Polytonality and the Emergence of Tone Fields in Tailleferre's Pastorale


Polytonality describes the superposition of two or more keys or chords, creating tonally ambivalent musical textures. Polytonal passages pose the theoretical challenge of the nature of the relationships of and dependencies between its constituents. More precisely, an analysis must be able to determine whether both or several components are equitable (coordination), whether one amongst them is more prevalent (superordination), or whether the coincidence of several independent parts create a new totality (emergence). This contribution analyzes Germaine Tailleferre’s Pastorale, the final piece of the Album des Six (1920), under this perspective and draws centrally on the conceptual framework of Tone Field Theory. It is shown that local polytonal structures on the piece’s surface generate tone collections that span wide ranges on deeper layers of the piece. In particular, the interrelations between series of fifths (Quintenreihen) and octatonic scales (Funktion), and intricate voice-leading connections are elaborated. The analysis is contextualized by contemporary sources on polytonality, in particular by Darius Milhaud and Germaine Tailleferre herself.

Oct 2, 2021 2:00 PM — 2:20 PM
  1. Jahreskongress der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie (GMTH) - Tonsysteme und Stimmungen
Fabian C. Moss
Postdoctoral Researcher

Fabian C. Moss is a postdoctoral researcher in the Digital and Cognitive Musicology Lab (DCML) at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland). He was born in Cologne, Germany, and studied Mathematics and Educational Studies at University of Cologne, and Music Education (Major Piano) and Musicology at Hochschule für Musik und Tanz, Köln. Working with large symbolic datasets of musical scores and harmonic annotations, he is primarily interested in Computational Music Analysis, Music Theory, Music Cognition, and their mutual relationship.