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Travel in Time and Meet Sergei Rachmaninoff

In Piano Street’s recent interview with Valentina Lisitsa she told us about the blind test her teacher gave the piano class at the music school in her youth. Three recordings were presented; Richter, Rubinstein and Rachmaninoff. Who was hammering out loud and who was the gentle, delicate player? Here we can hear Rachmaninoff play his own G minor Prelude op 23 no 5. Read more >>

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Author Topic: What key or keys is this written in.  (Read 5201 times)
quaver
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« on: September 14, 2011, 11:31:58 PM »

I am studying Robert Schumann's Sicilienne Op.68 No.11.  It has no key signature but not in C major or a minor.  There are numerous accidentals.  Can anyone help me with this.  Thanks.
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piano sheet music of Sicilian
danhuyle
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« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2011, 02:04:00 AM »

It is 19th Century music and so chromatic harmony is present in all of them.

You look at passages and identify where the accidentals are. Then you go based on the amount of accidentals in a passage.

I play Chopin Fantasie Op49. It's in written in F minor, however, this piece goes through a lot of modulations. I look for chord progressions, and the keys the piece goes into. This way it filters out all the other notes.

That's how I do it. If I was to learn Schumann Op.68 No.11, I'd use the same method I used to learn Fantasie. Hope this helps. Smiley
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nataliethepianist
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« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2011, 05:20:21 AM »

I was going to say a minor, but you said it can't be that, so I am of no help.
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brogers70
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« Reply #3 on: September 15, 2011, 05:36:10 AM »

Sure looks like a minor to me.
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quaver
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« Reply #4 on: September 15, 2011, 12:25:49 PM »

The final note is E so that leads me to believe it is not written in a minor as I don't think this piece would end on the dominant.  So danhuyle, with your theory would you analyize it as the first four measures are in a minor with the raised seventh being present. The next four measure in e minor with F# and D# with a chromatic measure 5.  So the next four measures would be b minor with the C# and A#.  And so on.
 Looks like that would work.  However still no definitive key and therefore no key signature so perhaps thats what they used to do in the Romantic era.
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asiantraveller101
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« Reply #5 on: September 15, 2011, 01:22:05 PM »

Clearly in A minor. Schumann set it up right away with dominant 7-tonic, dominant 7-tonic twice right in the beginning.
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quaver
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« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2011, 01:49:14 PM »

Yes, I can see the first 4 measures are in the a minor but why does the piece not end on the tonic.  It does end in e minor but isn't that rather breaking the rules - ending on the dominant of the key..  I was always taught the tonic of the key should be the last note.
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ionian_tinnear
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« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2011, 05:47:52 PM »

It does end in e minor but isn't that rather breaking the rules - ending on the dominant of the key..  I was always taught the tonic of the key should be the last note.

I'd not say that e minor is the dominant of a.  E7 (e major, with a 7th) is the dominant.

There is no absolute rule that a piece has to end in the same key/mode that it starts in.  You may be not looking at the last bar, maybe just bar #8 which is just the end of the opening phrase which repeats, and is just an open octave of e, no harmony.

The entire piece ends on an a minor.

View entire piece here as a pdf: http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/a/a5/IMSLP92512-PMLP02707-Schumann_-_Album_f__r_die_Jugend.pdf
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quaver
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« Reply #8 on: September 15, 2011, 06:20:52 PM »

The whole piece ends at measure24 which clearly is an E.  E is the dominant of A which from measure 23 to 24 forms a perfect cadence.  Still puzzled why it doesn't end in A if it is in a minor.  Oh well.................
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lelle
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« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2011, 06:35:12 PM »

because it doesn't have to end on an a minor chord just because it is in a minor. The piece ends on the dominant, e major, which still implies a relation to the main key (the piece starts and ends on the dominant, but it's all about the tonic).
There are many pieces that start or finish in another key than the main key. Example: First movement of Scriabin sonata no. 2 (G# sharp minor -> E major), Chopin's balalde No. 2 (F major -> a minor) to mention just a few.
I think you should look at it in the context of the entire work as well. The following piece, "Knecht Ruprecht" starts in a minor as well and he might want the ending of the Sicilienne to prepare for that (maybe he intended the pieces to be played in succession).
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ionian_tinnear
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« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2011, 06:42:42 PM »

Please look at the pdf I linked previously.  Scroll to #11.  The piece has 36 measures, not 24..
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Albeniz: Suite Española #1, Op 47,
Bach: French Suite #5 in G,
Chopin: Andante Spianato,
Chopin: Nocturne F#m, Op 15 #2
Chopin: Ballade #1 Gm & #3 Aflat Mj
quaver
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2011, 12:19:52 AM »

Ionian:  The German words at the bottom of the page mean Da Capo al Fine.  Fine(which means end of piece) is measure 24.  That's where the music ends.

Thankyou lelle for your comments.  That seems to make sense to me.  Glad I learned that not all pieces end on the tonic.  This really threw me but I guess I can learn to live with it.  Cheers.
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perfect_pitch
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2011, 12:28:57 AM »

OKAY - Let me settle this...

The first 24 bars seem to give off a sense of ambiguity, as he goes from key centre to key centre. It starts of sounding in a minor in the first 2 bars, but he modulates to e minor by the end of that line.

2nd line gives off an e minor tonality, but it seems to resolve to G major by the end of the 2nd line (but uses an E major chord in the 2nd time ending to suggest a perfect cadence from E Major - a minor.

From bar 25 onwards, it's clearly in a minor till the end of bar 36. 
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asiantraveller101
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« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2011, 01:17:04 AM »

Yes, Schumann did end the piece in e minor at m. 24 as indicated by the "Fine"; which is the dominant. The reason is because I believe the piece actually continues on to next piece, "Knecht Ruprecht", which is in A minor. Therefore, it is a strong indication that the pieces are to be played as a cycle!!  Grin
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ionian_tinnear
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« Reply #14 on: September 16, 2011, 01:48:15 PM »

Ionian:  The German words at the bottom of the page mean Da Capo al Fine.  Fine(which means end of piece) is measure 24.  That's where the music ends.

Thank you for the correction. Smiley
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Albeniz: Suite Española #1, Op 47,
Bach: French Suite #5 in G,
Chopin: Andante Spianato,
Chopin: Nocturne F#m, Op 15 #2
Chopin: Ballade #1 Gm & #3 Aflat Mj
keypeg
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« Reply #15 on: September 17, 2011, 12:12:57 AM »

Here's what I see:

The first two repeating lines keep repeating a little theme in different keys essentially along the circle of fifths.  G#dim/B resolves to Am/C etc.  In formal theory it would be viio/i, V/v etc.  The third line is a repeat of the first line.  The second part in the 2/4 time signature is firmly in A minor until the end.

PP said it better, and AsianTraveler's idea of a cycle makes sense. (fascinating)

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