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Verdi’s six-fours and la parola scenica

Abstract

Verdi’s operas display many non-normative six-four chords. The question for the opera analyst, however, is not only what occurs musically, but why it does. Is there a dramatic function being served by this mix of harmonic-intervallic instability? We discuss four types of non-normative six-fours in Verdi: the arrival, wonder, evasion, and dissolving. But, even as we individuate these types, we note that they are all similar in one regard: they are all linked to a crucial dramatic statement that Verdi termed la parola scenica, a textual-musical signal that makes a dramatic situation suddenly evident

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