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Society for Music Theory

Supplement to the Theory of Augmented-Sixth Chords

Author(s): Daniel Harrison
Source: Music Theory Spectrum, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 170-195
Published by: {oupl} on behalf of the Society for Music Theory
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/745870
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We could take it as a signof progressthatlittleremains widerrange of treatments-specifically, those apparentin

theoretically uncertain aboutaugmented-sixth chords.Or we latenineteenth- and earlytwentieth-century music.Fittingly,
couldtakeitas a signofcomplacency. At one timeunbroken someof thetheoretical methodsare similarto thoseused at
by the theorist'swhip,thesechordsare now docile fixtures thattime1-although, insomecases,itis thecommoninterest
ofback-of-the-book chromatic harmony, contentintheirped- in theanalyticproblemsoftherepertory and notsharedide-
igreedethnicity ready any for novice student'sfour-part ologythatis responsible.Anotherpointof contactbetween
exercises.The painstaking (iffrequentlypedantic)attentions thisand earlierefforts is a sympathyforspeculativeand cre-
given them by earliergenerations of theoristsnowseemmis- ativecompositional issues-this in additionto the attention
guided, or at least few
unnecessary; today troublethemselves paid to the usual theoreticaland analyticalinterests.This
withissuesof derivation, root,inversion,classification, and articleis interested,
in otherwords,notonlyin thebehaviors
thelike. Apparently, theaugmented-sixth has been success- of thoseaugmented-sixth chordsfoundin therepertory, but
fullydomesticated. also in the possible behaviorsavailable to that repertory.
We oughtto confess,however,thatonlythoseaugmented- Manywerediscoveredand composed;some, at least to my
sixthsexhibitingtypicaleighteenth- and early nineteenth- knowledge,were not.
century behaviors have been tamed. Manylaternineteenth- One resultof thisreconfiguration projectis an apparent
centurybehaviorsresistthe normalizing disciplineadminis- loweringof the membership standardsforaugmented-sixth
teredtheirearlierkin and, as a result,oftenend up being chordstatus,givingthe threeethnicpurebredsan infusion
consideredunprincipled and licentious.If treatedat all in a of new blood for theirtightclub. To be sure, thisinflux
modernharmonytext,it is withunease and littlesympathy. diminishes thetheoretical pre-eminence oftheethnicchords,
Is ittrue,then,thatwe can handlethesequintessential chro- as theycan no longerpretendto sole proprietorship of the
maticchordsonlyif theyare confinedto common-practice title"augmented-sixth chord." This is not to say that the
pastures?For thosethatrunfreeinchromatic habitats-such
as some discussedin thisarticle-we seem unableto snare.
myworkhereresemblesbothin spiritand in substancean
'In particular,
This supplementto the theoryof augmented-sixths re- 1868 articleby WilhelmTappert,"Die ibermassigenSexten-Accorden,"
configures standard teaching in order to accommodate a Allgemeine musikalische
Zeitung3 (1868): 259-62, 266-68, 275-77.

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to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth
Supplement Chords 171

ethnicchordslose analyticsignificance,whichtheycannot Example1. Tonalbehaviorof a) augmented-sixth

simplyon accountof theirabundantmanifestations in the diminished-fifth c) diminished-seventh
interval; interval
tonal repertory.But the theoreticalunderstandingof
augmented-sixthchordsneedsto be reconstituted ifthenew-
comersare to be integratedwell withthechartermembers.
Two benefitsaccruefromthisreconstitution. The firstis a
moreflexibleand generousanalyticcategorythanwe have b.
at present.The secondis moredirectand subtleentryinto 9o ,.
compositionsthat feature nonstandardaugmented-sixth
chords,freeingthe analystfromjerry-rigging ad hoc expla-
nations.Thisbenefitis showcasedin an analysisof a Brahms
partsong thatconcludesthisarticle. 00t 1?

momentarily knowledgeofartfultreatments (i.e., elidedand
othermanipulated and
resolutions), let us also acknowledge
The basic mechanicsof augmented-sixth chordsare well
thatwhathas been assertedabout the intervalsin question
knownand are reprisedin Example la. Let us ignoremo- is likewisetruefortheinversions of thoseintervals, whichis
mentarilyour knowledgeof morecomplexmattersin order
to say thatthe diminished third,the augmentedfourth,and
to focusafreshon elementary ones, one of whichis theres- the augmentedsecond also resolvein contrarymotionby
olutionof the dissonantintervalin contrary motionby dia-
semitone.WheneverI referto one of theseintervalsin the
tonicsemitone,whichis to say thatthe pitchclassesof the
resolutionhave a different
letternameand scale degreefrom followingdiscussion,its inversionis also implicitly refer-
enced. For the sake of convenience,I have chosen the
thosein thedissonance.Thisbehavioris sharedbyonlytwo
"prime"formsshownin Example 1 (insteadof theirinver-
othercommondissonantharmonicintervalsin tonalmusic:
the diminishedfifth and the diminished sions)becausetheyaremetwithin therootpositionsoftheir
seventh,whoseme- characteristicchords:theaugmented-sixth interval inall three
chanicsare showninExampleslb andc.2Again,letus ignore
ethnicvarietiesoftheaugmented-sixth chord,thediminished
fifth in the major-minorseventhchord,and the diminished
2Manyintervals are able to fulfill
thiscondition.For example,thedoubly seventhin the diminished-seventh chord.3
augmentedfourth,occasionallyfoundin German-sixth chordswhen 3b is
respelledas 02 forresolutionintoa major-modecadential6chord,resolves
bydiatonicsemitoneintoa majorsixth.One couldgo evenfurther afieldand invitesucha study.For presentpurposes,however,I wishto treatonlythose
cite suchcuriosities
as the augmentedthird(resolvesintoperfectfifth) and intervals
thathavesomerecognized roleintonalmusic,whichtheaugmented
doublyaugmented fifth(resolvesintomajorseventh).A studyofsuchinterval third,forexample,lacks.
behaviorwould,I think,be analytically helpfulin twentieth-century
musics 3Manytheoristsacknowledgeproblemsin ascribingrootsto both the
thatrelyon stepwisevoice leadingforsome portionof theirstructural co- diminished-seventhchordand theaugmented-sixth chords.For example,in
herence.The musicof Hindemith, forexample,or ofBrittenwouldseemto AllenForte'sTonalHarmonyin Conceptand Practice(3rded. [NewYork:

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172 Music TheorySpectrum

Consideringthese threeintervalstogetheris an interesting This point is crucial in understandingthe attentionmany

and suggestiveexercise on a numberof counts. For one thing, nineteenth-centurycomposers paid to augmented-sixth
it bringsthe augmented sixth out of the hinterlandsof har- chords,since one of the principalgrowthareas in nineteenth-
monypedagogy and lets it bask in the same theoreticalpres- centuryharmonywas in chords thatpossessed these powers.
tige enjoyed by the other two intervals,indubitablythe fun- The diminished-seventhchord, for example, which contains
damental harmonicdissonances of tonal music. There are, of two diminishedfifthsand a diminishedseventh, is a central
course, reasons why the augmented sixthdoes not generally sonorityin this repertory.Similarly,the VX9,which graftsa
keep such distinguishedcompany, reasons explored below. VII7 onto a S root, is also a characteristicnineteenth-century
But the fact that the augmented-sixthdissonance resolves in chord of considerable harmonichorsepower. About the pop-
the same way as do the other two intervalsindicates that it ularityof the half-diminishedseventhand the related V9 little
possesses at least some of their powers of tonal propulsion. needs to be said. With this kind of interestat work, chords
with augmented sixthsnaturallystood out as ripe for devel-
opment. Their raw tonal energies were identical to those
Holt, Rinehartand Winston,1979],171-75), anypositionof a diminished- havingdiminishedfifthsand sevenths;yet theirpotential had
seventhchordis analyzedas "?7"becauseoftheenharmonic intervallicequal- been locked up by theoristswho, observing the constraints
ityofall itsinversions. deniesthediminished-seventh upon augmented-sixthchords in eighteenth-century music,
a rootposition.I followhere the practiceof othersin considering VII7 in
prescribed particular harmonizations,positions, and inver-
minorthe rootpositionof the diminished-seventh chord(e.g., EdwardAl-
sions.4 Unlocking the augmented sixth thus unlocked a rel-
dwelland Carl Schachter,Harmonyand VoiceLeading,2nd ed. [Orlando,
Fla.: HarcourtBrace Jovanovich,1989], 368-75). The problemswith
augmented-sixth chordsare thornier in thatmostroot-seeking routinesyield 4Theaugmented-sixth chordhas been the subjectof considerabletheo-
"unusual"rootpositions.For example,some analyzethe rootof boththe reticalregulationfromthe eighteenth centuryonwards.Rameau had par-
Germanand Italiansixthsas #IV.Many theoristshave submitted to such ticulartroubleswithit,beingunableto explainitsoriginby anyof hisusual
uncomfortable circumstances. Perhapsthe examplebest knownto North- methods;it was hencebothrootlessand uninvertible. He was reproachedin
Americantheorists is RobertW. Ottman'sAdvancedHarmony,1stthrough thismatterby D'Alembert,who,however,could providelittlemoretheo-
3rd eds. (EnglewoodCliffs,N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1961, 1972, 1984). In the reticaljustification.See JonathanW. Bernard,"The Principleand the El-
fourthedition(1992) Ottmanswitchedto the now commonethnicabbrevi- ements:Rameau'sControversy withD'Alembert,"JournalofMusic Theory
ations,althoughtracesof the older notationsurvive(e.g., p. 249). Others 24 (1980): 53. (See also note 30 in the presentarticle).Amongthe better
have avoideddealingwiththe idea of root position(Leonard G. Ratner, knownattempts to giverootsto augmented-sixth chordsare thoseby F. W.
Harmony:Structure and Style[NewYork:McGrawHill, 1962]),havewaved Marpurg,who once called themfantastische Accordeand who contructed
the readerofffromthe issue (Aldwelland Schachter,Harmonyand Voice them froma diminishedfifthsplit by a major and a diminishedthird
Leading,493-95),orhaveclaimedthechordsarerootless(KostkaandPayne, (Historisch-Kritische BeytragezurAufnahme derMusik,vol. 5, part2 [Ber-
Tonal Harmony,383). Althoughlaterin thisarticleI willdisfranchise the lin,1761]:162,167-68.A similarmethodwas practicedbyone ofMarpurg's
augmented-sixth chordsas traditionalchords-therebyobviatingthe root antagonists,G. A. Sorge(see JoelLester,Compositional TheoryintheEigh-
problem-I heresubscribeprovisionally to thenotionthatthemostcommon teenthCentury[Cambridge,Mass.: HarvardUniversity Press,1992], 195).
bass positionsof the threeethnicaugmented-sixth chordsfunction as their One ofthemostenlightening viewsoftheoretical problemswithaugmented-
rootpositions.Cf. WalterPiston,Harmony,4thed., revisedand expanded sixthchordscomes froman early nineteenth-century source: Gottfried
byMarkDeVoto (NewYork:W. W. Norton,1978),KostkaandPayne,Tonal Weber'sVersucheinergeordneten Theorieder Tonsetzkunst (Mainz: Schott,
Harmony,383,and RogerSessions,HarmonicPractice(New York:Harcourt 1817-21;3rded. [1830-32]translated as The TheoryofMusicalComposition
Brace, 1951),333-35. byJamesF. Warner,ed. JohnBishop[London:RobertCocks,1851]).On pp.

