Dies Irae Music Theory Analysis

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Mozart’s “Dies Irae” Analysis Project Mozart’s final composition, The Requiem Mass in D Minor, containing “Dies Irae,” was one of his most powerful and commended works. Composed in 1791, and later completed after his death, the choral work is very heavy, for it deals with the Day of Wrath, when God will descend upon the earth from the heavens and place judgment on all its inhabitants, either granting salvation or eternal damnation. Mozart’s “Dies Irae” is so profound because the music and text are in a symbiotic relationship. “Dies Irae” bursts with volcanic force, later intensified by divergencies in tonality throughout. Mozart capitalizes on the tone of the work by conceiving it as an unearthly squall, incorporating rapidly indeterminate piano interludes and chromatic choral passages. These details heighten the sense of uneasiness among those in question, and also create the feeling of impending catastrophe. Mozart will also dupe the listener by briefly modulating to a new key, where tonality is recognized for an instant, yet instantaneously dissolve into more stormy ideas surrounding the Day of Wrath. In order to create this feeling of grave uncertainty and fear, Mozart utilizes multiple borrowed, secondary dominant, and Neapolitan chords within his “Dies Irae.” Because this is an original piece, Mozart likes to play around with standard music theory conventions, and create musical movements that he prefers stylistically. In two different cases nearby in the music, he uses a secondary dominant to embellish the frequency of the effect. However, in these two different cases, the chords shift divergently, as shown in Figures 1 and 2 (Measures 52 and 55), pictured below. V/IV I V6/5 /IV IV Although the V/IV is basically a I7 chord, theory students have been

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