Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Analyses of individual works for Classical Guitar and general discussions on analysis. Normal forum copyright rules apply.
stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:27 am

Hello Everyone.

In some recent posts, other members have a expressed an interest in learning how to analyze music, fill in gaps in their theoretical knowledge, hone their analysis skills, or simply practice identifying chords and work on basic theory.

I'm going to take it upon myself to initiate this thread and if interest is sufficient, I'd be happy to continue in the same manner with additional analyses. I do this because I'm a theory nerd :-)

Anyone is free to participate, but I want to lay out a few disclaimers before we begin:

1. This is going to be aimed at people who are beginners at theory, but not necessarily beginners at Classical Guitar. If you are "more advanced" with regards to theory, please feel free to participate but please make an effort not to derail, sidetrack, or otherwise distract from the conversation - nothing confuses learners more than providing too much information too early on, in a pedagogically incoherent fashion.

2. With that in mind, I want to add that I'm going to start of SIMPLE! There may be things I say that could be fleshed out more, or have caveats or alternate interpretations. Bear with me - we'll get to those. But for beginners, it's important to restrict information to the basic points and again, maintain a pedagogically effective progression.

3. I'm going to use the type of analysis I studied as an undergraduate and graduate student, which, to my knowledge is fairly consistent in universities at least in the States. I have found in other English-speaking forums that sometimes terminology (say between American English and British English) differs as well as analysis techniques. I'm going to explain as I go so everyone can learn together.

4. Mods, if there is a problem with this, please, by all means step in before I get too far! I'd be happy to do it in a more organized fashion but for now I'm just going to treat this as a thread I've started and maintained.

Preface

Music is an art form. It changes, it evolves, it is influenced, and influences. As a result, over the course of musical history, musical styles are not necessarily consistent. The way a piece by Palestrina was written differs greatly from the way a piece by Stockhausen was written. As a result, it can be difficult to find elements that one can identify and discuss that are common.

However, one period of history saw music get to a point where it was fairly consistent stylistically for roughly 200 years. We call this era the Common Practice Period. The Common Practice Period (CPP hereafter) encompasses the Baroque, Classical, and Romantic Periods, roughly 1650-1850. For that 200 years, composers essentially used the same tools and methods and wrote music in a fairly consistent and predictable style.

For this reason, the CPP has become the most widely studied time period since the works written during this "common practice" time frame make it so much easier to come up with concepts and terminology that describe the music. Because of this, it is also the era most frequently taught in theory courses, especially at the university level. Coupled with the fact that music from this time period is often the most frequently performed and recorded, it only reinforces the need for a "common language" to discuss this stylistic period often regarded as a high point of human expression (not the only one in my opinion though!).

Why Do We Analyze Music?


Music Theory really has 3 primary applications:

1. The development of terminology and concepts to describe what's happening in the music to allow for a comparative analysis.

2. The analysis of music, which is used to see how pieces adhere to or diverge from the element of a style.

3. To better understand the style, and the thought process of composers, so we can more accurately perform pieces from this era. This also allows us to emulate their style should we choose to write music similarly, and it can inspire us to create new styles based on the cumulative practices, knowledge, and experiences of the past.

So really, we analyze music first and foremost simply to describe it. Once we had analyzed enough pieces, we realized that pieces of the CPP nearly all were very consistent in the way they were composed, on many different levels. This helps us define a "style". Analysis of any piece will tell us if that piece adheres to the elements of the style, or diverges from them. If the latter, we look and see if there are reasons, if this is the development of a new style, how much it is similar or differs, and so on. But it also allows us to discover things about music: trends, micro-trends, clichés, individual composers' peculiarities, idiomatic elements for particular types of pieces or pieces written for specific instruments, and so on.

Thus, analysis is more than "naming chords". It is intended to go way beyond that. However, it's not also really designed to tell us "why a composer chose what they did" - a question that often can't be answered with first hand knowledge. Instead, it's designed to tell us what they did, and to be able to compare it to the work of other composers.

In the next post, I'm going to offer up a piece and guide everyone through the analysis. I'm going to break this up into more digestible, smaller posts initially.

Thanks,
Steve
Last edited by stevel on Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 12:48 am

I'd like to begin our first analysis with Carulli's Prleude #7 from his Opus 114, which can be found in Delcamp D04 on page 49 [if I don't have the lastest edition if someone can correct please do].

The reason I'm selecting this piece is that it is in fact a Common Practice Period work and it should be playable by that majority of the forumites here, at least enough to get through and hear the sounds. By the way, it's very important that you PLAY or LISTEN TO the music you're going to analyze!

I'm going to assume a basic theoretical knowledge here - everyone should know how to read notes and figure out chords. If not, you need to learn that first, and there are many websites that can help with that.

Ok, let's begin.

Our first step is to identify the Key.

Music of the CPP is also called "Tonal" music. That means, it has a "tonal center" and it is "in a Key". One of the reasons analysts have paid special attention to the music of the Tonal Era is because this concept of "key" is such an interesting development in the evolution of music because it's something that goes beyond just the notes you hear/play.

So what Key is this in?

Mistake #1:

The first mistake many beginners make is they've only learned their Key Signatures for the Major Keys.

Important Fact #1:


Every Key Signature can represent TWO possible keys.

Mistake #2:

The Key Signature tells you the Key.

Important Fact #2:

No. It's the MUSIC that tells you the Key!!!!