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to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth
Supplement Chords 173

ativelyuntappedsource for new effectsthat relied upon of the intervalsin question-what Schenkercalled their
familiarmannersof dissonanceresolution.Many of these "univalence"6-withinthe respectivescale structures. This
effectswill be illustratedin thisarticle. univalencegives thema supremelystrongposition-finding
Another, more speculative,attributeof these threein- role.7In otherwords,because each intervalonlyoccursbe-
tervalsmightbe ofinterest tovotariesofMoritzHauptmann's tweena singlepair of scale degrees,soundingthe interval
theories; all threeresolveto Hauptmann'sfundamental tonal givesawayitslocationwithinthegivenkey.Univalenceand
spaces: the diminished fifth
to the (major) Third,thedimin- theresultingposition-finding abilitiesareperhapstheprimary
ishedseventhto the(perfect)Fifth,and theaugmentedsixth reasonswhythediminished fifth
anddiminished seventhrank
to theOctave.5Thus,itmightbe saidthatthethreedissonant as fundamental dissonances.
intervals deservetheirfundamental statusbycircumscribing, The augmentedsixth,on theotherhand,is nota creature
outlining, or otherwise indicating basic Hauptmannian
the of a standardscale system;it cannotbe foundbetweenany
consonantspaces.Thispointcan be developedfurther while, scale degrees.It is thus"nonvalent," ifyouwill,and without
at thesametime,theaugmentedsixthcan be peeledofffrom any inherentposition-finding powers.Thisis thereasonwhy
the groupso thatits distinctive propertiescan emerge. Schenker,amongothers,cannotdiscusstheaugmentedsixth
It is well knownthatboth the diminishedfifthand the in the same breathas he does the diminished fifthand di-
diminished seventhcircumscribe notmeregenericthirdsand minishedseventh;he delaysdiscussionof it untilthe har-
fifthsbut thirdsand fifthsbetweenspecificscale degrees monicimplications of the standardscale systemshave been
withinstandardtonalsystems.That is, the thirddefinedby explored.8Because of its nonvalence,the augmentedsixth
the diminishedfifthin major spans 1 and 5, and the fifth has ratherdifferent position-finding attributes
thanits two
defined by the diminishedseventh in harmonicminor peers,whichare exploredin the followingdiscussion.
spans i and S. This specificity resultsfromthe uniqueness


215-18oftheWarner-Bishop Weberdelvesintotherecenthistory
of augmented-sixth lore,takingMarpurgand H. C. Koch to taskovertheir
treatments of thechord,condemning
We beginby attempting to reconciletheaugmentedsixth
Marpurg'srefusalto admitit intothe
"churchstyle,"and ridiculing Koch's scruplesaboutallowableinversions. It to standardscale systems.Althoughthisattemptwillprove
is theseniggling qualmsaboutthechordthat"lockedit up," as it were,for tobe unsatisfactoryinsomecrucialrespects,itis nota useless
eighteenth- andnineteenth-century musicians.Fortheadventurous, lockscan exercise;we willdiscoverthatthe augmentedsixthis quite
alwaysbe picked,ofcourse;butabidingbytheruleswas theonlycoursefor flexibleand able to operatein surprisingcontexts.
the manywho wishedto workcomfortably withinthe prevailingstylesof
5MoritzHauptmann,TheNatureof Harmonyand Metre,trans.and ed. 6HeinrichSchenker, editedandannotated
Harmony, byOswaldJonasand
W. E. Heathcote(London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1888),5-8. While translated
byElisabethMannBorgese(Chicago:University ofChicagoPress,
it is truethattheinversion of thethreeintervalswouldresolveto inversions 1954), 127.
of the fundamental tonalspaces,whichin themselves are notfundamental, 7See RichmondBrowne,"Tonal Implicationsof the Diatonic Set," In
Hauptmann'sconceptionof intervalseemsto be moreaccuratelydescribed TheoryOnly5, nos. 6-7 (July-August1981): 3-21.
as one ofintervalclass,sinceintervallic
and chordalinversion has littleeffect 8In HarmonySchenkerintroducesthe diminished fifth
and diminished
on his discussion(e.g., pp. 50-51). seventhon p. 126; the augmented-sixth
intervalappearson p. 279.

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174 MusicTheorySpectrum

The mostcongenialspotsto locatean augmentedsixthin Figure1. Augmented

fromone semitonepair
a standardscale systemappearto be at thesemitones.That in a tonalsystem
is, the intervalcan be force-fit effortonto a
scale systembyanchoring one of itssemitones to a semitone Augmentedsixthsfrommajor-modesemitones
in thesystem.Figure1 illustrates. In theleftcolumnare the
two diatonicsemitonesof each mode, presentedin scale- semitone
Descending sixthabove
degreeformat andbrokendownbydirection. Everysemitone A- #6-b
is matchedby anotherin the same row an augmentedsixth 4-3
away. Accidentalsattachedto a scale degree show if it is
raised($) orlowered(b) a halfstepcomparedto thestandard Ascendingsemitone Augmentedsixthbelow
form.9 9-8 b2-1
This schemegives each mode fouraugmentedsixths- b-4
surelyan overabundant supply.Whatis more,the possibil-
itiesforchordscontaining augmentedsixthsare evengreater Augmentedsixthsfromminor-modesemitones
thanwhatFigure1 suggests.Because the intervalof reso-
lution(the octave) is "omnivalent"in all scale systems,the semitone
Descending sixthabove
scale degreeuponwhichan augmentedsixthresolvescan be 6-S ?4-S
supportedin a varietyof harmonicformations. Put another 3-2 01-2
way, the scale degree of resolution could be in mostcases
eitherthe root,third,or fifth of a chordthatcontainsthat Ascendingsemitone sixthbelow
scale degree.10This situationis in markedcontrastto, say, S-6
that with the diminishedseventh,where the intervalof 2-3 b-
resolution-theperfect fifthbetween1 andS-is betweenthe
rootand fifth of a majoror minortonic(or tonicized)triad, In sum,each of thefouraugmentedsixthsbelongingto a
orofsomeotherchordtypeinwhichthemajororminortriad mode can resolveto one of threechordmembers,creating
is the mostcharacteristic subset.'l twelvepossibleclassesofresolution.Example2 sketchesthe
situationfortworepresentative classes:theaugmentedsixth
over4-3, shownat a, and theone over8-4, shownat b. The
9Theydo not,in otherwords,indicatewhataccidentalis attachedto the
noteinhabiting thescale degree.06,forexample,wouldbe an A#in thekey
situation consequenceofthenear
at a showsa straightforward
of C major,an Ax in CO major,an Ah in Cb major,etc. omnivalence(limitedby doublingrestrictions) of theoctave
10Itis reasonableto stipulatethatthe scale degreeof resolutioncannot resolution:each of thethreetriadscan freelysupportthe4-
be a seventh,ninth,etc. of a chordsincesuchmemberscannot,according 3 resolution.Most of the augmentedsixthsof Figure1 are
to standardteachings, sustainthe doublingthataugmented-sixth resolution
"I am thinking hereparticularly of cases suchas VII07of V7, wherethe Nonetheless,thesensethat
resolution(V) clearlypreventsthistonicization.
VII?7 is expectedto tonicizethe following chord(and hencecreatea tem- thediminished seventhat leastwantsto resolveintoa particular
poraryI and 3). The additionof a minorseventhover the major triadof betweeneithera local or global i and S persists.

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Chords 175
to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth

Example2. Resolutions Example4. Augmented-sixth 35- in minor

J/ t_
w -- II I-
_- , - S
4 3 III11 I VI
root third fifth

b. l
I " -------I
v.f >/ ~~~ 0 |j
11 -I_D a
IIg I "Aug. 6th" V3 I
root third fifth
? ?

2-5 in minor
Example3. Augmented-sixth siderExample3, whichshowsan augmentedsixthinvolving
2-5 in minorresolvingupon the thirdof a tonictriad,an
A n J
II I2I 3 actionnotedwithdottedlinesintheexample.The othernotes
of the augmented-sixth chordare takenfromthe German-
sixthcollectionassociatedwiththeDb-B interval, whichis to
saythatthe augmentedsixthunder2-5 has familiarchordal
ui 6b------ I companionswithwhichto carryout its workin unfamiliar
circumstances. Example 4 presentsanotherinstanceof an
I "Aug. 6th" I unusualaugmented-sixth chord.In thiscase, an augmented
sixthover 3-2 in minorresolvesupon the fifth of a V7 in 34
position.As in thepreviousexample,theothernotesof the
ilarlyunfettered. Example 2b shows a different, more chordare takenfromthe German-sixth collection.The har-
strictedsituation.Standardteachingdiscouragesdoubling moniceffects ofExamples3 and4 are unusual,butalso fresh
theleadingtonein a dominant-functioned entity,so theres- and attractive;
theprogression ofparts,entirelyconvincing.13
olutionofthe8-1 augmented sixthintothethirdofa V chord Similar"undiscovered"progressions can also be mined
is illegitimate,and thatintothe root of a VII chord,dubi- fromthe raw materialof Figure1. But not all are as inter-
ous.12 Thus,doublingconventions puta brakeon possibilities estingor usefulas Examples3 and 4; many,in fact,refuse
of resolution. to stabilizeon theirappointedscale degreeand insteadask
Althoughour attentionwill soon be drawntowardsthe to be heardas beingbuiltupon another.For instance,it is
more familiarstructures representedin Figure 1, it is in-
structive someoftheunfamiliar
to entertain ones,evento the 13Uponhearingthesetwoexamplesduringa publiclectureon thistopic,
point working possibleprogressions. instance,con-
of out For CharlesSmithpromptly and frommemorylocatedcompositional manifes-
tations.Example3 is realizedas theopeningprogression
"Befreit,"op. 39 no. 4. The progressionin Example4 can be foundin the
way, such as in a
12Therightof VII to behave in a non-dominant concluding measuresofWolf's"Man sagtmir,deineMutterwoll' es nicht,"
sequence,oughtto be reserved.
descending-fifth no. 21 fromthe ItalienischesLiederbuch.

