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question on harmony
#2689644 11/15/17 04:15 AM
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I am sitting at my piano looking at the two first bars of La Pastorale (Burgmüller) and I have three questions:
How would a music theorist analyse the notes? I personally hear a G chord with bon-chord tones added but there are more to it than my simplistic explanation?
How would a pianist performing this piece analyse it?

And what about bar 15 and 16? Is it Gdim and F#dim or..? If it had been non-classical the bass note could probably given me much info but now we use any note of the harnony as bass note, right?

http://www.free-scores.com/download-sheet-music.php?pdf=363

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Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689651 11/15/17 05:13 AM
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In tonal music the diminished seventh chord is always built on the VIIth degree of a scale. Since there are only three different sets of keys on the keyboard for all the diminished seventh chords, you need to pay attention to the spelling on the score (which note is the root of the chord ?)

Bar 15 you have Bb and C#, that's an augmented second. The augmented second is the inversion of the diminished seventh, so the note on which the chord is built is here at the top : C# (- then E is missing) - G arrives later - Bb.
So you have a C# diminished chord first. C# is the VIIth degree of the D scales : this chord is used to introduce an inverted D major chord (the dominant of G).
Then quickly the note D moves to Eb, and you're back with a new diminished seventh chord, but here not inverted : F# - (A missing) - C arrives later - Eb
F# is the VIIth degree of G, and the chord resolves indeed on a G major chord bar 17, you're back to the main pitch of the piece.

It's quite common in theses studies (and in tonal music in general) to introduce a dominant chord by its own diminished seventh, with the leading-tone at the bass (here C#).

Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689714 11/15/17 11:43 AM
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The first two measures look like I (G) chords with C and E as non-harmonic tones.

Measure 15 has the notes A Bb C# G, which can be rewritten as G Bb Db A. That could be read as a g dim chord, with A as a non-harmonic passing tone.

Measure 16 has the notes C D Eb F#, which can be arranged as C Eb F# A. This could be read as a c dim chord, with A as a non-harmonic passing tone.


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Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689727 11/15/17 12:56 PM
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I rather like Fouyaut's explanation:
Originally Posted by Fouyaut
It's quite common in theses studies (and in tonal music in general) to introduce a dominant chord by its own diminished seventh, with the leading-tone at the bass (here C#).

Because in the first case - C#dim going to D (the top of A7 minus the A) i.e.going to the Dominant of G
- in the second case, moving to G from F#

I like it because it also makes sense for how the music moves, whether you're seeing it as circle of fifths or function.

Re: question on harmony
Stubbie #2689733 11/15/17 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Stubbie

Measure 15 has the notes A Bb C# G, which can be rewritten as G Bb Db A. That could be read as a g dim chord, with A as a non-harmonic passing tone.


I agree that A is a passing note (but it can also be seen as the root note of the Dominant minor ninth chord A - C# - (E missing) - G - Bb).
But Burgmuller wrote a C# and not a Db, that's not an arbitrary decision : the spelling is a valuable piece of information because it is the only one which allows us to identify which diminished seventh chord is precisely used by the composer, whereas the ears and the fingers do not have anything to remove the ambiguities of those diminished seventh chords.

Re: question on harmony
Fouyaut #2689743 11/15/17 02:18 PM
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I see A-C#-(omit the 5th)-G-Bb as: A7b9
...which is a major chord


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Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689745 11/15/17 02:24 PM
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The 1st two measure might be seen as a mini perfect cadence G-D...leading into the Tonic harmony G
A mini introduction I-V-I


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Re: question on harmony
Fouyaut #2689765 11/15/17 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Fouyaut
Originally Posted by Stubbie

Measure 15 has the notes A Bb C# G, which can be rewritten as G Bb Db A. That could be read as a g dim chord, with A as a non-harmonic passing tone.


I agree that A is a passing note (but it can also be seen as the root note of the Dominant minor ninth chord A - C# - (E missing) - G - Bb).
But Burgmuller wrote a C# and not a Db, that's not an arbitrary decision : the spelling is a valuable piece of information because it is the only one which allows us to identify which diminished seventh chord is precisely used by the composer, whereas the ears and the fingers do not have anything to remove the ambiguities of those diminished seventh chords.
Agree--will said.


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Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689775 11/15/17 04:19 PM
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I'm not at all sure why the piece is being analysed harmonically, I certainly wouldn't use a harmonic analysis of this piece, form and phrases, yes, but not harmony; the form doesn't really justify it for me.

But as we're here...

Originally Posted by Fouyaut
But Burgmuller wrote a C# and not a Db, that's not an arbitrary decision : the spelling is a valuable piece of information because it is the only one which allows us to identify which diminished seventh chord is precisely used by the composer, whereas the ears and the fingers do not have anything to remove the ambiguities of those diminished seventh chords.
I hear no diminished chords. I also feel the ears are the final arbiter because the spelling can be altered without changing the musical meaning. My ear doesn't care if that's a C sharp, a D flat or an E double triple flat; I know what I hear and I hear an A Major followed by a new phrase beginning on Bb.