If you are looking at the 2nd page of a piece, it might have one Key Signature, but the music may have modulated to a different Key! This means not only can a Key Signature represent one of two possible Keys, but the music may even be in a Key contrary to the Key Signature at various points in the piece!

So, let's at least try and determine what Key this piece is in.

Important Fact #3:


Tonal music is in one primary or "main" tonality - one main Key. It may modulate to other Keys and spend lots of time there (or even a majority of the time there) but we still say it's in the Primary Key (first key established) when we analyze it. Virtually all CPP music, with rare and rather specific exceptions, begins ends in the Primary Key. The final chord is almost certainly going to be the Tonic Chord in the Primary Key. It may also begin on the Tonic Chord but it doesn't have to.

Therefore, the best way to determine the Key is to:

1. Look at the Key Signature.
2. Determine which Major, and which Minor Key this signature could represent.
3. Look at the final chord and see if it agrees with either of those possibilities.
4. Look at the initial chord and see if it agrees. If it doesn't, that's OK, but if you think it's E Major, and the first chord is E, and the last chord is E, there's a 100% chance that it's in the Key of E Major!

With this piece, the Key Signature is "no Sharps or Flats".

Which keys could that be?

C Major or A Minor.

If it's the former, does it end and even begin with a C chord?

No, it doesn't.

It ends with, and even begins with, and A Minor chord.

Given a Key Signature of A Minor, with an A Minor final chord and an A Minor initial chord, it's a pretty darn sure safe bet that this piece is in the Key of A Minor.

Carulli's Prelude #7 from Op. 114 is in the Key of A Minor.

Good, step 1 complete.

In the next post, next step.
Last edited by stevel on Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:14 am

In the previous post we determined that the Key is A Minor.

We also discussed that the initial chord is an A Minor chord.

I also said this is the kind of stuff you should know to analyze music in this manner. However, I'm going to expand on some things people may not have learned yet, or may have forgotten.

1. This chord is an Arpeggio, which means all of the notes of the chord don't happen at the same time but are played in succession in musical time. On guitar, most of us are going to form a chord shape with our fretting hand, holding down all of the necessary strings, and play the notes in succession as indicated. But, we're going to typically allow all the notes to ring. So when you play the first bass note, by the time you get to the 3rd or 4th note in the arpeggio, you have sounding all of the notes necessary to identify the chord aurally. But, even though we don't hear everything until a few notes in, when we are analyzing music we go in with the knowledge that these notes are intended to be heard/understood as belonging together - part of a single chord. So we call it whatever it is right at the beginning of the measure.

Important Fact #4:

Even if the notes of an Arpeggio are NOT all sounding simultaneously, we still understand that those notes are understood as being "part of the chord" so we analyze them (and hear them really) as such. Think of an Arpeggio as a way to take an otherwise static chord and give it "rhythmic pulsation" and "activity" as well as expanding it in time and sustaining the harmony for a longer period in a way that's more subtle than simply pounding away (or strumming) a entire chord repeatedly, which has a different musical effect.

For the purposes of analysis though, if you are having trouble figuring out what a chord is when it's broken up into an arpeggio, it can actually be quite helpful to simply "stack up the notes" in "block chord" format (a block chord is one where all the notes are played simultaneously). That way you can more easily see (and sometimes play and hear) what's going on.

2. In CPP music, there are only 2 "families" of chords used: Triads, and 7th chords. Triads are 3 note chords, and 7th chords (officially, "tetrads") are 4 note chords. These two families are the basic foundation of CPP music. You should know your Triad and 7th chord forms. If you don't you need to learn them. Some of that we'll do here, but really you need to know this before you get too far in, or you won't be able to get too far in!

Important Fact #5
(gee, I'll never remember the numbering of these as we go!):

There are only FOUR types of Triads: Major, Minor, Diminished, and Augmented (and that last one's actually comparatively rare) and FIVE types of 7th chords: Major 7, Dominant 7, Minor 7, Half-Diminished 7 and Fully-DIminished 7 used in CPP music.

Forget about 7#9, 6/9, mM7, 7+5, b9, #11, and all those other crazy Jazz chords. They didn't use them back then!

So you only have to know NINE types of chords (one of which is pretty rare).

How's that for a great deal!

3. When dealing with these chord forms, oh, what the heck:

Important Fact #6:


Duplicate notes do not affect what a chord is. If a chord contains the notes C, E and G, and then 2 other C notes, 5 other G notes, and 22 E notes, it doesn't change the fact that the only notes in the chord are a C, and E, and G.

When analyzing chords, simply remove any duplicates - they will not affect the name of the chord.


So let's look at our very first chord in Measure 1.

I've already told you it's an Am chord, but why?

Ok, if you list out all of the notes in the chord, you'll find, in order, A, A, C, E, C, A. It has 6 notes played, but there are only 3 unique notes, making it a Triad (thus, Major, Minor, Diminished, or Augmented).

A-C-E are the three unique notes, and that makes an Am (short for A Minor, notice lowercase "m") chord. Again, you need to understand this first so if you're not at this level yet, stop now and go back and learn your chord forms. Otherwise, continue.

As stated earlier, one point of analysis is comparative. What we discovered was, not only did a bunch of music in the CPP in the key of Am work the same way, but so did pieces in other keys as well. We did this by "neutering" the letter name of the Key and approaching the chords as NUMBERS instead. This allowed us to see patterns with numbers that we couldn't as easily see with the letters.

So, when analyzing, we use Roman Numerals to denote the chords in a Key.

