Semester of Graduation

Summer 2020


Master of Music (MM)


Music Theory

Document Type



Drawing on the work of Janet Schmalfeldt and William Caplin, I explore the way in which emergent formal function determines our perception of form in four piano sonata movements by Schubert: D.840, D.845, D.850 and D.894. Janet Schmalfeldt adapts the notion of formal function to directly address the dialectic between “being” and “becoming,” approaching formal function from a phenomenological perspective. Building on her work, I define emergent formal function as a formal function that is conditioned by how the listener’s expectations change. It is an important analytical tool that helps us understand how and why Schubert’s sonata forms depart from prior Classical models. Drawing on Schmalfeldt’s work, emergent formal function depicts the phenomenology of when consequential formal conjecture that is revoked or modified by an earlier assertion—an analytical tool that combines diachronic and synchronic listening strategy. As a corollary, I discuss how harmonic reinterpretations, like emergent harmonic functions, contribute to creating indistinct edges between thematic functions in these four piano sonata movements. Emergent formal function expands the scope of inquiry into the harmonic bivalence in Schubert’s late style from the study of local chromaticism to the realm of tonal form.

Committee Chair

Jeffrey Perry