Over The Bridge

There is one more example of Jerome Kern’s use of the fourth worth mentioning before turning our attention to how beautifully this piece lends itself to the use of guide tone lines – and how easy they are to find.

That example is to be found in the pickup notes and first measure of the bridge:

On the surface, it seems to be an inverted fifth (going from the fifth degree of the scale to the root), followed by an upward jump of another fifth – sort of like the the opening notes of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare For The Common Man. However, let’s think like Schenker for a moment. Recall that every melodic line has tonal objectives and hierarchies – specific notes that are more important than others, and to which all other notes lead up to and away from. In Schenkerian terms, the D in the first beat of the first measure of the B section appoggiatura (accented upper neighbor tone) of C. And while some may argue on this, I think the preceding D in the last beat of the previous measure can be disregarded; it falls on a weak beat, and – to my ear, anyway – the melodic line at this point is still pointing toward the C..

– thus tying it to the A section of this melody very nicely.

Incidentally, can you think of another famous piece of music that opens with two upward leaps of a fourth? (Hint – go back to my very first post on this blog.)

In the next post, I’ll start exploring specific guide tone lines for this piece. In the meantime, if anyone has a particular tune they would like to see analyzed or discussed, please leave a comment.

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About KJ at Guide Tone Lines

KJ McElrath earned his Masters degree in Music Theory and Composition from Central Washington University. Composer of several works for big band, wind ensemble and orchestra, which can be heard at BardicCircle.com. I perform a cabaret act with Athena McElrath as McElrath Cabaret, which you can find at http://mcelrathcabaret.com.
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