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176 MusicTheorySpectrum

difficultto pushtheresolution ofa 4-3 augmented sixthupon Figure2. Minorsystem(above) "stretched"

thefifth of a VI chord(shownin Example2a) and have the nantside (below)
chordreallysoundlike a VI; it wouldmuchratherbe heard
as a local tonic.The sameis truefortheIII chordin thesame I I
F ab C et G b D
example.Indeed,informal experiments withthevariousres-
olutionssuggestedbyFigure1 indicatethatall tendtowards
havingthechordof resolutionbe eithera locallydominant-
or a locallytonic-functioned entity.14Why? ab IC eb GI b D f#


The previousdiscussion is predicateduponthefactthatthe ful,thistimeto explaintherelationship ofsomenon-diatonic
augmented sixth is not an intervalfoundin a standardscale scale degreesto standardscale formations. Hauptmanncon-
system, and that, if force-fit into such a system,one of its ceivedkeystructure as a seriesofperfect fifths
semitoneswillinvolvea chromatically alteredscale degree. wereembeddedmajorand minorthirds.The upperrowof
Figure 1 illustratesthis situation perfectly. We can,however,
Figure2 illustrates thisstructure usingthekeyof C minoras
treatthe alteredscale degreeswithmore sensitivity if we an example.15Perfectfifths are located betweenadjacent
loosen the strictconstraints. For it is clear that,whilenone
upper-caseletters,and thirdsbetweenanypair of adjacent
of thesesemitonesis nativeto the major or minorscale in
upper-and lower-caseletters.In theory,the fifth-and-third
question,someare morefrequentand honoredguestsin the relationships can be extendedinfinitely in both directions,
diatonichouseholdthanothers.In particular,#4-Sis an es- therebyencompassing all possiblekeys;whatFigure2 shows
peciallyimportant and popularchromatic caller,as it creates is a segmentfromthatline delimiting one particularkey.
tonicizations of and modulationsto the dominantkey. b2- Because Hauptmannnominally employedjust intonation to
i is anotherfriendly visitor,responsibleforNeapolitanef- derivescale members,his key structures have remarkable
fects.Some oftheothersare encountered farless frequently
"wiggleroom"-the abilityto be shiftedone positionalong
thanthese.Indeed, b7 in minor(e.g., Gb in A minor)is so theinfinite fifth-and-third line withoutloss of the structural
rare as to be meretheoreticalfiction.All thisis by way of integrity of the key.The bottom rowof Figure2 showssuch
sayingthatwhiletheaugmentedsixthmaynotfiteasilyinto a shift,thestructure having moved one positionto theright
thediatonicscale systemof a key,it findsmorecomfortable (towards the dominant side). The minor thirdbetweenF and
accommodation in some locationsthanit does in others. ab is lostwhilea majorthirdbetweenD andf#(H4)is gained.
It is in this"stretched" C-minorkeysystemthatHauptmann
140necan tryto repudiatethesetendencieswithcompositionalrhetoric-
thatis, byputting intorealmusicalcontexts.Nonetheless, 15Hauptmann'sminorkey is based on the harmonicminorscale. Con-
considerablerhetorical seemsnecessary
effort inordersuccessfully
tostabilize cerningHauptmann'sderivation and thirds,especiallywithrespect
of fifths
progressionssuch as thoseshownin Example2a. to minor,see Hauptmann,Harmonyand Metre,14-21.

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to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth
Supplement Chords 177

Figure3. Keysystem inbothdirections;
afterCyrill of thesescale degreesare underthetoniccontrolof C. Two
Kistler augmented-sixth intervalsare foundin thissystem:one be-
tweenf#and ab (#4and b8), and anotherbetweendb and
b (b2 and ? ).19
db F ab C eb G b D f# Figure3 offersa wayto welcometwoforeign,chromatic
I I scale degrees into a standardscale system,allowingus
therebyto privilegethoseFigure1 behaviorsin whichthey
In addition,itsuggestsan explanation
participate. forwhythe
foundtheoriginoftheaugmented sixth-inthisexample,the augmented sixth tends to bestow tonicor dominant function
intervalbetweenat and f#.16 But thisobservation is actually upon the pitch class of resolution.Both augmentedsixths
besidethepoint;theintriguing elementhereis thestretched foundinFigure3 areanchoredtofunctionally significantscale
keysystemitself,whichHauptmannconceivedas stillbased degrees withinthe core, unstretchedsystem. That is, #4is
in the originalC-minorsystem.For Hauptmann,as long as attachedto b6, a crucialtransmitterofsubdominant function,
ab was stillin the picture,thenC minorwas stilloperative. whileb2 is attachedto #t,thequintessential dominantscale
Werethesystemright-shifted once again,so thatab werelost degree.The behaviorsof thesesignificant scale degreesde-
and A gained,thenthe C-minorsystemwouldhave passed terminethetonalfunction of theaugmentedsixthsattached
intoa G minor-major system.But a singleright-shiftedsys- to them. b6, forexample,in movingto 5 dischargessub-
tem,even thoughit contains#4,is stillunderthecontrolof dominantfunctioneitherupon dominant(as in a Phrygian
the originaltonic.17 cadence) or upon tonic (as in a plagal cadence); the aug-
For a varietyof reasons-none germaneto the present mentedsixth b6-#4,then, also exhibitsthese functional
undertaking-Hauptmann disallowedsubdominantshifting behaviors.20The former, dominantizing motionleadsdirectly
in the minorkey. Some of his followers,however,ignored to the standardaugmented-sixth chords,insofaras the Ital-
thisprohibition and exploredtheconsequencesnonetheless. ian, French,and German sixthsall resolve to dominant-
Figure3, for example,showsCyrillKistler'sdoublystretched functioned chords.The latter,tonicizingmotion,although
system, which has major-thirdextensionson bothsides.18In rarebeforethe mid-nineteenth century,leads to wonderful
additionto havingf#as #4,thissystemalso has db as b2 as
a major-third extensiontowardsthesubdominant side; both
'9It is perhapsnot inappropriate,
in connectionwithnote 2 above, to
observethatKistler'sdoublystretchedsystemcontainsan augmentedthird
betweenF#and Dl (t4 and 12).
16Harmony and Metre,28-33 and 120-23. 20Iamusingtheterm"subdominant" heretoblanketboth"pre-dominant"
17Thispointis discussedin greaterdetailin Daniel Harrison,Harmonic behavior(e.g., IV6-V) and "pretonic"behavior(e.g., IV-I). This usage is
Functionin Chromatic Music (Chicago:University of ChicagoPress,1994), consistent withthe RiemanniantraditionfromwhichI am drawing.Later,
122-23. takinga cue fromWilliamRothstein("The True PrinciplesforthePractice
'8CyrillKistler,Harmonielehrefir Lehrende,Lernendeund zum wirk- ofHarmony:Or, Schulz,Schenker,and theStufe,"paperreadat theSecond
2nded. (Heilbronn:C. F. Schmidt,1898),translated
lichenSelbstunterrichte, International SchenkerSymposiumat the Mannes College of Music, New
as A Systemof Harmonyby Amanda Schreiber(London: Haas and Co., York City,March, 1992), I reserve"subdominant" forplagal, "pretonic"
1899),74. behavior,using"pre-dominant" forothercases.

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178 Music TheorySpectrum

Example 5. Liszt, "Sonetto 123 del Petrarca," mm. 82-84

a. 3
3 * ?


lib b ? 8 |; l ; 1i |l;r jf
0:b~bC I 0 rlf jF7~j
f ,a|
-69:c I>|1
0'k x\ I 11 4EI


-.I"Aug. 6th"

I "Aug. 6th" I

treatmentssuch as that found in Example 5, the final mea- mented sixthit participatesin also takes on dominant func-
sures of Liszt's "Sonetto 123 del Petrarca," withthe effectin tion. Another example fromLiszt's work, the ebb fromthe
question shown at the asterisk. The analysis in Example 5b last rhetoricalclimax in the symphonicpoem Orpheus (Ex-
brings out the underlyingaugmented-sixthstructureof the ample 6), is an exemplaryillustration.Here, the placement
passage, respelling the chord in order to point out the in- of 7-8 in the bass emphasizes the dominant-to-tonic
volvementof t4 and lb,of Ab major in the chord. These scale of the progression.
degrees are indicated with open noteheads in the example, The situation in the Orpheus example is, from a purely
and their resolution into a tonic-functionedEl (S) is high- statisticalstandpoint,ratherrare-so much so that it seems
lighted by the dotted lines.21 downrightirregular; the idea that augmented-sixthchords
The other augmented sixth found in Figure 3 involves progress to dominants and not to tonics is deeply en-
t7 and b2. $7 being a dominant-functionedentity,the aug- trenched.22Yet more than a few theoristshave tried to en-

21Aldwell (Harmonyand VoiceLeading,519) namethisthe 22Forexamplesof how "exceptional"tonic-resolvingcases are discussed
"common-tone augmented-sixthchord."In lightof CharlesSmith'scitation in current
and evenfinessed textbooks,see Aldwelland Schachter,Harmony
of Wolf's"Man sagtmir,deineMutterwoll' es nicht"in note 13 above, it and VoiceLeading,496. The authorsstatematter-of-factlythatsuchthings
is appropriateto pointout thatthecommon-tone augmented-sixthchordis can happen,but the discussionhas none of the depththatmarkstheirin-
a principalharmonicmotiveof thatsong. troduction
to augmented-sixthsas "ChromaticPreparationforV" (the top-

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to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth
Supplement Chords 179

Example6. Liszt,Orpheus,mm.194-206

AJ 4_ 4 4.

v I I I I I_ _

^200 de

r o!oiI-
- decresc.erit.

