Megan Kaes Long. Hearing Homophony: Tonal Expectation at the Turn of the Seventeenth Century

Book review by Tim Daly

Context 47 (2021): 75–77.

Published online: 31 Jan. 2022


A consistent problem in the analysis of changing musical technique is the temptation to apply anachronistic methods simply because they are well understood, or to measure the nascent style with tools designed for the mature form. This is especially the case when considering the development of tonal harmony, where the use of harmonic analysis well suited to common-practice music runs the risk of seeing earlier technique as an imperfect realisation of the later style: all roads lead to Beethoven! Hearing Homophony by Megan Kaes Long seeks to avoid this snare by taking a strictly circumscribed body of repertoire from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and examining it through the lens of expectation. In doing so, she demonstrates how the combined effect of this repertoire’s typical features conspires to produce an expectation of tonal resolution, even if this resolution is not yet completely functional in harmonic terms…

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