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#1984547 - 11/09/12 08:57 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
I'm just beginning to see the problem you're having.

Originally Posted By: keystring
We started off learning what binary and ternary form is. You have mentioned these two, and we should all know what they are since they were covered.

We started with these because the sonata principle, which defines form by key, used a very simple structural basis, binary form. Ternary form is also frequently used and has many variations but they all follow an ABA type of structure with variations in which bits are repeated and where the end comes, etc.

Originally Posted By: keystring
We then went off on the topic of sonatas and sonata form. There was an immediate problem because sonatas consist of three movements, some of which are in sonata form, and some of which are in rondo form (or other forms?). We looked at sonatinas, since they are like simple sonatas, which makes learning to analyze them easier.

In the classical period, approx 1770 - 1820 and fairly specifically to music produced by the Viennese masters the sonata took on a new meaning than the one applied by earlier musicians such as Bach, e.g. a sound piece as opposed to a sung piece. A classical sonata consists of one or more movements. One or more of these movements should be in classical sonata form, e.g. Tonic material, dominant material (or dominant substitute), modulation passage where the material is developed and finally the recapitulation in tonic.

The sonata was unique among the various forms that had developed thus far in music in that it's specific structure was defined by the key of the material being presented rather than the placement of repeat bars and other architectural means. It is the harmonic analysis of the structure that is covered by the term 'classical sonata analysis'.

The structure of a piece in da capo ternary form, for example, can be seen without being able to read much music and certainly without looking closely at the score.

Without looking at the notes we can see that the first two lines of Schubert's Allegretto being studied here are repeated, then the next six or so lines are repeated (and the last measure is marked 'Fine'. Then there is a Trio section (also two halves, each repeated) and concluding with the term 'Allegretto DC'.

There we have it! A1, A1, A2, A2, B1, B1, B2, B2, A1, A2. That's the structure. That's the form. Ternary, da capo. You can't do that with classical sonata form, you must look at the notes.

We have usually grown up with many of these forms.
E.g.

(A1) Lightly row, lightly row,
O'er the glassy waves we go!
(A2) Smoothly glide, smoothly glide,
On the silent tide.

(B) Let the winds and waters be
Mingled with our childish glee.
(A2) Sing and float, sing and float
In our little boat!

But without words to help us the composer has to repeat more frequently to make sure you get it.

Originally Posted By: keystring
Now it seems that there is such a thing as a suite (not covered).

The suite was the precursor to the sonata/symphony (a symphony is a sonata for orchestra and should also be covered by our current thread title) though you might have more difficulty playing it at sight (Liszt didn't but...).

A suite consists of more than one movement (a sonata can be just one). The form of all the pieces in a suite can be analysed by looking at the repeat bars etc. like our da capo Allegretto.

Originally Posted By: keystring
This thread is called "sonata", but we seem to have jumped. The previous piece was a "song" in "song form" (of which apparently there are many), and the present piece is in a (undefined as of yet, form?) -- it has nothing to do with sonatas either, right? So we are now just freely exploring any kind of musical form? Going on a tangent which will come together later?

Sonata form is defined by the key. All other forms are defined by architectural landmarks (except the concerto which might warrant its own thread - though it needn't).

Since a sonata may contain forms other than those in sonata form, those forms are also fair game but easier. The process is just simpler - look at the landmarks instead of the keys. The rest of the analysis is the same, thematic, proportional, tension/release, unity, harmonic language, etc, whether it's a four hour Opera or a two minute pop-song.

How am I doing?
_________________________
Richard

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#1984785 - 11/09/12 08:53 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2975
Loc: Maine
Schubert Opus 94 Number 6

I am starting to appreciate this piece more. I played it through playing just the highest RH notes and the lowest LH notes. Now I can hear the melody, and a tiny thread of how the harmony enriches it. I can also see that I need two major skills to play this piece.

