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Figure 7.6.6

Figure 7.6.6. The opening of the slow movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in C minor, Op. 10, No. 1, along with two ways of parsing its structure.  In the traditional tonal analysis (top) five harmonic cycles are concatenated like beads on a string.  In the Schenkerian reading (bottom) harmonies are nested recursively.  (For example, the progression IV-IV6-V#-I, which belongs to the fourth harmonic cycle, is taken to represent a single IV chord on level 2.)  Schenkerians believe that these sorts of recursive structures, which cut across the articulation into harmonic cycles, can be reliably inferred from a piece’s contrapuntal structure.  Ultimately, this recursive embedding proceeds until entire pieces are reduced to one of just a few basic templates, each resembling a I-V-I progression.

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