We give the chord a numeral based on what scale degree it's built on; a chord built on the 3rd scale degree would get a "three" Roman Numeral.

If a chord is Major, we give it an Uppercase Roman Numeral, and if a chord is minor, we give it a lowercase roman numeral.

Our first chord here is an Am chord.

The Key is Am.

A is the first note of the Am scale, or "one".

A is the "Root" of the Am chord, or the note the chord is named for, "A".

Since "A=one" we would put a Roman Numeral "i" under the chord in the first measure (usually right under the first note).

So, so far, we've gotten the Key, and the Roman Numeral for the first chord.

Yay!

Continued in next post.
Last edited by stevel on Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:33 am

Carulli Prelude #7, Op. 114

Key: Am

m. 1: Am

Great. Let's go on. But I'm going to skip around a bit for pedagogical purposes.

We already know the first chord is A-C-E, which is an Am chord.

One of the reasons I chose this piece is because the chords are not only neatly laid out for you, one chord or two chords per measure, and the arpeggio pattern is consistent.

So what I want to do is scan through and work on chords in what I think will be a pedagogical manner for this one particular piece (ordinarily one simply begins at the beginning and works measure by measure for the most part).

Look at Measure 4.

What chord is that?

That's right, it too is an Am chord.

Can you see the similarities? It too consists of the notes A, C, and E, with some duplicates (which we remove for the purposes of analysis right?).

But there is something different about it. Do you see?

The first note is not an A, but a C.

Is this important? Analysts think so (and we'll get to why later).

The C being the first note isn't important, but it being the LOWEST sounding note is.

In our first chord in Measure 1, the A (the initial A) is the lowest sounding note.

But here, in Measure 4, it's the C that's the lowest sounding note.

Analysts have given a special name to chords depending on their lowest sounding note. This is called the "position".

A Chord may be in as many positions as it has notes, so a Triad, can be in 3 positions.

If the Root of the chord is the lowest sounding note, we say the chord is in Root Position.

If the 3rd of the chord (A-C-E, A is the Root, C is the 3rd, E is the 5th) is the lowest sounding note (in the bass for short) we say the chord is in First Inversion.

If the 5th of the chord is in the bass, we say it's in Second Inversion.

Important Fact #, er. oh well, it's an Important Fact, remember it!
:

Forget everything you ever learned about inversions. Don't worry about "moving the lowest note to the top" and all that crap. It actually makes no difference.

The only thing you need to know about the 3 positions is which note is in the bass (the lowest sounding note)
. It makes no difference how many upper notes there are and how they're distributed.

If the Root is in the Bass, it's in Root Position.
If the 3rd is in the Bass, it's in First Inversion.
If the 5th is in the Bass, it's in Second Inversion.


That's it. Walk away.

So our chord in m. 4 is an Am chord with a C in the bass.

In "pop" letter symbols, we write Am/C.

This X/Y notation means the "X" is the name of the chord and the "Y" is the bass note.

Side note, when a chord is in Root Position we don't write "Am/A" - the "/A" part is assume when we just put "Am". Or in other words, a letter by itself without a slash and other letter to the right of the slash is assumed to be in Root Position.

But remember, we're using Roman Numerals.

We know from before that an Am chord in the key of Am is in fact a "one" chord, or "i".

So you also put a lowercase roman numeral i under the first note of m. 4.

But, we need to indicate the position, in this case, First Inversion, because we feel that's important.

The symbol for a First Inversion TRIAD is a small superscript "6" (Arabic numeral 6) behind the letter.

Since I don't see a way to do superscript in this forum, In text, I'll write that as "i6".

If we had a Major III chord in First Inversion, it would be III6. If we were in Bb Major, and we came across a Bb chord with a D in the bass, we'd put I6 (capital numeral for major chord). If it was the Key of F Major, with a Bb chord with a D in the bass, what would we put?

So now we have m.1 and m. 4 complete.

m.1: i
m.2: ?
m. 3: ?
m. 4: i6

Continued in Next Post.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 1:51 am

Now, I want to look at Measure 6.

What chord is that?

Let's see, E, A, C, E, C, A.

It has an A, a C, and an E, with duplicates.

A-C-E.

That's another Am Triad, yes? Yes.

But as we discovered last post, we need to also look at the lowest sounding note to determine what position this chord is in.

So, I hope you've learned by now that we not only tell people what Roman Numeral the chord is, but also if it's Inverted or not.

What note is the lowest sounding note? Again, it's the first note of the measure (thank goodness for consistent composition!) and it's an E.

What is E in an Am chord?

It's the 5th.

So it's an Am/E

What did I tell you last post? If the 5th is in the bass, it's in Second Inversion.

So, like our AM in First Inversion in m.4 this one needs a symbol.

The symbol for a Second Inversion TRIAD (you should notice something here as I've emphasized that word twice in the same context) the symbol is a superscript 6 with a subscript 4 directly under, like:

6
4

Again in text, I have to write it a bit differently, so I'm going to put i6/4

So far:

m. 1: i
m. 2: ?
m. 3: ?
m. 4: i6
m. 5: ?
m. 6: i6/4

Hey there, wait a minute Steve, you left something out. You've told us the inversion symbols for First and Second Inversion, but you didn't tell us one for Root Position.

