David Beach (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1983), pp. 61-76.
2. For instance, David Epstein's Beyond Orpheus: Studies in
Musical Structure (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1979), in general treats the Grundgestalt
as a unifying interval pattern, while Patricia Carpenter and Severine Neff (and I)
understand it as the source of a "tonal problem" that gives rise to a process of
elaboration and resolution. See the Carpenter and Neff articles cited in footnote 3.
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3. Schoenberg mentions musical idea and its components briefly in
essays such as "New Music, Outmoded Music, Style and Idea," Style and Idea,
trans. Leo Black, ed. Leonard Stein (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), pp.
113-24, and in Fundamentals of Musical Composition, 2nd ed., ed. Gerald Strang and
Leonard Stein (London: Faber and Faber, 1970). He treats the concept more substantively in
his posthumously-published textbook The Musical Idea and the Logic, Technique and Art
of its Presentation, ed., trans., and with a commentary by Patricia Carpenter and
Severine Neff (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), though even there he does not
present a complete illustration of a musical idea manifested by an individual work. More
exhaustive applications of Schoenberg's approach are provided by his student Patricia
Carpenter and Carpenter's student Severine Neff in a series of articles, of which the
following are representative: Carpenter, "Grundgestalt as Tonal
Function," Music Theory Spectrum 5 (1983): 15-38; idem, "A Problem in
Organic Form: Schoenberg's Tonal Body," Theory and Practice 13 (1988): 31-63;
Neff, "Schoenberg and Goethe: Organicism and Analysis," in Music Theory and
the Exploration of the Past, ed. David Bernstein and Christopher Hatch (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp. 409-33.
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4. John Rothgeb, review of Brahms and the Principle of Developing
Variation by Walter Frisch, Music Theory Spectrum 9 (1987): 204-15; idem,
"Thematic Content," 40-42; Charles Burkhart, "Schenker's Motivic
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5. See footnote 2 for a full reference to Epstein's work.
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6. Such an interpretation of Schoenberg's concept can be traced back
to Josef Rufer's analysis of the first movement of Beethoven's Sonata Op. 10 no. 1 in Composition
with Twelve Notes Related Only to One Another, trans. Humphrey Searle (New York:
Macmillan, 1954), pp. 38-45. Rufer highlights the repetitions and variations of motives in
the movement's initial phrase, showing how such techniques unify the movement (and mark
Beethoven as a precursor to Schoenberg the twelve-tone composer), but gives no suggestion
that a process involving problem, elaboration and resolution organizes the motivic
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7. Janet Schmalfeldt, "Towards a Reconciliation of Schenkerian
Concepts with Traditional and Recent Theories of Form," Music Analysis 10/3
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8. Example 1 also
illustrates the initial occurrence of a third motive, beta, the descending fifth. Its
later manifestations in the movement will be discussed at length in paragraph .
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9. My reading of measures 1-9 is modeled (though not at every point) on Schenker's analysis in "Further Consideration of the Urlinie: I," trans. John Rothgeb, in The Masterwork in Music, vol. 1, ed. William Drabkin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 105-06. Schenker's graphs at levels d) and c) in this analysis not only clearly portray what I am calling motive delta as an ascending third harmonized in tenths and my alpha as a neighbor C5-B4-C5 that is then turned into a double neighbor through the addition of the diminution D5, but they also give alpha a smaller notehead size, marking it as an inner voice in this initial presentation. Schenker in the commentary writes about a "dispute" between alpha and delta, characterizing them as 'competitors' for status as principal line and asserting that delta deserves preeminence as initial ascent to the primary tone.
The characterization of the two motives in this Grundgestalt as opponents actually did not originate with Schenker. He may have been aware that Anton Schindler, Beethoven's contemporary and associate, described this same passage as a manifestation of the concept of Zwei Principe, which in Beethoven's thinking (according to Schindler) involved the opposition of 'strong' and 'gentle' musical characters. See Nancy Hager, "The First Movements of Mozart's Sonata, K. 457 and Beethoven's Opus 10, no. 1: a C Minor Connection?," The Music Review 47/2 (1986-87): 95-96.
Janet Schmalfeldt in the above-mentioned Music Analysis article (p. 256, first
half of Example 8) also presents a graph of mm.
1-9, which differs only in one essential aspect from my reading: she does not interpret
the D5 in m. 8 as part of a double neighbor figure, but as a chord tone harmonizing the
middle member of the lower neighbor C-B-C. My reasons for highlighting the D5 as part of
motive alpha will become obvious; but her reading has the advantage of more faithfully
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10. The transition is not shown in Example 2 to save space in the graphical file; the reader will want to refer to the full score for mm. 32-56. Descending groups of three parallel 10ths can be heard at mm. 34-36 and mm. 38-40; while mm. 42-46 adds tenths before and after to extend the motive to five parallel tenths, and the dominant pedal following m. 48 repeats the descending form of delta twice at mm. 49-52 and 53-56, in soprano and tenor voices.
Schmalfeldt also provides a graph of the second theme in her Ex. 14 (pp. 272-73). The
reader can compare her analysis with both of my Examples
2 and 3 (Ex. 3 will be discussed in the
following paragraph). Again, the general perspective--second theme as a prolongation of ^5
over III, a focus on neighbor motion in mm. 56-71 and a middleground descent in mm.
90-94--seems to be the same. But we differ on some of the details, especially our readings
of mm. 82-86. Schmalfeldt hears this passage as a prolongation of ^6 over IV (the Ab is
introduced back in m. 80), enabling her to characterize it as part of a culminating
development of the G-Ab-G motive that has been prominent throughout the second theme
(seeher commentary on pp. 275-76). My reading takes the "more conventional" tack
of hearing 82-86 as prolongation of the cadential 6/4 chord, which enables me to set Bb as
a consonant starting and ending point for repeated statements of motive alpha.
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11. Robert O. Gjerdingen, A Classic Turn of Phrase
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988), especially chapters 4 and 5.
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12. My interpretation of mm. 86-90 as two alpha motives hinges on
reading the 6/4 chord in m. 88 as a passing chord within a prolongation of the same chord
from m. 86 to m. 90. This sort of interpretation has precedents in the Schenkerian
literature--for example, Schenker's own reading of mm. 21-28 of J.S. Bach's C Minor
Prelude from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier. Schenker maintains that a cadential 6/4
in mm. 21-27 resolves to V 5/3 at m. 28. The prolongation of the 6/4 is accomplished
mainly through a neighbor viio7/V. In turn, chromatically-altered chord skips from F# to
Ab and back to F# within this viio7/V are filled in by passing Gs, creating passing 6/4s
that are ultimately part of the prolongation of the same chord. See Figure 1 (p. 48) and
the associated commentary (especially pp. 50-51) in Heinrich Schenker, "The Organic
Nature of Fugue as Demonstrated in the C Minor Fugue from Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier,
Book I," trans. Hedi Siegel, in The Masterwork in Music, vol. 2, ed. William
Drabkin (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 31-54.
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13. Epstein, Beyond Orpheus, pp. 127-29.
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14. Schoenberg, Fundamentals of Musical Composition, p. 9.
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