Dissertation Index

Author: Nelson, Richard B.

Title: Theories of Harmonic Modulation in Selected German Treatises of the Eighteenth Century

Institution: Eastman School of Music

Begun: January 1982

Completed: December 1983


The purpose of this study is to examine the treatment of harmonic modulation in the writings of German theorists of the eighteenth century. The dimensions of the project are realized in three chapters: modulation to closely related keys, modulation to distantly related keys, and modulation in relation to musical form.

The first chapter presents a study of diatonic modulation. Heinichen is the first individual to formalize this musical process through his theories of key relationships that are inherent in his circle of fifths. Theorists who anticipated Heinichen\'s theories are Kircher, Penna, Werckmeister, and Niedt; those whom Heinichen influenced include Kellner, Mattheson, and Sorge.

The second chapter discusses (1) the modulatory use of chromatic and enharmonic methods of voice leading and (2) modulation to distantly related keys. The treatises of Daube and Kirnberger are the most important sources; other writers who approach these issues include Riepel, C. P. E. Bach, Frick, Vogler, J. M. Bach, Albrechtsberger, Lingke, Kessel, and E. W. Wolf.

The third chapter explores the relationship between modulation and musical form. Heinichen, Kirnberger, and others make general statements about this topic, and the treatises of Riepel and Koch reveal methods of composition whose forms are based partly upon modulation. Short two-reprise structures (such as the minuet) and then more extended designs (such as the sonata and the concerto) grow out of phrase combinations that have various harmonic characteristics. Other theorists of the late eighteenth century, such as Kollmann and Lohlein, also describe musical forms that are determined by harmonic contrasts, although the systematic procedures of Riepel and Koch are absent in their writings.

A concluding chapter reviews the above-mentioned developments and addresses issues worthy of further study.

Keywords: Modulation, Harmony, Eighteenth-Century



1 - Modulation to Closely Related Keys

2 - Non-diatonic Voice-leading Techniques and Modulation to Distantly Related Keys

3 - Modulation and Musical Form






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