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date: 27 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter contributes to topic theory by evaluating the extent to which the choice of musical topics and tonal process in a composition might mutually condition or influence one another. Is it possible to “semanticize” the tonal paths taken by eighteenth-century composers on the basis of the keys with which certain topics were associated? The chapter begins by establishing some conditions under which a proposed connection between topics and tonal process may be considered. Next, it reviews the evidence for associating certain keys with individual topics in the first place, with particular emphasis on the pastorale, hunt, tempesta (i.e. Sturm und Drang), ombra, and military topics. Finally, the chapter presents passages, mostly drawn from the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, that exemplify possible interactions of topic and tonal plan.

Keywords: topic theory, pastorale, hunt, tempesta, ombra, Sturm und Drang, military, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven

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