What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.
Why does a piece of music end? Or rather, why does it end where it does? Webern, during the composition of his Six Bagatelles for string quartet op. 9, felt driven to a particularly uncompromising answer: “Here I had the feeling, ‘When all twelve notes have gone by, the piece is over.’” He was, admittedly, recalling his path to twelve-note composition; yet Heinrich Schenker, concerned exclusively with the structure of tonal music – to him, Webern's was a “path” that led away from music altogether – was equally clear about endings. In Free Composition he claimed that “with the arrival of Î the work is at an end. Whatever follows this can only be a reinforcement of the close – a coda – no matter what its extent or purpose may be.” There will be more to say about codas in due course; but we need immediately to distinguish Schenker's construal of “coda” from the conventional one whereby, for example, the section of music that follows the end of a sonata-form recapitulation is denominated the “coda.” A particularly clear Beethoven example is the coda to the finale of the “Appassionata” Sonata, beginning at m. 308: the double bar and new tempo indication articulate this coda especially strongly.
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