Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-08-12 - 3:07 p.m.
Haydn Op 33 no 1 is certainly the business – I can see thanks to a mini score and Rosen’s analysis. I think I may have said in a recent entry that its in D – a mistake – its in B minor and the sonata narrative is about reconciliation around the minor modality from the relative major . It opens on a first invesion D major chord apparently the home key and the III 7 from there is a dominant for the home key, except there isn’t a reckless plunge into it. The exposition is taut and ambiguous – the III7 shifts up to a IV chord and has a dissonant a natural in cello part. The III7 should really have an a# and indeed there is one in the upper parts – but not in the bass. I think this must have been what made me think Haydn had been jamming with gypsies.
One of the beauties in all of this is that harmonic reconciliation in classical style can too often seem like a premature demand for easy closure – especially between dominant and tonic major. This is one of the reasons why the modal harmonies that were current a 100 years ago – in Debussy, Ravel, Bartok and Vaughan Williams - appeal to us still – a clear bridge between what they are about and (say) Fairport Convention or Kind of Blue. Modal closures are less easy.
But in Op 33 no 1 the easiness is ambiguous and deferred because the final closure is in the relative minor and the first major dominant plays around with dimished chord ambiguity – say the way a G# dim floats between G7 and E7. No wonder Mozart thought a gauntlet had been thrown down.
I was going to call this entry Three Hours from Pacific Pallisades – not because Robin has doubtless spent more than three hours getting her software sorted.. Rather the Cambridge Adorno companion has a great article about the exiled Europeans who hung out there in the 1940s – discussing how Mann used Adorno’s vision of Schoenberg to soup up his Faust novel.
Horkeheimer and Adorno wrote The Dielectics of Enlightenment there – and Adorno went on to write Minima Moralia and The Philosophy of the New Music there too. The commentary is very good in explaining the way that all of this stuff is rooted in an engagement with Hegel – especially Hegel’s dielectic of master and slave. As T Dann summises in his recent biography – the master and slave in Three Hours have probably escaped from Hegel..
All that’s needed is to show that the musical tensions in the song have something to do with the cultural tensions that Adorno is concerned with as he develops his musical aesthetic. These latter tensions are to do with reason losing sight of the fact that it operates within bodies which are materially realised – reason is embodied materially. The loss of this understanding turns reason into domination. Might be something to do with the cave as a philosophical locus and the sun as a source of blindness and not-seeing.