That's right, I didn't. That's because, if there's no inversion symbol, it's assumed that the chord is in Root Position, just like if there's no "/Y" (remember that from last post?) it's in Root Position. So, to recap:

Am = i - no "/Y" and no inversion symbol on the numeral means Root Position

Am/C = i6

Am/E = i6/4

(assuming the key of Am where Am=one)

Great Steve, but where do these inversion numerals come from? It's a long story, and annoying, but the Reader's Digest version is that if you have a chord with the 5th in the bass, the other two notes are a 6th and an 4th above the bass note:

C
A
E

Do you see how the C is a 6 above E and the A is a 4 above E?

So that's why a Second Inversion TRIAD (there it is again) is a "Six-Four".

(note, for the purposes of this calculation, they reduced the notes to be the smallest distance from the bass note to name them).

A
E
C

That's Am/C right? So see how the E is 3 above the C and the the A is 6. So this one is really a "Six-Three" but they dropped the three part a long time ago and it became assumed. So we just put only a "6". In some contexts, these chords are still called "Sixth" chords.

E
C
A

This is an Am in Root Position. It's a "five-three" (do you see why?). But, again, we just dropped the numerals and they were assumed. Just as apoint of historical curiosity though, a long time ago they called these "Fifth Chords". We don't do that anymore. We just call them "Chord" or more specifically, "Triad", or in this case, even more specifically "Root Position Triad".

So we've kind of dropped the ordinal names for triads, but we do still use the concept with "Seventh" chords!

Final note on these symbols - don't get I6, or IV6, etc. confused with the Jazz chord, where you'd put C6 or Bb6 - those are Triads with an added 6th scale degree, such as C-E-G-A or Bb-D-F-G. Not the same thing as the inversional symbol, which only goes with the Roman Numeral, not the letter (or at least, should).

Let's do another!

Continues in Next Post.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:08 am

Well, we've skipped around a bit, but we've identified the Key as Am, and we've identified three Am chords, in measures 1, 4 and 6 respectively. We've also learned that each of those three Am chords are in a different position, Root Position, First Inversion, and Second Inversion respectively. We've also learned the symbols for each of those positions; nothing for root position, a superscript 6 for 1st inv and a "stacked" 6/4 for 2nd inv.

We've also learned the Roman Numeral for the first chord of the key, in this case a lowercase Roman Numeral "one" or "i".

So let's try a different chord armed with this knowledge.

Let's look at Measure 2.

What notes do we have?

B - G# - B - E - B - G#

Remember our analysis symbols tell us three things: what number the chord is in the key, what the "quality" is (Major, Minor, etc.) and if it's inverted or not.

So what chord is this? Without duplicates, and in "every other note" order, it's:

E-G#-B

That's an E Major Chord. Another Triad.

The Root is E.

What scale degree is that in Am?

A-B-C-D-E - 1-2-3-4-5

it's 5.

It's a Major Triad built on Scale Degree "five", so it gets an UPPERCASE Roman Numeral "five", or "V".

But we're only halfway done. We also need to denote if it's inverted or not.

Is in E in the bass? If so it would be in Root Position and no further symbol is necessary. But is it?

No.

So it's inverted.

Which chord member is in the bass?

It's the B, which is the 5th of the chord. When the 5th is in the bass, the chord is in Second Inversion, and the symbol for that is "6/4"

So this is:

V6/4.

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: ?
m. 4: i6
m. 5: ?
m. 6: i6/4

Got it? Good.

Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold your horses there Steve. You didn't say anything about that Sharp note there.

I know for a fact that the Key Signature has no sharps or flats. I know Am has no sharps of flats, and the notes of the scale are A-B-C-D-E-F-G.

Doesn't this G# mean we've gone out of the Key?

No.

Myth # whatever:

An accidental comes from outside of the key, or means the chord is from another key.

Not necessarily.

VERY Important Fact:


In minor keys, composers used a raised 7th scale degree in what we call "Chords of Dominant Function" which are the "five" and "seven" chords. This creates what we call a "Leading Tone" that has a tendency to resolve to the Tonic note (or "one") just like in Major Keys (an element that the minor keys lack). This causes a sense of urgency in these chords and a "need to resolve". There's a long story behind this, but just accept the following:

In Minor Keys, V, not v.

In other words, the V chord in a Minor Key will carry an Accidental, and that note is the 3rd of the V chord, and the Leading Tone (raised scale degree 7), which turns the chord that would ordinarily be a minor triad into a Major Triad.

So in Am, scale degree 7 (G) is raised (to G#) to make the v chord into a V chord. Em become an E Major Triad instead.

This is one of the defining characteristics of Tonal Music and the CPP. In fact, it's so common that the ASSUMED STATE of the "five" chord in Minor Keys is a MAJOR CHORD. And it will have an accidental (this, by the way is a trick you can use to tell if a key is Major or Minor when looking at the Key Signature initially - more on this later).

Let's go on, shall we.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:27 am

Okay, let's look at the next measure. Measure 3.

Look at the notes. They're the same as m. 2 but with a different bass note.

D-G#-B-E

Hmm, that's FOUR different notes. I'm not sure if I'm ready for that. Ok. No worries. Let's skip it. We'll come back to it.

Let's see if we can find some more triads (in case you didn't get that, that's a hint for you to go ahead and go through the entire piece and write out the note content of each chord and at least determine if they're Triads or "tetrads" - 7th chords if you haven't already done so).

How about Measure 5?

Notes?

D-A-D-F-D-A - without duplicates:

D-F-A

What's that?

That's a Dm chord.

What number is D in the key of Am? It's 4. That's "iv" (lowercase for minor).

Is it inverted? Nope, the root is in the bass, so no inversion symbol necessary.