A9 A r I o
rt i
Aug.66 (dim.
Aug. 3)
(dim. 3)

franchisedominant-functioned augmented-sixth chords as augmented-sixth chordin Weber'sown notationalsystem.

theoreticalequals of subdominant-functioned ones. The The firstderivationis froma major-minor seventhwithB root
mosttellingattemptis also thefirst:Gottfried
Weber'sder- (B7) thatfunctions as V7 of E majorand E minor.The root
ivationof the chordsfromtwo possiblesources,?II7 or V7, is omittedand a minorninthhas been appended,but the
in his VersucheinergeordnetenTheorieder Tonsetzkunst of crucialfeatureis theloweringofthechordalfifth fromFtfto
1817.23Example 7 explainsthe derivationfor a particular F~. The augmented-sixth intervalcreatedby thislowering
is thus betweenb2 (F) and 01 (D#). This is a dominant-
level headingat the beginningof the chapteron p. 478). Joel Lester,in functioned augmented-sixth chord.Weberprovidesanother
Harmonyin TonalMusic,vol. 2 (New York: Knopf,1982),93-94, provides derivation,in which the basic chordis a B half-diminished
butone illustration
of a tonic-resolving
augmented-sixth chordaccompanied
by two shortparagraphsof text.Finally,Kostka and Payne segregateany in? 89,butlaterdisallowsthepossibility ofVII7 in? 148#7.(A laterreference
unusualaugmented-sixth behaviors, tonicresolution,
including intoa separate to thisdisqualification
in ? 202 wrongly refersthereaderto ? 38 #7instead
chapter(383-91). Whilegivingthe topicmoreattention, thisquarantineis of to ? 148 #7.This erroris in all the Germanand Englisheditions.)Janna
nonethelessa subtleand effectiveabnormalizing tactic. Saslawsummarizes and discussesaspectsof Weber'stheorypertinent to the
23SeeWeber,The Theoryof MusicalComposition, ? 89-94. Weberini- presentdiscussionin "Gottfried Weberand MultipleMeaning,"Theoria5
tiallyallowsanyhalf-diminishedseventhto parentan augmented-sixth chord (1990-91): 74-103.

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180 MusicTheorySpectrum

Example7. Analyticpossibilities
forGermanaugmented-sixth rules about assigningharmonicmeaningto chordsskewed
Weber(fromTheTheoryofMusical interpretations-perhaps unintentionally-towards the ?II7
Composition,? 202) analysis.Brieflyput, in a typicalmodulatorysituationin-
volvingrootmotionbyascendingfifth (tonicto dominant, for
example)orrootmotionbetweenrelativekeys,a ?II7ofsome
keyX wouldgenerally be morecloselyrelatedto theoriginal
key than a V7 of some keya fifthhigherthanX. In concrete
B7 consider 7 and notice
terms, Example thatthe tonicof the
E: V7 ?II7 analysis(A minor)is a fifth lowerthanthatof the V7
e: V7
analysis(E minor).Say now thatthischordis encountered
b67 in a C-majorcontext.Weberwouldinvariably it as
a: ?O17 a ?II in A minorbecause thatkeyis morecloselyrelatedto
C thanis E minorin Weber'sstructural topography.26 Con-
seventhfunctioning as II7 in A minor(?b7).Here again,the ditionsunderwhichWeber would analyze an augmented-
rootis omittedand a ninthadded; thealterationin thiscase sixthchord as V7 are rare, in that they involve direct
involvesraisingthe chordalthirdfromD to D t, thereby descending-fifth modulatory motionwithinthe tonal space
creating an augmentedsixthbetweenl, (F) and 04(DO). This (tonic to subdominant, for example),a comparatively un-
is the subdominant-functioned augmented-sixthchord.24 usual procedure.Hence, because of bothmodulatory habits
Despite being given theoreticalsubstance alongside in compositionand relatedconceptsof tonaltopography in
subdominant-functioned augmented-sixth chords,dominant- theory,the subdominant-functioned augmented-sixth chord
functioned augmented-sixths are extremelyrare in Weber's prevailedanalytically over the dominant-functioned one in
analytic work. He was not,however,prejudicially averseto Weber'stheory.This unequal analyticrelationship between
them.25Rather,his elaboratebut extraordinarily sensitive the two theoreticalequals effectively made the V7 analysis
non-normative and unusual.
24The functionaldesignationis my own. Weber's derivationof the Lookingat thisissue froma different perspective,it is
augmented-sixthchordfrom?II7waswidelyadopted.See, forexample,Simon remarkable, giventheaforementioned modulatory habitsof
Sechter,Die Grundsdtze der musikalischen Komposition, 3 vols. (Leipzig: thata dominant-functioned
eighteenth-century composition,
Breitkopfand Hartel,1853-54),firstvolumeed. and trans.Carl Christian chordwould even be consideredas a the-
Miller as The CorrectOrderof Fundamental Harmonies(New York: W. A. augmented-sixth
Pond, 1871), 148-51; ArnoldSchoenberg,Theoryof Harmony,trans.Roy
oreticalentitygivenits analyticrarity.27 And since Weber
E. Carter(Berkeley:University of CaliforniaPress,1978), 246.
25I havefoundtwoexamples:Weber'sFigure1911(p. 356 in theWarner- 26Weberdiscussesthisissue,usingtheseverykeysas examples,on pp.
Bishopedition),an abstractpart-writing specimen;and Weber'sFigure234 343-44. Weber'stopography is alludedto in Fred Lerdahl's"Tonal Pitch
(pp. 404-9, annotatedon pp. 383-87), an analysisof an accompaniedvocal Space," MusicPerception5 (1988): 315-49. See especiallyFigure17a on p.
quartetofhisowncomposition ("Polimeter").Weberspellsouthisreasoning 332, whichreproducesa mirror-image of Weber'sspace. Cf. Saslaw,"Got-
forchoosingthedominant-functioned in"Polimeter"
interpretation on p. 384. tfriedWeberand MultipleMeaning,"92.
Saslaw("GottfriedWeberand MultipleMeaning")discussesthe"Polimeter" 270ne explanationmightbe thatmanyearlytheoretical explanationsof
on pp. 89-91.
passage extensively chordsconnectedthemto theVII diminished
augmented-sixth triad,which

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Supplementto the Theoryof Augmented-Sixth
Chords 181

provided no justificationas to why such a thingcould exist, involve augmented-sixthsharmonized in the "German" fash-
it is impossible to determine his motivation in this matter. ion. The "French" harmonization found in the quintet can
Nevertheless, it seems no coincidence that prominentexam- lead one away (as it did Piston) fromconsideringthe chord
ples of dominant-functioned augmented-sixthchordsbegin to a species of augmentedsixthand towardsa V, 7 interpretation
appear around the time of Weber's treatise.Schubert'sworks, in which the chord is in 3 position. Although this analysis
for instance, abound with them. Well-known examples are clearlypoints to the dominantoriginof the chord, it does not
the concludinggesturesof the StringQuintet, D. 956/IV,the do so in order to connect it to other augmented-sixthchords;
A-major Piano Sonata, D. 959/I, and "Der Atlas" from rather,it stressesits seventh-chordstructure.The augmented
Schwanengesang,D. 957, no. 8.28Withinthe body of a move- sixth created between the major third and diminished fifth
ment, mm. 722-34 of the C-major Symphony,D. 944/IV, of the chord is an accidental, not a primaryquality of the
provides anotherfineillustration.All but the quintetexample chord. This point leads us naturallyto consider what kind of
structurescan be labeled augmented-sixthchords.
in turnwas connectedto theV triad.See, forinstance,Marpurg,Historisch-
KritischeBeytrdge, 162. Besides Weber,Louis and Thuillealso recognizea
dominant-functioned augmented-sixth chord;see RichardIsadoreSchwartz,
"An AnnotatedEnglishTranslation of Harmonielehre of RudolfLouis and
LudwigTuille"(Ph.D. diss.,Washington University,1982),286-91. So does Considering the enormous influence Central European
H. K. Andrewsin The OxfordHarmony(London: OxfordUniversity Press, musicians have had on the development of modern music
1950),vol. 2, 57-62, who followsAlfredDay in thismatter(A Treatiseon theory in North America, it is surprisingto note the con-
Harmony[London: Cramer,Beale, and Co.: 1845], 121-27). One of the
earliestsatisfactory tinuingpresence in our discourse of an English theoretical
explanationsof the augmented-sixth chord, that by
JohannPhilippKirnberger, also awardedit dominantfunction ("The True quirk: the naming of three augmented-sixthchords using
PrinciplesforthePracticeof Harmony,"trans.David W. Beach and Jiirgen the "Italian," "French," and "German" ethnic labels. John
Thym,Journalof Music Theory23 [1979]:186-88. Louis and Thuilleassert Wall Calcott, in A Musical Grammar (London, 1806), seems
that the possibilityof both dominant-and subdominant-functioned to have been the firstto coin these terms,and forthe reasons
augmented-sixth chordsis responsibleforthe idea thatan augmented-sixth
which many have long suspected-namely, ethnic stereo-
chordhastworoots.One couldsee howWeber'sderivation ofthechordfrom
twodifferent sourcescould lead to thisidea, save thatWeberviewedthese typing.
twosourcesas potentials, one ofwhichwas eliminated in theact of analysis. The Musicof France,Italy,and Germany,cannotbe illustrated in
By contrast, double-roottheoriesseemto implythatthesourcesare actuals,
a smallercompassthanby theuse of thesethreeChords.The fee-
as iftheywerefundamental basses. Schenkerdiscussestheaugmented-sixth
blenessof theFrenchsixth,comparedwiththeeleganceoftheItal-
chord,forexample,as a fusionof elementsfrom?II7 and V7 wherethe V7
is froma keya fifthhigherthanthe?II7,as inWeber'sformulation (Harmony, ian, and the strength
of the German,leaves no doubtof theirsu-
277-78). AlfredDay also held to a double-roottheoryinvolving fusion(A periorexcellence.The admirablegeniusof Graun knewwhento
Treatise,122). Weber,bycontrast, viewedtheaugmented-sixth chordas de- employItaliansweetness,and whento changeitto Germanforce.29
rivedin its entirety
fromeitherof the twosources,not as a fusionof both.
28Thequintetexampleis citedin Piston,Harmony,426, and Andrews,
OxfordHarmony,vol. 2, 61. Aldwelland Schachter,Harmonyand Voice MusicalGrammar,
29Callcott, 1stAmericaned. (Boston:Manning& Lor-
Leading,496, and Lester,Harmonyin Tonal Music, vol. 2, 94, cite the ing,1810),239n. Calcottalludesto anotherreasonwhythe Frenchsixthis
A-majorsonata. so named;he claimsthatbecauseit "is onlyfoundin thetheoryof Rameau,

