A Chronological Order for the Keyboard Sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti 1685-1757 (Studies in the History & Interpretation of Music No. 109)

A Chronological Order for the Keyboard Sonatas of Domenico Scarlatti 1685-1757 (Studies in the History & Interpretation of Music No. 109)

By: Matthew Flannery (author)Hardback

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In the data-poor arena of Scarlatti research, this work, avoiding a primarily musicological or organological approach, analyzes large-scale patterns of musical characteristics over all (or parts) of a sonata sequence founded primarily on the Parma manuscript. Preface Stephen Dydo This monograph is in some ways the strangest example of music theory I have ever seen. It doesn't talk about music in the usual sense. There is not, anywhere within its covers, a single musical example. Nor is there an analysis of a single musical phrase. No individual note is ever here discussed. What's more, we don't hear very much at all about particular pieces. On the other hand, the composer under discussion does fleetingly enter in, and we might find, for example, that the harpsichords he played earlier in life don't seem to have had as many keys as the ones he played later. But these brief walk-ons are not, in any real sense, biographical. The pertinent facts are mentioned, and then the composer, as a living, breathing man, is dismissed from our presence. Our relationship with him is occasional and occurs are a great remove. What this monograph is about, really, is a mass of music. In particular, it is about the mass of music that is Domenico Scarlatti's extant opus for the keyboard. (We do not say "entire opus" because the point of this study is to characterize the most significant part of his work.) Furthermore, this mass of music is discussed, not as a collection of some 550 solo keyboard pieces, but rather as the mass itself. The individual piece is discussed, on the infrequent occasions when the discussion zooms in even this closely, only as an element that helps to shape the mass of which it is a part. Individual pieces are frequently referenced, but generally only to note their keys or tempo markings. Again, these features are delineated only to define the shape of their enclosing aggregate mass. The size and ingredients of the mass are partly what make this discussion so unusual. A discussion of Beethoven's late quarters, say, involves us with an aggregation of pieces that we can easily visualize and, given a little time, audition in our mind's ear. Even a discussion of Bach cantatas involves us with a group of musical entities that are reasonably delineated from one another, at least by title, text, instrumentation, and so forth. However, in the case of Domenico Scarlatti's sonatas, we are dealing with 550 pieces all written for essentially the same instrument, all of them about the same length, and all having a similar structure. (The cases where there are differences in structure only become further tools for defining the shape of the enclosing mass.) To imagine all of these pieces at once requires a vision not unlike that described in Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird: Among twenty snowy peaks, the only moving thing was the eye of the blackbird. Vision of such scope is beyond most of us without a stretch of the imagination. Fortunately, as readers, we can let Matthew Flannery do the imagining for us, while we sit and watch the view. This is the landscape that we can see: a huge expanse, a collection of many, many hours of listening. We don't get a sense of peaks and valleys, but rather of slowly changing surfaces, changing in one detail, then another, in a gradual fashion. The occasional jagged abruption stands out in relief simply because of the overall smoothness of the landscape. The putative goal of this monograph is the establishment of a chronology for Scarlatti's keyboard works. The precise chronological sequence of creation of each of the 554 sonatas is not indicated by any of the published editions from Scarlatti's time, nor is there any documentary evidence from other sources that is useful in dating the sonatas. Therefore, the only way we can reasonably hope to give relative dates to these pieces is by examining the internal evidence. Yet, is it not enough for us to know that his early career focused heavily on operatic works, to the extent that we have mostly operatic or other vocal works from the early part of his career, with few extant keyboard works to speak of; and that the extant keyboard pieces were mostly written in the later part of his career, at a time when he was not, so far as we know, burdened with many other compositional tasks? Surely, this fact by itself would give us plenty to chew on while ruminating through his massive body of keyboard sonatas. Flannery's principal tool in his broad analysis is the delineation of various stratified patterns that run through the sequence. These features, or "occurrence patterns" and "sonata groups," involve a wide range of characteristics: pitch range, tempo, rate of unfolding, style, formal structure, notation style, etc. In the end, Flannery delineates 28 occurrence patterns and 26 sonata groups in his analysis. Each of these is presented as a type of activity that occurs more often, or in a more particular way, in some sonatas than others. We are presented, one after another, with new layers of activity and then are escorted through the various permutations of each layer. This kind of analysis is at odds with the type that we expect to be applied to a single piece. Although a thoughtful examination of a particular work of music will very likely, perhaps at the outset, review the core vocabulary of the composition - even describing what occurrence patterns and what sonata group are fundamental to such a work -, it is more often the singularity of that piece that sparks our interest. The number of A major chords in a piece in D, the number of repetitions of the first and second theme in a sonata-allegro composition, the relative prominence of arpeggiated chords: these are all, in effect, background to the stuff that makes us listen to the same piece repeatedly. The singular events - the one and only appearance of the first theme in the relative minor, the unique stretto passage, the reappearance of the fugal subject in the "wrong" transposition - these are the sort of thing that makes us sit at attention. So why should the caring and attentive listener find joy in the remote view of an entire life's work, with the seductive details blurred from the distance? Isn't our core musical experience based on the building up of a musical view based on the succession of individual and discrete events? Yet, the reverse process, focusing on the tectonic movement of massively instanced occurrence patterns, only occasionally drilling down to something as localized as a particular piece, is enormously satisfying when applied to such large spans of music because, as Flannery writes, it "can paint in our minds something that our view of the keyboard sonatas has lacked till now: a temporal landscape of the origins and development of the highest achievement of Scarlatti's composing career."