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: ?
m. 4: i6
m. 5: iv
m. 6: i6/4

Wasn't that easy? Use this same process every time.

What about m.7?

E-G#-B

That's another V - in root position no less:

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: ?
m. 4: i6
m. 5: ?
m. 6: i6/4
m. 7: V

We're cooking with gas now. What's next?

m.8. Dude, that's just like the first chord. That's another Am. Sweet.

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: ?
m. 4: i6
m. 5: ?
m. 6: i6/4
m. 7: V
m. 8: i

m. 9 Holy crap, that's got a SHARP AND A FLAT in it. What do you think I am, a Rocket Scientist?

Ok, skip it for now. Let's move on.

(side note, remember a couple of posts back I said normally you work in order? Often, when you encounter a chord like this with new accidentals, it signals a possible move to a new key. When that happens, we analyze in the new key, not the original key, so you have to know it changed. One of the reasons I selected this piece was because it doesn't change key so we could jump around more easily. So don't always jump around, OK.)

Measure 10: D-F-A with F in the bass - Dm/F

That's iv6:

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: ?
m. 4: i6
m. 5: ?
m. 6: i6/4
m. 7: V
m. 8: i
m. 9: AHHHHHH!!!!!!
m. 10: iv6
m. 11: 4 notes, let's skip it for now.
m. 12: III
m. 13: 4 notes, skip it.
m. 14: i
m. 15: AHHHHHHHH!!!!, oh wait, that's actually got the same notes as that other one, hmmm...
m. 16: iv6
m. 17: 4 notes, skip it (but gee, seems like the same 4 notes as some of the other ones)

Hold on there Steve, you just did a whole bunch right there in a row, even not counting the ones you skipped.

Ok, come on, you can do this now can't you? I shouldn't have to explain every single one should I?

So, moving on.

m. 18 has TWO chords in the measure. Doesn't matter. Put your Roman Numeral for the first chord under its 1st note (the A) and the one for the 2nd chord under its 1st note (the D).

m. 18: i - iv
m. 19: i6/4 - ?
m. 20: i6 - iv
m. 21: i6/4 - ?
m. 22: i

Wow. We've nearly got most of the piece except for the 4 note chords (and our one wacky chord that appears twice is also a 4 note chord).

So, 4 note chords, they're 7ths. Let's go back and work on those now.

Next Post.
Last edited by stevel on Sat Aug 08, 2015 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:46 am

All right. We need to get our 4 note chords.

Those are 7th chords.

Let's look at the first one. Measure 3.

D-G#-B-E (dupes removed).

You need to put them in "every other note" (or what we call Tertian) order:

E-G#-B-D

You already know from m. 2 that E-G#-B is a V chord no?

You should know your types of 7th chords.

This is a "Dominant 7" chord. It's called this because in Major Keys, and in Minor Keys with scale degree 7 raised, scale degree 5 is called the "Dominant" and so is the chord built on this scale degree. V in Major, and V in Minor is the "Dominant" or "Dominant Triad" or Dominant Chord. The 7th chord built on this scale degree is also called the Dominant 7th chord.

However, Important Fact:


Dominant not only refers to scale degree 5 and chords built on it, but the STRUCTURE of a chord built on that scale degree (which, with the Leading Tone used in Minor, is the same structure for both Major and Minor keys).

We just append a "7" (superscript again) to Dominant 7th.

In letter form, E7.

In this case, D in the bass, so E7/D

Wait, I know there were inversion symbols for Triads. Are there ones for 7th chords?

You betcha!

And sorry to say, they're different.

Here it is though:

7 = Root Position 7th chord.
6/5 = 1st inversion 7th (3rd in the bass)
4/3 = 2nd inv. 7 (5th in bass)
4/2 = 3rd inv 7 (7th in bass).

Notice there's one more possible inversion because now we have 4 notes and the 7th that the triad lacks can now be in the bass.

What does our E7 have in the bass? It's a D, which is the 7th of the chord, so it's

V4/2

(we don't write V7 4/2, that would be redundant).

So to recap:

E = nothing, assumed to be triad in root position
E/G# = 6
E/B = 6/4

E7 = 7th chord in root position
E7/G# = 6/5
E7/B = 4/3
E7/D = 4/2

Memory Device:


In the old days, people used to use just "2" for the 3rd inversion because it was unique (and some texts still do) so students would memorize the inversions for 7ths like:

7 - 6/5 - 4/3 - 2

descending numerical order.

See if you can figure out how they got the names for the inversions knowing what you learned about the history of the triad inversion symbols.

m.3: V4/2

VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT FACT:

A lot of what Tonal music is about is the "driving towards the goal of the tonic". This is partly achieved by "tension and release" which is created by dissonance and the need for resolution.

A 7th chord is considered a dissonant structure and MUST RESOLVE (exceptions are rare and specific). The interval of the 7th itself is a dissonance.

Through historical evolution, the resolution of the dissonant 7th was DOWN to the next scale degree.

Chordal 7ths MUST RESOLVE DOWN!


Again, exceptions are rare and specific (we categorize them differently).

So when you encounter a 7th chord, or one you think is a 7th chord, look at the 7th and see if it resolves down. If it does, you're probably pretty safe with your decision. If it doesn't, it may not be a 7th chord, or you may have the wrong name for it.

Let's check ours here.

This is a V7 in 3rd inversion, meaning the 7th, D in this case, is in the bass.

Does the D resolve downward to a C as it should?

