Motivic Perspectives of Voice Leading in Fauré

Matthew Bilik, University of North Texas

This paper explores how surface motives and their modal inflections confound or alter tonal voice leading at the foreground and middleground levels in three of Gabriel Fauré's late chamber works: the Cello Sonata No. 1, Piano Quintet No. 2, and Piano Trio. Using motivic segmentation and Schenkerian analysis, I draw on the research of Edward Phillips and Zdenek Skoumal to illustrate how these motives either create the constituent harmony or repeat themselves at pitch atop new harmonizations. I elevate their status from voice-leading byproducts of tonal chord progressions -- behaving as generalized voice leading does -- to autonomous elements that shape voice leading. Focusing on these motivic utterances explains the novel harmonic syntax that many authors have associated with Fauré but failed to fully expound.