Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Brown, Stephen C. "Tracing the Origins of Shostakovich's Musical Motto." Intégral 20 (2006): 69-103.

Shostakovich's D-S-C-H motive (D-Eb-C-B) as it first appears in his Tenth Symphony was potentially derived from two possible sources: from Shostakovich's own works, dating back to his First Symphony, or from the use of similar motives in the works of composers Shostakovich admired, such as Bach or Schumann. When considered as a specific transposition and ordering of a 0134 tetrachord, the D-S-C-H motive can be seen as the culmination and ultimate distillation of certain compositional techniques favored by the composer in works predating the Tenth Symphony, such as "modal lowering" (in which Shostakovich flattens various scale degrees, thereby creating a 0134 tetrachord), "modal clash" (in which various forms of the same scale degree are juxtaposed), and "scalar tightening" (in which Shostakovich contracts a given scale down to four pitches). These techniques all resulted in 0134 tetrachords, and Shostakovich gradually came to favor and repeat the "D-S-C-H level" tetrachord that has come to be associated with the first letters his name. However, Shostakovich's use of a specific four-note motive can also be viewed as an imitation of other four-note motives, either by contemporary or past composers who used prominent 0134 tetrachords (ranging from Bach to Stravinsky) or by composers from the past who used motives to represent names or ciphers (such as the B-A-C-H motive or Schumann's A-S-C-H motive from Carnaval, both of which share pitches with Shostakovich's D-S-C-H motive). Both theories of origin are plausible and are not mutually exclusive; however, the theory that the D-S-C-H motive is derived from earlier examples of 0134 tetrachords in Shostakovich's own works might better explain why his namesake motive emerged as gradually and late in his output as it did.

Works: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 10 in E Minor (69-72, 74, 85, 87-89), String Quartet No. 8 in C Minor (69, 95).

Sources: Shostakovich: Symphony No. 1 in F Minor (71, 79-81), String Quartet No. 5 in B-flat Major (71-72), Violin Concerto No. 1 in A Minor (71, 73), Twenty Four Preludes, Op. 34 (74-77), Piano Sonata No. 2 in B Minor (76, 78), Six Romances on Texts by Japanese Poets (82-83), Symphony No. 6 in B Minor (82-84), String Quartet No. 2 in A Major (83-87), From Jewish Folk Poetry, Op. 79 (95); Robert Schumann: Carnaval (90-91), Doppelgänger (91-92); J. S. Bach: The Art of Fugue (90-91), The Well-Tempered Clavier (91-92); Ravel: Rapsodie espagnole (91-92); German Galynin: Piano Concerto (91); Veniamin Fleyshman: Rothchild's Violin (91-93); Stravinsky: Symphony of Psalms (96-98), Octet (98); Rimsky-Korsakov: The Tsar's Bride (98-100).

Index Classifications: 1900s

Contributed by: Alexis Witt

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