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"TRANSFORMING CHAOS": MODES OF AMBIGUITY IN TCHAIKOVSKY'S SYMPHONY NO. 5 IN E MINOR

by BROWN, BREIGHAN MOIRA

Abstract (Summary)
Ambiguity is arguably one of musical romanticism’s most significant means for creating artistic expression. This thesis supports this claim through a thorough investigation of ambiguity, especially as manifested in Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 in E Minor (1888). Chapter 1 defines and categorizes musical ambiguity through a detailed review of current, relevant scholarship. Using terminology pertinent to the study of musical semiotics, Chapter 2 examines the metaphorical potential of ambiguity that results from Tchaikovsky’s pervasive use of the subdominant harmony. This chapter also explicates the notion of "thresholdism" as a powerful heuristic for exploring ambiguity within several transitory passages in the Fifth Symphony. Finally, Chapter 3 introduces the concept of "first-order metric parallelisms" to illustrate how ambiguity in the metric domain can inform our interpretation of ambiguity in the pitch domain. Each chapter investigates a different mode of ambiguity, but together they reveal ambiguity to be an underlying unifying principle that saturates multiple structural levels of the symphony. As a result, this study of musical ambiguity provides valuable insights to inform our understanding of Tchaikovsky’s musical language.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Cincinnati

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:ambiguity tchaikovsky thresholdism schenkerian analysis rhythm and meter motivic parallelism markedness plagal subdominant semiotics

ISBN:

Date of Publication:01/01/2007

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