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182 Music TheorySpectrum

Along with the ethnic names, currentpractice has taken Example 8. Louis and Thuille's augmented-sixth
chord types
the English predilection for recognizing these as the only
a. b. c. d. e. f.
types of augmented-sixthchords. Continental practice is
more flexible in this matter. While the "big three"
augmented-sixthchords are invariably discussed (usually Y IIs I 14 I I I t I i is I1

named by theirfigured-basssignature), other (mightwe say

"cosmopolitan"?) types of augmented-sixthchord also oc-
casionally make an appearance. In theirHarmonielehre,for correspond to the well-knownchords, and d mightbe styled
example, Rudolf Louis and Ludwig Thuille recognize six dis- a defectiveItalian or incomplete French sixth. But versions
tincttypes, illustratedin Example 8.30 Versions a, b, and e c and f are novel and have no such easy explanation. No
compositional use of version c is cited by Louis and Thuille,
but Ebenezer Prout cites a passage fromVerdi's Requiem,
it maybe properly termedtheFrenchSixth"(238-39). AlthoughI have not
shown in Example 9, whichcontains the requisite intervals.31
made an exhaustivesearchof Rameau's works,thisstatement appearsdu-
bious. The chordis conspicuously absent fromthe Traite,and Matthew To some extent,it is hard to creditthisas a substantialchord
Shirlaw(The Theoryof Harmony[London:Novello,1917],242, 279) points since it seems to be a by-productof passing motion against
out itsomissionin Rameau'stheoriesin generalas wellas in Rameau'sown a sustained E-major triad, a hearing encouraged by the em-
compositions, goingso faras to statethat"the Germanformof the chord phasis on passing motionin the bass in the previousmeasures.
. . . musthavebeenforRameauparticularly embarrassing. It was impossible
forRameauto explainthischordand itsnaturalresolution on theDominant, True, it is not difficultto hear an affinityof the chord in
eitherbymeansof double'employment' or anyotherdeviceknownto him" question to a German-sixth,which also has two common
(242). AlthoughCalcott'sethnicnameswereused sporadically byotherEn- tones with its chord of resolution (a cadential 6), a relation-
glishtheorists (e.g., WilliamCrotch,Elementsof MusicalComposition, 2nd ship that bolsters the pretensions to independence of the
ed. [London:Longman,1830],54), it was not untilEbenezerProut'sHar-
present augmented-sixth.But, whereas the German-sixthis
mony:Its Theoryand Practice(London: Augener,1889) thatthe names ratherconstrainedto progressto a cadential 6 on account of
becamefirmly ensconcedin Englishtheoretical discourse,alongwitha chau-
vinisticupdateof Calcott'sstereotyping: the well-knownparallel-fifth problem, no such impediment
As students are veryaptto confusethenamesofthesethreeformsofthe looms here, the fifthin the version-cchord being augmented,
augmentedsixth,thefollowing artificial
"aid to memory"maybe found not perfect.The 6 chord here is thus a choice, not a mandate.
useful:--thethreeformscorrespond to thecharacterof themusicof the This choice contributesto the curious lack of "release" upon
threecountries-Italianmusicis the simplest;and the "Italiansixth"is
resolutionof the augmented-sixthto the cadential 6, leading
thesimplest formofthechord... Frenchmusicis themostpiquant,and
so is the "Frenchsixth,"withthediscordbetweentheuppergenerator, us to question the structuralindependence of the version-c
and its seventh. . . Lastly,Germanmusicis the richestand fullestin augmented-sixthvis-a-visits chord of resolution.
character;and the"Germansixth"is richerin itseffect thaneitherofthe Example 8f at firstglance seems to have a similar rela-
tionshipto the French sixththat version c has with the Ger-
30Stuttgart: Grininger,1907.4thed., 1913.See RichardIsadoreSchwartz,
"An AnnotatedEnglishTranslation," 274-76. An unusuallybroadconcep- man; that is, the G#tseems to anticipate the third of the
tionof augmented-sixth chordtypes,motivatedby issuesin contemporary dominant to follow, all other notes belonging to the French
harmony, is also foundin VincentPersichetti, Twentieth-Century Harmony:
CreativeAspectsand Practice(New York: W. W. Norton,1961), 109-11. 3lProut, Harmony, 208.

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Chords 183
to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth

Example9. Verdi,Requiem;Kyrie,mm.77-81

Tenor J i
J F I r , r
Ky- ri- e e- le- i- son

~ -t 7
~C,k'* n_J'*jn j F
i", ^^ ? i J~~~~~~

sixth.But versionf has intervallic propertiesthatconnectit ThuillementiontheTristanchordin connection withversion

stronglyto the German sixth. Example10 demonstrates this f, theynonethelesswave offthisinterpretation-partly be-
close relationship,showing that version f is an inversion of cause of thehabittypicalof thetimeto heartheA as struc-
a Germansixthin termsofitsinternalintervallic adjacencies. turaland the GI$as passing,but also because theyfindthat
No othername suggesting itselfeasily,I dub versionf the versionf, by virtueof itstwo commontoneswiththe dom-
"dual" German-sixth chordin recognition of its inversional inant(B and GO),is moreeasilyheardas a dominant sonority
intervallicrelationshipto the Germansixth. withtwo auxiliarytonessurrounding theroot(F and DO).33
In contrastto versionc, thedual German-sixth chorddoes Theythuswantto hearversionf moreas an enhanceddom-
have compositionalexistence-in one of the most famous inantthanas an augmentedsixth;sincetheyheartheTristan
passagesin nineteenth-century music,in fact(see Example chordas subdominant-functioned, theycannotrationalizean
11). The "Tristan"chord,markedwiththe asteriskin the explanationthatinvolvesthe G$ as the chordaltone.
example,is identicalto thechordshownin ExamplelOb,the It is truethata textbookresolutionof the Tristanchord
prototypeof the dual German-sixth.32 AlthoughLouis and wouldinvolvemaintaining thecommontonesGl and B, and
thatsucha resolution wouldsupportLouis andThuille'scon-
32NotaBene: Havingnowa theoretically viablerationaleforunderstand- tentionthatthechordis an enhanceddominant. But Wagner's
ingtheactualspellingoftheTristanchord,we needno longerenharmonically
solutionis pointedlyto disobeythe "Law of the Shortest
convertthechordintoan F half-diminished seventhchordand thenwonder Way"in orderto enhancethe tensionand releasefromthe
resolution.Such enharmonic
at its "irregular" conversions have been neces-
sitatedby the dominationof the ethnic-sixth chordsand the concomitant
exclusionofotherchordtypes.Yet,at theheartofthematter, itis as improper 33Thepresenceof twotonesin commonwiththe chordof resolutionis
to call the Tristanchorda half-diminished seventhchordas it is to call a the same reasonit is difficult chordleadingto
to hear the augmented-sixth
Germansixtha dominant-seventh chord;itsspellingindicatesitsfunctional harmonic
thecadential6 in theVerdiexcerpt(Example9) as a freestanding
meaningin the same way thatthe German-sixth spellingdoes. structure.

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184 MusicTheorySpectrum

Example10. Definition
ofthe"dual" Germanaugmented-sixth augmented-sixth are correct,butscruplesaboutitsresolution
chord are misplaced.
a. b.
This discussioncould continuein thisvein fora while,
pointingout the limitsof the currentethnically fixedstable
A4 _ -- P5 CI __ of augmented-sixth chordsand proposingthe inclusionof
M6 ( M6 such thingsas the dual German-sixth. It would also seem
naturalto release augmented-sixth chordsfromthe tradi-
PPS Co0 A4 C l)
:- -41: 1~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ tionallystrongtheoreticalrestraintsuponinversion byciting
manyexamples from the late nineteenth centurythatfea-
ture diminished-third chords or other manifestations of
augmented-sixth inversion. But perhaps the point to be
Example11. Wagner,Preludeto Tristan made here is not thatwe oughtto expandthe categoryof
augmented-sixth chordin orderto includeadditionalchord
types,but thatwe need to reconstitute thiscategoryinto
somethingmore flexibleand generous.This programhas
clearlybeen suggestedfromtheoutsetof thisarticle,and is
now takenup in earnest.


Tristanchordto theV7. Thatis,thevoiceexchangehere-the Underthe headingof "augmented-sixth chord"oughtto

infamousperpetrator of improperresolution-ensuresthe appearanychordthatdependsupontheaugmented-sixth (or
chord'sfunctionalindependenceby avoidingcommon-tone diminished-third)intervalforall ormostofitstonalenergies.
Thus, intuitions
connections.34 thatthe Tristanchordis an Where the intervalappears withina governingkey is im-
material,althoughwe can proposethatFigure1 definethe
34Anexhaustive summary loreis foundin MartinVogel,
ofTristan-chord constraininglimits.In thisway,notonlyare the "bigthree"
Der Tristan-Akkord unddie Krisedermodernen Harmonielehre (Disseldorf: enfranchised but also those beautifulexamplesfromLiszt
Gesellschaft dersystematischen
Musikwissenschaft, 1962).Vo- shownin Examples5 and 6, as well as the interesting lab
gel documentsall mannerof analyticapproachesexceptone thatrecognizes in
specimensdisplayed Examples 3 and 4. The intervallic
theTristanchordas thedual of theGerman-sixthchord.A dual relationship
is recognized(107-10),
constitutionof augmented-sixth chordsneed notbe specified
to the enharmonicallyequivalentdominant-seventh
whichassociationwas revivedby BenjaminBoretzin "Metavariations: Part or prescribedsince it is the augmented-sixth intervalthat
ofNewMusic11 (Fall-Winter,
IV, AnalyticFallout,"Perspectives 1972):162.
But thisnecessitatesan enharmonic of theTristanchordas
a half-diminishedseventh,something thatWagner'snotationpointedlydis- withtheTristanchord.But then,impishly, he purposelygetsboggeddown
courages;see note32 above. Schoenberg,in Theoryof Harmony(255-57), an excuseto demonstrate
in issuesof rootand derivation, his fondnessfor
also recognizesthe dual Germansixth,and even mentionsit in connection "vagrantchords,"whichare to him"mostamusingfellows."

