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  Thanksgiving Chorale  

Ted’s Arrangement (November 28, 1974)
Compilation pages by Paul Vachon, Analysis pages and commentary by David Bishop

Ted's Original Lesson sheets

Compilation pages and Analysis
From Paul Vachon: ThanksgivingChorale_notation_grids.pdf
From David Bishop: ThanksgivingChoraleAnalysis.pdf

Notes From Paul Vachon:
Ted Greene’s Thanksgiving Chorale was written on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1974, when he was just 28 years old.  Ted didn’t include any chord diagrams, chord names, Roman numeral analysis, or string & finger markings on his page, so we’re not exactly sure how he would have played it.  Some of the chords can only be played comfortably one way; many other passages may be played with alternate forms.  Each player is encouraged to experiment with different options and find what works best for him.

I simply transferred Ted’s music notation into Sibelius 6.0 music writing program and added chord names and my own diagrams.  I chose chord forms that seemed to flow well together and retain all of the sustained notes as Ted wrote.  I hope you find the diagrams easy to follow and helpful in learning this beautiful Bach-inspired composition.



From David Bishop:
Barbara Franklin has stated that Ted was studying the music of J.S. Bach during the time that he wrote his Thanksgiving Chorale, so I thought it would be fun to do a more “classically oriented” harmonic analysis of this piece.  In many places it is very much like Bach, but Ted seems to have put a little bit of himself in here and there, which I think is nice:  a few modern touches in a more traditional framework.  In my Roman numeral analysis I have generally avoided indicating the inversion of the chords, mainly because I do not know how many on the Forums are familiar with figured bass symbols (apologies to those who do).  When I do include them, I’ll explain in more detail at that time.

Ted’s Thanksgiving Chorale begins in E major and ends in D minor (but on a D major triad—the so-called “Picardy third” chord).  Other keys are visited after the opening key, C-sharp minor, F-sharp minor, F-major, D-minor, and G-minor.  It is organized into two parts (each 28 measures long); the second being almost identical to the first except that it begins in F major, a half-step above the E major that begins Part 1.  The tonal plan is what I would call “progressive,” in that it starts in one key and moves continuously away, ultimately ending in another key.  This is in contrast to the vast majority of tonal pieces that begin in one key and end in the same key, often with many other keys touched on during the course of the piece.

In “chorale style,” every beat will usually contain a chord change (or a re-voicing, if a chord does not change).  Most often the harmony on each beat can be determined by taking stock of the vertical notes that occur on the beat, but sometimes a non-chord tone will sneak in to throw us off.  Where this happens in Ted’s chorale, I have indicated so with red parentheses.  The more advanced harmonic language of our day would allow us to label every chord on each beat without regard to what is and is not a chord tone, but not so in Bach’s time.

For example, in measure 2, beat 3, the four notes make up a B7sus4 (V7sus4), with the sus4 in the bass, and this label is technically correct.  But a more historically oriented way of hearing this sonority would be to consider the F# and the A as merely lower neighbors to the G# and B on either side, moving voices within the unchanging E-major triad.  The same goes for the chord on beat two of the next measure, which could certainly be heard as a C#-minor triad, or as an E-major triad with an accented (so named because it occurs on the beat) upper neighbor in the tenor voice.  Our ears are so used to hearing just about anything these days that this concept may not entirely convince some of you, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Many of my interpretations are open to discussion, and we should all welcome that.  Other instances of non-chord tones appearing on the beat are heard in measures 7, 8, and 21.

The music begins to move away from E-major to C#-minor with the introduction of the B# leading tone to C# in measure 8 (all B’s are sharp for the next six measures), and around measures 15-16 we begin to leave C#-minor and move on to F# minor, due to the disappearance of B# and the introduction of the D-natural (b6) and E# (leading tone).  This key remains in effect until the end of Part 1, although the close is not on the tonic chord, but on the dominant (albeit a slightly tonicized dominant).

