Brahm's Intermezzo No.3, Op.119 in C Major Analysis

Better Essays


MTO 13.3: Ricci, The Progress of a Motive in Brahms 's Intermezzo op. 119, no. 3

Volume 13, Number 3, September 2007 Copyright © 2007 Society for Music Theory

Adam Ricci*
The Progress of a Motive in Brahms’s Intermezzo op. 119, no. 3*

ABSTRACT: Brahms’s Intermezzo op. 119, no. 3 is structured around a motive with two components—one melodic, one harmonic—that operate sometimes separately and sometimes together. The global harmonic trajectory of the piece is embodied in the combination of these two components; local harmonic motion proceeds through an expanded LR-cycle, with periodic short cuts from one zone of the cycle to another. The A section unfolds a double-tonic complex while introducing chromatic pitch classes in …show more content…

In this first appearance, the descending third is minor. Moreover, the total pitch-class content of the progression in its first appearance is diatonic. (click to enlarge)

Example 1. The Form

Example 2. The Two Components of the Motive

(click to enlarge)



MTO 13.3: Ricci, The Progress of a Motive in Brahms 's Intermezzo op. 119, no. 3

[7] The melodic cell and harmonic progression—J and DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH— sometimes occur independently, but for the most part interact to create a larger unit. This larger unit, given at the bottom of Example 2, is the motive of my title.(8) Again, the fact that the motive is exclusively diatonic is significant, because it makes the chromatic pitch classes especially salient. [8] The opening of the piece animates the motive by repeating and varying the duration of J while arpeggiating the chords of DOWN-THIRD-UP-FIFTH. Example 3 annotates the melody of m. 1 through the downbeat of m. 3, which fuses together three Js.(9) By fusing together three Js and altering the duration of the final pitch of each J (the durations are , , and , for the three occurrences, respectively), Brahms creates a symmetrical rhythmic structure.(10) The dots below the staff indicate metric position: two dots indicate a strong beat, one dot a weak beat.(11) The first J starts on a strong beat and concludes on a weak beat. The third J starts on a weak beat and

Get Access