Lascia Ch'Io Pianga Analysis

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The analysis of the aria “Lascia ch'io pianga” by Haendel according to the thorough bass method, shows us how the composer refer in this piece to the typical compositional procedures of baroque music.

The aria starts with a pedal (frame, according to Joel Lester's terminology) followed by a cadence harmonized according the regle de l'octave both in ascending and descending motion (MM. 5-8). The second episode starting at M. 8 consists of a sequence, precisely a modified sequence, in which the subsequent is slightly modified at the end introducing a new harmony on the second beat of M. 12 that leads to a final cadence with a modulation to the original key. The regle is always working also in the sequence, it is just applied chromatically according the harmonic context. After two repetitions of the first phrase, with a small difference in MM. 17 and 34 with a 6-chord instead of a 5-chord on the second subdivision of the second beat, we have the last section of the aria, before the da capo. In this last section there is a modified sequence (MM. 35 to 39) followed by a cadence that leads to the end of the piece.

In general, most of the harmonies in the piece reflect the indications of the regle but there are some exceptions. The most interesting part in which the regle is not applied is at the very beginning of the aria: the use of 7 on the second degree, instead of 6. This is the harmony that more that any other characterizes this piece, giving a smoother flavor to the passage than the dominant harmony suggested by the regle. Aside from the exception, it is interesting to see where Haendel follows strictly the regle, and this happens in every final cadence, probably as a sign that in the closing sections the use of the regle is more functional and gives a stronger sense of harmonic definition.

In the fundamental bass, the bass line consists of a series of roots that not only represent the roots of the harmonies built on top of then, but also physically...
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