Let’s look a little more closely at the measures that end Part 1 (measures 21–28).  The dominant pedal point in the bass (C#) with moving chords in the voices above is a favorite device of Bach’s and can be found in many of his compositions.  The first chord of the series (m. 21) is, not surprisingly, V, followed by parallel triads in the top three voices over a C# pedal (mm. 22–27), one chord per measure.  And you could label each of these, as I have done.  Or you could consider the bigger picture:  all these moving triads have one function, which is to prolong the C#-major triad (V) that appears in m. 21.  In particular, note how the upper voice G# in m. 21 moves up a step to A and then down stepwise through G#, F#, E#, and D# to C# in m. 27.  In essence, the C#-major triad is being “unfolded” in time, in a linear fashion, all the time being supported by its root.  Ted has harmonized these melody notes diatonically within the C#-major triad with thirds and sixths; therefore, the triads that appear in the upper voices can be considered merely as consequences of the moving voices, creating C#-majorish sonorities on the strong beats (mm. 21, 23, 25, and 27) with passing motions in between.  (Note that the chord in m. 23 is actually a dominant 7th sonority [or E# diminished], reinforcing my hearing of all of this as V of F#.)  Finally, Ted adds the leading tone to V (B#), which serves to give this chord a suggestion of closure, by briefly tonicizing it in the last few measures.  It’s still an inconclusive cadence, but one with a hint of local conclusion.

For Part 2, Ted chooses a key that Bach probably would not.  I think what Ted was more interested in was the more modern sound of modulation by common tone.  Here’s how this is affected:  The final chord in Part 1 is C#-major (V of F# minor).  The third of the chord, E#, is enharmonically the same pitch as F, and through this use of a common tone, Ted modulates smoothly from F# minor down a half step to F major.  This is a technique that came into practice some time after the late baroque period when Bach was active.  Another way of hearing this modulation is through a technique similar to what Ted did throughout his version of “A Certain Smile” on his recording Solo Guitar.  From a V or V7 chord, move down a half step to a major chord in second inversion (which becomes I of the new key), followed by a V or V7 in this new key and resolve it to root position I.  Both ways of looking at this modulation give the same result:  modulation down by half step.

Part 2 proceeds just as Part I did (I have marked the minor differences with asterisks).  The real change comes at the end.  Ted knew that he couldn’t end Part 2 the same way as he ended Part 1:  it just wasn’t conclusive enough.  So we see a significant change in the last four measures of the piece.  Ted has set up the pedal point of V of the local key (G-minor) just as he did toward the end of Part 1, but by the fifth measure of the pedal point, he abandons the D in the bass (and the F#s in the previous four measures) and moves to an A in the bass, creating a second inversion D-minor triad.  All of a sudden our ears begin to re-interpret the function of D as V (as it ways in measures 49–52) and begin to hear D as tonic, helped by the V–I motion in the bass of measure 53, which then ascends stepwise to scale degree 5 in measure 55, where we have the strongest of all cadences:  tonic in second inversion followed by a root-position dominant seventh followed by root-position tonic.  The bracket I have used to label this indicates that this whole measure represents dominant harmony, with the notes D and F above the dominant bass A on beat one of measure 55 labeled as non-chord tones resolving to E and C# (the resolution to E not present but implied).  The figured bass numbers above the bracket simply indicate the intervals, and their movements, above the bass.  (By the way, the arrival of the V is up for grabs:  it could certainly be beat two rather than beat three of m. 55.  I prefer beat three, though.)  In measure 56, Ted resolves the dominant harmony to tonic, but delays the arrival with a suspension in the tenor voice.  Finally, with the resolution of the suspension, we arrive on tonic, but not quite the tonic we expected.  D minor has been set up for us, but Ted gives us a D-major triad, which was very common in works that ended (or should have ended) on a tonic minor, even before Bach’s time.  A little ray of sunshine at the end!

This is just a cursory glance at the treasures that exist in Ted’s chorale, and I hope you get something out of it.  Some of what I have presented can certainly be interpreted differently, but this is how I hear it.  Please let me know if you have any questions (and certainly if you find I’ve made an error!) or want to know more about how I’ve presented this very nice work of Ted’s.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

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