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About Author

Matthew Flannery, New Brunswick NJ, was educated at Reed College and the University of Chicago (philosophy) and Rutgers University (city and regional planning). He refines English translations of Chinese poems from 200-1200 CE, collects recordings of western classical chamber and solo music in historical depth, edits scholarly papers, translates the occasional poem of Georg Traki, and collects Chinese calligraphy and seal stones.


Preface i; Foreword v; Acknowledgments vii; Introduction 1; A. A Question of Scale: Microcosmic Versus Macrocosmic Analysis 3; B. The Primary Sources 6; A Few Details of the Parma-Venice Transcription Process 7; C. How do Sequence Differences Among the Sources Affect Pattern Integrity? 8; D. The Flannery Catalog 9; A Few Details of Translating Between Kirkpatrick and Flannery 9; Chapter I: Background to the Analysis of Chronological Order 11; A. Existing Proposals for Organizing the Sonatas 11; B. Chronological Descriptions of Local Sequence Phenomena 20; 1. Doubts about the Evidence for Chronological Order 23; 2. Chronological Order and Scarlatti's Work Habits 26; 3. Biographical Information and Sonata Groups 27; C. A Few Distinctions and Qualifications 30; Three Qualifications 31; The Premise 31; The Condition 31; The Limitation 32; Chapter II: Phase I Sonata Groups (1-4) 33; A. Sonata Groups: An Overview 33; B. Sonata Groups: Defining Criteria 34; C. Phase I Sonata Groups 37; Sonata Group 1: K 58-94 [F1 1-36] 37; Sonata Group 2: K 31-42 [F1 37-48] 40; Sonata Group 3: K 1-30 [F1 49-78] 42; A Note on the Sequence Position of Sonata Group 3 43; Sonata Group 4: K 43-57 [F1 79-93] 56; A Note on Sequencing Sonata Groups 1-4 58; Chapter III: Phase II Sonata Groups (5-8) 61; Sonata Group 5: K 96-140 [F1 eq 94-138] 61; Sonata Group 6: K 141-147 [F1 139-145] 63; Sonata Group 7: K 148-155 [F1 146-153] 66; Sonata Group 8: K 156-187 [F1 154-185] 66; A Note on Scarlatti and the Piano 69; Chapter IV: Phase III Sonata Groups (9-17) 73; Sonata Group 9: K 188-220 [F1 eq 186-eq 219] 73; Sonata Group 10: K 221-239 [F1 220-236] 74; Sonata Group 11: K 240-264 [F1 237-263] 76; Sonata Group 12: K 265-286 [F1 eq 264-eq 285] 77; Sonata Group 13: K 287-288 [F1 286-287] 79; Sonata Group 14: K 289-303 [F1 288-302] 79; Sonata Group 15: K 304-313 [F1 303-312] 80; Sonata Group 16: K 314-336 [F1 313-339] 81; Sonata Group 17: K 337-355 [F1 340-eq 354] 82; Chapter V: Phase IV Sonata Groups (18-26) 83; Sonata Group 18: K 358-373, 414-417 [F1 eq 355-374] 84; Sonata Group 19: K 374-421, 356-357, 430 [F1 375-421] 85; A Note on the Sequence Location of Sonatas K 356-357 86; Sonata Group 20: K 422-440 [F1 eq 422-eq 439] 90; Sonata Group 21: K 441-459 [F1 440-458] 91; Sonata Group 22: K 460-487 [F1 459-486] 92; Sonata Group 23: K 488-500 [F1 487-499] 96; Sonata Group 24: K 501-519 [F1 500-518] 97; A Note on Diversity and Integration in Group 24 Sonatas 99; Sonata Group 25: K 520-531 [F1 519-530] 101; Sonata Group 26: K 532-555 [F1 531-554] 102; Chapter VI: Contingent Broad-Scale Occurrence Patterns (1-14) 105; A. The Three Types of Occurrence Pattern 105; B. Historically Referential Occurrence Patterns 107; Occurrence Pattern 1: The Four Phases and Scarlatti's Musical Development 107; Occurrence Pattern 2: The Low-Numbered Locations of Baroque-Style Pieces 109; Occurrence Pattern 3: From Minor to Major Mode 110; Occurrence Pattern 4: A Rising Use of New Style Key Signatures? 