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to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth
Supplement Chords 185

Example12. RichardStrauss,TillEulenspiegel,
mm.46-49 become quite recognizableand salient. Consider,for in-
stance,the role augmented-sixth chordsplay in a shortse-
quence from Franck'sPiece heroiqueshownin Example 13.
The chordsin questionare markedwithan asteriskin the
scoreat a; theyare re-spelledat b bothto highlight(byopen
noteheads)thepropulsiveaugmented-sixth intervalbetween
b2 and #1of thelocal keysand thedual-Germanintervallic
structure. Finally,bykeepingan ear on theaugmented-sixth
* interval,we are able betterto understand some of thetonal
forcesin the openingof Schoenberg'sChamberSymphony,
op. 9, citedin Example14a. The analysisat b pointsoutthat
givesthe chordits powers;the remaining notesaccompany
twoaugmented-sixth intervalspropelthechordin m. 3 into
thegenerating intervaland provideitwithdifferentsonorous
its resolutionin m. 4; one is shownwithopen noteheads,
shadings. In thisway the dual German sixth is welcomed,
and the otherwithfilled.Surely,this is just as much an
alongwithanyotherconfiguration thata composermightbe
chordas anyotherthathas been discussed
temptedto use. At thispoint,we have enoughto be able to so far.
cut away the puzzlementsurrounding the chordmarkedby
the asteriskin Example 12 and analyzeit as an augmented- * * *
sixthchord,withthe intervalin questionbuilt at the 4-3
semitonein F majorand accompaniedbynotesthatgivethe
chorda dual Germanflavor.35 The expository speed of thelastparagraphwas probably
mannerofpreviously behaviors sufficient to have raisedsome dust,withexamplesracingby
unassuming augmented-sixth
like so manybillboardson the highway.The resultof re-
constitution so faris perhapsno morethana floodof newly
35Kostkaand Payne(Tonal Harmony,385) also identify the"Till" chord
as a typeof augmented-sixthchord.GrahamH. Phipps,in "The Tritoneas enfranchised augmented-sixth chordsaccompaniedby their
Equivalency:A ContextualPerspectiveforApproachingSchoenberg'sMu- variouslyunusualtonalfunctions. But disciplining
sic," Journalof Musicology4, (1985): 60, also citesthe "Till" chordas an wild herd can be done gently;the recommendedmethod,
augmented-sixth,buthe callstheresolution to theF-majorchord"deceptive" in lightof previousdiscussionsof tonal function,involves
and also ignoresthe Till chord's spellingwhen describingit as a half-
diminished seventhchord.Althoughnot strictly a dual Germansixth(D, segregationby functional attributes.
wouldhave to be a C#in orderforthechordto have the requisiteinterval 4
Figure presents threefunctionaltypesof augmented-
theTillchordcan stillbe understood
structure), as thedualofa Germansixth sixthchords.As thefiguredenotes,thesetypesare derived
withdoublyaugmentedfourth.See Aldwelland Schachter,Harmonyand fromjudgments concerning theharmonicfunction bothofan
VoiceLeading,482-83. The similarity oftheTillchordand theTristanchord chordand ofitschordofresolution.Strictly
Century (NewYork:
W. W. Norton,1966),140. RobertGauldinreinforces thisconnection and as speaking,it is notthefunction of an augmented-sixthchord
wellmakesa goodcase forconsidering Tillas a wholeto be a satireon Tristan per se thatis of ultimateinterest, but itsfunctional
("A ConcealedMusicalSatire:A PossibleTill-Tristan Connection,"unpub- In all theexamplescitedinthispaper,theaugmented-sixth
lishedMS). chordsetsup eithera tonic-or a dominant-functioned chord

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186 MusicTheorySpectrum

Example13. Franck,Pieceheroque,mm.14-18

3 * 3 *

^t^X '^E^ "_ L^O =L
[^'* Ai >:,^ i A> >12 a >A
>;: -

b.:ft( W b^^ | ti}^ i(ii)t

Example14. Schoenberg,

u . 1
v 0 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~O1

tlo t
~ ~ tl

b.~ ~ ~ ~ ~ -~ 11

0 O00~~~~~~~~~~F

of resolution.If the latter,thenthe augmented-sixth

chord thesenseoftonalmotionandurgetowardsresolution we hear
perforce is subdominant in function.A tonic-functioned whenaugmented-sixth chordsresolve.Thus,bothtonicand
chordcannotsustainthe levelof dissonanceand activityas- dominant functions
to describethefunction
sociated with an augmentedsixth,and two consecutive of an augmented-sixth
chordthatresolvesto the dominant.
dominant-functioned chordsin thesame keycannotproduce The term"subdominant"may be uncomfortable here, for

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Chords 187
to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth

althoughone of the traditionalderivationsof augmented- Figure4. Functional chords

typesof augmented-sixth
sixthchordsis fromsubdominant chords(the#IV7ofOttman,
et al.),36one can be hardpressednotto hearthesecondary- Augmented-sixth Resolution FunctionalType
dominantelementin an augmented-sixth chord(#4as I-of-
3) and thusnot to hear some typeof dominantfunctionas Dominant Tonic Authentic
a result.37It is forthisreasonthatFigure4 callsthisfunctional Subdominant Tonic Plagal
Subdominant Dominant Predominant
behavior"pre-dominant," unloadingsome unneededfreight
from"subdominant" stressing thedominant setuppowers
of augmented-sixth chords.38 The b staffhighlightstheseintervals in open noteheads.The
How can one tellthata chordof resolutionis dominant? operation of theseries,which involves continualenharmonic
Considerationsof local and global key relationsare, of reinterpretationscomplicated by elided resolutions
of #4,can
course,paramount.Butthereareothermeansas well.Major- be read fromthe arrowsin the example.Augmented-sixth
minorseventhchords,forexample,are habitualtransmitters chordsareshownon theb staff, andtheirchordsofresolution
of dominantfunction, so a motionfromaugmentedsixthto (major-minor sevenths in 4 position)are shownin the left-
major-minor seventh naturallyis classifiedas pre-dominant. hand portionof the a staff;the activityof augmented-
(This situation is illustratedin the case of one of the "lab sixthresolutionis indicatedby diagonalarrows.Afterres-
specimens" shown in Example4.) A cadential6 also conveys olution,these4 chordsare enharmonically reconfiguredas
dominantfunction(or impending dominantfunction, ifone augmented-sixth chords,a processshownby theverticalar-
labels the firstpartof the cadentialmotion 1 as I); it, too, rowsfroma to b. Liszttakesadvantageofenharmonic equiv-
invitesanalysisas pre-dominant. Insofaras thesemotionsare alencehereto dovetaila seriesof pre-dominant augmented-
thetypicalbehaviorsofthetraditional ethnicsixthchords,we sixthchordswiththeirchordsof resolution.
need not dwellupon thismattermuchlonger.But an inter- At leasttwocircumstances can discouragedominantfunc-
estingtwistinvolvingthe enharmonicequivalenceof the tionforthechordof resolution, and henceopen up thepos-
German-sixth and the major-minor seventhis foundin Ex- sibilityof dominantfunction foran augmented-sixth chord.
ample 15, and it deservessome comment.Underlying the The firstis theunlikelihoodthata minortriadcan transmit
passageis a seriesof augmented-sixth chordswhoseessences dominantfunction.It is forthisreasonthat,as in Franck's
are expressedbydiminished thirdsburiedin thesoundmass. Piece heroiqueshownin Example 13, the augmented-sixth
chordstonicizetheirchordsofresolution.39 What,then,is the
36Alsoofnotehereis thetraditionally
functionof the augmented-sixth chords-dominantor sub-
chordswithIV6 chordsin Phrygian cadences.See, forexample,Aldwelland dominant?Here we can attendto clues in the voicingand
Schachter, Harmonyand VoiceLeading,479; Forte,TonalHarmonyin Con- figuration of the chords.Notice in particularthe left-hand
ceptand Practice,353; Lester,Harmonyin Tonal Music,vol. 2, 85. upperpart,whichcontainsa conspicuousmotionup to and
37JoelLester,forexample,writesthat"themajorityof augmented-sixth theleadingtone.Thismotionplainlyhigh-
chordsused in tonalmusicare in factaltereddominantsof the dominant"
ultimately through
(Harmonyin Tonal Music,vol. 2, 93). lightsthe dominant-functioned aspectof the chord,and, to
38Note20 abovediscussestheidea ofbreakingsubdominant function
in thismanner. 39Asimilarcase is foundin the "lab specimen"in Example3.

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188 MusicTheorySpectrum

Example 15. Liszt, Weinen,Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen, mm. 179-83


,^:^b C'' 1: #'>1 Vte

Xb bbbb t i/i- 1b11B i1 l


mymind,tipsthe balance towardshearingthe augmented- contentswiththe tools developedso far.The chordof res-
sixth chords as dominant-rather than subdominant- olutionis tonic-again,on accountof thedoubledthirdpro-
functioned, makingforan authenticfunctional type. duced by the actionof one of the augmentedsixthsin the
The TillEulenspiegel citationin Example12 illustratesthe precedingchord.The twoaugmentedsixthsoperatingin m.
othercircumstance discouragingdominant function.The aug- 3 are creaturesof dominantand subdominant functions re-
mentedsixthresolvesintothe thirdof the followingmajor spectively.The Gb-E intervaldependson thedominant func-
triad.Sucha doublingpointedly rejectsdominant possibilities tionofE as 1, whiletheB -G#augmented sixthis builtupon
because thedoubledthirdwouldbe, in fact,a doubledlead- 4 as a subdominant element.Dominantfunction clearlyhas
ingtone.Hence,theF-majorchordis tonic-functioned. Anal- theupperhandinthischord,as thedownbeatofm. 3 contains
ysisof the augmented-sixth chordis less routine.Consider- thebasic elementsof a V7 in F: C, E, and Bb. The Gb also
able subdominant powersare transmitted by b6 and by the soundingthereis in an augmented-sixth relationshipwithE,
placement of the prominent subdominant element4 in the whichrelationship strengthensratherthan ambiguatesthe
bass. Yet thefirstoccurrenceof theTill motive(rehearsal2 alreadyestablisheddominant function ofthechord.The sec-
+ 14) interrupts a powerfulV7 of F, whichtheresolutionto ond augmentedsixthof the chordis onlyactivatedon the
F in Example 12 can be heard to satisfy.Thus, dominant secondbeat of m. 3, and its diatonicmember,4, is buried
function can stillbe heardto persistintheTillchord- at least in thesoundmass.Dominantfunction clearlyprevailsin this
in thisincarnation-transmitted by E as S. To mymindat augmented-sixth chord, meaning thatitmanifests theauthen-
least,thesubdominant elementslargelysubdueE, leadingto tic functional
a plagal interpretation. Nowthatthedisarray brought on bytheinflux ofnewtypes
Finally,theopeningofSchoenberg's ChamberSymphony, of augmented-sixth chordshas been reducedbyreclassifying
op. 9, cited in Example 14 as a kind of marvelamong chordtypes,it is appropriatehereto showoffwhatthisre-
augmented-sixth chordusage, can also yield its functional organizedanalyticdevicecan accomplish byturning attention

