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SchenkerGUIDE: Guide to Schenkerian analysis logo

Four-stage method

Schenkerian analysis is a subtle art rather than a systematic science, but it is still possible to approach it in a methodical way. One of the unique features of SchenkerGUIDE is its step-by-step method for getting started. The four-stage approach is described in full in the handbook, but you can click through to a brief description of each stage by following the links below.

The method outlined in SchenkerGUIDE provides a way of building up an analysis that is based on a good understanding of the detail of the music. Chapter Five of the handbook outlines how to present your analytical findings clearly and concisely.

Stage 1

Labelling foreground harmonies with Roman numerals.
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Stage 2

Preparing the score for analysis and marking foreground elaborations.
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Stage 3

Identifying underlying elaborations beneath the surface of the music.
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Stage 4

Showing how the piece can be understood as an elaboration of one of Schenker's basic background structures.
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You should be clear that the four stages outlined on these pages are only a proposed method for getting started - they do not appear in this form anywhere in Schenker's publications. You should not refer therefore refer to them when writing about Schenkerian theory and analysis, but to the foreground, middleground and background levels.

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© Copyright Thomas Pankhurst