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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

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background to the preludes
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
Form and Structure
  • ABA (loosely)
  • 3 unbalanced sections
  • 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 28 751
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Listening and Appraising questions
  • Why is the prelude nicknamed the raindrop?
  • Name 4 different subjects favored for musical expression by romantic composers
  • What type of piece is a prelude?
  • Describe the basic outline and structure of this piece
  • How are contrasting moods achieved in sections A and B?
  • Name 2 keyboard technique used in the music
  • Name the 2 main keys used in this piece
  • Which note is used throughout the piece as a representation of falling raindrops?
  • Name 2 different ornaments used in the music
  • What name is given to the main texture of this piece?