Reduction analysis

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The reduction analysis is one of the Viennese music theorist Heinrich Schenker developed method for analyzing tonal music . Schenker's theory is based on the assumption that every tonal sentence is to be analytically reduced to a concept of upper voice and root voice (so-called original sentence ).

Ursatz and Urlinie

Third octave as a primal line

The fundamental structure is to Schenker is the simplest tonal figure that already only stages of the overtone series can be formed. In tone movements, this original movement often appears as a supporting framework movement (as well as in the major key as in the minor key). The upper part exposes a falling line from the triad third into the fundamental, while the bass part exposes corresponding fundamental steps. Schenker calls the falling line in its diatonic basic form the "Urlinie". The original sentence and the original lineage are not identical.

Foreground, middle distance

Depending on the level of reduction, Schenker names his voice guide boards foreground or middle ground . In the foreground, the smallest counting time levels of the Urlinie are relevant, in the middle distance larger ones (so-called inner moves ).


Schenker writes the structural tones as half noteheads but with bars to emphasize their importance. Secondary notes receive eighth flags , inner trains are also barbed. Schenker shows the importance of the tones in various ways, e.g. B. by omitting the stem, varying stem lengths, size of the notehead or other.

Reduction and hierarchy

The reduction analysis can be applied to any kind of tonal music , because Schenker's concept of hierarchy relates to the relativity of harmonic tonal systems. A tone or chord that is subordinate to another is removed in the reduction analysis, so that ultimately only the form-forming structure remains. The aim of the reduction analysis is to show the interaction of foreground and background.


  • Heinrich Schenker: New musical theories and fantasies. Volume 1-2. Universal Edition et al., Vienna et al. 1906–1922.
  • Heinrich Schenker: New musical theories and fantasies. Volume 3: The Free Sentence. Universal Edition ao, Vienna ao 1935.
  • Thomas Pankhurst: SchenkerGUIDE. A brief handbook and website for Schenkerian analysis. Routledge, New York, NY et al. 2008, ISBN 978-0-415-97397-7 ( online ).