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#986540 - 09/11/04 05:59 PM Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Washington D.C. Metro
I am trying to learn Chopin's Prelude in C Minor, Op. 28, no. 20. I am also trying to learn theory. So my teacher asked me to try to identify the chords in the piece.

Let's just say it is not going well. At all. I have a chord dictionary on my lap and I still can't do it!

Maybe if someone can get me started and explain the step-by-step mechanics of identifying a chord I can get the hang of it. I would appreciate it *so* much if one of the theory experts could look at the first two measures and identify the chords.

I mean, what do you do first when you gaze upon a chord? Do you try to figure out if you're in root position as a first step? What do you do when their are bizarre notes in the chord that don't fit the usual patterns (like the chords in the second measure with the D flat even though the piece is in C Minor). Do you disregard duplicate notes (e.g. the chord has two Cs) and if so, how do you know which one to disregard?

Cindy -- who can finally recognize a first inversion versus a second inversion, and is getting familiar with VII chords, but that's about it

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#986541 - 09/11/04 06:36 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 116
Mark Davidson Offline
Full Member
Mark Davidson  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 116
NC
In this particular piece I'd pay strong attention to the bass notes. There are a lot of passing/non-chord tones in the right hand, but not many in the left.

The short answer is that the first measure is
i-iv7-V7-i in c-minor. The second measure starts with an A-flat chord which functions as a VI in c-minor and a I in A-flat Major (a pivot chord that connects the two keys). The second measure looks like I-IV-V7-I in A-flat Major.

One chord at a time:
M. 1 first beat
As far as figuring out which inversion it is, just consider the bass note. In this case C, so it's root position. chord tones are C, E-flat, G (yes doubled g can be ignored).

2nd beat
Looks like a iv chord, f-minor, except for that darned E-flat, which is the seventh of the chord. Again root position. You're looking for stacked thirds, like f, a-flat, c, e-flat. You can move the F up and the others around as necessary as long as you don't change which is the bottom note in the stack (F).

3rd beat
The top two notes are a dissonant that resolve down to the d and f. g, b, d, f is a G7 chord, which is a V (dominant) in c-minor.

4th beat
c-minor - no tricks here. Ignore the doublings. C is on the bottom so it's root position.

2nd measure
1st beat
A-flat major. VI chord in c-minor, but this is the preparation for a modulation to A-flat.

2nd beat
D-flat major. This is a IV chord in A-flat. Just play the 2nd measure by itself and then hum the note of the key you think you're in. Was it an A-flat?

3rd beat
E-flat 7th chord. D-flat is the seventh, E-flat, g, B-flat are the chord tones. Like the 3rd beat of the first measure, the top two notes (c and e-flat) resolve down to chord tones (B-flat and D-flat).

4th beat
A-flat major chord. Tonic in A-flat.

If you want to relate the 2nd measure back to c-minor, it would be described as VI, IV of VI, V7 of VI, VI (same as I-IV-V7-I in key of VI).

There's a lot going on. in this piece. Try labeling the straightforward chords first (like last chord in 4th measure). Then look at how you can fit the others in. M.6 starts getting into some inversions...

-Mark

#986542 - 09/11/04 06:45 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 271
MitchE Offline
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MitchE  Offline
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Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 271
I'm having trouble with this same thing. I'm doing grade 3 harmony, and it makes me feel so stupid. What grade are you doing right now?

By the way, I'm learning this one too. Beautiful, isn't it?

#986543 - 09/11/04 06:47 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 116
Mark Davidson Offline
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Mark Davidson  Offline
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Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 116
NC
A fantastic piece, if you can keep the images of Barry Manilow out of your head...

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#986544 - 09/11/04 06:50 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 271
MitchE Offline
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MitchE  Offline
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Posts: 271
Quote
Originally posted by Mark Davidson:
A fantastic piece, if you can keep the images of Barry Manilow out of your head...
laugh laugh laugh thumb

#986545 - 09/12/04 12:13 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Washington D.C. Metro
Thanks so much, Professor Mark!

I was *way* off. I'll see if I can identify a few more.

Cindy -- who doesn't get the Barry Manilow reference, sadly

#986546 - 09/12/04 02:08 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 116
Mark Davidson Offline
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Mark Davidson  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 116
NC
Quote
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
Cindy -- who doesn't get the Barry Manilow reference, sadly
Count yourself lucky. One of his songs from the 70's ("Could it be magic") used this piece as introduction and closing. So you're either too young or too old. Anyway, if you like this piece then you should never, never, ever listen to that song.

-Mark

#986547 - 09/13/04 12:29 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Cindysphinx Offline
Cindysphinx  Offline


Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,416
Washington D.C. Metro
Well, I am no longer in music theory kindergarten!

I had my lesson today. We spent about half of it on theory, and finally *finally* FINALLY it clicked! I think I understand how you figure out what each chord is in a piece of music!

We're making some progress by having a Chord Of The Week (last week was dominant seven) where I focus on trying to make that chord in any key.

Now. If I can just translate that into recognizing chords faster when I play, I'll really be on to something.

Elton John, here I come!

Cindy -- who has more written homework in that Chopin piece

#986548 - 09/13/04 01:59 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 271
MitchE Offline
Full Member
MitchE  Offline
Full Member

Joined: Aug 2004
Posts: 271
Quote
Originally posted by Cindysphinx:
Well, I am no longer in music theory kindergarten!

I had my lesson today. We spent about half of it on theory, and finally *finally* FINALLY it clicked! I think I understand how you figure out what each chord is in a piece of music!

We're making some progress by having a Chord Of The Week (last week was dominant seven) where I focus on trying to make that chord in any key.

Now. If I can just translate that into recognizing chords faster when I play, I'll really be on to something.

Elton John, here I come!

Cindy -- who has more written homework in that Chopin piece
Congrats! I love it when I spend weeks trying to figure something out, and then one day everything just clicks. I'm having that problem with Chorale writing and structural analysis.

#986549 - 09/13/04 02:57 PM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 2,918
teachum Offline
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teachum  Offline
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Joined: May 2004
Posts: 2,918
idaho
Hey - At least Barry admitted he stole it from Chopin! More than most modern song thiefs do! 11 days till the piano comes, guys! I'm dying. Good going Cindy! I know you are way ahead of me!


You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany
#986550 - 09/15/04 02:07 AM Re: Can Someone Help Me With My Homework?  
Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 4,264
btb Offline
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btb  Offline
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Joined: Jan 2004
Posts: 4,264
Pretoria South Africa
Cindyspinx has been given the task of identifying the chords in the Chopin Prelude Opus 28, no. 20. The object of the teacher's exercise is presumably to show that the great Masters obey the rules of musical "theory".

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Mark's i-iv7-V7-i analysis of the opening 4 chords tries to support the theory but backfires by the 3rd, 6th and 7th chords with notes foreign to the C minor key.

Theoretical gobbledegook is used to explain away the contradictions.

Books on Harmony cover triads and their inversions but should be regarded as the workings of pedants in a wishful attempt to formulate rules to explain the musical components used in the works of genius - puritanical chords made up of 3 alternating degrees of scale. How dull!!

Careful analysis of the chords of the Prelude 20 show that Chopin can't be contained within any dusty books of rules. However, it's worth noting that even genius can't bend the Laws of Acoustics as the gravitational power of the Tonic starts and ends the famous Prelude.


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