Modal Ethos and Semiotics in Tonal Music. Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Massenet, Mahler and Debussy

Author: Tuttle, Marshall
This work examines a specific technical and expressive means by which the various ecclesiastical modes persisted and were integrated into compositional practices of the tonal period, from the time of Bach through to the early twentieth century.
It is demonstrated that a technique of integrating modes into tonal music is not through the use of melodic or harmonic materials, but through modulation. Modulations can be drawn from and limited to those keys which derive from chords that exist in the modal scale of the final key of a composition. This leads to what can only be referred to as a kind of pseudo-diatonic chromaticism. Modulations are limited by a diatonic scale, but that scale is distinct from the major-minor scale system which characterizes the surface level musical activity of a composition. Hence the modulations are chromatic according to a given key, but individual keys visited are limited by a very traditional set of diatonic relationships among themselves.


“Dr. Tuttle’s work is inspiring, in that his sincerity and the absence of a predetermined outcome leads the reader on a journey of discovery, illuminating the range of possible outcomes when applying contrasting analytical models…this research shows how composers like Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, and Brahms among others, used the hidden expressive potentials of mode and modal ethos to express concepts not afforded in a tonal structure….an indispensable resource for anyone interested in how modes and modal ethos can influence structures, modulations, harmonic hierarchy, and yield distinct artistic expression in new compositions.”
-Professor Sergey Bogza,
Millikin University

“The pacing of the book is exceptionally well thought out and the non-linear presentation of musical works ranging from Baroque to late Romantic keeps this work fresh without losing the patience or attention of the reader. Dr. Tuttle’s method of analysis uses clear and lucid language resulting in a comprehensive understanding of his thesis without derailing the reader with unnecessary jargon…and leads to a greater understanding of the musical works of the Western musical canon as a whole. Academics, performers, composers and amateur musicians alike could benefit greatly from this book.”
-Professor Peter Kramer,
CUNY- Graduate Center

“The author employs a rigorous approach, methodically drawing from music history, analysis, performance practice and composition in a fresh, erudite manner that is both novel and convincing...evoking deeper levels of understanding that will undoubtedly stimulate and inform scholars, composers and ultimately, the audience.”
-Roger Sender, Composer
Berkeley, CA

Table of Contents

Foreword by Dr. Sergey Bogza
Chapter 1: Purpose and Scope of the Present Work

Analytical Approach
Problems Addressed
Outline of the Following Study
Chapter 2: Bach’s Method of Integrating Mode and Tonality through Modulation
“Wenn ich einmal soll scheiden”
Contract with Schenkerian Analysis
Chapter 3: Analysis of Debussy’s Syrinx: Impressionism, Expressionism and Tuning
Importance of Syrinx in the Flute Repertoire
Contradictory Analytical Approaches to Syrinx
Debussy’s State of Mind When Composing Syrinx
The Failed Tristan Project
The Story of Syrinx
The Opening
The Central Episode
Coda and Resolution
The Key to Syrinx
Pan = Tristan?
Structure and Expression
Tuning in Performance
Impressionism or Expressionism?
Chapter 4: The Case foe the Authenticity of BWV 565
Analysis Part I: Key Structure of the Fugue
Analysis Part II: Correspondences Between Various Organ Compositions of Bach
Analysis Part III: Musical Action in BWV 565
I. Toccata
II. Fugue
III. Cadenza
Musical Action of the Entire Composition
Meaning and Metaphor in BWV 565
Chapter 5: Mahler’s Adagietto a Study of Seduction
Part I. Gustav and Alma
The Story
Part II. Death in Venice
1. A minor= Aschenbach
2. F major = The Attraction of an Object of Desire
Chapter 6: Beethoven’s Heilige Dankgesang
Have you Met Lydian?
Modal and Tonal Relationship and Associated Ethos
Chapter 7: Bach and Mozart go Locrian
Bach’s Locrian New Year
Mozart’s Locrian and Pedrillo’s Failed Heroism
Chapter 8: Schumann’s Dichterliebe: Flowers that Bloom in the Spring
Chapter 9: Massenet’s Pseudo Phrygian Meditation
Chapter 10: Brahm’s Concerto Against D Major
Chapter 11: Some Summing Up
Chapter 12: New Directions in Modal Ethos

Structural Characteristics of Modes
Twelve-Tone Serial Structures
Trichords and Expression
Mechanics of Twelve-Tone Rows Based on Trichords