112; Occurrence Pattern 5: Sonata Compasses Expand Over the Sequence 114; Summary of Occurrence Pattern 5 122; A Note on Organology: Pianos, Harpsichords, Compasses 123; A Note on Scarlatti's Style: Radical versus Conservative 126; Summary of Part B 129; C. Interrelated Occurrence Patterns 130; Occurrence Patterns 6 and 7: Transpositions and Recompositions Decline over the Sequence; their Inverse Relationship to Sonata Compasses 130; Occurrence Patterns 8, 9, 10: Andantes, Cantabiles, and their Relationship 132; Occurrence Pattern 11: The Central Gap 135; Occurrence Patterns 12, 13, 14: Presto, Vivo, and their Relationship 140; Chapter VII: Independent Broad-Scale Occurrence Patterns (15-26) 145; Occurrence Pattern 15: The Gap in Prestos and Vivos Combined 145; Occurrence Pattern 16: Handcrossings 146; Occurrence Pattern 17: Tremolos 148; Occurrence Pattern 18: Acciaccaturas 149; A Note on the Sequence Location of Sonatas K 414-416 [F1 361-363] 154; Occurrence Pattern 19: 5-4 Harmonies 155; Occurrence Pattern 20: Allegrissimos 156; Occurrence Pattern 21: Minuets 157; Occurrence Pattern 22: Fugues 161; Occurrence Pattern 23: Long-Duration Sonatas 161; Occurrence Pattern 24: Allegrettos 162; Occurrence Pattern 25: Unusual Tempo Indications 163; Occurrence Pattern 26: Rhythm Sonatas 164; Occurrence Patterns 27-28: Sonata Combinations; Deconfigured Combinations 165; Chapter VIII: Two Additional Occurrence Patterns: Combinations and their Deconfigurations (27, 28) 167; A. Occurrence Subpattern 27a: Single Sonatas 169; 1. Occurrences of Single Sonatas in Venice 1749 and Parma I-III 169; The Terminal Clustering of Single Sonatas in the Sources 169; Two Potential Anomalies in Analyzing Single Sonatas 171; The Unusual Character of Couplet-Like Pieces 171; 2. Occurrences of Single Sonatas in Parma IV-XV 175; 3. Summary of the Subpattern of Single Sonatas 176; B. Occurrence Subpattern 27b: Types of Sonata Combination 177; 1. The External Retroactive Combinations of Venice 1749, Parma I-III 177; 2. The External Concurrent Combinations of Parma IV 179; 3. The Internal Concurrent Combinations of Parma V-XV 182; As Combining Became more Complicated, it Became more Efficient: A Paradox? 185; 4. Concluding Thoughts on Combinations 187; C. Occurrence Pattern 28: Combination Deconfigurations 188; A Secondary Change in the Deconfiguration Rate 191; D. Summary of Patterns 27 and 28 192; Chapter IX: Some Chronological Implications of the Totality of Patterns 196; A. Broad-Scale Patterns and Chronological Order 196; B. Intermediate-Scale Patterns and Chronological Order 197; 1. The Chronological Implications of Sonata Groups 197; 2. The Mingling of Diverse Patterns in Sonata Group 22 198; 3. The Convergence of Multiple Patterns at Sonatas K 264 and 265 199; 4. Subgroups Observe the Boundaries of their Group 201; C. Detailed-Scale Patterns and Chronological Order 201; 1. The Chronological Implications of Transitional Sonatas 202; 2. The Integrated Boundaries of Combinations and Sonata Groups 202; 3. The Detailed-Scale Chronological Implications of the Sonata Order in Sonata Group 22 203; 4. Members of Sonata Groups should be Contemporaneous 204; Chapter X: Order and Disorder 205; A. Types of Arrays 207; 1. Random Arrays 207; 2. Simple Arrays 207; 3. Complex Arrays 208; A Caution 208; 4. Simple Arrays, Further Considered 209; Summary of the Methodological Weaknesses of Retroactive Sequence Arrangements 212; 5. Complex Arrays, Further Considered 213; B. A Methodological Background for Chronological Order in Parma 214; 1. Sequence Order Explanations and Methodological Protocols 214; 2. A Premise Common to the Theses of Chronology, Organology, Late Combining 220; 3. The Chronological Thesis Versus Other Chronological Proposals 222; 4. Summary Points 223; Chapter XI: Conclusion 225; Appendix I: Flannery Catalog of Scarlatti's Sonatas with Kirkpatrick Equivalents 231; Appendix II: Kirkpatrick Numbers in Parma's Order 245; Bibliography 247; Index 251

Product Details

  • publication date: 30/11/2004
  • ISBN13: 9780773463363
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 268
  • ID: 9780773463363
  • ISBN10: 0773463364

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