Title

THE HARMONIC LANGUAGE OF "L'HORIZON CHIMERIQUE" BY GABRIEL FAURE (FRANCE)

Date of Completion

January 1982

Keywords

Music

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

There currently exists no comprehensive study of the harmonic language of Gabriel Faure's music. To begin such a study I chose his songs because these span his entire compositional career. Especially intriguing are the sonorities of his last songs, a setting of four poems by Jean de la Ville de Mirmont, L'Horizon chimerique; this is the only one of the seven Faure song cycles that is unified by an overall harmonic scheme. The work employs few triads and exploits multiple combinations of various seventh chords in a harmonic synthesis of tonality and modality.^ My purpose was to develop and describe a harmonic language that might provide a listening strategy for L'Horizon chimerique. Paradigms for tonal and plagal chord progression are described, along with some general principles for successions of modally related chords. Louis Niedermeyer's rules for modal harmonization and accompaniment are paraphrased and interpreted in the light of this uniquely modal cycle. Sketches, based on Schenkerian models, were developed to demonstrate the contrapuntal origins of the harmonic language in this song cycle.^ The basic subdivisions (verse, line and phrase) of Mirmont's poetry provide the framework for functional harmonic analysis of the cycle as a whole and as individual songs. The traditional tonal progression I-IV-V-I is proposed as the underlying harmonic support of this music.^ Faure's music is a synthesis of tonal and modal harmonies. Traditional tonal progressions provide the large-scale structural harmonies, while modal successions are the embellishing sonorities whose predominance characterizes the sound of this song cycle. ^