The Medial Subphrase in the Eighteenth-Century Spanish Style Characteristics, Function, and Variants

Bryan Stevens, University Of North Texas

Although the presentation+continuation model (Caplin 1998) describes many sentences in Viennese classicism, it is not universally employed by all eighteenth-century composers. In particular, this sentence model is rare to absent in late eighteenth-century Spanish keyboard music. Instead, Spanish themes either contain an independent medial subphrase that does not function as continuation, or otherwise these themes exclude medial function altogether and proceed directly from presentation to cadence. In this paper, I argue that Spanish composers employ thematic types that differ from their Austro-Germanic counterparts, types that include among other distinctive features an optional medial subphrase characterized neither by fragmentation nor by harmonic acceleration or sequential activity. To this end, I propose revised thematic types, provide thematic data for Sebastian Albero (1722-1756), Manuel Blasco de Nebra (1750-1784), and Joaquin Montero (1740-1815) to show the prevalence of these types, and finally explicate them with specific examples.