Yes, it absolutely does.

Once you notice this, you'll start realizing that this happens pretty much like clockwork in CPP pieces. Don't forget it.

m. 3: V4/2

Now, in the next post, let's see if we can find other 4 note chords, especially any more E-G#-B-D combinations because we already know what that chord is.

Next

2handband
Posts: 908
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Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby 2handband » Fri Aug 07, 2015 2:59 am

Hey Steve, I've just skimmed it so far but I think you're doing a cool thing here. One thing you said that I would take issue with: that a key signature can represent two possible keys. It can actually represent 7.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:03 am

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: V4/2
m. 4: i6
m. 5: iv
m. 6: i6/4
m. 7: V
m. 8: i
m. 9: AHHHHHH!!!!!!
m. 10: iv6
m. 11: 4 notes, let's skip it for now.
m. 12: III
m. 13: V4/3
m. 14: i
m. 15: AHHHHHHHH!!!!, oh wait, that's actually got the same notes as that other one, hmmm...
m. 16: iv6
m. 17: V
m. 18: i - iv
m. 19: i6/4 - V4/2
m. 20 : i6 - iv
m. 21: i6/4 - V7
m. 22: i

You'll notice the boldfaced ones are the E7 chords in various inversions.

Note, before, I said the 7th must resolve down. Don't forget these are Arpeggiandi. If the first E4/2 was presented as a block chord, and the following i6 were too, you could easily see the bass move directly down from the D in the E7 chord the C in the Am chord as it should. This happens again later in the piece.

Just because the bass move from D to C happens from beat to beat, with a bunch of intervening notes, we don't care - we treat it as if it were block chords and it went directly there, and it's in the "same voice" which even though this is not a multi-voice ensemble and a single instrument, we still consider this lowest note that begins each arp to be "the bass voice" and thus they are all connected horizontally as "one line" (and actually, to some extent, a "melody").

However, a caveat here: On guitar, it's not always possible to do the same kind of voicings we could on piano, or if 4 different instrumentalists were playing. So sometimes a 7th will have to resolve "aurally" instead of "in the same voice. This actually even true on other instruments and other instrumental combinations. We call this a "transferred" resolution. We still hear the note go down, it's just in a different voice, as if a Flute played the D and a Clarinet played the C. Or a Soprano sings a D and the Alto sings the C. Or if the D is on your B string and the C is on the G string.

In fact, this resolution is so powerful (and expected) that we accept it even it it's transferred by octave. So sometimes you'll even see the 7th up high, but the resolution down an octave or two or vice versa. But even with that kind of displacement, we still understand that the 7th is resolving down. The more extreme resolutions are rarer of course.

So see if you can look at each of the E7 chords and find the D (the 7th) and see if it resolves directly down to a C, or, if it doesn't, is there a C in the general neighborhood it could be understood as descending to.

Another factor I haven't yet mentioned in terms of resolution (though I briefly touched on it) is the resolution of the Leading Tone.

It's actually part of the V7 chord. It resolves up. In this key, it's G#.

Look at the G#s in all the E and E7 chords. Can you see them go directly up, or again, if not, pretty darn close so they sound like it?

You're going to start going "holy crap, there it goes again"!

Next.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:05 am

2handband wrote:Hey Steve, I've just skimmed it so far but I think you're doing a cool thing here. One thing you said that I would take issue with: that a key signature can represent two possible keys. It can actually represent 7.


Dude, I told you not to do this :-)

Key Signatures can only represent one of 2 Keys.

Especially in CPP music, which is what I'm discussing.

They can represent one of 7 MODES, but that's something different and outside of the scope of this discussion.

Peace,
Steve

2handband
Posts: 908
Joined: Wed Jul 01, 2015 7:31 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby 2handband » Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:30 am

stevel wrote:
2handband wrote:Hey Steve, I've just skimmed it so far but I think you're doing a cool thing here. One thing you said that I would take issue with: that a key signature can represent two possible keys. It can actually represent 7.


Dude, I told you not to do this :-)

Key Signatures can only represent one of 2 Keys.

Especially in CPP music, which is what I'm discussing.

They can represent one of 7 MODES, but that's something different and outside of the scope of this discussion.

Peace,
Steve


Sorry if I spoke out of turn, but I disagree. It is indeed to early to discuss modalism in detail, but it's important to make it clear from the outset that a single sharp (for instance) does not necessarily mean G or Em. That way lies confusion. Overall I think what you have here is great.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:37 am

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: V4/2
m. 4: i6
m. 5: iv
m. 6: i6/4
m. 7: V
m. 8: i
m. 9: AHHHHHH!!!!!!
m. 10: iv6
m. 11: 4 notes, let's skip it for now.
m. 12: III
m. 13: V4/3
m. 14: i
m. 15: AHHHHHHHH!!!!, oh wait, that's actually got the same notes as that other one, hmmm...
m. 16: iv6
m. 17: V
m. 18: i - iv
m. 19: i6/4 - V4/2
m. 20 : i6 - iv
m. 21: i6/4 - V7
m. 22: i

Measure 11 in red, let's tackle this.

It's 4 notes.

G-B-D-F with D in the bass.

G7/D

Now, this is slightly tricky, which is why I held it off so long.

What is G in Am? 7 right?

But, here's the deal: the default state of 7 in *dominant function* chords is considered to be raised 7, which in our example key of Am is a G#.

But this is a G Natural here.

It is "seven" but ordinarily a chord built on 7 in minor would be built on the raised note. However, because it's so common, we don't denote the raised note.

