Carcassi Op. 60, Study 22 - An Analysis

Matteo Carcassi’s Study 22 from his Op. 60 set of studies for guitar is another good example of a single line of music with strong harmonic implications. Also of interest here is how Carcassi uses melodic motives for development and unification.

Let’s start with the melodic line. The A section (measures 1-8) is clearly made up mainly of arpeggios which outline the harmony as shown.

The B section (measures 9-26) contains the most interesting melodic features based on three related embellishment figures:

1) The “turn” which is a four note figure where the harmonic tone is preceded by a note a step above, then the harmonic tone, followed by a note a step below (many times chromatically altered) before returning to the harmonic tone. Please see the bracketed figure in measure ten for example. Also note the “inverted turn” as seen beginning at the pick-up to measure nine.

2) “Changing tones” where the harmonic tone is followed by its lower and upper neighbor notes before returning to the harmonic tone. See bracketed figure at the end of measure thirteen into measure fourteen.

3) Chromatic lower neighbor note figures such as those seen in measures 18, 20, 21, 22 and 23 that embellish the root or fifth of the chord. These are the three note figure shown within the brackets.

It’s easy to see how the lower neighbor note figure is part of the “turn”. The “changing tones” are just a slight variation of the turn with the only difference being the location of the harmonic tone. The clever rhythmic placement of these various figures is what I find interesting. Sometimes they occur on strong beats but many times they are buried within the rhythmic pulse as in measures thirteen through seventeen.  

Harmonically the most interesting feature is the somewhat unusual move into the mediant key of E minor at the cadence in measure eight and also during the second section in measures seventeen through twenty-four where I hear the B major (with its leading-tone diminished seventh chord) as the dominant of E minor which never resolves. Instead Carcassi decides to return to tonic through a clever manipulation of the B major triad by first changing the D# to D-natural and finally changing the F# to F-natural (measure 26) to create the G7 chord (dominant of C major) preparing the return of the A section in measure twenty-seven, which concludes with the cadence in the tonic key this time. Notice how the same diminished seventh chord (measure six and measure thirty-two) can have two different functions. In measure six it is heard as a leading-tone diminished seventh of E minor and in measure thirty-two it is heard as a leading-tone diminished seventh of G. Remember that the tonic 6/4 chord that occurs just before the G (V) in measure thirty-two is interpreted as dominant harmony with a double appoggiatura (6-5 and 4-3). So the diminished seventh chord preceding this tonic 6/4 chord is not considered a common-tone diminished seventh but a functional leading-tone diminished seventh moving to G.

I consider this an equal opportunity analysis since this study is excellent for classical and or pick technique development. The pdf file below contains the score and analysis.


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