Gcse music prelude

Structure Ternary form with a shortened final section that includes a coda/codetta (ABA1). The long B section is contrasted by a shift to the tonic minor key, narrow-range bass motifs and greater variety of dynamics, while the coda introduces a new but short melodic idea. All sections are united by persistent dominant pedals in quaver rhythm.

Melody and rhythm In the A sections, the steady left hand quavers support a lyrical/cantabile right hand melody that includes dotted rhythms, gentle syncopation, occasional chromaticism and ornamentation (grace notes, turns, septuplets etc). The first A section begins and ends with four bar phrases which are repeated with only small variations. Much of the B section is also based on four eight bar phrases, some of which are repeated, but here the melody has a narrow range and consists mainly of crotchets and longer notes in the bass, while the quaver pedal transfers to the top part. The new melody in the coda starts unaccompanied and then moves to an inner part before the final cadence.

Tonality It is in Db major. Chopin begins by defining the key with imperfect and perfect cadences and a dominant pedal. He then briefly visits related keys (dominant and relative minor) before modulating back to the tonic. The first A section ends with an imperfect cadence which prepares the way for the middle section. The middle section starts in the t9onic minor, enharmonically notated as C# minor. The two loudest parts of this section hint at E major (relative major of C# minor), but this key is not confirmed by cadences, and C# minor is soon reasserted. The section then ends with an imperfect cadence in C# minor, followed by another enharmonic modulation to restore the key of Db major for the final section. The music then remains in this key, despite some chromatic notes, until the end.

Texture Entirely homophonic, except for two monophonic bars at the start of the coda. In the A sections, the texture consists of a tune and accompaniment (‘ melody dominated homophony) and is often quite thin, with mainly two note chords above the repeated pedal note to support the right handed melody. The middle section has a more chordal texture.

At the start of this section, the repeated pedal note is inverted (in the top or right hand part) while the4 melody and bass are both low in the left hand. In the loud sections the texture is thickened by octave doubling in both hands, often resulting in six notes sounding simultaneously, and the pedal moves to an inner part within the texture.

Use of Piano Chopin uses only the middle range of the piano in the A sections, but he exploits the sonorous bass register in the central section of the work (the uppermost register is not used at all). Although there are some florid ornaments in the melody, the work doesn’t require the type of virtuoso technique needed for some of the piano music of the period. Instead, there is a concentration on the pianist’s ability to produce legato/cantabile tone and, in the middle section, a wide dynamic range (including careful grading of the dynamic level when a crescendo or diminuendo is marked). Set against this are the repeated pedal notes that articulate the rhythm. Reinforcement of the tone with octave doubling occurs in the middle section, and the resonant quality of the piano is brought out by the frequent requirement to use the sustaining (not loud) pedal.