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chromatic chords in Brahms 116/6 (Read 4389 times)

Offline missmusicteacher

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chromatic chords in Brahms 116/6
« on: December 30, 2008, 11:55:35 PM »
I'm looking mainly at the first eight measures, although there are other instances later in the piece.

Why did Brahms write (measure 1, beat 3) Cx-F#-A with the Cx moving to D#, instead of the enharmonic D-F#-A moving to D#?  Either way, it ends up at a D# dim. chord, but it can't really be called a resolution because the Cx-F#-A is consonant.  But is it a passing tone?  On the other hand, there's a B in the bass so that makes it a Bm7 --> B7 chord.  And most of the piece is chromatic - almost every chord.  There's no obvious modulation, but there's gotta be a reason for him writing Cx instead of D.

I've analyzed this phrase as: I-X-ii-v7-V7-X-I (with X for chords I don't know how to analyze - I just finished first-semester music theory).  Am I on the right track?

One of my music major friends and I have been discussing this but I wanted to get other opinions on it as well.  Also, any advice on analyzing Brahms would be great.  With all the chromatic chords, I mean.  I'm sure I'll learn it this spring in my second-semester class, but I'm wanting to work on analysis over the winter break.

Thanks!

Offline pianistimo

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Re: chromatic chords in Brahms 116/6
«Reply #1 on: December 31, 2008, 11:59:33 PM »
Here's a review I found:
http://books.google.com/books?id=IDoLEvTQuewC&pg=PA223&lpg=PA223&dq=analysis+of+brahms+opus+116+%236&source=web&ots=wI23t8wxJX&sig=YYF6-tLjMLHfwrtuD5L9oLHNLHA&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result

He says in measure 21 the conflict is settled once and for all by Brahms himself.  I'd never have thought of all this - but it's well reasoned.

Offline missmusicteacher

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Re: chromatic chords in Brahms 116/6
«Reply #2 on: January 03, 2009, 05:57:32 AM »
Thanks pianistimo!  The link was very helpful :)

Offline ramseytheii

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Re: chromatic chords in Brahms 116/6
«Reply #3 on: August 20, 2009, 02:55:58 AM »
I'm looking mainly at the first eight measures, although there are other instances later in the piece.

Why did Brahms write (measure 1, beat 3) Cx-F#-A with the Cx moving to D#, instead of the enharmonic D-F#-A moving to D#?  Either way, it ends up at a D# dim. chord, but it can't really be called a resolution because the Cx-F#-A is consonant.  But is it a passing tone?  On the other hand, there's a B in the bass so that makes it a Bm7 --> B7 chord.  And most of the piece is chromatic - almost every chord.  There's no obvious modulation, but there's gotta be a reason for him writing Cx instead of D.

I've analyzed this phrase as: I-X-ii-v7-V7-X-I (with X for chords I don't know how to analyze - I just finished first-semester music theory).  Am I on the right track?

One of my music major friends and I have been discussing this but I wanted to get other opinions on it as well.  Also, any advice on analyzing Brahms would be great.  With all the chromatic chords, I mean.  I'm sure I'll learn it this spring in my second-semester class, but I'm wanting to work on analysis over the winter break.

Thanks!

I would say the Cx is just a lower chromatic neighbor, and the reason he wrote it like that is because the voice-leading: it's an upward stepwise motion, and the double-sharp emphasizes that.

Another thing to remember is that in those days, instrumentalists (obviously doesn't apply to piano) had unique tunings.  George Bernard Shaw's writings on Joachim contain a particularly interesting description.  A Cx would have conjured a different sound, a different kind of intensity most likely, than a plain D natural.

But I think the main point is, it goes up.

About your analysis:  beats 1 and 2 are, in my opinion, both ii chords.  There is a lower chromatic neighbor in the alto voice (B#) and suspended 4/2 in the upper voice (G#-B).  They're resolved on the second beat.  It's not important to label every chord exactly as it appears, but as it functions.  Remember also, ii chords are dominant preparatory.  In essence, Brahms took a very simple harmonic pattern - I ii V I - and decorated it with poignant chromatic tones and suspensions.

In that sense, there isn't a v7 and V7, there's only a V7.  It happens to have a lower chromatic neighbor, but that doesn't imply a different harmony in this case.

As for the link posted by pianitisimo, it seems to me to be unnecessarily complicated without saying much.  What is a harmonic feedback rule?  Is that a rule that Brahms followed?  What is a pitch variance rule?  I think it is much simpler than that.

Walter Ramsey