"Embedded" Voice Exchanges: Tonal and Metaphorical Transformation Via Unique Voice Exchanges

Benjamin Graf, University of Texas, Arlington & Dallas Baptist University

The voice exchange is one of the most fundamental voice-leading techniques in tonal music. Even though voice exchanges are implicitly associated with Schenkerian analysis today, Schenker did not discuss the concept in depth. As a result, Timothy Cutler's article, "On Voice Exchanges," contains the most current lexicon of voice-exchange techniques. My paper proposes one vital addition to the existing array of voice exchange paradigms. Embedded voice exchanges possess a unique expressive potential because they unfold two exchanges from the same point of departure. After one voice exchange emerges as a tonal/structural goal, a second exchange supersedes the first, materializing as a transformation of the initial tonal process. The second exchange has the same contrapuntal origin as the first, but transcends it in terms of structural significance. Therefore, unlike any pre-existing type of voice exchange, embedded voice exchanges can signify a particularly transformative poetic or compositional idea. My voice-leading analyses of pieces by Bach, Beethoven and Chopin not only showcase this striking contrapuntal maneuver and its expressive potential, but also open up new avenues for further research and analysis.