One skill is simply being able to get my hands and fingers to the succession of thick chords. This is not the thin filigree of the Anna Magdalena Bach Notebook, which takes a different kind of fingering skill.

The other skill is being able to voice it appropriately, so the melody can be heard clearly above the rest of the accompaniment in both LH and RH. This is not a skill I have practiced much: to voice louder just one note of a chord in a single hand (or to voice all the other notes in the chord softer).
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#1985074 - 11/10/12 03:21 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
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Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Franz Schubert Opus 94 Number 6

So how are we all keeping up with our friend Franzie today?

Sorry to be out of the loop somewhat on this one over the last couple of days. I've been dealing with some irate and unreasonable client demands. More importantly though, working on Mendelsshohn, Chopin and brushing up some Christmas stuff.

This 17 century stride in the Chopin (OP 9, No 2) is brutal for my pace of reading. I think it will be taking longer then the Bach preludes. I know this one has been over done. But, I still want to learn it and perhaps attempt to get it into shape for the Feb recital. Sorry, yes I know, it is all about me and my little piano world.

Thanks Richard, for sharing the interesting insight of this classical period.

Any more home work for me? Or, how are we proceeding from here.

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#1985102 - 11/10/12 05:22 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Schubert, Op. 94/6, Allegretto

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
I am starting to appreciate this piece more.
This is excellent news!

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
One skill is simply being able to get my hands and fingers to the succession of thick chords...The other skill is being able to...voice louder just one note of a chord.

These are two very beneficial skills but don't put too high a stress on the ability to bring out notes as part of a chord. Thinking the melody will often do the job and the fingers will respond automatically. If they don't you can add exercises to improve the facility.

These thick harmonies are typical of the German Romantics. Mendelssohn abounds with it. I find it helpful when I set about such pieces to look at every chord change as an individual entity.

Someone once told me when I was struggling with difficult chords (on guitar) that it wasn't the chord but the speed at which you changed (Telecaster Ted Tomlin).

Practise changing chord as a mechanical operation, not done to any specific time but just done. When the change is accomplished without thinking do four beats of each chord, then two beats, then change chord on every beat. Do this holding each chord down for the full duration and staccato chords starting at mF and working towards FF and PP. When you can change quickly from chord X to chord Y you'll find you can change to chord Y from just about any chord or position. The trick, so to speak, is to change the hand shape in one go during the transition. Yes, that's obvious but having it said helps focus the mind on the task.

Later on, the central section of Chopin's Nocturne Op. 37/1 makes a good RH exercise requiring delicacy. The first 20 or so bars might make for a complementary LH exercise.

Only when you're comfortable with that need you worry about bringing out individual notes and thinking the note is often enough to get the job done.

Originally Posted By: Greener
the Chopin (OP 9, No 2) is brutal for my pace of reading...I know this one has been over done. But, I still want to learn it and perhaps attempt to get it into shape for the Feb recital.

As Sam said for his Op 28/15, we've not heard YOU play it, Jeff, but again, Op. 37/1 is equally lovable without as much difficulty (just) and hasn't yet been submitted. It's a huge improvement on his Op. 15/3. Although three months for either one is a bit of a stretch for recital standard (how many pieces do you normally learn at a time?).

Originally Posted By: Greener
Thanks Richard, for sharing the interesting insight of this classical period.

Any more home work for me? Or, how are we proceeding from here.

For the insight, you are welcome. For the homework, how about looking at the harmonies and the themes in this Allegretto?
_________________________
Richard

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#1985132 - 11/10/12 06:57 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11160
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

How am I doing?

I get the gist of where you're going and I am no longer looking for sonata form in the pieces that are being presented here. We've moved on to a broad general exploration and it's an interesting one. There is also a mass of information to explore which is fantastic.


Edited by keystring (11/10/12 07:38 PM)

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#1985136 - 11/10/12 07:29 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
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Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Schubert, Op. 94/6, Allegretto
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Op. 37/1 is equally lovable without as much difficulty (just) and hasn't yet been submitted.


