This article establishes an expanded theory of tonicization for harmonic progressions in rock music. While previous discussions of tonicization have largely focused on the role of the V chord, this theory allows for a much larger number of tonicizing chords, which may articulate important tonal events such as prolongations and cadences. Using diatonic position finding to aid the analyst in determining a chord’s status, the article offers five preference factors to identify the most likely triadic tonicizers. This leads to some general conclusions regarding tonicizing chords, modality, chord succession, and harmonic function. In demonstrating these concepts, four categories of tonicization are illustrated: primary diatonic, in which a tonicization employs only diatonic chords of the mode; primary chromatic, which occurs due to chromatic inflection or modal borrowing; secondary chromatic, in which a secondary triad is tonicized by a chromatic chord; and secondary diatonic, whereby a hierarchical relationship is established between relative tonics. The article concludes with an analysis of Neil Young’s “Down by the River” (1969), demonstrating how the concepts discussed can clarify large-scale tonal relations.
Diatonic and Chromatic Tonicization in Rock Music
Brett Clement is assistant professor of music theory at Ball State University. His research, which focuses primarily on the theory of rock music, appears in Gamut, Music Analysis, Music Theory Online, Music Theory Spectrum, and Perspectives of New Music.
Brett Clement; Diatonic and Chromatic Tonicization in Rock Music. Journal of Music Theory 1 April 2019; 63 (1): 1–34. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00222909-7320450
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