How does musical harmony engage listeners in relations of desire? Where does this desire come from? Author Kenneth Smith seeks to answer these questions by analyzing works from the turn of the twentieth- century that are both harmonically enriched and psychologically complex. Desire in Chromatic Harmony yields a new theory of how chromatic chord progressions direct the listener on intricate journeys through harmonic space, mirroring the tensions of the psyche found in Schopenhauer, Freud, Lacan, Lyotard, and Deleuze. Smith extends this mode of enquiry into sophisticated music theory, while exploring philosophically engaged European and American composers such as Richard Strauss, Alexander Skryabin, Josef Suk, Charles Ives, and Aaron Copland. Focusing on harmony and chord progression, the book drills down into the diatonic undercurrent beneath densely chromatic and dissonant surfaces. From the obsession with death and mourning in Suk's asrael Symphony to an exploration of "perversion" in Strauss's elektra; from the Sufi mysticism of Szymanowski's Song of the Night to the failed fantasy of the American dream in Copland's The Tender Land, Desire in Chromatic Harmony cuts a path through the dense forests of chromatic complexity, revealing the psychological make-up of post-Wagnerian psychodynamic music.
Oxford University Press