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(This web page originally appeared as an article in the Washington Guitar Society newsletter No. 57, October 2001.)
This is a fun one. I put a facsimile of it in the "Halloween 2001" edition of the local (Washington, D.C.) guitar society's newsletter. Here is the goofy article that went with it . . .
Ok, so I've gone through my music theory reference library and there doesn't seem to be any rule that says a spooky piece has to have a Neapolitan sixth, or that a piece with a Neapolitan sixth has to be spooky. Still, I claim there's something going on here.
But before we continue, we'd better make sure we know what a Neapolitan sixth is. My Harvard Brief Dictionary Of Music says: "a sixth chord having as its root the the flattened supertonic." My "International Cyclopedia Of Music And Musicians says: "a chord consisting of a minor sixth and minor third on the subdominant." (Note well: nothing about ghosts in either definition.) I practically had to write a computer program to determine that both of these definitions say the same thing. (I always thought a music theorist must lead a very lonely life, what with only ever being able to talk to himself.)
Allow me to clear the air. A Neapolitan sixth is a major chord built on the note one half step above the tonic (the first and main note of the scale.) It's usually used in the first inversion, meaning the root of the Neapolitan sixth is flipped up to the top of the triad. (That's where the word "sixth" comes from - the interval between the third of the chord, and the root which has now been raised an octave. A "sixth chord" does not mean a chord with an added sixth, or a chord built on the sixth note of the scale.)
So, for example, in the key of A minor, the Neapolitan sixth is the B-flat major chord, since B-flat is a half step up from A. In the key of E minor, the Neapolitan sixth is the F major chord. You will find that "The Galop Of The Goblins", which is in E minor, drips with F major chords - to such an extent that composer Walter Fay Lewis apparently figured it was easiest just to leave the F-sharp out of the key signature! (Actually, you can't see this in the tablature presentation. Key signatures? What's that?) In particular, listen to the F major chords in measures 16 and 20. I believe those examples to be very typical of Neapolitan sixth usage. Quite a distinctive sound, yes?
"The Galop of the Goblins" by Walter Fay Lewis (1894) (pdf)
So where else do Neapolitan sixths evoke spooks? Well, I couldn't put my fingers on as many examples in my collection as I was hoping to. I have a trio called "Ghost", by Jamie Williams-Grossman (1), also in E minor that has a blast of F major chord in one of the guitar parts. There's a piece by Robin Pearson written for the month of October which has alternating E minor and F major arpeggio patterns. He calls it "Falling Leaves", but we know his real inspiration - October 31st! WGS member Bob Wysong recalls "The Halloween Song", a piece his 7th-grade band played, which used the Neapolitan sixth. Of course, the most famous example of all is heard in the well-known theme song Charles Gounod wrote for Alfred Hitchcock's tv show (2).
But, as I said, it can also be used when there's not a ghost in sight. There's a D major chord in Chopin's Prelude In C Minor, but that doesn't hit me quite the same way. Bob also remembered the prominent example towards the end of Albinoni's famous Adagio. The first guitar music example to strike me - and the one that got me and Bob discussing Neapolitan sixths - was in an Andantino by Neapoli- , er, I mean, Napolean Coste (3). The piece is in E minor, but listen for the D major arpeggio in the C# minor section. The very first example that comes to Bob's mind when the subject arises is in Fernando Sor's Op. 35, No. 14. Later, I discovered them in Sor's Op. 35, No. 24 (4). I also found them in Mauro Giuliani's Tersicore del Nord, Op. 147 (5). There's one each in the trios to Nos. 7 and 8 of that collection.
Conclusion: 50% of all songs incorporating a Neapolitan sixth are haunted. You read it here first (although you might want to double-check with a music theorist of repute.)
About the piece itself, I found it at the Library of Congress. It's good. If you adhere to all the printed fingerings, you have bats in the belfry.
1. Soundboard, fall 1994.
2. (Something like that?)
3. Das Guitarrespiel, Bruno Henze, book 7, page 11.
4. The Classical Guitar, Frederick Noad, page 66.
5. Mauro Giuliani - selected works, Frederick Noad, pp 134-5.
I thank the Library of Congress again for making its music collection so readily accessible.
