Category Archives: pre-classical music theory

Abstract: Dual Tonicity in Antonio Soler’s Fandango

Author: Barry Mitchell

Antonio Soler’s Fandango (c. 1756-1770) is a 451-bar long keyboard piece which might appear to not reward deep analysis: the piece consists mainly of an improvisatory melody in the right hand over a two-bar left hand ostinato, and only leaves D minor, the tonic key (or what appears to be the tonic key) for brief episodes in nearly-related keys.  However, Peter Manuel, as part of an argument for the existence of dual tonicity (defined as a type of tonality where music is poised between two keys with no ultimate resolution of the ambiguity), argues that dual tonicity is present in Soler’s Fandango (“From Scarlatti to “Guantanamera”: Dual Tonicity in Spanish and Latin American Musics”, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 55, No. 2 (Summer 2002), pp. 311-336). The analysis presented here supports and expands on Manuel’s argument and reveals that Soler uses techniques to create dual tonicity in addition to the generic ones identified by Manuel.  For example, there is the consistent subversion of  how IV-V functions as a preparation for the tonic.  Bi-tonality, which Manuel argues is not a usual feature of dual tonicity, is occasionally used. The texture, which is mostly two-part, also has a role in creating the necessary tonal ambiguity.  The implications of this analysis for performance are considered: previous additions to the piece, made based on the assumption that the piece is monotonal, are unnecessary; the distinction between monotonal and dual tonal sections could be articulated; there are suggestions for solutions to the problem of variant notes.

Antonio Soler (1729-1783)

14 January 2019

End of abstract.

This abstract was submitted to the panel of the University of Birmingham Music Analysis Conference 2020 (BrumMAC 2020). The conference was to be organised by the University of Birmingham, the Society for Music Analysis and the publisher Wiley. Because of the COVID19 pandemic the conference was postponed and eventually took place online in July 2021.

The complete paper, presented online at BRUMMAC 2021 online, is available on this site.