Dissertation Index

Author: Telesco, Paula J.

Title: Enharmonicism in Theory and Practice in 18th-Century Music

Institution: The Ohio State University

Begun: September 1988

Completed: August 1993


This study examines the contexts in which enharmonicism operates in 18th-century music and devises a categorization scheme to uniquely describe these contexts. It demonstrates that enharmonicism, while not saturating the 18th-century musical corpus, nevertheless exists, and clearly sets the stage for its expanded use in the 19th century. It also examines how enharmonicism contributes to a movement away from the inviolable nature and sovereignty of individual keys and a movement towards total equivalence.

Enharmonicism is found in harmonically closed forms as well as in freer forms. It is not confined to any particular genre and exists in both slow and fast movements, but most often is found in developmental sections of sonata-form movements.

In comparing 18th century enharmony to that of the 19th century, we find only one difference, and that is with respect to the chronology of the transformed pitch(es). In the 19th century, the chronology is not always clear, nor is it important that it be; but in the 18th-century it almost always is clear.

Lastly, we note that enharmonicism is not relegated to instruments of fixed tuning. Enharmonicism depends upon the tonal system for its effect, not upon the peculiarities of a particular tuning system.

Keywords: enharmonicism, passacaglia, omnibus, augmented sixths, diminished sevenths, reinterpretation, Pythagorean


Chapter I: Introduction
Chapter II: Classical Diatonic Tonality
Chapter III: The Generation of Enharmonicism
Chapter IV: Categories of Enharmonicism
Chapter V: Passacaglias and the Omnibus Progression


Paula J. Telesco
office phone: 317-283-9877

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