I took a listen to this one. Yes, it's nice. My priority though is still showier tunes, like the Nocturne. Plus, I'm already up to M5. However, there has been another piece that has been stuck in my head like a bad commercial, and I do not know what it is.

Can you please take a quick listen and excuse the corruption of what I believe is actually a lovely piece.

I am sure you will recognize it. I have just roughly tried to sketch out some of the melody. I think it is Chopin. If this is all there is to it, perhaps I will pass on this one too. But, have a feeling there is indeed more to it and is a piece I would also like to know.

Here it is

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#1985139 - 11/10/12 07:57 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: PianoStudent88]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11160
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I was reading the bits about the actual playing of this music, and the skills to go with it. Richard wrote something wise about getting to know one chord at a time, and then practice the movement from one into the next, without worrying about time. I have also learned to get to know the last chord first, so that you are always moving into a familiar chord.

I'm always cautious about "how to play" because there are so many skills, and we can get it wrong both in reading or writing about it. Like, how do you actually "play" a chord, and how/when do you release it to go into the next chord? (I don't expect an answer and there shouldn't be one, since that is the point). Or, I learned a way to become able to voice the top note louder - you first play the non-melody notes quietly, then add the louder melody note so that you can have control of the two kinds of touches. Then you bring them closer together until they are simultaneously. But - will someone necessarily know how to physically make notes louder and softer? How about if the notes are held in the same hand such as here? That's why I'm not sure that these things can be (safely) conveyed over the Internet.

Playing in order to understand the music for analysis: I don't think it has to be complete or musical playing. If you play chord progressions, even in simplified form, you will get an idea about an aspect. If you play the melody alone - and if you sense a countermelody elsewhere - and play these rather than all the notes - you will get other aspects of it. What do other people think? I certainly cannot "sight read" the present piece near anything resembling music.

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#1985261 - 11/11/12 07:55 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Greener]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Originally Posted By: Greener
Can you please take a quick listen and excuse the corruption of what I believe is actually a lovely piece.

Here it is, Jeff. smile

Waltz in A-flat, Op 69, No. 1, "L'Adieu"

_________________________
Richard

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#1985262 - 11/11/12 07:59 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
You're absolutley right, keystring, about playing for analysis. If you follow the score while listening to advanced material like Beethoven sonatas and symphonies you will get to a point where you can just 'read' the score and audiate it (it worked for me).

When I'm analysing a symphony from the score I can 'hear' the music in my head but when it gets chromatic or the harmony more complex I have to separate out the instruments by playing them individually first, working out the notes for viola and trumpets (different clefs and different written pitches) and then I can 'hear' them better together.

I have the same approach to interpreting a new piece for piano. I follow the score, investigate unfamiliar pitches and intervals at the keyboard and 'imagine' from that how it's supposed to sound and let this gradually replace performances I might have heard. I'm at that very stage with my Mendelssohn piece(s) right now. Getting the my interpretation into my head before I start working at the piano.

For me analysis comes first, then understanding, then, finally, playing. Gone are the days when I would play first, analyse later and finally understand because by then all the bad habits are ingrained and are often difficult to change e.g. thoughtless heavy handedness where a light touch is better or pressing the keys where they need to be stroked.
_________________________
Richard

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#1985288 - 11/11/12 09:24 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
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Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Waltz in A-flat, Op 69, No. 1, "L'Adieu"


Thanks, Richard.
This is a terrific piece. I like it a lot. It has also been done a few times in the recitals as I have found, but not nearly as much as the Nocturne. At any rate, it is on my list now and will see if I can tackle any quicker then the Nocturne.

"How many pieces do you normally learn at a time?"
I think 3 is a good pace for me, but they will be at different levels. Up until a couple of years ago, I had not learned anything new in years. Then had a teacher for a bit and started trying to get more material. But it was just lead sheets with chords and not so tough. Even so, it was always one at a time.

