Test your theory chops with the weekly challenge from Breaking Barlines! You’ll find a new question here every Monday. Please comment to post your reply.
This Week’s Challenge:
Augmented sixth chords make for a slick, chromatic approach to the dominant. The following passage by Friedrich Kuhlau has two of them back-to-back: a German and and Italian sixth. The question is, why not just approach V directly from Germany? Why does Kuhlau make a pit stop in Italy before resolving to the dominant? Hint: on the advice of counsel, I’ll take the fifth!
Post your reply and come back Friday, June 24th for the answer!
ANSWER for 6/6/22
Here we see Kuhlau deftly invoking (or, rather, removing) the fifth, to avoid getting pulled over by the theory police. The German 6th is the only augmented 6th chord that contains a perfect 5th above the bass, and, as you can see below, it produces the dreaded parallel 5ths if it resolves directly to V. For this reason, the German 6th usually resolves first to cadential 6/4. The Italian 6th, however, doesn’t contain a perfect 5th, so it can resolve directly to V with no voice-leading problems. So Kuhlau starts with a German 6th, then simply plucks out the 5th, instantly changing his passport to Italy and heading home!
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