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Topic: Chopin, Partimento and "Imagining the sound"  (Read 1400 times)

Offline jlmap

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Chopin, Partimento and "Imagining the sound"
on: May 06, 2022, 06:47:06 PM
I'm an amateur trying to learn music theory and ear training by myself, and I've been struggling with Ijzerman's book "Harmony, Counterpoint, Partimento" for some time. I tried to learn it one year ago, gave up, and now I'm trying again. Recently I began to identify some schemes in what I play. I can see that they are quite clear in the music of Mozart and Beethoven. But, when they occur in the music of Chopin, they frequently deceive the listener. The schemes are clearly implied, but some notes are simply missing, usually substituted by a chromatic passing tone to the next tone of the scheme. If you are familiarized with the scheme, you can almost hear the missing note! For example, in Chopin's first Ballade, in G minor (attachment 1), there is a clear example of this scheme of Ijzerman's book (attachment 2), but the encircled blue note is not what is expected. Instead of approaching the third degree of the scale from the fourth degree, Chopins surprises us by doing this from the sharp second degree. But you can almost hear the fourth degree! Another example occurs in the second movement of Chopin's Bb minor sonata (attachment 3), that follows this other scheme (attachment 4), but with many missing notes, replaced by chromatic passing tones, marked with a blue circle. Again, if you are familiarized with the scheme, you "hear" the missing notes!

I remember that Charles Rosen's book "The Romantic Generation" begins with the topic "Imagining the sound". Are these excerpts from Chopin's music examples of what he is talking about?
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Offline lelle

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Re: Chopin, Partimento and "Imagining the sound"
Reply #1 on: May 06, 2022, 10:17:03 PM
I'm not sure I understand your analysis of the ballade fragment. I have attached a picture of how I understand the harmonic structure of that section.

Offline jlmap

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Re: Chopin, Partimento and "Imagining the sound"
Reply #2 on: May 06, 2022, 10:27:00 PM
My analysis of the ballade is based on the schemes of partimento. There is a movement in the left hand that descends a 5th and ascends a 4th. In solphege, it would be " lá - ré - sol - do - fá - ti - mi - lá". There are other notes, but these other notes are decortative. I marked those main notes in red. It is possible to make a counterpoint to it in the right hand, with a 7th suspention that resolves downward simultaneously with the ascent of a 4th in the left hand, so as to produce alternating 7ths and 3rds. This is the scheme 1. It is clear that Chopin had this scheme in mind when he composed this excerpt. But instead of the "fa -mi" movement on the right hand that should make the counterpoint with sol - do in the left hand, he puts #re - mi. The fá is not in the score, but we fill in the gap in our mind.  The example in the sonata is much more exuberant, as he substitutes many notes of the scheme with a chromatic descent, but we can easely hear that something is wrong with this descent, as we, consciously or not, expect the notes of the scheme, and not this chromatic descent.

Offline jlmap

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Re: Chopin, Partimento and "Imagining the sound"
Reply #3 on: May 06, 2022, 10:34:37 PM
By the way, the excerpt of the ballade is in Eb major, not E major, as erroneously indicated i  the figure.

Offline lelle

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Re: Chopin, Partimento and "Imagining the sound"
Reply #4 on: May 06, 2022, 10:59:22 PM
My analysis of the ballade is based on the schemes of partimento. There is a movement in the left hand that descends a 5th and ascends a 4th.

But that's what the harmonic progression I indicated does, check it out:



It's the equivalent of starting from "segment 2" in example 1.28 that you posted.

Offline jlmap

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Re: Chopin, Partimento and "Imagining the sound"
Reply #5 on: May 07, 2022, 12:16:59 AM
Yes! Exactaly! But instead of the second Ab we get a F#. I think the second Ab is "heard" in the mind. The same thing, but much more strickling happens in the sonata. I think that this imaginary notes that are heard though not soundinng is what Charles Rosen mentioned as a feature of romantic music.
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