Instead, it's when the lowered note is used we use a special notation:

bVII

In the Key of Am, G-B-D, the triad on scale degree 7 (unraised) is a Major Triad, so uppercase Roman Numeral.

VII

But, because we want to indicate we mean the natural 7 and not the raised 7, we put "flat seven". The "flat" here does not mean it's actually got a flat sign on it, but it's been lowered 1 half step from it's normal state.

So G#-B-D would be called viio (seven diminished - the "o" would be superscript)

and G-B-D is bVII

now, there's some inconsistency here and different schools.

I used the "uppercase/lowecase" Roman Numeral System where UC means Major (and Augmented) and LC means minor (and diminished).

Some schools use only Uppercase and assume you know, for example, that "I" or "IV" in a Minor key is a minor chord. I used "i" and "iv" instead.

The reason many schools adopted the UC/LC system was one of practicality - an instructor can immediately look at a paper and understand if the student not only can figure out the number, but whether the chord is Major or minor as well. With the other system all an instructor could do would be to assume the student knew if it was major or minor, which could cause them problems down the road if they didn't actually know.

Even so, some people still just put VII when they mean "bVII".

I prefer the "b" notation to make it absolutely clear we're talking about something build on the 7th scale degree lowered (it has purposes in modal music too hence the preference, but we're not talking about that).

So, in Am, G-B-D is "bVII" for the purposes of instruction here.

G-B-D-F is "bVII7".

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: V4/2
m. 4: i6
m. 5: iv
m. 6: i6/4
m. 7: V
m. 8: i
m. 9: AHHHHHH!!!!!!
m. 10: iv6
m. 11: bVII7 (it's a 4/3 inversion, but see below)
m. 12: III

Now, this is OK, but it brings up a wonderful opportunity to talk about something else.

In music, not all of the chords necessarily come from the Key.

In this piece, thus far, most all of the chords we've identified have come from the key, mostly i, iv, and V(7).

BTW, that's kind of important. Store it in your long term memory.

The only other chord we've identified is the III in m. 12.

This last chord, the bVII7 - well, I told you it's kind of tricky. It sort of is the bVII7, but it's acting like something else.

Think about the key of C Major for a second (which our Key Signature could also represent by the way).

In C Major, a C chord would be "I" yes?

What would a G7 chord be?

It would be a V7 chord.

Look at the 3nd to last chord in this piece. What is it? A V7.

Look most of the Am chords, or "i" chords in this piece. What's before them? Very often, a V7 of some sort.

I've already discussed the resolution of the 7th in a 7th chord, and the resolution of the Leading Tone within the V7 chord to lead to the Tonic. I've hinted at the dissonance and resolution being the, well, epitome of Tonal music.

Important Fact above all other important facts:

The Resolution of V7 to I (or i) is one of the most important defining characteristics of Tonal Music. There are others, but this one is a major (no pun intended) deal.

So back to something I said before:

We change the 7th note in minor to the Leading Tone to give it exactly this characteristic. The V (or V7) to i resolution. This already happens in Major Keys as V(7) to I. But in minor we have to raise the 7th note to make it work.

The reason is, if we don't, the minor key has a tendency to "drift" towards the major key. Think about it. If we're in Am, and we use a G (or G7) to C progression (bVII to III) it going to sound EXACTLY LIKE THE DEFINING RESOLUTION IN THE WRONG KEY!

It's going to sound like we're in C Major, not A minor.

So to curtail this tendency, we change our "v" and "VII" in minor into "V" and "viio".

So this use of the "bVII" as I'm calling it is NOT meant to lead to the Tonic chord of Am. In fact, it doesn't.

But it is a 7th chord, and it needs to resolve. Quick, what's the 7th of G7? It's an F. Down by step would be E - does it go there? Does the chord it goes to contain an E?

Yes it does.

So this bVII to III chord is actually "pretending to be" a V7 to I in the key of C Major.

Does this screw up our Am key? No, not really. If it kept on going with chords out of the key it could possibly disrupt our hearing Am as the Tonic. But right after the C chord we get an E7 that goes right back to Am so we're cool.

This is like a "momentary aside" to another key. A "hint" at another key. Not enough to make us hear the C as Tonic and not the Am - not a Modulation or Key Change.

But it does kind of temporarily *treat* the C chord *as if it was* the Tonic for a moment.

So we call this a "Tonicization".

Fancy, hard to pronounce word that spell check doesn't like.

But what it means is, we use the V7 chord of some chord other than "one" to temporarily emphasize that chord (theorists use the word "intensify" a lot).

Since this C chord is not the Primary Tonic (which is Am), but is pretending to be for a second, it's like it's a "Secondary Tonic". But we don't call it that because really, it's not the C Chord's fault!

It's that Pesky G7 that's making the C sound like a Tonic for a split second.

That G7 is the DOMINANT in the key of C. DO you get that?

Our PRIMARY Dominant is the E7 in the key of Am.

So we call this G7 a "Secondary Dominant". It's the Dominant from a Secondary Key - some key other than the Primary Key.

In this case, it's the Dominant Chord - a V chord, from the key of C, which is III in Am.

So we call this "V7/III" or "five-seven of three" (sounds like a star trek character).

And where should the V7 of a key go? To it's "I" of course.

So this G7 to C progression is like V7 of the key of the III chord moving to the I of the III chord, which we could notate as:

V7/III - I/III

But I/III was a little redundant so they just put:

V7/III - III

And where would a "five seven of three" go? To "three" of course.

