My question relates to the C# in the 3rd measure.

I understand that the section eventually modulates to D major which contains that C#, but that does not seem to happen until the 9th measure. What would be the customary harmonic analysis of the 3 measure?

goldberg variations

  • V/V, as bar 4 is V, so bar 3 prepares for it with a dominant of that dominant. – Tim Jul 3 '17 at 11:23
  • @Tim there's no A in that measure. It's vii/V (in first inversion, of course). – phoog Jul 3 '17 at 12:31
  • 1
    @phoog - doesn't playing the mordent introduce an A into the equation? The feel of bar 3 is A dominant 7. – Tim Jul 3 '17 at 12:38
  • @Tim true, I overlooked the ornament. Still feels like a vii to me. – phoog Jul 3 '17 at 12:44
  • Also, even if there were no A in the measure, the chord C#/E/G still functions as a five of five. – Scott Wallace Jul 3 '17 at 12:55

Although there are answers in the comments, I thought I'd provide an official one.

You're correct that the music has not yet modulated to D, as evidenced by (among other things) the C♮ that appears in the bass at the end of m. 4.

Measure 4 is clearly a V chord (D), and that C♯ clearly suggests a tonicization of that V chord. When we stack that chord in m. 3 in thirds, we get C♯–E–G, which is a vii° triad (the ° means diminished) in the key of D. With the E in the bass it's in first inversion, so this chord is best called a vii°6/V (read "seven-diminished six of five"), which is a very common occurrence in step-descent basses like this one.

And as some of the comments above discuss, if one wishes to include the A in the chord, we're left with A–C♯–E–G, which is a V7 chord in D, but now in second inversion. If you include the A, the chord is then best labeled V43/V.

  • A 19th century theorist would probably have said that it does modulate to the dominant in bars 3 and 4, back to the tonic in bar 5, and to the subdominant (and back to the tonic) in bars 5-6! But the current terminology of "secondary dominants" seems to be an improvement on the old terminology of "passing modulations" for these harmonic progressions. – user19146 Jul 3 '17 at 15:21

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