Dissertation Index

Author: Siu, Joseph Chi-Sing

Title: Phrase-Rhythmic Norms in Haydn’s and Mozart’s Piano Sonata Expositions

Institution: Eastman School of Music

Begun: December 2016

Completed: April 2020


During the recent resurgence of Formenlehre, Caplin’s theory of formal functions and Hepokoski & Darcy’s Sonata Theory have both taken a broad perspective in considering how the various parameters of music can affect formal designs in classical sonata movements. However, two crucial musical parameters—rhythm and meter—were not adequately recognized by Caplin as among the possible criteria contributing to the tight or loose organization of classical themes, or by Hepokoski & Darcy as among the background set of norms that inform Sonata Theory. Therefore, building on the recent scholarship that investigates the role of large-scale rhythm and meter in sonata form, particularly that of hypermeter and phrase structure, this dissertation has adopted the complete piano sonatas expositions by Haydn and Mozart for a corpus analysis. The goal of the analysis is to examine the phrase-rhythmic norms in the various parts of the sonata exposition and explore how these norms can enrich, complement, and expand our current understanding of the classical sonata as formalized in Caplin’s and Hepokoski & Darcy’s theories.

In Haydn’s and Mozart’s piano sonatas, hypermeter in the primary themes is generally regular (H: 63.4%; M: 55.6%), and the secondary themes are mostly irregular (H: 80.6%; M: 72.2%). However, in the transitions, Haydn and Mozart have different first-level defaults, with regular hypermeter (58.3%) occurring more often in Haydn’s sonatas while irregular hypermeter (72.2%) is the norm in Mozart’s sonatas. Both composers tend to write regular hypermeter in the closing zones (H: 66.7%; M: 66.7%) where end-accented phrases are considered the norm (H: 51.5%; M: 77.8%). When irregular hypermeters occur, Haydn’s sonatas demonstrate a strong preference to focus on a single loosening device, non-quadruple hypermeasures (H: 96.1%; M: 62.6%), while Mozart’s sonatas tend to also include the use of metrical reinterpretations (H: 23.0%; M: 50.4%) and end-accented phrases (H: 4.0%; M: 28.9%). Similarly, at the boundaries between P/TR and MC/S, even though both Haydn and Mozart have the DISJUNCT (H: 75.0%; M: 27.8%) and the Smooth-4 (H: 58.3%; M: 30.6%) arrivals as their first-level defaults, Haydn’s sonatas again show a commitment to one single option while Mozart’s sonatas explore many phrase-rhythmic scenarios at these boundaries of formal sections. As for the hypermetric placements for structural cadences in the sonata expositions, hyperbeat 4 for MC arrivals (H: 61.1%; M: 44.4%) and hyperbeat 1 for EEC arrivals (H: 47.2%; M: 50.0%) are the first-level defaults for Haydn’s and Mozart’s piano sonatas. On the other hand, most of Haydn’s dominant-locks begin on hyperbeat 4 (40.3%), often with just one chord, while the majority of Mozart’s dominant-locks begin on hyperbeat 1 (61.1%) with several measures of prolongation. Haydn’s sonata expositions usually end on a weak hyperbeat 2 (42.4%) while Mozart’s sonata expositions tend to conclude on either hyperbeat 3 or 4 (both 33.3%).

Keywords: Hypermeter, Phrase rhythm, Sonata form, Corpus analysis, Haydn, Mozart


Chapter 1: Recent Theories of Hypermeter, Phrase Structure, and Sonata Form
Chapter 2: Phrase-Rhythmic Norms in Primary Themes
Chapter 3: Phrase-Rhythmic Norms in Transitions
Chapter 4: Phrase-Rhythmic Norms in Secondary Themes
Chapter 5: Phrase-Rhythmic Norms in Closing Zones and Continuous Expositions
Chapter 6: Epilogue



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