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Theory and practice Rameau's fundamental bass applied to the contemporary French overture /

by McKinney, Tamara A.

Abstract (Summary)
Music theorists at the turn of the eighteenth-century focused much of their energy introducing new theoretical methods for musical composition. As a result the field of music theory grew into several important areas. Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) first presented many of the ideas that form our modern analytical practice. In Traité de l’harmonie, Rameau established a system of harmonic principles currently in use today. These include: constructing chords in a series of thirds, the formation of the major triad from the overtone series, the relationship of chords to a tonal center, the theory of chordal inversions, and the theory of fundamental bass. Although Rameau first intended his theory of fundamental bass to be used as a pedagogical tool, the function of the fundamental bass developed into revealing the foundation or root of each chord. The purpose of the chordal root was to serve as an early theoretical and analytical perception later interpreted by Roman numerals. The purpose of this Thesis will be to present an analysis of Rameau’s fundamental bass theory as it is applied to the music of the French overture style. In addition to Rameau’s overtures, some by Lully and Telemann were chosen to allow comparison both chronologically and nationally. Pieces selected include Alceste, Cadmus et Hermione, and Amadis by Lully; Hippolyte et Arcie, La Princesse de Navarre, and Castor et Pollux by Rameau; and Suite in D, Overture in D minor, and Orchestral Suite in F minor by Telemann. Rameau’s theory of fundamental bass was a theoretical revolution. It provided a new model to indicate not only the origin of harmonies, but how these harmonies progressed in music over real time. His theory also verified the interpretation of a succession of harmonies to be a process of motion. The essence of this Thesis is to demonstrate that the fundamental bass theory developed by Rameau is a practical description of music from that time and beyond.
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School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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