Things have changed since joining PW and particularly these study threads. Essentially I have shifted into high gear and want to learn more and read better. So, 3 is good.

I still want to get back to the Moonlight Sonata, but Chopin is going to be keeping me busy for awhile now.

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#1985368 - 11/11/12 01:38 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: Greener]
Greener Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Waltz in A-flat, Op 69, No. 1, "L'Adieu"


Sorry for this "not related to this thread" post, but just a quick question if I may.

I am trying to follow your recent advice, Richard of analyzing and understanding the score a bit, before diving into it.

I downloaded the score from IMSLP music library and a few things are not lining up with the performance you posted. I won't go into them all, but a couple of examples are:

1.) The performance does not take the repeat on the second page. I can live with that.
2.) I don't get what all these tiny 16th notes with the slash through them are about. It is more then just this note being played in this performance. I would need to try and hear and see if I can figure out what is actually being played in all these instances (there are several.)
3.) In the measure (5 measures before repeat on 2nd page,) the performance posted does not account for all these notes.

Anyway, I am sure things will become clearer as I begin to digest this, but any insight would be appreciated. I can post a link to the PDF I downloaded if it helps.

thanks

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#1985373 - 11/11/12 02:01 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
What you are hearing is a Waltz by Arthur Chopinstein. smile

This one is closer to the text (not necessarily to Chopin's idea).

_________________________
Richard

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#1985387 - 11/11/12 02:22 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
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Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
OK, makes sense. I'll come up with my own idea of what I think Chopin intended.

Interestingly, Valentina missed the repeat as well. Of these two performances, I prefer the Chopinstein version. That is the one I will target thus.

Looks like this will be easier to learn -- I think anyway -- then the Nocturne and I like it more. So, it just got bumped in priority to the top of the list.

EDIT: Correction, she did take the repeat ... my bad


Edited by Greener (11/11/12 02:47 PM)

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#1985408 - 11/11/12 03:05 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11160
Loc: Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
You're absolutley right, keystring, about playing for analysis. If you follow the score while listening to advanced material like Beethoven sonatas and symphonies you will get to a point where you can just 'read' the score and audiate it (it worked for me).

Different people will have different abilities. Some come with training and some are unique to a person's makeup. I would hate someone to become frustrated or feel inadequate if they take that route, and then can't audiate. In fact, I audiated for years to the point where it caused confusion in the lessons I had in another instrument, because we didn't figure out that I could not read music as an instrumentalist does. I could also only audiate in certain musical contexts. What I cannot do yet very well is to listen to recordings while following the score, because I never listened to recordings. My ability to hear details in performed pieces is at a primitive stage through lack of experience.

Quote:


I have the same approach to interpreting a new piece for piano. I follow the score, investigate unfamiliar pitches and intervals at the keyboard and 'imagine' from that how it's supposed to sound and let this gradually replace performances I might have heard. I'm at that very stage with my Mendelssohn piece(s) right now. Getting the my interpretation into my head before I start working at the piano.

I think I do similar, with listening to performances being something very new to me. My HUGE handicap is that I am almost at the very beginning of any physical technique including needing to weed out self-taught habits galore. Most of what is stopping me is physical. What I do is get an overall picture of the piece, then analysis for some of the details which gives substance to that picture and may change it. Then I think of interpretation, explore a bit, and then after that I listen to what performers have done. The performances don't seem to mean much before that, unless I were aiming for blind imitation (which I don't do very well).

Quote:

For me analysis comes first, then understanding, then, finally, playing. Gone are the days when I would play first, analyse later and finally understand because by then all the bad habits are ingrained and are often difficult to change e.g. thoughtless heavy handedness where a light touch is better or pressing the keys where they need to be stroked.

I'm a couple of stages behind you. I first have to get that light touch or stroke, as well as removing any obstacles preventing them from happening. What is universally true is the need to go at it in stages, intelligently.

