An analysis of secondary parameters and closure in the Adagio of Mahler's Tenth symphony
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As the 19th century progressed. Western tonal music evolved such that traditional tonal syntax, such as the tonic-dominant relationship and authentic cadence, received less emphasis. This traditional syntax was conventionally expressed through the primary parameters of harmony and melody. As this syntax weakened, composers placed more emphasis on processes in the secondary parameters. Le. registral pitch, dynamics, duration, timbre, concordance, etc., in order to define the structure of a work of music. This study attempts to demonstrate how Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) used processes of intensification and abatement in the secondary parameters to define sections of the Adagio of his Tenth Symphony. These processes were used to support, or to completely replace, processes in the primary parameters that traditionally indicated closure of sections. The analysis is based on procedures developed by Robert G. Hopkins for analyzing processes in secondary parameters as described in his book. Closure and Mahler’s Music: the Role of Secondary Parameters (1990). Hopkins does not discuss the Tenth Symphony in great detail, so the present study seemed appropriate. Analysis of Hopkins’ procedures in this study indicates that his thesis is valid. In closing major sections of the movement. Mahler has given distinct preference to abating processes in the secondary parameters. In the analysis of the statement section of the Adagio, it is shown that presentations of thematic gestures are prepared for by either predominantly abating or intensifying processes in the secondary parameters in the preceding material. It is hoped that this study, in conjunction with other, more traditional harmonic and melodic analyses, will contribute to the overall understanding of Mahler’s last work.