Before developing a knack for pdf (see above), but after working up my original presentation of "The Galop of the Goblins" in tablature at the bottom, I added images of the two pages of sheet music:
And here is "The Galop of the Goblins" in my beloved ASCII tablature - not necessarily made obsolete by the images of the sheet music. It's easy-to-read, and is faithful to the original in music notation. It uses only common keyboard characters - no graphics. It's very simple and instantly usable. Click here for some general comments on the modern tablature, including tips on printing it out perfectly.
Title: The Galop of the Goblins Composer: Walter Fay Lewis Source: Concert and Salon Music; Oliver Ditson Co. Date: 1894. Tuning: EADGBE. Time sig: 6/8. Fixes, modifications and comments (M=Measure; p=Place in measure; s=String): M32p4s1 original showed B#; changed to A# here. M35p6s3 original showed no note; D# added here for consistency with similar passages. Almost without exception, Lewis notates the bottom note of a chord with a separate, downward stem, implying an independent bass line. Keep this in mind in the Introduction (Allegretto). Lewis places all of his interpretation signs below the staff. It's not obvious to me whether his accents apply to the whole chord or just the bass note. (The distinction, if you can make one, would be subtle.) In M4-5, original did not show accent marks. Oversight? In M6-8, and all similar passages, Lewis indicates to play the 5th- and 6th-string double stops with a thumb sweep. He brackets the two notes with a ( symbol. To shorten left-hand jumps, consider playing some chords in a higher position; for example, where you see 5554xx, try x10/9/10/9x. Tablature elements to be added by hand: Take a moment to fill out the 16th-note beams. Explanation of symbols: . = rest which applies to the previously sounding note on that string. _ = accent or emphasis mark. Lewis uses ">" in the original. cresc. = crescendo. Sometimes Lewis writes "cresc." and sometimes he draws the skinny angle symbol (opening to the right.) Leading measures in original sheet music: 1 6 10 14 18 22 26 30 33 36 38 42. Last measure is 45. *** Download and edit out all material above and below the tablature. *** Set up your printer for: 96 characters/line (12 characters/inch). 66 lines/page (6 lines/inch). *** Print out starting with the title line below. The Galop of the Goblins GOBLINS: Page 1 of 2. EADGBE. Leading measures: 1 8 15 22 29. Walter Fay Lewis Allegretto. ac- ce- le- ran- do. Allegro. mf _ _ _ _ mf _ _ ___ __ _______ __ _______ __ _______ __ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ |-| | | | | |-| | | | | |-| | | | | |-| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ___5_5|_5__5_5_._5_5|_5__7_7_._5_5|_5__5_5_._5_5|_5__7_7_.___||_____________|____________|______ ______|____5_5_.____|____7_7_.____|____5_5_.____|____7_7_.___||_____________|____________|______ ______|____5_5_.____|____8_8_.____|____5_5_.____|____8_8_.___||*____________|____________|______ ______|____4_.______|____9_.______|____4_.______|____9_._____||*_________3__|_________3__|______ ______|_____________|_____________|_____________|____________||__2_._2_3_._3|_2_._2_3_._3|______ ______|_____________|_____________|_____________|____________||__0_._0_1_._1|_0_._0_1_._1|______ _ cresc. f ff mf_ _ _ cresc. f ff p cres- _____ _______ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _______ __ _____ _____ | | | | | | | | | |. | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |. | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _________0____|_5_._5_7_|____________|____________|_________0____|______7_H12___||__7_._7_5_._5| _______0______|_5_._5_7_|____________|____________|_______0______|_H12__7_H12___||__0_0_0_0_0_0| _____0_____H12|_5_._5_8_|____________|____________|_____0_____H12|______8_H12__*||*____________| ___2__________|_4_._4_9_|_________3__|_________3__|___2__________|______9______*||*_5___5_4___4| _2____________|_________|_2_._2_3_._3|_2_._2_3_._3|_2____________|______________||_____________| _0____________|_________|_0_._0_1_._1|_0_._0_1_._1|_0____________|__________0___||_____________| cen- do. f cresc. ff cresc. fff _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ __ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _3_._3_2_._2|_3_._3_1_._1|_0_._0_____|_7_._6_5_._5|_3_._3_2_._2|_0_0_0_1_._1|_______0___||______ _0_0_0_0_0_0|_0_0_0_1_1_1|_2_2_2_4__.