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#1986185 - 11/13/12 01:43 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2975
Loc: Maine
Schubert Opus 94 Number 6

Melodic form

I haven't had time with this piece at the piano since I last posted, but examining the score and remembering bits of how it sounded, I do have some ideas.

In the Allegretto (the Trio is different): A characteristic gesture is the sigh, usually downwards (e.g. mm.1-2) but sometimes upwards (e.g. mm.7-8). Another repeated gesture is a descending scale, sometimes with chromatics, e.g. mm.12-16, mm.22-24, mm.73-77, and other places). There is a repeated rhythmic pattern, first seen at the very beginning in the pickup and mm.1-2: quarter note, dotted half note, sigh to quarter note.

The melody is fairly regular in 8 bar units to start: two sighs, a two measure melodic bit, and a closing sigh. This changes for the pattern starting in m.24. It starts with two sighs, and then expands its melodic bit from 2 to 10 measures (mm.29-38).

Starting at m.40, the pattern compresses: sighs separated by two measures of melody; and then at m.55 just consecutive sighs, through m.65. Mm.65-77 complete the Allegretto with a repeated ascending and descending figure.

The Trio changes flavour (and key) to a more straight-forward melody, that proceeds in pairs of 4 measure units, except that Schubert slips in an extra 2 measures at mm.102-103.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1986226 - 11/13/12 03:29 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2975
Loc: Maine
Schubert Opus 94 Number 6

Harmonic form

Very puzzling, to start with. We're no longer in the world of the classical sonatinas of Clementi. There, the keys are the tonic or closely related keys (i.e., nearby on the circle of fifths, or parallel major and minor). There, the chords are overwhelmingly I and V, with admixtures of ii, V7, vii°7, and an occasional vi and even rarer iii, all proceeding in circle-of-fifths progressions.

Here, the keys are Ab major, E major (!), and Db major -- at least gauging by the key signatures. I haven't examined the piece closely enough to know if other keys are passed through. The first three chords are Ab, Dbmaj7, Bbm7. In roman numberals: I, IVmaj7, IIm7. These are not the typical opening chords of a Clementi sonatina, but immediately take us into a different harmonic world.

Not all landmarks have been abandoned; the first 8 measure phrase cadences on Eb and the second 8 measure phrase cadences on Ab, so the familiar V and I cadences are in place. But in between strange things are happening.

That's as much as I've worked out so far. I'm torn between doing a chord-by-chord harmonic analysis (and immediately uncovering all the wierd things) vs. looking at the cadences and key changes to get an overview of the skeleton, before looking at the details.

As far as looking at the chords, Schubert seems to frequently anticipate the following chord as much as a full measure ahead (I'll give examples in a later post). So identifying the harmony will be more complex than simply ticking off notes vertically.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1986575 - 11/14/12 09:58 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
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Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Schubert Opus 94 Number 6

Originally Posted By: zrtf90
how about looking at the harmonies and the themes in this Allegretto?


The themes appear very straight forward to me. Perhaps that is not a good sign though. I like Franz, he puts all the key changes in the key signature (or at least most) and marks the themes with a section break (sort of.)

Theme 1: M1 - M16
Theme 2: M17 - M39 There is an interesting variation that starts at M33, but I think it is still all within this same theme.
Theme 3: Begins at M39, this is a gorgeous key change and the nicest section of the whole piece, IMO. The return to Theme 1 at the end of 53 is also very nice, and sounds like quickly changing to minor in this short recap before ...

... lastly, there is a tag M66-M77. It is a big tag, but reluctant to call this another theme, as it is reminiscent of what has led to this point, but not an exact replica.

The trio is then quite standalone to all of the above and is one theme x 3.

Is this what you mean by identifying themes?

If so, this is what I think.




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#1986698 - 11/14/12 04:42 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Schubert, Op. 94/6, Allegretto

Originally Posted By: Greener
Is this what you mean by identifying themes?

