An axial system of tonality applied to progressive tonality in the works of Gustav Mahler and nineteenth-century antecedents.
Downes, Graeme Alexander
This thesis sets out to investigate the tonal procedures of the symphonies of Gustav Mahler, in order to gain a deeper understanding of the role played by progressive tonality in his works. Chapters 1 to 4 outline the theoretical and historical background from which the discussion on Mahler can proceed. Chapters 5 to 14 deal specifically with Mahler's music. Contained within the first Chapter is a review of the history of the term "progressive tonality"-covering its origins and the subsequent debate over its validity and the alternatives that its detractors have proposed to replace it. The second chapter outlines the basic principles upon which the tonal system is based. From these principles is derived an axial system of tonality based on the functional equivalence of major-third-related keys. The system itself puts the chromatic, late nineteenth-century tonal system on a functional footing and in so doing enables the analysis of chromatic tonal schemes with regards to how they effect or avoid tonicization of the principal tonic. This system provides the basis for all subsequent discussions in this thesis. The third and fourth Chapters analyse works of various nineteenth-century composers including Schubert and Liszt, but with particular emphasis on works from Beethoven's late period and the larger instrumental works of Brahms. This provides an insight into the body of tonal and structural techniques which Mahlerian progressive tonality evolved. Chapter 5 discusses the tonal characteristics of Mahler's early works such as Das klagende Lied and his earliest attempts at progressive tonality in his early songs and Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen. Chapters 6 to 14 provides a detailed discussion of the tonal procedures in Mahler's Symphonies and Das Lied von der Erde. Using the principles of the axis system outlined in Chapter 2, these chapters illustrate the tonal and structural principles that enabled Mahler to effect tonal progression. They also summarize the relationship between Mahler's progressive and concentric works. In addition these chapters make an assessment of the degree to which the language of Mahler's tonal schemes reflects programmatic interpretations of his work, both from the composer himself and from secondary sources.
Advisor: Steele, H. John
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Music
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Gustav Mahler; Tonality; Axial system; Music theory; Nineteenth century; Criticism and interpretation