As we move closer to the present, harmony becomes more and more complex. The ear is now able to hear more and more complex tonal relationships and what were earlier dissonances have now become acceptable consonances in many cases. To illustrate this newer harmonic thinking I thought it would be appropriate to move into the late Romantic period (late nineteenth century) and discuss the harmony of Agustín Barrios Mangoré (1885-1944) as displayed in his well known composition Julia Florida.

There has always been discussion concerning harmonic implications in contrapuntal writing. Voice leading in and of itself can be enough to generate interesting music, but without a clear harmonic plan the music will lack direction. Since J.S. Bach is the acknowledged master of counterpoint and harmony I will use what I thought would be a fairly simple piece to demonstrate the coexistence of these two musical principles: the Bourrée from Lute Suite 1 BWV 996.

I thought this might be a good time to apply some of the harmonic concepts we have learned through the analysis of Fernando Sor’s etudes and our discussions of jazz harmony by harmonizing a very simple melody, “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”.

I was working through some chord changes recently and was wondering if I could maintain a common-tone in the upper voice while moving through multiple changes of harmony.

Etude twelve by Fernando Sor is the final study in this set. It corresponds to Estudio fourteen in the Segovia collection. With this study we have a harmonic plan similar to Etude eleven in which Sor contrasts the major with the parallel minor. In this case A major and A minor are the two key areas.

Etude eleven by Fernando Sor corresponds to Estudio seventeen in the Segovia collection. This is one of the more Romantic, stylistically, of the studies to date.

Etude ten by Fernando Sor is a study in two parts. The first part is a study in octaves and the second is a chorale-like harmonization of the famous tune “God Save the Queen” or known to most in the USA as “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”. The first part poses an interesting problem in harmonic analysis; how do we come up with a harmonic analysis when there are no chords to analyze?

Etude nine by Fernando Sor corresponds to Estudio thirteen in the Segovia collection of Sor studies. This study is a study in sixths in D minor and has some similarities to Etude six (the study in thirds) in that Sor uses chromatic neighbor notes and chromatic passing tones to alleviate diatonic blandness.

Sor’s Etude eight corresponds to Estudio one in the Segovia collection. This is a fascinating little study in three voices in the homophonic style of a Bach chorale. We are introduced to several new concepts in this piece which include development of a motive through sequential repetition and inversion, imitative counterpoint as well as invertible counterpoint in which parts are composed in such a way that the upper voice can become a lower voice or vice versa.

Etude seven in this set is rather unremarkable. I suppose this is why Segovia as well as many others have not included it in any recent editions, at least to my knowledge. It is the first to use a “drop D” tuning which lends itself to the use of a D pedal point which Sor uses effectively.


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John Hall

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