I mentioned looking at them, though identification will do. My intent was that you think about them but summarise your thoughts for us. smile

You've mentioned key changes but haven't listed either chords or keys yet. In M16 when he starts the second theme he adds two flats, Fb and Cb. This implies Gb major but the only G in that 12 measures before the key sig. change is G natural (M24)in a chord of Eb major.

Remember that E is enharmonic F flat (seven flats), one more click left on the circle of fifths from Gb and requiring Bbb. This is three clicks left of our tonic and is the equivalent of moving from minor to relative major.

Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
That's as much as I've worked out so far. I'm torn between doing a chord-by-chord harmonic analysis (and immediately uncovering all the wierd things) vs. looking at the cadences and key changes to get an overview of the skeleton, before looking at the details.

As far as looking at the chords, Schubert seems to frequently anticipate the following chord as much as a full measure ahead (I'll give examples in a later post). So identifying the harmony will be more complex than simply ticking off notes vertically.

This all looks jolly interesting!
_________________________
Richard

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#1986718 - 11/14/12 05:44 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

You've mentioned key changes but haven't listed either chords or keys yet. In M16 when he starts the second theme he adds two flats, Fb and Cb. This implies Gb major but the only G in that 12 measures before the key sig. change is G natural (M24)in a chord of Eb major.


Yes, I am a bit behind on my homework I am afraid. What about Ab minor for this section? I did mention this key earlier as well but not for this section. But, as no one payed notice, I lost confidence and did not bring it up again. But, I like it here too.


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#1986732 - 11/14/12 06:28 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Ab minor makes a lot of sense.
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Richard

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#1989308 - 11/21/12 09:37 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
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Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90

Waltz in A-flat, Op 69, No. 1, "L'Adieu"


This Artur fellow, is driving me a bit nutty. He is up to all kinds of tricks and some are not so easy to figure out exactly what he's doing (the LH in the con anima.)

Anyway, will play it by wrote for now (pleased I have all the themes figured out and can make it all the way through) and see if I can use some of his variations as it comes more smoothly. That is, if I can figure them out.

So, back in the saddle again or at least soon with continuing along here with Franz. But afraid to say I am quite behind, so hope no one is waiting on me for anything.

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#1989454 - 11/21/12 03:18 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
We're not running to a schedule, Jeff. Hang loose!

I expect we've all enjoyed a break from analysis while we listen to the recitalists. We've been going solidly, I think, since we started in August.
_________________________
Richard

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#1989568 - 11/21/12 07:38 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
We're not running to a schedule, Jeff. Hang loose!

I expect we've all enjoyed a break from analysis while we listen to the recitalists. We've been going solidly, I think, since we started in August.


OK, got it. Will hang loose.

True enough, we have been fairly rock steady since mid-August so this break for the recitalists is a nice change up. Mission accomplished though ... not letting this forum subject slip too far out of mind.

Look forward to continuing as others also begin to awaken ...

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#1991395 - 11/27/12 09:19 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
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Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Schubert, Op. 94/6, Allegretto

While our friends are recovering from celebrating their annual festivities I was thinking about performance notes for this piece (for my own benefit) and my thoughts came to a head yesterday when I responded to a thread on dynamic independence in the hands and another on scale practise.

There are often occasions when one hand plays at a different dynamic level than the other but when that isn't the case should all the notes be played at the same level?

This is indeed how we should play our scales but this is most definitely not how we should play our music.

I'm reminded of the story of a little girl playing monotonously and, when asked asked why she was not applying expression, responded that her teacher said "expression costs extra".

And I've often seen it noted in threads here on PW that the expression is added after pieces are learnt. This is not an ideal way of approaching a piece.

Getting the expression in at the outset puts the correct muscular actions into effect and whether you consciously memorise your pieces or not you do use muscle memory to play faster than and at a level above that of sight reading.

