Motivic Border Crossing: Continuity through Formal Divisions

Benjamin Graf, University of North Texas

Recent treatises on form, primarily Caplin (1998) and Hepokoski/Darcy (2006), focus on dividing movements into discernable sections. For example, Hepokoski and Darcy (2006) describe the construction of a sonata-form movement as "a task of modular assembly: the forging of a succession of short, section-specific musical units, spaces, or action." In William Caplin's (1998) discussion of grouping structure, he defines each group as a "self-contained 'chunk' of music." Indeed, parsing movements into sections according to paradigmatic norms and using form-functional theory as a means for analysis can be fruitful, but, in my view, many pieces contain elements of continuity that transcend formal divisions or "section-specific musical units." My paper therefore integrates the principles of both Sonata theory and form-functional analysis with motivic analysis; I reveal several motives in Beethoven's oeuvre that penetrate substantial formal divisions, thereby creating overarching continuity that pierces-through formal partitions.