|_0_0_0_0_0_0|_0_0_0_1_1_0|_0_0_0_1_1_1|_4_._4_0___||______ ____________|_______2_._2|_0_._0_4__.|____________|_______2_._2|_0_0_0_2_._2|_4_4_4_0__*||______ _2___2_1___1|_2___2______|_______4__.|_5___4_3___4|_1___2_1___1|____________|_4_._4____*||______ ____________|_______0___0|_1_____2__.|____________|____________|_______0___0|_2_________||______ ____________|____________|___________|____________|____________|_3_3_0______|_______0___||______ mf _ _ cresc. f ff mf _ _ _ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _______ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _______ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |. | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ____________|____________|_________0____|_5_._5_7__|_____________|____________|_________0____|__ ____________|____________|_______0______|_5_._5_7__|_____________|____________|_______0______|__ ____________|____________|_____0_____H12|_5_._5_8__|_____________|____________|_____0_____H12|__ _________3__|_________3__|___2__________|_4_._4_9__|__________3__|_________3__|___2__________|__ _2_._2_3_._3|_2_._2_3_._3|_2____________|__________|__2_._2_3_._3|_2_._2_3_._3|_2____________|__ _0_._0_1_._1|_0_._0_1_._1|_0____________|__________|__0_._0_1_._1|_0_._0_1_._1|_0____________|__ f ff f fp f __ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ __ _____ _____ _____ | | |. | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______7_H12__||__12_._7_8_._8|_H12_._7_7_._7|_7_._7_6_._6|_5_._5_2__.|_H12_._7_7_._7|_H12_._7___ _H12__7_H12__||__10_.___7_7_7|_________8_7_8|_5_5_5_5_5_5|_5_5_5_1__0|_________8_7_8|___________ ______8_H12__||*_10_.___8_._8|_________7_._7|_4_._4_6_._6|_5_._5_2__.|_________7_._7|___________ ______9______||*______6_7_._7|_______6_8_._8|_6_._6_5_._5|_4_._4_1__.|_______6_8_._8|_______6___ _____________||______________|______________|____________|___________|______________|___________ __________0__||___0__________|___0__________|____________|___________|___0__________|___0_______ Lewis Goblins Leading measures: 35 42. GOBLINS: Page 2 of 2. ff furioso _ ff mf_ _ _ cresc. f ff mf_ _____ _____ _____ _____ __ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _______ _____ _____ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |. | | | ________________________________________________________________________________________________ _7_._7|___7_6_5_4_3|_2_._2_0__.__||____________|____________|_________0____|_5_._5_7_|__________ _8_7_8|_____5_4_3_2|_1_1_0_0__.__||____________|____________|_______0______|_5_._5_7_|__________ _7_._7|_____6_5_4_3|_2_._2_1__._*||____________|____________|_____0_____H12|_5_._5_8_|__________ _8_._8|_6___5_4_3_2|_1_._1______*||_________3__|_________3__|___2__________|_4_._4_9_|__________ ______|____________|_____________||_2_._2_3_._3|_2_._2_3_._3|_2____________|_________|_2_._2____ ______|____________|_______0__.__||_0_._0_1_._1|_0_._0_1_._1|_0____________|_________|_0_._0____ _ _ cresc. f ff _____ _____ _____ _____ _______ __ | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |. ________________________________________________________________________________________________ ______|____________|_________0____|______7_H12___||_____________________________________________ ______|____________|_______0______|_H12__7_H12___||_____________________________________________ ______|____________|_____0_____H12|______8_H12___||_____________________________________________ ___3__|_________3__|___2__________|______9_______||_____________________________________________ _3_._3|_2_._2_3_._3|_2____________|______________||_____________________________________________ _1_._1|_0_._0_1_._1|_0____________|__________0___||_____________________________________________
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