Let's take a simple example first, Chopin's Nocturne in Eb, Op. 9 No. 2. The left hand is not playing the accompaniment evenly. The first note of each group of three is a tiny bit above the two following chords, the third bass note slightly above the second and fourth and the first one above the third. The melody line in RH is above all of these but is it at the same level? No, it most definitely is not. Not only does it share the implicit metrical accents it is also saying something. We don't speak in a monotone (Stephen Hawking and Daleks excepted) so we certainly shouldn't sing in one.

So how do we phrase the line?

Clearly it must be saying something. We can be trite and imagine the accompaniment being played on the piano and the melody played on a violin above it but a violin is no more expressive than the piano itself.

What is the music saying? If you add a lyric it's so much easier to add better phrasing but first we must find out what that phrasing is. The line has to have the correct scansion to do the job properly.

If, for the nocturne, you came up with these two first lines:

"If THE baby's crying
And THE radio is on TOO loud for it"

it doesn't scan. The number of syllables is right but the accents are all wrong. We don't normally emphasise "the" in speech and the second word of each line should be getting an accent here.

We need to change it to:
"If BAby is crying
And IF the radio is ON too loudly"

it fits better.

What we need to do now is come up with a better sentiment.

"Don't leave me, my darling
My life would be an empty void without you"

It's getting better (but guess why I'm not on Broadway! laugh ).

But it doesn't have to be a great lyric! It has to scan correctly and it has to match the sentiment of what the music is trying to say and, most important of all, it has to help you shape the phrasing to bring out the sentiment.

It's a song line not a monotone.

Now, getting back to the Schubert, we have a similar sentiment here in the first two lines.

"Don't leave me, my darling
What have I done to make you HATE me
I love you, <screams> I LOVE YOU
<whimpers> And I could not live without you"

(Don't worry, I'm sticking to my day job)

But do you get the point?

The music has to SAY something (why else would those particular dynamic markings be there in these two lines?). It doesn't need a lyric, though I find it helps when the rhythm isn't straightforward, but it needs a sentiment and a way to express it and you need to get that in before you start practising it with a monotone. Build the expression into your muscle memory from the outset. The dynamics are very strongly marked in this piece. It would be too long without them so make sure to bring them out if and when you play this piece.

And whenever you play two adjacent notes at the same dynamic level, have a jolly good reason for it!
_________________________
Richard

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#1991416 - 11/27/12 10:16 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2975
Loc: Maine
Very illuminating, Richard. I've been mulling over this piece, particularly the Trio (which seemed more approachable than the Allegretto) and have a bunch of ideas, but having a hard time getting them down in writing. Of course starting with the Trio leaves out the ability to say anything yet about how the Trio either contrasts with or is consistent with the Allegretto, but c'est la vie.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1991420 - 11/27/12 10:25 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
PianoStudent88 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 2975
Loc: Maine
Thinking about practicing with expression from the start: I think it's good to be able to play with expression, and to practice with expression rather than spend any long amount of time getting too used to playing in a monotone. But my goal with a piece is not just to be able to play it with the specified expression, but to be able to practice it in different ways, to play with the expression, sometimes subtly, sometimes changing it up completely, sometimes for ideas about performance, sometimes for practice techniques of shaking out of a rut.

For example I've been practicing Satie's Gymnopedie No. 3 for the Themed Recital, and experimenting with different kinds of expression, different levels of rubato, different kinds of balance between the three lines; and occasionally just playing the whole thing REALLY LOUD, which then helps when I go back to the prevailing marked "piano" dynamic in giving me a firmer touch.

Also sometimes in practicing/playing a piece I start to hear new things in it, which then affect the expression I want to use.

So I'm a bit leary of the idea of being able to decide on a fixed expression from the very beginning, and then practicing it with only that expression, as if there's only one way to play a piece.
_________________________
Ebaug(maj7)

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#1991422 - 11/27/12 10:38 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
zrtf90 Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/29/12
Posts: 2225
Loc: Ireland (ex England)
Ah, no! You don't play with just that expression. You think about it from the beginning, your playing reflects that thinking. You can change it in a whim. But it's difficult to START thinking about it when you can already play it without thinking about it. Does that make sense?
_________________________
Richard

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#1991423 - 11/27/12 10:42 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
Greener Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/12
Posts: 1059
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: zrtf90
Schubert, Op. 94/6, Allegretto

And I've often seen it noted in threads here on PW that the expression is added after pieces are learnt. This is not an ideal way of approaching a piece.