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to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth
Supplement Chords 189

to a compositionwheretheaugmentedsixthis a conspicuous senseofconstriction andsuppression inthepoem.In thetext,

tonalforce,Brahms'spartsong"Im Herbst,"op. 104 no. 5, imagesof "under,""below," and "beneath"are constantly
the score of whichappearsin Example 16. displayedin thefirst twoverses.(Figure5 offers thetextand
translationofthepoem.) In thefirst, leavesfalland theheart
BRAHMS: "IM HERBST," OP. 104 NO. 5 sinks;thena journeyto thesouth(below) is likenedwithone
tothegrave(sixfeetunder,presumably). In thesecondverse,
Problemswitha traditionalaugmented-sixth chordanal- fogenshroudsthe sun and the heart,and existenceitselfis
ysiscrop up in the veryfirstmeasures,as a pre-dominant describedas deeplywithdrawn. Moreover,thelanguagethe
Germansixthin an unusual4 positionat the end of m. 1 poet uses seems overlyterse,as if languageitselfwere re-
resolvesirregularly to a cadential6 in m. 2. It takesbutlittle pressedandenshrouded. The firstsentenceoftext-all oftwo
effortto uncovera more normalunderlying structure; the iambicfeet-is remarkable in itssoniceconomy:Ernstistder
notesofthebassandtopvoicescouldbe considered Herbst.The situationeases considerably in the thirdverse,
to be offset,so thatthebass lineis groundedupontheopen- as discussedshortly,buttheoverallimpression ofthefirsttwo
ingAb, whilethetop is fastenedto theFt at theend of the is one of a laconicsolemnity thatthreatensto lapse intoan
measure. In this interpretation, what appears then in the impassivesilence-as ifthepoetwereone withthesoundless
opening measures is no more than a horizontalizedGerman- bardsjourneying to the south.
sixthchord.Yet theverynotionof sucha horizontalization Downward tendenciesare also quite evident in the
destabilizesthe idea of the augmented-sixth chordbeing a melody-notably,in the diminished-third unfoldingin the
merepassingverticality, as is generallytaught. soprano that begins every half verse. Other conspicuous
Ironically,thisfreeing-up oftheaugmented sixthas a tech- examplesare thesopranoline in mm.3-8, which,although
nicaldeviceservesto repressothertypesof musicalexpres- brokenby an upwardoctavetransfer at the end of m. 6, is
sion. The augmentedsixthin thispiece is an ideefixewhich nonethelesspreoccupied(obsessed,even) withdescentand
seems to precludeothermusicalthoughts.Each halfverse decline.The beginning ofthesecondhalf-verse inmm.10-13
(mm. 1, 10, 20, and 30) beginswiththe same unfolding of seemsto promisesomealleviationfromthedownwardspiral.
a melodicdiminishedthirdas foundin m. 1, duringwhich Yet thehopefulascentin thesemeasuresseemsonlyto have
some augmented-sixth intervalis soundedharmonically. (In theattainment ofEb5 in mindsincethemelodybeginsthere-
the German4 chordat the end of m. 1, a harmonicaug- afteranotherdeliberatedescentto Ft4, traversing thesame
mentedsixthis formedbetweenthesopranoand tenor.)Ut- space as was coveredin mm. 7-8.40
terancescannotbeginwithouttouchingupontheaugmented Whatrole, then,does the augmented-sixth chordplayin
sixth-norend forthatmatter,sinceeach versecloses with thisstoryofautumnaldepression?It seemsto be at onceboth
an authenticcadence approachedthrougha Germansixth. a symptom anda cure,a paradoxicalandintriguing statusthat
Before dealing with other augmented-sixth matters,I
shouldenlargeupon whatis meantby sayingthatthe aug-
40Another importantmusicalaspectof constrictionand obsessionis the
mentedsixthrepressesothermusicalexpressions.For the constantalto and tenormotionin parallelthirds.These voicesthushave no
obsessionwiththechord,insofaras itcrowdsout (and hence freedomofactionon theirown;theymoveinlockstep,eachis unableto break
represses)otherpossibilities, is a consequenceofa pervading freefromthe constrainingpowerof the other.

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190 MusicTheorySpectrum

Example 16. Brahms, "Im Herbst," op. 104 no. 5

P - af - P
& Alto
Ernst ist der
r' I Jb _ 'r'r
Herbst. Und wenn die Blat- ter fal- len, sinkt auch das Herz,
Bleich ist der Tag, und bias- se Ne- bel schlei- ern die Son- ne, die

Son- ne

-^bb V- rf
1 .If f" -J
& Bass
f'-~ 'I r f

P oI dolce
d e

auch das Herz zu

Irrr rrr rr
tru- bem Weh her- ab.
Still ist die
Flur, und nach demSii- den wal- len die
wie die Her- zen, wie die Her- zen ein. Friih kommt die Nacht: denn al- le Krif- te fei- ern, u

b-- Ifr r r I-- "- r r-- - r r f

14 -p sempre

1'r tIr ^[r ': I .i I I

San- ger stumm, wie nach dem Grab, wie nach dem Grab. Sanft wird der Mensch
tief ver- schlos- sen ruht das Sein, ruht das Sein.er Mensch
- 51
I ' If' F' i B

22 espress. cresc. f

siII n- - 1J 1 1
r r aI, iw- J S
sieht die Son- ne sin- ken, er ahnt, er ahnt, des Le- bens wie des Jah- - res Schluss.

:i r r r r'If I~- f f' '

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to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth
Supplement Chords 191

Example 16 [continued].
30 f
AT- cresc.

Feucht- wird das Aug, doch in der Tra- ne Blin- ken, doch in der Tra- ne Blin- ken ent-

r rI#-1^ 'i
j rp dolce dim.

L J II J-- |aaI
["==. y.
___== --I-
-stromt _ ent- stromtdes Her- zens se- lig- ster Er- guss, se- lig- ster Er- guss.

t'|o v- I

explainsthe attentionbestowedupon it. Yes, the sonority Measure10findsanothertreatment ofan augmented-sixth

pervadesthepiece-symbolizingthereducedexpressivecir- chord.Again,as in mm.1 and 5, thesamepitchmaterial(in
cumstances thepoetfindshimself in. But thetreatment ofthe bothregister andvoicing)is reassembled,buttheaugmented
sonority, alreadysuggested,hardlyagrees with such re- sixthbetweenAl3 and F#4nowresolvesintothethirdof an
duction.Indeed,Brahmsexploresall mannerofpossibleres- E -majortriad,thusplacingthe intervalbetweenscale de-
olutionsand treatments in seemingattempts to uncoverand grees4 and #2in Eb major. As Example 17 suggests,the
unblock,to findways out of the constantdownwardpres- functionaltypehere is plagal. The entranceof Eb major
sures.The factthatthe German-sixth chordis givenits un- seemsto augurwellfora solutionto thepersistentdownward
usualhorizontal arrayinm. 1 is thefirst
tellingclue. Butother push,sincebothsopranoandbass linesare able to risegently
illustrations abound.Clearly,theV7 of theNeapolitanin m. in its atmosphere.41 As alreadynoted,however,once the
5 is an attempt, via theusualenharmonic trickery,to findone soprano reaches
Eb 5 inm. 14,thetexttakesa decidedlymore
wayout. Ironically, thisattemptabetsand enablescontinued
downwardmotion;thismethod,needlessto say, is not re- 41The reversal of bass motion in m. 10 with respect to m. 1 seems to
peated in the remainderof the verse. adumbrate this possibility.

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192 MusicTheorySpectrum

Figure5. Karl Groth,"Im Herbst."Translation


Ernstist der Herbst.Und wenndie blatterfallen, Solemnis the Autumn.And whenthe leaves fall
sinktauch das Herz zu trubemWeh herab. sinksalso the heartto troubledwoe.
Stillist die Flur,und nach dem Suden wallen Stillis the meadow,and towardsthe southjourney
die Sangerstumm,wie nach dem Grab. the bardsin silence,as if to the grave.
Bleich ist der Tag, und blasse Nebel schleiern Pale is the day, and colorlessfogenshrouds
die Sonne wie die Herzen ein. bothsun and hearts.
Fruhkommtdie Nacht: denn alle Kraftefeiern, Earlycomes the night:forall Powerscelebrate
und tiefverschlossen ruhtdas Sein. and deeplywithdrawn reststhe being.
Sanftwirdder Mensch.Er siehtdie Sonne sinken, Softbecomesthe man. He sees the sun sink;
er ahntdes Lebens wie des JahresSchluss. he foreseesthe end of lifeand of the year.
Feuchtwirddas Aug, doch in der Trane Blinken Moistbecomesthe eye, yetin the tear-sparkle
entstromtdes HerzensseligsterErguss. gushesthe heart'smostblessedoutpouring.

depressingturn,forcingthesopranoto plod downwardsyet stressesmembers oftheaugmented-sixth chordat eachdown-

again, the bass after.Evidently,the
followingreluctantly as
beat, Example 18 indicateswitha beam. The returnof
plagal therapyprovidedonlytemporary relief. theseopening,pre-dominant augmented-sixth concernsre-
The harmonicgoal of the descentin m. 17 is the same inforcesthe sense of constriction
and expressiverepression
German4 sonority metwithinm. 1, andthelastthreepitches at workin the song.
ofthedescent(Ab, G, F#)reprisetheopeningpitchesofm. An apparently
1.42Furthermore, thesopranoin thesemm.14-17 pointedly firstand secondversesmakesfora profounddifference in
one's evaluationof this constriction.
In the firstverse at
42I have alreadyremarkedabove on thesimilaritiesbetweenthesoprano
m. 17, Brahmsrepeatstheclosingphraseof thepoem, "wie
descentsin mm.7-8 and 14-17; i.e., theytraversethesame space between nach dem Grab," setting"wie" to a standardGerman-sixth
Eb5 and F#4.But theyalso sharetheAb,-G-F#motiveintroduced in m. 1, chordand therebynormalizing theapproachto thecadential
althoughinmm.7-8 itis slightly obscuredbysurfaceelaboration.The desire 6. In thesecondverse,however,theclosingphrase,"ruhtdas
to reusethismelodicidea (or thecompositional need to restrict
thusexplainstheNeapolitan-sixth in G minorfoundat theend of m. 7; this
chordaccommodates Ab as b2. This particular
situationpromptsadditional tively.The Neapolitancould be regardedin generalas one elementof a
theorizing abouttheNeapolitansixthas manifesting augmented-sixth ener- horizontalizeddiminished thirdbetweenbl and #1.This line of thinkingis
gies, which I will but brieflysketch. The enharmonicrelationshipof implicitin Schenker'sdiscussionof b2 in Free Composition(trans.and ed.
augmented-sixth chordand V7 of theNeapolitanalreadyplaces themintoa ErnstOster[NewYork:Longman,1979],71 and Fig. 74). The excerptfrom
specialrelationship,butthefactthat,in normalresolution,b6 supportedby Liszt'sOrpheusin Example6, whichhas an augmented-sixth chordinvolving
a Neapolitantraversesa diminished thirdto p7 linksthe two moresugges- b2 and p7 flowingout of a Neapolitanchord,also supportsthishypothesis.

