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I am referring to the G-F# in m. 123. We are in G major, as I understand, heading to a PAC (m. 126) that will be reinterpreted as a half-cadence when the subordinate theme starts at m. 127. enter image description here

I am currently understanding that the F#, perhaps in a incomplete D7 harmony, is a leading tone to G, in a incomplete G harmony given by the double-neighbor around B at m. 124 and the following D. For that interpretation, one has to consider that the G in the bass is a tonic pedal. I'm not used to seeing pedal points that brief, even less so with such sharp dissonances (the G-F# really pops out to my ear), hence the discomfort with the current analysis. Is this a common in the classical style? Am I missing something here?

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  • mm 123 is just a sequence of mm 122 and in fact just continues to mm 124. These are all just extending the cadence and are filler and ellipses. Clearly there is a G pedal and that is to ground the half bar figure that is being tossed around. The figure clearly goes G(on B) then G(on G) then C(onE) then D(onC). It continues in octaves on B and G(essentially repeating mm122) There is nothing out of the ordinary. The F# there is to supply the harmonic color(to imply a D7). The G there is to maintain the tonic ground. All of it is just style. Any number of different things could be done.
    – Gupta
    Apr 30, 2022 at 18:03
  • You can have tonic pedals as brief as one chord. E.g., a typical 6/4 chord can be considered a dominant pedal if preceded by a V. The progression is just a I - IV V I - IV - I - all functioning over a G tonic(why a G tonic, because he wanted it that way, probably to give a strong resolve on the tonic). He could have used the roots of the chord as bass notes instead, it would have worked just as well but that entire last 4 bars is just a tonic tag. There is no understanding "why". He did what he liked and what sounded good to him. Everyone is different.
    – Gupta
    Apr 30, 2022 at 18:07
  • Of course the F# in the baritone is important so that we hear a dominant sound so it is a strong color. What is relevant here is the figure being used, not the harmony. The figure being used is what makes it work(it is a sequence that ties everything together). He doesn't go outside harmonic extremes because he wants the feeling of resolution(he's not starting something new he's ending something). If he had too much dissonance then we would want it resolved(well, typically CCP music controls the consonance and dissonance in a typically stylistic way).
    – Gupta
    Apr 30, 2022 at 18:11
  • It would probably be more helpful to you as not to try to analyze music based on your preconceived notions of what should and shouldn't be but analyze it as "Oh, you can do that!". Let the "masters" be your guide. most of the time we have our box and we try to fit everything in to it... but, in fact, we should be trying to fit our box in to everything else. (this has the effect of enlarging our box and so we are not so "closed minded") If you want to sound like Mozart then imitate Mozart(copy him, change some things, do it enough and you'll learn to speak his language).
    – Gupta
    Apr 30, 2022 at 18:13
  • There is no "logic" to things except the internal logic. Why someone did something is irrelevant. Knowing what they did is not. This way if you want to do the same thing you can imitate it and if you don't then you don't. It's best not to get hung up trying to figure out some universal laws because you won't. Only with experience(which takes time and dedication) will you start to develop some deeper understanding of how things work. Trying to force it won't work. [Historically people would learn through apprenticeships but today with our "capitalism" people try to get to the top too fast]
    – Gupta
    Apr 30, 2022 at 18:17

2 Answers 2

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I don't think you're missing anything at all; the G is a pedal tone that's dissonant with the chord-tone F♯, exactly as you've surmised.

The G has been a pedal for one-and-a-half measures at this point, and that's relatively common. It's just that this final half note of m. 123 is the first time the G is a non-chord tone: obviously the G is in the G chord of m. 122, and it's the fifth of that C chord in the first half of m. 123.

This tactic of a pedal creating a sharp dissonance is very common in the Classical style, so hopefully your discomfort is short-lived :-)

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Interestingly, the edition I have is like this one...

enter image description here

...apparently the first edition is the one you have. The later editions make the tonic pedal more obvious, at least the F# actually resolving up to G feels more complete.

There is a formula called the "quiescenza" by Robert Gjerdingen which involves a melodic formula of ♭7 ^6 ♮7 ^8 over a tonic pedal, and this seems pretty close to the harmony of this passage.

You can see examples of the quiescenza in Mozart in K.281 and K.283...

enter image description here

enter image description here

...notice the E natural against F and the C# against D.

If the K. 309 example had an F natural in m. 122 leading to the subdominant IV6/4, it would be the complete quiescenza formula.

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  • Interesting indeed! Actually, I am not using a published edition, but a copy of one of the editions, which adds the much needed measure numbers. As the recording I am listening to matched my score, I didn't bother to look for another source. Apr 28, 2022 at 18:46
  • I looked at a couple other editions and they all match the one you copied. I wasn't able to find the first edition. Apr 28, 2022 at 18:47
  • Thanks for the 'quiescenza' examples. I am planning on reading Music in The Galant Style by Robert Gjerdigen for some time now, I imagine that formula mentioned there. Apr 28, 2022 at 18:49
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    Yes, quiescenza is in the book. It's a great book. Took me a while to catch on because Gjerdingen talks a lot about older methods like figured bass, the hexachord system, and earlier forms of solfege. But that's a big part of the book, ditching the current college type Roman numeral analysis and embracing the old methods of the 18th century. Apr 29, 2022 at 13:40

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