The Bb phrase runs down to F#, a D Major chord, and the Eb start a new phrase running down to B (and back to tonic).


Last edited by zrtf90; 11/15/17 04:23 PM. Reason: can't count flats!

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Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689790 11/15/17 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by "zrtf90"
My ear doesn't care if that's a C sharp, a D flat or an E double triple flat;


The way i learned tonal music is different : when you add an accidental, that means you change tonality, at least for a while, (except for semitones appoggiaturas, augmented chords, chromatic traits). So if he wrote Db and then D natural, that would have been the sign of a modulation from one of the 4 and more flats keys to one key of less than 4 flats. I tend to believe the ear is able to hear not only the height of a sound but also the tonal context in which it appears. And for example to hear differently the first chord of each of those bars (one in C major, the other in B minor), thanks to the tonal context :
[Linked Image]

Edit : I'm currently working another example of a piece where the spelling matters and makes a difference in the way you hear two notes of the same height and of different names : Brahms' 1st rhapsody in B minor, bars 85 and 86 (and 213-214) :

[Linked Image]

bar 85 : the melody goes G-A-Bb : we're in G minor, Bb is heard as the third degree of the scale
bar 86 : the melody goes G-A-A# : we're going back to B minor, A# is heard as the leading-tone

Last edited by Fouyaut; 11/15/17 06:14 PM.
Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689812 11/15/17 07:02 PM
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It's not about learning tonal music differently. It's about me not being able to say what I mean well enough smile

Let me put it another way, when playing the first note in M15, if I add C# Diminished underneath it just sounds wrong. There have been no notes to indicate that's what it is. When I play A major it sounds right. The Bb introduces new harmony for the next beat but it has no effect of the opening chord of that measure. Likewise, when playing M16 the first note harmonises with D Major better than with any diminished chord.

In this case the C# is merely indicative of moving to A Major, the dominant of the dominant. (My ear hears the C# as a pitch and wouldn't have known had it been spelled as Db, so I can't follow your argument there, I'm afraid. It might make a difference in perception if following the music with the score but that's another matter.)

I understand the theory of choosing correct accidentals but Chopin's Prelude in E Minor uses accidentals convenient for Chopin rather than those indicative of the underlying chords. He was fond of doing that. We've already had the argument on this forum, in the dim and distant past, of how practical it is to not use the correct spelling for diminished chords.

By the way, welcome to the forum. I haven't seen you here before. I'm just recently back from a little hiatus.

And great job on the Fugue, too!


Richard
Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689826 11/15/17 07:56 PM
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Thanks Richard, for your kind words of welcome and your warm encouragements for the fugue :-) I signed up a few months ago, but haven't yet taken the habit of logging in regularly. I hope to have more time in some weeks to do so!

I must admit that it would be a real pain to try to make sense of each chord vertically in Chopin's fourth prelude. I would be very interested in reading your past conversations about this topic.

I think I understand your perception of M15. As for me I didn't try to play the piece adding harmonies to it, so I couldn't say which one sounds right (or at least more beautiful to my ears).

About the ability of the ear to identify not only the height of a note, but its place on the current scale (and its name as a corollary) : I would think of it as an induction, using what you just heard before in order to make assumptions about what's coming next.
Considering what came before that C#, i.e. 14 bars in G major, I'm inclined to expect that this new note does not lead me too far away too quickly from the main tonality. So even without reading the score I think I would be inclined to interpret what I hear as a C#, moving from G major to D major, a neighbor key (don't know how to translate "ton voisin"), rather than as a Db, moving from G major to F minor, Ab major, or even more distant keys. Sometimes composers do make fulgurant changes of tonality, but my listening habits still make me perceive these fulgurant changes as surprising and unexpected.

Re: question on harmony
Fouyaut #2689845 11/15/17 08:57 PM
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I also hear the diminished chords and agree with the analysis by Fouyaut.

Here is a video of measure 15. I wrote down the chords in HookTheory which allows us to examine the Roman numerals. As explained by Fouyaut the C#dim chord is the vii°/V with respect to D. And the second chord is F#dim which is the vii° in G.

Re: question on harmony
Veelo #2689955 11/16/17 11:02 AM
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In the E Minor Prelude the first accidental in M2 is Eb in Chopin's original. The Frederic Chopin Institute, under the editorship of Paderewski, changed the Eb to F# reflecting the B7 (the dominant seventh) and, in M3, F7b5 (a modified subdominant in A Minor, i.e. D Minor, to which it resolves in the second half of the bar, with added sixth. The changes were repeated by others, e.g. Klindworth). This is why I challenged your spelling being an important piece of information. The ear can't hear how it's spelled.

