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How to do a Schenkerian Analysis

SchenkerGUIDE: Guide and Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis logo

This page is from the old version of SchenkerGUIDE click here to visit the method page on the new site

If you need to learn about Schenkerian analysis quickly - go to the panicGUIDE If you want to know more about Schenker's theories - look at the Guide If you are interested in some general background - try the Why? section

working method

This section of SchenkerGUIDE outlines a method for approaching an analysis. Before you start you should bear the following points in mind:

  • you should be familiar with the basic principles of harmony and counterpoint as outlined in the Guide to Schenker's Theory of Tonal Music

  • the working method is simply a means of getting started. The study of music is not an exact science and it is impossible to say if you do x and y you will arrive at a good analysis

  • SchenkerGUIDE deliberately concentrates on the progressions that are most commonly found in both foreground, middleground and background - you will discover many different foreground decorations and elaborations as you explore more music

  • a Schenkerian analysis ultimately explains how we hear music - play or listen to the music first so that you can then hear in your head as you are studying it

  • the best way to understand the principles set out here is to put them into practice. Schenkerian theory can seem impossibly obscure until you have come across the same problems in the course of doing an analysis

  • once you have mastered the basics as set out in this site, you will be ready to appreciate more sophisticated analyses and different views of Schenkerian theory - the Bibliography offers a starting point for these further explorations

IMPORTANT NOTE: This working method is only a suggestion, a systematic way of getting started with Schenkerian analysis. Schenker himself never wrote a method as such and there are many different ways of approaching an analysis. If you have been taught in a different way you will probably want to stick with that method but this may still help clarify exactly what you are doing