Does it here?

You betcha.

So rather than the "bVII - III" analysis (which is acceptable for many purposes), I'm going to use the V7/III to III analysis (which is also valid) becuase it also sets us up for our last two chords.

m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: V4/2
m. 4: i6
m. 5: iv
m. 6: i6/4
m. 7: V
m. 8: i
m. 9: AHHHHHH!!!!!!
m. 10: iv6
m. 11: V4/3 of III
m. 12: III

m. 13: V4/3
m. 14: i
m. 15: AHHHHHHHH!!!!, oh wait, that's actually got the same notes as that other one, hmmm...
m. 16: iv6
m. 17: V
m. 18: i - iv
m. 19: i6/4 - V4/2
m. 20 : i6 - iv
m. 21: i6/4 - V7
m. 22: i
Last edited by stevel on Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:07 am, edited 2 times in total.

stevel
Posts: 527
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:15 pm

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:57 am

Ok, only the "AHHHH!!!!!" chords left.

C#-E-G-Bb

Important Fact:

You may have learned Enharmonic. You may look at a C# and go, hey that's a Db. Or you may look at a Bb and go, hey that's an A#.

Don't!!!!!!!

For Analysis, you need to forget you ever learned Enharmonics! They do come into play later, but for now, at the beginning, don't look at a note like E# and go "oh, that's F". It's E# and it must be for our purposes. More on this when we get to it.

Ok, C#-E-G-Bb

This is a Fully-Diminshed 7th chord.

C#o7.

Great. What number is C# in Am?

Well, err, it's not in Am, which has a C.

Wait, Steve is this like the scale degree 7 thing where it appears in two states, one more commonly than the other, and this just happens to be the rarer state like the "bVII" example? IS this, by chance "#iiio"?

Sorry, no.

Look at what chord it goes to, both times.

It's a Dm, isn't it?

This C#-E-G-Bb chord is not from Am is it? No.

Could it be, like our G7 that "comes from a secondary key"?

The G7 came from the key it went to - C.

Can C#-E-G-Bb come from the chord it goes to, a Dm?

Well, let's see - the key signature for Dm is 1 flat, Bb.

D-E-F-G-A-Bb-C

It's got E-G-and Bb those notes all come from Dm.

But C#...that's not in Dm.

Or is it?

What number is C in Dm? It's 7, isn't it?

If you were in Dm, you could expect chords containing 7, especially if those chords are V(7) or viio(7) to contain the RAISED 7, or, C#.

C#-E-G-Bb.

That is, my friends, viio7 in Dm.

But, what is is in Am?

Dm is the iv chord, so this is "viio7/iv"

"seven-diminished-seven-of-four" Don't remember that star trek character.

BTW, we don't always say "fully" diminished - it's assumed unless you've also been talking about half-diminished recently and you need to clarify.

There are two main types of Secondary chords: The Secondary Dominant (which our G7 was) and the Secondary Leading-Tone Chord (which our C#o7) chord is.

Doubt me?

In Dm, where would C# resolve? D right. Does it?
In a C#o7 chord, the 7th is Bb. Where it resolve? A right. Does it?
C#o7 is viio7 in Dm, which should resolve to a i chord. Does our C#o7 resolve to Dm here?

It's just that we're not in Dm.

Dm is being Tonicized again. It's a "nod to the key of Dm" but not a "change to the key of Dm". The C#o7 is a Secondary Leading Tone chord

Bonus points - what would the Primary Leading Tone chord in Am be?


m. 1: i
m. 2: V6/4
m. 3: V4/2
m. 4: i6
m. 5: iv
m. 6: i6/4
m. 7: V
m. 8: i
m. 9: viio4/3 of iv
m. 10: iv6

m. 11: V4/3 of III
m. 12: III
m. 13: V4/3
m. 14: i
m. 15: viio6/5 of iv
m. 16: iv6

m. 17: V
m. 18: i - iv
m. 19: i6/4 - V4/2
m. 20 : i6 - iv
m. 21: i6/4 - V7
m. 22: i

That's it. We're done with the chordal analysis.

There are more types of analysis one can do, but with such a simple piece it's not really the type of piece to work on those things. I felt this would be a great one to start with because it introduced some concepts that might note be as familiar to some in the framework of an otherwise simple layout many people wouldn't have too much trouble with.

If you like this, we can do some more together, but I'm not going to do it all for you next time. I'm going to set you on your course and see what you come back with.

The more you do, the more you learn.

But I want these concepts of figuring out the key, identifying whether the chord is a triad or 7th, then naming it, figuring the inversion, and then figuring if it's a primary chord to the key or secondary, as well as the concepts of resolution and how tonality overall works.

And again, I want to warn that right now, I'm talking only about CPP music becuase the "common practice" means it has a "standardized" language which makes things easier to learn and assimilate. It's easy to expand on those concepts later, but for right now, I'm sticking to the KISS mentality.

Learn your Inversion Symbols!

Peace,
Steve

RustyFingers

Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Postby RustyFingers » Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:39 am

Nice work.

I'd add a couple of things to your list of why we do musical analysis:
Musical analysis of pieces you're learning aids memorisation and recall.
Musical analysis in general aids sight reading and playing at sight.

And to the list of how to determine key I'd add:
Look at the date the piece was written. (The piece might not be tonal).
Look for the sharpened 7th of the minor key.
Look at the opening chord progression. I V I usually establishes key in tonal music.


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