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Could you help me with another excerpt of Chopin's G minor Ballade? (Read 662 times)

Offline jlmap

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I'm finishing the study of this Ballade. But I'm having problems with the analysis of this passage, from the coda. What is going on here? It seems to me to go to Ebminor for a while, after using a strange Neapolitan dominant 7th chord resolving by a deceptive cadence to V64 of Eb minor, than an Augmented 6th of Eb minor, and, suddenly, we are back to G minor with a V42 chord. Is it right? If yes, what is the logical link in going from the Eb minor Aug6th suddenly to V42 of G minor?

Piano Street's Digital Sheet Music Library

Chopin: Ballade 1, opus 23
piano sheet music of Ballade 1


Offline lelle

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Hey it's me again, I took a stab at it.

I think the simplest way to look at it is that starting from the third bar in your picture, you essentially just have a prolonged diminished chord (F# A C Eb) that resolves to the tonic four bars later (see line 1 in the picture below). And in g minor, a F# A C Eb dim chord will essentially just function as a D major b9 chord missing its root note, i e the dominant (which we even get to see in the last of the four bars). Everything else that goes on is just decoration with some nice voice leading. It's just that Chopin has chosen to spell the pitches in a way that makes this less apparent.

In line 2 I have written an approximate skeleton of the different inversions of the F# A C Eb chord that are used in the score (you could argue a bit about the exact locations the chord changes in each bar but I hope it gets the point across).

In line 3, I have added the chromatic baseline Chopin actually uses. It could be argued that this baseline is just decoration around the skeleton in line 2.

In line 4, I have changed the spellings to what Chopin used, but as you can see it's the same pitches. A diminished chord using F# A C Eb can as you know also be spelled as Gb A C Eb or F# A C D# etc.

I think this is the simplest way to look at it. But if one wants, one can try to analyze the harmonies that get created as the voices wander within this basic skeleton of a F# A C Eb diminished chord. I don't think there is any one single correct answer here, but I have added one suggestion in line 5; the baseline shows the root note of the chords or the chords one could argue are implied. I have added parantheses around the chords I consider implied that are not actually in the score. Hopefully it's clear that the D->G->Ab and F-Bb-Cb progression is "the same", just transposed.

The Ebmin/Bb to B7 to D7 in the third to fourth bar can also be viewed as a series of mediants. But my preferred way of looking at it is just as chromatic voice leading magic. :P

To feel this more deeply you could try to play my written examples on the piano while considering my comments. Unfortunately I'm not sure how useful my line 5 chords will be for your roman numeral analysis, as I suck at using that system.



Offline jlmap

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Thank you very much again! I think I understood it. It makes all the sense to me. Now I can see the voices that you mentioned, with neigborn tones and a "tonicization" (I don't know if this is the correct term) of A natural (the third chordal tone of the seventh diminished chord of F#), as I tried to point in the figures. You have a wonderful understanding of musical analysis! I hope some day I can also help students as you are helping me!

Offline lelle

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Oops, I actually missed that there was a B flat in the right hand in the bar with the E flat minor chord. Well, my comment still holds up overall even in spite of that, and adds some support to interpretations like or similar to the one in line 5 :D Glad if I could be of some help. I think this sort of thing is a lot of fun to chew on  ;D