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I am having trouble following the analytical methods applied in David Neumeyer's The Music of Paul Hindemith.

Please refer to example 3.12:

Excerpt from the text, four measures of music with analysis below.

I would like to use one of the chord changes to put my thinking process to the test. In the fourth measure, you will see a bracketed half-note-with-a-flag symbol (sorry, but I don't know how to replicate these esoteric characters) leading to a "VII" symbol. Now, referring to Neumeyer's harmonic function symbols (second image, Ex. 3.4) we can (expect to) see that the former symbol represents the 5th scale degree. In this case (key of Eb), that would be the note Bb. The chord labeled VII, looking again at the harmonic function symbols, represents the flat-7 scale degree. I know have two problems:

  1. The first chord (ex. 3.12, m.4) is spelled C Ab Eb--not sure how that is a chord based on scale degree 5 (Bb); The next chord (ex. 3.12, m.4)is spelled Db A F. Because the flat-7 scale degree in Eb major is a Db, I suppose this one checks out (though the A note, the chordal fifth, should be flat for this to be an actual Db triad. Perhaps only the chord roots are of importance here).
  2. Neumeyer explains that, in his analysis, brackets are used to show cadence chords as tonicizations when a cadence falls on a nontonic degree. While I do not know what this means exactly (I have a basic understanding of tonicization/secondary dominants and cadences), I do not see how it applies to this m.4 of Ex. 3.12, because the bracketed chord (regardless of the evident discrepancy pointed out above) is not the dominant of the following chord (the "VII").

Please let me know your thoughts here. I would appreciate it.

Thank you!

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The first chord (ex. 3.12, m.4) is spelled C Ab Eb--not sure how that is a chord based on scale degree 5 (Bb); The next chord (ex. 3.12, m.4)is spelled Db A F.

The first chord is inverted. It is an A♭ major chord in first inversion.

The second chord is actually D♭ A♭ F, because the flat on the A from the first chord still applies until the end of the measure. That makes the second chord a D♭ major chord.

I do not see how [the idea of a secondary dominant] applies to this m.4 of Ex. 3.12, because the bracketed chord (regardless of the evident discrepancy pointed out above) is not the dominant of the following chord (the "VII").

A♭ is of course the fifth degree above D♭, so an A♭ major chord can have a dominant function over a subsequent D♭ chord (the C is a leading tone to D♭).

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  • Your answer is illustrated in the source material as a combination of Example 3.4 and item 7 on page 54. I'm happy to update your answer unless you prefer to do it yourself. – Aaron Apr 22 at 20:42
  • @Aaron I don't feel like the symbols explained in item 7 on p. 54 is that relevant to my answer. I think merely clarifying the spelling of the chords in question is what is needed here. – Todd Wilcox Apr 22 at 20:48
  • @ToddWilcox I appreciate you pointing out my errors. Thank you for showing me the proper spelling of these chords. Regarding the first section of your response: the chord is an Ab major chord, and Ab is the 4th scale degree. So, the fact that the chord is inverted with Bb being the lowest tone is the reason Neumeyer uses the symbol representative of the 5th scale degree? Not to be confused with, say "V" in roman numeral analysis, which indicates the harmony as a whole? – 286642 Apr 23 at 1:46
  • @286642 Bb is not the lowest note of the chord. There is no Bb in that chord. The chord is Ab C Eb with C as the lowest note. It is a chord built on the fourth scale degree of the Eb major scale. But it is a fifth above Db, so it can act as a secondary dominant chord of the Db chord. If there’s any confusion about how secondary dominants work then I think that’s a separate question you can ask here or do a web search on secondary dominants. – Todd Wilcox Apr 23 at 3:22

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