Chopin Analysis Background to the Preludes ‘Raindrop’ belongs to a set of 24 preludes (1835-1838) Prelude: Opening piece that sets a particular mood. We expect it to be followed by something else. Works were criticized for a lack of recognizable structure and their shortness Shortest: 13 bars long Longest: 90 The Raindrop prelude was written during Chopin’s period of recuperation in a deserted monastery in Majorca. It was written during a storm and was inspired by the raindrops dripping from the roof Form and Structure ABA (loosely) 3 unbalanced sections Section Key Length A (1-27) Db Major 27 Bars B (28-75) C# Minor 47 Bars C (75-81) Db Major 6 Bars Codetta (81-89) Db Major 8 Bars Piece is dominated by the middle section Mood is dark, stormy with melody in left hand And yet the piece is remembered for the beautiful melody in section A! Keyboard Techniques used Moderate playing standard Not a very large range Straight forward rhythms Cantiable legato playing Careful expressive use of pedals Use of rubato playing Section A: Key points Marked sostenuto (sustained) Whole section is marked piano (p) Right hand has melody throughout in regular 4 bar phrases (except 16-17 and 18-19 which are 2 bar phrases) Simple left hand quaver accompaniment with repeated ‘raindrop’ Ab’s Texture: Melody dominated homophony Detailed pedal markings help keep cantiable melody line Section A: Bars 1-8 Falling raindrops theme: F-Db-Ab characterize the melody Inner part provides harmonic support to the melody Simple diatonic harmony using mainly chords I and V Phrase ends with a perfect cadence at bar 4 Ornamentation: Turn, acciaccatura (bar 4, semiquaver run) Bars 5-8: Repeat of bars 1-4 Section A: Bars 8-12 Second part of the theme is heard Simple stepwise melody Notice the odd Cb chromatic note in bar 9 that adds colour to the harmony G in bar 11 modulates the music to Ab major Perfect cadence in Ab at bars 11-12 Section A: Bars 12-16 Slight variation on the previous 4 bar phrase Lots of different key changes in this section, using pivot chords Ab minor, Bb minor Music is chromatic and modulates, unlike bars 1-8 Section A: Bars 16-23 Two sets of 2 bar phrases based on the second part of the theme Links to the 3rd hearing of the main melody Inner part of left hand provides chordal support to the melody, filling out the musical texture Second 3 bar phrase takes us back to Db major 20-23: Opening melody heard again, ending with a chromatic sextuplet figure Section A: Bars 24-27 Sextuplet figure leads to another statement of the opening idea It’s Left hanging on a V7 chord at bar 27 Repeated Ab’s taken over by right hand Right hand becomes the accompaniment and the left now has the melody line in the bass Ab now changes character and becomes G# This is the dominant note of C# minor, leading to section B Key Questions Section A is marked Sostenuto. What does this mean? How are the raindrops depicted? What is the texture of this section? What does cantiable mean? What’s the main difference between bars 12-16 different from bars 1-8? What does chromatic sextuplet mean? What happens to the repeated Ab’s at the end of section A? Section B (28-75) Lengthy and dramatic section Melodic interest is mainly in the left hand, with the right hand playing lots of G#s (raindrops) The raindrops in this section are stormier and feel more regular and repeating Raindrops stand out as the G# is played in octaves at the top of the musical texture (Right hand) [eg 35-39] 60-75: Right hand takes melody part Musical texture is homophonic but with much fuller chords and the use of octaves in both hands Section B (28-75) Section starts quietly (sotto voce- undertone or whisper) but builds to ff and a bright sounding E major at bar 40 Builds again at bar 51-56 Rest of section at a lower dynamic level Section B 28-35 Two 4-bar phrases with a chorale like crotchet melody in left hand part Both phrases end on chord 5, but middle note is left out (what is this called?) Octave G#s added at bar 35 Section B 35-39 Repetition of 28-31 Right hand doubles the top notes of the left hand in octaves This produces a thicker texture and reinforces the melody as the music crescendos to ff at bar 40 Section B 40-43 Sad mood is broken by dramatic chord of E major These 4 bars are in the key of G# minor, so E major is chord 6 in this key Perfect cadence at bars 42-43 Strong and powerful 4 bars of music with octaves in both hands and accents over the chords Minim notes provide a strong chordal outline to the melody Texture then reduces dramatically to single, piano G#’s Section B 44-59 Repeat of bars 28-43 With slight dynamic changes Bar 59: Repeat G#s are an octave higher Section B 60-63 Back in C# minor Melody moves to the top of the texture and is chorale like again Melody is similar to ideas from bars 30-31, but with longer note values (minims instead of crotchets) [augmentation] Repeated G#’s are now in the middle of the texture Section B 64-70 Static chords of V-I forming a series of perfect cadences Repeated minims and crotchets on G# form a pedal effect As G# is chord 5 in C# major, its called a dominant pedal Because the pedal is in the top part of the music, its called an inverted dominant pedal If the pedal was in the middle of the texture, it would be called an inner pedal 68-70: Repeat of bars 60-62 Section B 71-75 Forte passage Bar 71:F# minor, then back to C# minor in bar 72 Above the V-I bass there are 3 repetitions of the notes A# A# G#. This creates an added 6th chord (C# E G# A#) Feeling of anticipation as the repeated G#s want to lead back to section A Bar 75: link into a repeat of the opening melody G# E# F# D# in the bass can be read harmonically as Ab F Gb Eb in the key of D major Key Questions on Section B Where is the melody mostly heard in this section? How are the repeated raindrop notes different in this section? How do the raindrop notes stand out? What is the texture of this section? How are dynamics used in this section? What is an inverted dominant pedal? Bars 23-43 are repeated, but with what changes? What is augmentation? How does section B link back to section A? Section A1: 76-81 Bars 1-4 heard piano Ornament at bar 79 is extended into a 10 note figure Smorzando (dying away) bar 79 80-81: broken off repeat off the opening figure. Has a dream like effect of fading away into the coda section Codetta: 81(last beat)-89 81-83: Listener is made to jump with the forte top Bb This is the highest note in the piece 2 bar phrase then descends in dynamics and pitch 84-89: Six bar phrase based on chords I and V Repeated Ab’s heard in middle of the texture (left hand) Melodic line also in the middle (right hand) and is similar to that heard in bars 60-62 Piece ends pianissimo with a perfect cadence Key questions on Section A1 and codetta What does smorzando mean? What effect does the broken off figure have in bar 81? What makes the listener jump in bar 81? How does the piece end? Listening and Appraising questions 1. Why is the prelude nicknamed the raindrop? 2. Name 4 different subjects favored for musical expression by romantic composers 3. What type of piece is a prelude? 4. Describe the basic outline and structure of this piece 5. How are contrasting moods achieved in sections A and B? 6. Name 2 keyboard technique used in the music 7. Name the 2 main keys used in this piece 8. Which note is used throughout the piece as a representation of falling raindrops? 9. Name 2 different ornaments used in the music 10. What name is given to the main texture of this piece?