Applying the Concepts in Analysis

Accidentals are Clues to Defining Harmonic Functions

The use of chromatic harmony is not limited to compositions from a single style period, or a particular genre of music.  The techniques discussed in the previous lessons can be found in the music of many well-known composers, which has endured due to its originality and sophistication.  Several of these techniques are typically used together in a composition. 

It is important not to confuse chromatic Non-Chord Tones with the notes that belong to a chord.  Circle and label each NCT in your analysis.  Accidentals that raise the 6th and 7th scale degrees in an ascending melodic minor scale are considered diatonic pitches in tonal harmony, and are not identified as alterations outside of the minor key.  The altered chords that are discussed in this course do not include these two types of chromaticism.

The scores and performances linked below are relatively advanced examples of combined types of chromatic structures, along with modulations.  The presence of an accidental can help define the function of a harmonic structure.  Examples of this are raised pitches, which may indicate secondary functions with, lowered pitches indicating borrowed chords  from the parallel minor into a major key, or a combination of raised and lowered pitches found in altered pre-dominant chords.  Dominant 7th chords that are extended may include an altered 9th, 11th, or 13th.  Identifying chords in chromatic harmony is like the work of a detective, and accidentals are the “usual suspects” that lead us to correctly define harmonic functions.

Harmony is only one of the parameters we evaluate in a thorough musical analysis.  Other parameters include rhythm, melody, texture, and the form of a composition.  However, this particular course addresses the harmonic elements, which should not be analyzed in a vacuum without considering all the other factors that contribute to the musical experience.  Lessons in this course each address a particular type of chord, and it’s role in the music.  These include:

Secondary Dominant Chords (V/x)
Secondary Leading Tone Chords (vii/x)
Borrowed Chords (VI, VII, and III in a major key)
Altered Pre-Dominant Chords (Neapolitan and Augmented 6th)
Extended Triads (9th, 11th, and 13th)
Pivot Chords in a Modulation (the hinge between two keys)
Non-Functional Constructs (created by linear motion)

Making Discoveries

  1. Identify all key areas and the overall harmonic plan by listening and surveying the score.  Find recurring themes and patterns, and consider the structural shape of the piece.  Mark cadences with PAC, IAC, HC, DC, or PC.
  2. Identify the chords by Roman Numeral function, and include figured bass.  If the music is triadic, but not key oriented, place lead sheet symbols above the chords.
  3. Circle and label the Non-Chord Tones to distinguish them from notes in the chord.
  4. If modulations employ pivot chords, identify the Roman Numerals in both the new and old keys with a bracket at the point of modulation.
  5. Create a time line of the form using lower case letters (a, a1, b, c, etc.) for phrases, and upper case letters (A, A1, B, C) for sections.  Show keys and cadences.


Diagramming Melodic Phrases

Examples for Analysis  
Analyze the tonal areas, chords, cadences, non-chord tones, and form of these compositions.

Ludvig van Beethoven, Sonata, Op.14, No. 2, mvt. 2, page 1 (PDF)

Joseph Haydn, Sonata in C# Minor, HOB XVI 36  (PDF)

Frederic Chopin, Valse Brillante, Op. 34  (PDF)

Felix Mendelssohn, Andante with Variations, Op. 82, No. 10  (PDF)  
Sample Analysis of Andante with Variations, Op. 82, No. 10 (PDF)

Frederic Chopin, Mazurka, Op.6, No.1  (PDF)  
Sample Analysis of Chopin Muzurka Op. 6, No. 1  (PDF)

Frederic Chopin, Mazurka, Op.56, No.1  (PDF)

Robert Schumann, Waltz, Op. 124, No. 4  (PDF)

Joseph Haydn, Sonata in G Major, HOB XVI 27, Mvt I  (PDF)

Frederic Chopin, Prelude, Op. 28, No. 4  (PDF
Prelude, Op. 28, No. 4  Analysis  (PDF)  
(Yih, Annie (2013) “Connecting Analysis and Performance: A Case Study for Developing an Effective Approach,” Gamut: Online Journal of the Music Theory Society of the Mid-Atlantic: Vol. 6 : Issue 1 , Article 8.)

Maurice Ravel, Menuet sur le Nom d’Haydn, M. 58 (PDF)

On the 100th anniversary of Josef Haydn’s death in 1909, the Société Internationale de Musique offered a commission to six composers: Ravel, Debussy, d’Indy, Dukas, Hahn and Widor. They requested a piano piece using the letters of his name as notes of the theme with these pitches:

H = B (German) 
A = A 
Y = D 
D = D 
N = G

The piece that Ravel submitted is an example of his quasi-functional use of extended triads. It might be best analyzed harmonically by placing lead sheet symbols with upper extensions indicated over each chord to identify them.  Use your ear to discern tonal areas, thematic statements, and functional relationships that are implied.  In some places linear motion and sequencing of material create the harmonic flow, rather than progressions.

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