Alban Berg - Opus 2. No. 2 Analysis

Alban Berg – Opus 2, No. 2
These pieces traverse an apparent boundary between the world of tonal music and the world of atonal music, both in order of composition and order of presentation in performance (Pople, 67). The first three songs feature tonality in a cyclic guise – with horizontal interval I and 5 cycles, as well as a vertical whole tone or 5 cycle. These are based upon sonorities in sequence (Headlam, 45). They are also unified by the recurring figures which are characterized by changing duple and triple beat divisions with beat articulations suppressed by ties (Headlam, 36), as well as increased tonal resources. These include different alignments of two or more horizontal voices, each consisting of interval 1s or 5s, which give more harmonies. When examining Berg’s music, it makes sense to consider cycles as both pitch interval cycles and more generally as pitch class interval cycles with their resulting pitch class collections. There are multiple harmonic and voice-leading possibilities available from these cyclic collections – whole-tone scales, quartal chords, and alignments of interval cycles (Headlam, 14).
Much of this song deals with exploiting the structural and cyclic possibilities which are inherent in the French 6thchord, or set class name 0268. This set class name is more fitting as the work does not really treat this chord as a French 6th. The opening of the work lacks major and minor chords, traditional chord progressions, and normal resolutions of the French 6th; however most instances of 0268 in this piece keep the major third above the bass that is characteristic of the French 6th(Lind, 2). The presence or absence of 0268 help to define formal sections and create an ABA’ form – mm 1-8 have the first progression of 0268, mm 9-12 have contrasting material which allude to other tonal chords, and mm 13-18 bring back the initial 0268 progression. Because 0268 is established from the very beginning by its repeated use, it...