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Chords 193
to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth

Example17. Plagalaugmented-sixth and thenbyresolutionto a majorcadential6 in m. 21, after
whichC major blossomsfreely.
At themomentofacknowledgement-the presentment of
b -------
$ ,,,i----, Death that Autumnhas caused-the obsession with the
augmented-sixth chordbecomesextreme;mm.24-26 contain

S ----------'-
Aug.6th (subdominant)Tonic
I a sequenceemphasizing
Had this augmented-sixth
pre-dominant German-sixth
in the
in thelessdepressing atmosphere oftheC-majorthirdverse,
however,this sequence-while stilldisturbing-seemsless
threatening. For one thing,the sequence rises,and, more-
Sein," containsone less syllable,and brahmsconsequently over,occursat a pointwherethefirst twoverseswereforced
omitsthe German-sixth. The German4 thusprogressesdi- into continued downward motion. For another, the
rectlyto the cadential just as it did in mm. 1-2. The con- augmented-sixth chordin m. 24 is, froma pitchstandpoint,
clusionof the second verse thus makes its affinity to the a newentity. Whereaspreviousaugmented sixthsinthepiece
openingmoreexplicitand pronounced,its messageof con- wereformedbetweenAb and Ft, thatin m. 24 is between
strictionand repressionmoreplaintive,and its finalempty Bb and Gt.
fifthmore desolate. The enharmonic equivalenceof G#and Ab is something
The thirdverseis quite different fromthe firsttwo. At- to note here. In the firsttwo verses,a melodicAb is, with
tentionis drawnawayfromtheobservedworldand towards one exception,alwaysobligedto dropto G. This is so even
an observingperson.Then,thesourceof thepervasivemel- whenan augmented-sixth chordis notinvolved,as in m. 4.
ancholyis identifiedand acknowledged ofAu-
(identification The transformation of Ab intoG#in the thirdverse,how-
tumnwithDeath). And,finally, acknowledgment permits ever, entailsa changeof directionalattribute;G# and its
the poet at last to escape the constriction of the firsttwo risingtendencyencapsulatethe breaking-through that the
verses,symbolized bygushing outpouring fromthepreviously thirdverseis about.
enshroudedheart. Significantly,thebeginning ofthesecondpartoftheverse
The crucialmusicaldifference betweenthe thirdand the inm. 30,whilestillstructured aroundthemelodicdiminished-
firsttwoversesis mode. It seemstriteto pointto a change thirdmotive,nowhas thatmotivetraversing thenewBbl-G#
fromminorto major as symbolizing a changein emotional space. As in thepreviousverses, the final
chord ofthemotive
climateforthe better,but thereis no doubt thatthe ste- involvesa harmonicaugmented-sixth interval,thistimebe-
reotypeholdstruein thiscase. Whateffectdoes thischange tweenthe tenorand soprano. Yet a changein functional
have on theaugmented-sixth chordobsession?Initially, only attributeis quitesignificant
a slightone, as theversebeginswiththefamiliar diminished- the authenticfunctional typeis heard,as Example 19 illus-
thirdunfoldingand pre-dominant German-4-to-cadential-6 trates.Here accruesone of the benefitsof a reconstituted
resolution.The mode shiftis signaledsubtlyby havingthe augmented-sixth category,sincethechordin questionwould
passingsopranoG4 in m. 20 harmonizedby a C-majortriad otherwise be analyzednotas an augmented-sixth butas a V 7

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194 MusicTheorySpectrum

Example18. "Im Herbst,"sopranoline,mm.14-17

.1 J. i IJ-J J.
of F. In the contextof the song,however,thischordis in- At firstglance, the reappearanceof the dark, pre-
tendedto be just as muchan augmented-sixth as thosemet dominantAb-F#augmentedsixthin m. 40 mightseem to
withearlier-butonlybybreakingfreefromtraditional chord indicatea relapse.But a breakthroughhas occurred,giving
taxonomiescan one appreciatethis.43 thisreappearancean aspectof reconciliation.The mode is
The opening-up depictedin thethirdversereceiveswon- stillC major,whichguardsagainstrelapsesofC-minor issues.
derfulmusicalsupport.Both sopranoand bass linesengage Alto and tenorpointedlymove in a contrary-motion voice
in lengthy ascentsin mm.31-37, and thepreviously bound- exchange,refusing to revert
to their
C-minor parallel-motion
together alto and tenorlinesbreakloose from each otherand pathology.Finally,as the sopranopreparesto settledown
pursuelargelyindependent courses.Most after
significantly, upon E4-another gentle coming-to-terms with previous
thesopranobreaksthroughherpreviousceilingof El 5 and downwardobsessions-thealto overlapsher and singsG4.
shootsupwardsto G5 in m. 35, she is in m. 37 pushedhigher Not to be confusedwitha symbolof repression(forcingthe
yet again by the agencyof the Bb-GO augmentedsixth- sopranodown),thealto'soverlapis rathera symbolofemer-
againexhibiting theliberating authenticfunctionalbehavior. gence; fromout of the enshroudedinteriordawnsa previ-
We findhereno clearerillustration oftheparadoxicalroleof ouslyrepressedvoice-perhapsthevery"seligster Erguss"of
the augmentedsixthin thispiece; symbolizing thebrooding whichthe poet speaks.
repressionof the firsttwo verses when behaving pre-
dominantly, it is in the thirdversean effectivetherapeutic
agentthanksto changesin mode, pitchlocation,and func- CONCLUSION
The thesisofthisarticle,thatwe oughtto attendprimarily
to the augmented-sixth intervaland its functionalcontext
43Itis appropriateto noteheretheenharmonic equivalenceof thechord and to regardits harmonization as an epiphenomenon, re-
in Example19 withthatshownin Example8c-that raraavis foundso fleet-
ceives eloquent supportfromBrahms's"Im Herbst." Al-
inglyin theexcerptfromVerdi'sRequiemin Example9. Whatis more,the
enharmonicequivalencehere is between two types of augmented-sixth thoughstandard-issue pre-dominant Germ n-sixths abound,
chords.The differences in spellingbetweenthe two indicatedifferences
in thereare morethanenoughnonstandard treatmentsto call
howtheirrespectiveaugmentedsixthsresolve.Thatin Example8c resolves intoquestionthetheoretical-andpedagogical-advantages
toE. Respellingthechordalongthelinesofthepresentcase-in otherwords,
of focusingso intentlyupon the threeethnic-sixth chords.
makingtheD#an El -then placestheaugmented-sixth interval
and El, meaninga resolutionto D. Despite both beingaugmented-sixth True, theymay be statistically preponderant in common-
chordsand despite theirenharmonicequivalence,these two chordsare practicemusicandtherefore deservetheirspecialnames.But
functionally quite distinct. whenwe elevatethemto such an extentthatwe misplace

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to theTheoryofAugmented-Sixth
Supplement Chords 195

Example19. The authentic chord

augmented-sixth withothersthatdesireflexibility and play,whichallow the-
orizingabouttonalmusicto be an artisticallycreativeact,as
Schenkerand othershavedemonstrated. Thissupplement to
thetheoryof augmented-sixth chordsis intendedto restore
moreplayintoa smallcomponentof tonaltheorywithout,
it is hoped, sacrificing
its integrity.
This goal perhapsstill
involvescirclingthewagons;butifthearea encompassedbe
Aug. 6th (dominant) Tonic largeenough,therewillstillbe enoughroomforbothstan-
dardand nonstandard augmented-sixth chordsto runhappy
and free.

othertreatments, we lose theoretically and analytically- ABSTRACT

theoretically,becausewe succumbto thetemptation to circle Traditional initsemphasis
tonaltheory, onthethreeethnic
thewagonsoftonaltheoryin thehopesofclosingthesystem ofaugmented-sixth chord,proves inhandling
inefficient othertypes
and, as a result,leave non-privileged structures
and proce- of augmented-sixth chordsfrequently foundin late nineteenth-
dures exposed and unprotected; and because
analytically, century music.The paper reconstructs the theorysupporting
we are unable to fashiontools and instruments fordealing augmented-sixth chordsalongmoregenerallinesso thatunusual
treatments canbe moreadequately explainedandanalyzed.Some
adequatelywith compositionswhose contentsleave them in thisreconstruction
is givenbynineteenth-century
outsidethe circle. support
suchas GottfriedWeberandRudolf LouisandLudwig Thuille.
It is a truismthattonal theorylacks the rigorand well- fromtheworks ofLiszt,Wagner, Richard
Excerpts Strauss,
definedstructure of, say, pitch-classset theory.Certainly, Schoenberg, and Verdiillustrate
some oftheseunusualtreatments.
instincts towardsmakingtonal theorymore consistentand Thepaperalsoanalyzes Brahms's partsong"ImHerbst," op. 104
rationaloughtto be honored,if forno otherreason than no. 5, in whichunusualtreatments of augmented-sixthchords
successfulpedagogyrequiresit. But theseinstincts conflict abound.

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