Getting the expression in at the outset puts the correct muscular actions into effect and whether you consciously memorise your pieces or not you do use muscle memory to play faster than and at a level above that of sight reading.


Some excellent insight here and agree whole heartily.

My Dad (when reminiscing with his Rye and Milk) would say ... many people will claim there are 3 elements to music ... Melody, Harmony and Rhythm. The vital, and often missing 4th component though, is expression.

As you know, I am working on the Chopin Waltz. Similar to the Nocturne, a piece like this will really fall flat with out expression. It is really a poster piece for exemplifying how much expression can change the entire dynamics of the piece. Case and point are the two very different performances of this waltz, posted previously.

I was kind of at a loss of what I was really supposed to do on thinking about and summarizing themes for this piece (jumping back to Schubert now.) But have better ideas now. I'm still climbing out from under a pile of work related stuff, but hope to get back sonatizing soon.

Hope everyone state side had a nice Thanksgiving

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#1991450 - 11/27/12 11:39 AM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11160
Loc: Canada
Responding to Richard's ideas about how to go about playing expressively (practicing).

First off, there will be different approaches, and in this medium it is not good to insist that any given approach is right, with others being wrong. The short answer is "It depends". 1. A teacher may have an overall plan that spans a couple of years. If a student decides what he is being taught is "wrong" he may put a spanner in the works of this overall picture. 2. Students and musicians in general are individuals, with their particular strengths and weaknesses, and if students, they are at whatever stage they are at. What works at one stage may not work at another, or for another student.

I'll send off this preamble before continuing, so it doesn't become one long post.

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#1991474 - 11/27/12 12:27 PM Re: Classical Sonata Analysis [Re: zrtf90]
keystring Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/11/07
Posts: 11160
Loc: Canada
(continued)
For working on a piece so that it becomes expressive:

A first factor to keep in mind is that at least some of us are still learning how to use our bodies in the sense of technique. This is important. Sometimes something we hear in our head will also get us to use the right motions. When you are angry and your voice is loud and harsh, sad and your voice is quiet a low pitched, you are not consciously directing body to produce these sounds - the emotion itself makes you do the right thing. This is one way we can end up playing expressively, IF this happens the right way.

Often, however, this does not happen. When I was self-taught, my staccato sounded convincing, but I tensed my forearm and it prevented me from playing fast. I was fingery and produced loud through force force in a tense hand, instead of allowing a flow of motion with a flexible wrist. Therefore we may need to learn new physical motions deliberately, and we need to get coordination into our bodies. It's the same process as a baby trying to eat a biscuit and poking his forehead with it because he misses his mouth. It takes time and practice.

2. Principal 2: We can only concentrate on one new thing at a time. Therefore, if I am learning to physically produce louder sounds by keeping flow in my arms with a flexible wrist (or whatever), instead of tensing my body and using force --- I cannot also be trying to get the right notes at the right time when they are unfamiliar. So my own strategy is to first get the notes with good fingering, chunking, with no thought to expressiveness, and often not much consideration to timing, which for me is a second step. Having this solid then liberates me to put all my concentration on the physical motions that I want to have in order to produce the dynamics that I want to have, without hurting myself. This is because of where I am at.

I will add that I have learned some effective practice techniques and approaches, which means I don't spend much time on the first step. Therefore a habit of playing mechanically does not become entrenched (your concern, Richard). If at a future time the habits I want are in my body, so that I imagine "louder" and my body does the right thing, then my practicing approach will be different.

If you were taught to play mechanically, and you were also taught how to move efficiently, then you may need an approach that is the opposite of what I need. That was my point in my earlier post.

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