I can't find any conversations revolving around the naming of diminished chords (they weren't in relation to the E Minor Prelude) but it's been a convention to name diminished chords by whatever note is in the bass and often practical to misspell them. There have also been many conversations regarding diminished chords acting as rootless dominants, which is what I believe we have here, and if it is diminished, though functioning as a rootless dominant, then the spelling may simply be practical.

Playing just up to the C# at the start of M15, my ear tells me it's A Major. The A has been suggested by the previous bars and at this point no Bb has been suggested nor G suspended and A Major is closely related as the secondary dominant. After the Bb is introduced, the absence of the A leaves C# Diminished, so the whole measure is functioning as a rootless dominant minor ninth (a dominant seventh with extra tension whose modality, major or minor, depends on the key it's resolving to) that here resolves to D, which again is a dominant minor ninth, via the Eb and the (now natural) C, resolving to tonic.

All of that means my initial assumption, that the harmony wasn't worth looking may have been a bit presumptuous. Of course, if you're already familiar with this stuff it's not, but a student of harmony approaching a piece at this level has a very different perspective.

Originally Posted by Veelo
...which allows us to examine the Roman numerals...
The problem I have with Roman Numerals in analysis is that they're dependent on the underlying tonality. They may show the functionality better in isolation but if the underlying tonality is muddied in a chromatic passage which way do you fall? Literal names always work and the names become familiar in the passages as relations within the ton voisins.


Richard
Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689960 11/16/17 11:20 AM
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M15 is essentially expressing A7b9 - A C# E G Bb

M16, sane idea: D7b9 - D F# A C Eb.

Going to G.

In both measures the 5th is missing.

V7/V to V to I

Chords are ambiguous in the sense that we hear both dominants and dim chords.

The "roots" can also be considered passing tones, but in M16 the root comes first making the case for a dominant stronger.

Re: question on harmony
Fouyaut #2689961 11/16/17 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Fouyaut
In tonal music the diminished seventh chord is always built on the VIIth degree of a scale. Since there are only three different sets of keys on the keyboard for all the diminished seventh chords, you need to pay attention to the spelling on the score (which note is the root of the chord ?)

Bar 15 you have Bb and C#, that's an augmented second. The augmented second is the inversion of the diminished seventh, so the note on which the chord is built is here at the top : C# (- then E is missing) - G arrives later - Bb.
So you have a C# diminished chord first. C# is the VIIth degree of the D scales : this chord is used to introduce an inverted D major chord (the dominant of G).
Then quickly the note D moves to Eb, and you're back with a new diminished seventh chord, but here not inverted : F# - (A missing) - C arrives later - Eb
F# is the VIIth degree of G, and the chord resolves indeed on a G major chord bar 17, you're back to the main pitch of the piece.

It's quite common in theses studies (and in tonal music in general) to introduce a dominant chord by its own diminished seventh, with the leading-tone at the bass (here C#).

Very traditional analysis, on the money.

I would add: spelling of dim7 chords is of no importance for the listener (you can't hear spellings) but shows the intent of the composer.

For any dim7 chord you can stick in a root, showing what the chord COULD be, to see the spelling.

For example, moving to C major:

B D F Ab?
or B D F G#?

Answer: stick in a root:

G B D F Ab to C
G7b9 to C

Gives you the correct spelling intuitively and shows this:

B Ab moving to C G...

Re: question on harmony
zrtf90 #2689978 11/16/17 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by zrtf90
Playing just up to the C# at the start of M15, my ear tells me it's A Major.

What do you mean by "my ear tells me it's A major"?

I always imagine this means that if asked to sing "home", someone would sing A, and if asked to then sing "the scale" someone would sing a major rather than minor scale. Is that what this means, to hear that something is in a certain key? Or when you say "my ear tells me it's A major" does that mean something different to you?

I don't feel like I can hear keys, but perhaps that's because I don't really know what people mean when they say they hear what the key is.

(I'm talking about relative pitch ideas here, not absolute pitch.)


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Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2689979 11/16/17 12:23 PM
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Starting after the DBL bar at measure 11:

1st four bars

V - - - / I - - - / V - - - /I - - -

2nd four bars

vii7dim of V - - - / vii7dim - - - / I - IV - / I - V -

resolve on downbeat of the next bar to the tonic

Re: question on harmony
iamanders #2690032 11/16/17 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by PianoStudent88
What do you mean by "my ear tells me it's A major"?
This is nothing intuitive or mysterious.

Burgmueller has offered one chord per bar from M11 to M14. If I were to continue this, melody in RH and harmony in LH, one chord per measure (or two as it's 6/8 time) I'd add E and A in LH, making A Major. That's just what I did at the piano, and I my ear thought it better than playing E and G. It's that simple.

Mind you, if I were doing melody only in RH I'd have played F#-C-D in M5 instead G-C-D, D7 rather than a sparse G11. This is why I'm not a composer!


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Re: question on harmony
emenelton #2690036 11/16/17 03:03 PM
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Thank you @emenelton for sharing! I corrected my analysis with the second last chord as I (I heard it as V).

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