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Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537893
11/06/08 12:34 PM
11/06/08 12:34 PM
Joined: May 2001
Posts: 24,756
New York City
pianoloverus Offline OP
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pianoloverus  Offline OP
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Imagine you have to describe Chopin's music to someone who has never heard any of it but has heard music of other composers. How would you describe the melodic, harmonic, rhythmic structural and other compositional characterisitics of Chopin's music to someone with a basic but not advanced understanding of harmony, composition etc.?

Even though I said to assume the person your giving your description to had not heard any of Chopin's music, feel free to mention specific works assumimg the person could listen to them in the future.

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Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537894
11/06/08 12:49 PM
11/06/08 12:49 PM
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Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
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sotto voce Offline
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Would a basic understanding include chromaticism?

Steven

Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537895
11/06/08 12:52 PM
11/06/08 12:52 PM
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New York City
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Quote
Originally posted by sotto voce:
Would a basic understanding include chromaticism?
Yes.

I'm using "basic understanding" to mean somethng like what a very average or even less than very average pianist entering an easy to get into conservatory might know before their first year started.

Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537896
11/06/08 02:00 PM
11/06/08 02:00 PM
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Boynton Beach, FL
Morodiene Offline
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No offense intended, but what is the purpose of this question? I noticed that you also asked about other composers in different style periods. Are you trying to nail down characteristics of these style periods via choosing a "definitive" representative of each period? Or do you actually have someone who has asked these questions of you? If so, it might also be worthwhile to post this on the Teacher's Forum to get some ideas on how to discuss this further.


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Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537897
11/06/08 02:19 PM
11/06/08 02:19 PM
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Posts: 24,756
New York City
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Quote
Originally posted by Morodiene:
No offense intended, but what is the purpose of this question? I noticed that you also asked about other composers in different style periods. Are you trying to nail down characteristics of these style periods via choosing a "definitive" representative of each period?
I just chose three composers that interested me so the question is not about style periods. I was asking myself the same question as in my OP but could not think af a good answer.

When one listens a lot to a composer's music I think many people can identify a work by that composer even if one has not heard it before. Same thing with paintings and I suppose prose.

So basically my question is another way of asking why does Chopin sound like Chopin, Grieg sound like Grieg, Messiaen sound like Messiaen etc.?

In a way it's also related to the numerous thread in the Piano Forum about why a certain piano has a particular sound except there it's the pure tonal qualities of a particular instrument.

Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537898
11/06/08 02:34 PM
11/06/08 02:34 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 1,226
Atlanta
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Minaku Offline
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Chopin to me is always defined by a bel canto tone at the piano, with a lot of tonality-building (like arpeggiated chords) in the left hand. There always seems to be a sort of melancholy around his music - maybe that's why I like it so much. It's also pianistic. Technique is demanding, but what he asks of you makes sense. And he always has beautiful melodies.


Pianist and teacher with a 5'8" Baldwin R and Clavi CLP-230 at home.

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Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537899
11/06/08 02:48 PM
11/06/08 02:48 PM
Joined: Aug 2008
Posts: 43
California
Yoke Wong Offline
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How would you describe Chopin's work yourself, pianoloverus?

This questions can be very subjective to different people. For people that are not exposed to much classical music, it becomes rather hard to describe it.

Let's put it this way, how do you describe the taste of strawberry to those who had never tried it before. The person may have tried other fruits.

Chopin's composed almost all of his work for piano. He is one of my favorite composers. His pieces are versatile, considering there are many different forms; Norturnes, Ballads, Etudes, Polonaise, Sonatas, etc.
The natures of the works vary. They do have some common characteristics: Beautiful melody (some could describe as romantic and expressive) and rich harmonic and colorful chord structure and often chromatic in nature.

His work is definitely different from Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and others.

Yoke Wong
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Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537900
11/06/08 03:36 PM
11/06/08 03:36 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 143
phanofbeethoven Offline
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Three words for Chopin:

1. Modal
2. Chromatic
3. Sentimental...well, mostly! wink

To the most peoples' ears Chopin tends to come across as being "pretty music". He uses extremely full and lush harmonies. Chromaticism is very dominant, especially in a lot of his bass lines. His smaller works, as well as his larger ones, are extremely modal. Chopin's Mazurkas provide a prime example of his use of Modality as they are meant to reflect the folk dances and tunes from his ancestral country. Also, Chopin's music can be extremely sentimental and if any composer can drive an audience to tears it is most definitely Chopin. The third movement of Chopin's b minor sonata is a great example of sentimentality in his music.

oh btw...Is there such a thing as an "easy to get into" conservatory? I mean a conservatory is a conservatory is a conservatory is a conservatory.

sorry for the triple post thing...the edit button was giving me some troubles.


"Nothing is more intolerable than to have to admit to yourself your own errors."

~Ludwig van Beethoven~
Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537901
11/06/08 03:48 PM
11/06/08 03:48 PM
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Posts: 24,756
New York City
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Quote
Originally posted by Yoke Wong:

This questions can be very subjective to different people. For people that are not exposed to much classical music, it becomes rather hard to describe it.

Let's put it this way, how do you describe the taste of strawberry to those who had never tried it before. The person may have tried other fruits.

I'm don't think the answer is subjective at all.My question isn't about how someone feels about Chopin's music. If one said Chopin's music was atonal or he preferred classical sonata form as a structural device or he avoided dance rhythms could that be correct?

I said to assume the person was ready to enter a conservatory, hardly someone without knowledge or with little exposure to classical music.

I can't describe the taste of a strawberry or other fruits but I would hope a good chef or someone who specialized in taste could. If it is easier to answer the question by assuming the person has heard Chopin's work previously, feel free to do so.

I didn't expect the answer to my question would be easy or elementary either. I just didn't want an answer that could only be understood by conservatory grads or PhD's in composition. The rest of your post which I didn't quote, except for the reference to the bel canto melodic style in some of Chopin's compositions, does IMHO almost nothing to answer my question.

I'm interested in specific compositional techniques- harmonic, rhythmic, melodic etc. that are characterisitic of Chopin's music.

Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537902
11/06/08 03:51 PM
11/06/08 03:51 PM
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Posts: 143
phanofbeethoven Offline
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disregard


"Nothing is more intolerable than to have to admit to yourself your own errors."

~Ludwig van Beethoven~
Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537903
11/06/08 03:54 PM
11/06/08 03:54 PM
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Posts: 143
phanofbeethoven Offline
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disregard


"Nothing is more intolerable than to have to admit to yourself your own errors."

~Ludwig van Beethoven~
Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537904
11/09/08 01:36 AM
11/09/08 01:36 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 3,918
Chicago, IL USA
Palindrome Offline
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Tovey comments somewhere that Chopin's mastery of the piano consists in his ability to suggest the human voice in his compositions, that he knew just how much suggestion the piano's tones can bear. Can't find a direct quote, however.

I suspect that comes from his essay, The Mainstream of Music


There is no end of learning. -Robert Schumann Rules for Young Musicians
Re: Chopin's Compositional Techniques #537905
11/09/08 01:39 AM
11/09/08 01:39 AM
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Posts: 266
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lisztonian Offline
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tension followed by relief.


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