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In the initial phrase, if I just saw the melody, I would have been sure that, in the third full measure, the melody switches to (V). Yet the accompaniment stays firmly in (i) and it sounds great. Does this technique have a name and why does it sound so good? Are there any other well-known pieces that do that?

  • It could be that it stays in i because that makes it sound more like the style of Turkish music that Mozart sought to evoke. – phoog Apr 25 at 1:14
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Yes, it could go to E7 in bar 3. But it stays on Am instead. And all we can really say about that is 'composer's choice'. Both are fine. And a few other moves would have been fine too.

This parsimonious use of harmonies is characteristic of early Classical music. The longer you stay on one chord, the more dramatic when you eventually DO use another one - even one as seemingly obvious as a V. Simple, and clever.

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In general, the stubborn keeping of one (often, but not always, bass-) note/harmony against melodies that don't really fit on it is called pedal point.

But I definitely would hesitate to call this a pedal. What's actually going on is that Mozart is (arguably, rather bluntly) appropriating the stereotypical “eastern” double harmonic minor scale, which has a characteristic ♯ⅳ degree whilst clearly being in minor (definitely not Lydian). In fact, notice how the last beat in bar two literally clashes C and E with D♯, which is enharmonic to a minor and major third simultaneously:

X:1
L:1/16
M:2/4
K:C
%%score T1 B
V:T1           clef=treble
V:B            clef=bass
% 1
[V:T1] z4       (fe"!"^de    | .b2)
[V:B]  (A,2.[C2E2]) .[C2E2].[C2E2] | A,2

That's something that doesn't really happen in classical music (ever?).

What happens a lot in classical music though is that sharpened degrees are used as leading notes into another tonic. Specifically here, Mozart is no doubt playing with the listener's expectation that the ♯ⅳ note should lead to the dominant, like

X:1
L:1/16
M:2/4
K:C
%%score T1 B
V:T1           clef=treble
V:B            clef=bass
% 1
[V:T1] z4       (fe^d2)          | e4
[V:B]  (A,2.[C2E2]) .[C2E2](B,A,) | (^G,2.[B,2D2]) .[B,2D2].[B,2D2]

and as you noticed the melody seems to confirm that by going into B·A·G♯, but not really – actually the whole bar 3 acts more like a mere turn ornament on the note A, as it were

X:1
L:1/16
M:2/4
K:C
%%score T1 B
V:T1           clef=treble
V:B            clef=bass
% 1
[V:T1] z4       (fe^f^g)    | !turn!a4 !turn!a4
[V:B]  (A,2.[C2E2]) .[C2E2].[C2E2] | (A,2.[C2E2]) .[C2E2].[C2E2]
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  • Also, most lower neighbors (classically) are half steps below the main note and usually requires the lower note to be sharped. An exception is the lower neighbor to scale step 7. (I've never found that lower neighbor to sound good sharped or not.) A whole step lower neighbor gives a kind modal feel to an ornament. – ttw Apr 19 at 8:37
  • You mean 𝄪ⅵ? That would probably be heard as ♭ⅶ instead. – leftaroundabout Apr 19 at 9:40
  • @leftaroundabout it can't be ♭ⅶ if it's the lower neighbor of 𝄪ⅶ. – phoog Apr 19 at 23:58
  • "That's something that doesn't really happen in classical music (ever?)": it's not particularly uncommon, but it's also not what's happening here: the harmony is A minor, so it's an augmented fourth and a perfect fifth simultaneously, not a minor and major third. But the augmented fourth arises as a chromatic lower neighbor: an embellishment, not a structural tone. For one part to have such an embellishment while another part holds the structural tone is unremarkable. – phoog Apr 25 at 2:02
  • As an example: Bach's cantata BWV 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden has, in the second movement (Verse 1), measure 12, at the second half of beat 4, the pitches A2, F#3, D4, E4, A4, and D#5 sounding sumultaneously, the last as a chromatic lower neighbor of E5. – phoog Apr 25 at 2:03
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The melody of the first four bars is firmly based on A minor. Each of the sixteenth-note turns starts one note above the main note, and the main notes form an A minor triad. The only slightly unusual note is the D sharp, but that in combination with the F gives the piece the "Turkish" flavor.enter image description here

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The melodic line in the first 4 bars is built on an A minor triad. Here you can see how it appears in the urtext:

enter image description here

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  • Good point! And, I've often wondered if Mozart and his contemporaries really played such appogiature just like a normal sixteenth. That always seemed silly to me. – leftaroundabout Apr 19 at 23:29
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    @leftaroundabout they did, in this context. In some contexts they played it like a normal eighth note. Why do you think it silly? – phoog Apr 19 at 23:56
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    They probably wrote it that way to make the harmonic structure clear. – Laurence Payne Apr 20 at 0:53
  • OP here. This answer makes sense from mostly a theoretical point of view. But from the practical point of view that reflects how the piece is played, the downbeat notes in the third phrase are (leap from an upbeat E) B G# B G#. If that's not the E chord with some decorations in-between... – Wynne Apr 20 at 1:23
  • @phoog because then why not just write a sixteenth? Although, yeah, “make the harmonic structure clear” is actually a good enough reason. Still – how certain is the historical record actually on this, did they literally recommend to replace the graces with full sixteenths to students? – leftaroundabout Apr 20 at 8:23

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