Dissertation
Dissertation > Art > Music > Music theory and methods > Composition theory > Harmonics

Study of Mussorgsky’s Harmony Style and Tec-hniques on the Two Vo-

Author XuMeng
Tutor SunWeiQuan
School Shanghai Conservatory of Music
Course Musicology
Keywords Mussorgsky Vocal divertimento Harmony style Chord harmony
CLC J614.1
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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Mussorgsky Modest Petrovich (1839-1881), the signature composer of Russian Nationalism, mastered in a unique harmonic language that has far-reaching implications for the followers.It has been a controversial topic about Mussorgsky’s harmony style, neither a functional classicism, nor a delicate romanticism, or a colorful impressionism. To reveal the basic characteristics of Mussorgsky’s harmony and chord style, I chose to study two vocal divertimento of his later works,"The Darkness" and "Songs and Dances of Death", with in-depth analysis of the harmony techniques and cross-examination with composers’works of the same age and beyond.The first chapter of the text is aiming to study Mussorgsky’s artistic philosophy and cultural roots of his music creation by analyzing the historical and culture contexts, choice of themes, and social connection with Russian’daily life. A discussion on current studies of this topic from domestic and international researchers is included.In Chapter two, I employed a comprehensive analysis of the two vocal divertimento to reveal a Modes Harmony-based harmony methodology of Mussorgsky’s.1elaborated in the first section a relationship of "The Modes Harmony","Major and minor harmony" and "Functional harmony. I reasoned that Major and minor harmony is not necessarily the only form of Functional harmony from the perspective of historical development of European harmony. The Modes Harmony can also contain elements of Functional harmony albeit to a lesser degree. Based on this theory, I started, in Section two, a comprehensive analysis of "between the walls", the first song of "’The Darkness". Then I systemically sum up the harmony techniques used in the two vocal divertimento from the perspective of the Modes harmony. Each harmony technique used in these works is orderly introuded and analysed in category.In the third chapter, I attended to give a more appropriate definition to Mussorgsky’s harmony style through the above analysis and comparison with the harmonic methodology of Wagner, Debussy, Shostakovich and other composers. At last, I highlighted the revolution of genre from the two vocal divertimento.Taken together, I found that Mussorgsky’s harmonic style is a combination of the modes harmony, characteristic ethnic chord and harmonic functionality. By applying variant chords of the modes harmony, chord alterations, chord hybridization, and chord changes, Mussorgsky created revolutionary musical masterpieces that deeply reflect daily life of Russian society in great difference from all other music styles in European history. His works have profoundly impacts on the following Impressionist and the harmony evolution in the twentieth century.

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