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Section 22.2 Tonicization versus Modulation

Studying modulation will require us to distinguish between tonicization, which we studied recently, and modulation. Tonicization, involving secondary chords, can be as short as two chords (\(\left.\text{V}\middle/\text{V}\right.\) to \(\left.\text{V}\right.\), for example) but can sometimes encompass several measures as in the following example.

Figure 22.2.1. Schubert, Schwanegesang, D. 957, “Abschied” (1828)

Below is a reduction showing the underlying diatonic progression of the example above.

Figure 22.2.2. Reduction of Harmonies from “Abschied”

A modulation to a new key requires an eventual cadence to confirm that new key. This cadence will often (though not always) have the following cadential formula:

\(\left.\text{ii}^{6}\right.\) \(\left.\text{I}^{6}_{4}\right.\) \(\left.\text{V}\right.\) \(\left.\text{I}\right.\)
Pre-Dom. Dom. Dom. Ton.
Table 22.2.3. Cadential Formula to Establish a Key

In his book Form in Tonal Music, Douglass Green defines a \(\left.\text{V}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{I}\right.\) authentic cadence with a pre-dominant prefix as a “full cadence.”

The cadential formula above is found in the following example.

Figure 22.2.4. J.S. Bach, English Suite No. 4 in F Major, BWV 809, Sarabande (ca. 1715)

Notice that this cadential formula establishes a key more strongly than the simple \(\left.\text{V}\right.\)–\(\left.\text{I}\right.\) of an authentic cadence. This means there will be ambiguity between a tonicization and a short modulation ending in an authentic cadence, especially in music with fast harmonic rhythm, like Bach chorales (usually in quarter-note harmonic rhythm).

Figure 22.2.5. J.S. Bach, Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248, “Ermuntre dich, mein schwacher Geist,” (Chorale) (1734)

To determine pivot chords and the new key, listen to the music to hear the cadence in the new key, then work backward from the cadence to see if the dominant in the new key was approached by pre-dominant chords (\(\left.\text{ii}\right.\) or \(\left.\text{IV}\right.\)) in the new key. Then, analyze from the beginning of the phrase until you reach the new key. Finally, look for a logical pivot point. Sometimes two successive chords could logically be pivot chords. If so, include two chords on either side of your pivot bracket.

Figure 22.2.6. Robert Schumann, Album for the Young, Op. 68, No. 17, “Little Morning Wanderer” (1848)

Before we start analyzing and writing modulations, we will examine key relationships and pivot chords.