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Cherubino's LeapIn Search of the Enlightenment Moment$
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Richard Kramer

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226377896

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226384085.001.0001

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The Chromatic Moment in Enlightenment Thought

The Chromatic Moment in Enlightenment Thought

(p.3) 1 The Chromatic Moment in Enlightenment Thought
Cherubino's Leap

Richard Kramer

University of Chicago Press

This chapter seeks to understand how the tension between two conditions—the diatonic and the chromatic—plays itself out in the music of the Enlightenment. Exploring the works of Bach, Beethoven, and Haydn, it argues that if music in the Enlightenment and beyond is born of an increasingly complex dialectic between two tonal spheres, then the identity of one of these areas as a chromatic function of the other readily plays out in a confrontation of substance, so that it no longer seems quite adequate to speak of the one as the secondary issue (a chromatic embellishment) of a primary, diatonic basis. And yet, when the game is over, when the temporalities of this confrontation are exhausted and the piece is returned to its tonic of origin, then (paradoxically, perhaps) we are inclined to view such relationships hierarchically, and the question then arises whether this hierarchy ought not itself to be understood dialectically.

Keywords:   Enlightenment, diatonic, chromatic, classical music, Bach, Beethoven, Haydn, tonal spectrum

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