Good for its historical summary
Kopp argues that historically controversial "chromatic mediant relations? deserve autonomous functional identity and assigns unique unary labels to those transformations. Kopp spends considerable amounts of space investigating historical approaches to the issue of chromatic third relations and their progressions, and most of his work in this area is excellent. His historical overview is a welcomed summary of what can be a difficult subject, and, to that end, his efforts should be lauded. Kopp?s writing is fair and focused, if not disinterested, and the facility with which he exposes the often complex theoretical concepts found in Marx and Riemann, in particular, should be greatly appreciated.
His treatment of Schenkerian theory, however, contains a number of problems, including interpretive inaccuracies (e.g., compare Plate 5.3, p. 109, to Schenker?s complete graph in Five Graphic Analyses) and specific analytical missteps (e.g., commentary concerning Plate 5.11, p. 114). Unfortunately, Kopp?s interpretation (and eventual rejection) of Schenkerian theory is a principal trajectory upon which he builds his theoretical edifice. It is his misunderstanding of Schenkerian theory and the contrapuntal aspects of free composition, in general, that lead him to interpret chromaticism not as linear events within the prolongational hierarchy but as autonomous, immoveable objects that require their own appellations. Kopp?s final analyses of Schubert?s Der Musensohn and Chopin?s Mazurka in B major op. 56 no. 1, in particular, fail spectacularly in their effort to capture the origin and function of foreground and middleground chromaticism while ignoring issues of organicism and motive. We cannot fault Kopp entirely for these failures; such misrepresentations have their unfortunate origin in the fossilized verticalities of harmonic theory from the middle of the twentieth-century (Piston and McHouse immediately come to mind) and, later, the misappropriation and convenience of neo-Riemannian analysis.
Those with sufficient training in Schenkerian theory and counterpoint will be properly equipped to avoid many of the pitfalls and misinformation presented in ?Chromatic Transformations,? but those interested in historical approaches to various problems of nineteenth-century chromaticism should find quite a bit of value in its discourse.