Analysis File - The Parker E

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
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
 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
 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)
 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
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?

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