Title page for ETD etd-04072007-160714

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bennett, James N.
Author's Email Address jbenn23@lsu.edu
URN etd-04072007-160714
Title The First Movement of Bartók's Second String Quartet: Sonata Form and Pitch Organization
Degree Master of Music (M.M.)
Department Music
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David Smyth Committee Chair
Robert Peck Committee Member
Samuel Ng Committee Member
  • norms
  • classical
  • antokoletz
  • perle
  • straus
  • caplin
  • hepokoski
  • darcy
  • collection
  • diatonic
  • octatonic
  • hexatonic
  • symmetry
  • pitch center
  • set theory
  • rhetoric
  • form
  • rhetorical
  • formal
Date of Defense 2007-03-30
Availability unrestricted
The moderato of Bartók's Second String Quartet is a lucid and eloquent sonata form that conforms rhetorically to sonata-form norms of the eighteenth century. This thesis will fully delineate the form and analyze the extent to which it conforms to these norms. In order to precisely place the movement in context, the Sonata Theory of James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy and William E. Caplin's system of formal functions will be employed. In addition, the movement's Grundgestalt will be identified, and motivic connections between it and the other thematic materials will be revealed.

Bartók's pitch organization, while non-traditional, also aids in articulating the sonata form. Building on the work of George Perle, Elliott Antokoletz, Joseph Straus, and others, this thesis will show the movement's pitch organization to be a synthesis of pitch centers (arranged symmetrically) and three distinct families of harmonies. This system of families is derived from the work of Straus, in which he suggests a polarity between octatonic subsets and hexatonic subsets. His argument is amplified here by including diatonic subsets, creating three families of harmonies.

Each of the moderato's thematic areas is represented by a particular family and its transitional areas are defined by ambiguous harmony belonging to either several families or none. In this way, the pitch organization is laid out analogously to that of a traditional sonata. Processes analogous to traditional recapitulatory fulfillment (as in Edward T. Cone's "sonata principle") are also at work. Ultimately, the unique construction of this astonishing work will be shown to be a combination of old and new, a twentieth-century reinterpretation of an eighteenth-century form.

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