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

Post by 2handband » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:22 am

RustyFingers wrote: 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.
There are so many possibilities that I don't think you can reasonably determine key just looking at a score unless you are very experienced; that was the point of my post above. Ears are better; simply listen to determine where the music sounds at rest. That's the tonic.

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

Post by RoryJohn » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:27 am

Really great work Steve - fair play to you! :bravo:
The horse, he kept running; the rider was bread.

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

Post by johnhall » Fri Aug 07, 2015 3:53 pm

OK, Steve gets an "A" on his analysis but I am afraid Carulli gets a "B" on his composition.

If we consider this piece to have a four-voice texture and we examine the voice-leading, we notice that there are parallel octaves between the bass and alto (C-D) in measure four into measure five.

I asked myself what would Sor do? By simply changing the "D" (alto) in measure five to a "B" Carulli would have avoided the parallel octaves and actually improved the harmony in my opinion.

The new harmony that results in measure five is a Bm7b5 (or B half-diminished seventh if you prefer) in first inversion. This would now be labeled as a ii chord in the key of A minor.

Sor often uses this harmony, especially at cadences, as a substitute for the iv chord. Interestingly this creates a ii-V-i cadence rather than a iv-V-i which is preferred and often cited in jazz harmony.

At least objective examples like this are one way of comparing the skill and craftsmanship of two composers. Most of us would agree that Sor was the "better" composer.

John
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tom2977
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Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Post by tom2977 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 4:16 pm

I just want to thank you for taking the time to do this - i'd really appreciate you carrying on taking us through this and encourage you to continue. Yes, please others, bring in the more complex stuff gradually and don't allow it to become too confusing or let it it get bogged down.

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

Post by stevel » Fri Aug 07, 2015 5:42 pm

johnhall wrote: Most of us would agree that Sor was the "better" composer.
Well, I'd agree with that.

In Carulli's defense however, parallel intervals in arpeggiated textures are not uncommon. Composers allowed themselves some wiggle room when the notes are spread out in time where the ear might not be able to trace the lines as easily.

And remember what I said in my posts for the analysis - it is guitar music. There are idiomatic things we do or even must do that create the need for some concessions. Most of us would agree that the "Am Shape" to "Dm Shape" move in the measures in question (even with the C on the bottom of the Am chord) is a quite common one and one of the most "basic" moves.

So we don't "fault" composers writing parallels or taking other liberties - especially in this kind of texture.

There are a huge number of instances where music changes from an apparent 4 voice texture to a 3 voice, 5 voice, or even 2 voice texture, etc. So composers didn't necessarily "follow the rules" of 4 part writing even in textures that resemble or could be seen as 4-part, especially in instrumental music (and even more so in solo instrument instrumental music, no less one with only 6 strings and 4 fingers avaialable).

It might be just as valid to consider this a "doubling" of the bass line in an inner voice and not an independent part at all, despite the fact the first measures begin that way.

So I wouldn't judge Carulli's compositional ability on this element. There are far greater reasons to consider him a lesser composer before we we ever get to this example of parallels ;-)

It seems to me this is a "basic" piece, and despite the "more advanced" nature of the chord in m. 9, really comes off as a "beginner" piece to me, with basic chord forms and basic harmonies for the beginner's eyes, ears, brain, and fingers. It's a "prelude", and basically, an "exercise". In fact, I tip my hat to Carulli for making a fairly consistently playable piece that though short, contains enough variety to maintain interest for the player and listener.

It's not supposed to be (or, I don't think it was intended to be) a solo concert piece, nor would I consider it a "masterwork" of the genre, so I don't think I'm going to judge Carulli's work here by those standards. Taken on its own, for what it is, I think he did an excellent job of writing and attractive, playable piece for the beginning guitarist and does a much better job at making an otherwise dull exercise more interesting than many of his peers.

In fact, that's one thing I've noticed about Carulli - his "easy" pieces do tend to be a little more interesting - it seems the other composers had trouble writing "simply" but could write really well complex pieces. I don't know all of Carulli's output but of what I know, he seemed to have a better handle on the simple pieces but when it gets to more complex pieces, he doesn't seem to show the same craftsmanship as his peers.

I'll give him an A.

And honestly John, I was hoping for an A+ on my analysis! :-)

jake39
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Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Post by jake39 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:21 pm

A+ Thank you for doing this.

Jack Dawkins

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

Post by Jack Dawkins » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:37 pm

+1, very interesting.

I think the snowflakes must mean 'damp'... but what are the B and C at the bottom? They don't seem to relate to anything in the main score.

Any points on the structure / length of this piece? It almost breaks down into 8 bar sections but not quite.

tom2977
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Re: Let's Learn How to Analyze a Piece!

Post by tom2977 » Fri Aug 07, 2015 6:59 pm

B and C are alternative arpeggio patterns.

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

Post by David Belcher » Fri Aug 07, 2015 11:30 pm

I just wanted to add—yes, I find this interesting and would love to see more, especially stuff that moves in a more intermediate/advanced direction. All of what you did here was review for me, but I love the way you laid it all out. I never learned theory in school—I had to teach myself when I first started playing jazz guitar long ago, so my copy of Kotska and Payne is quite worn out today. But I am in need of lots of brush-up so I really appreciate the sort of work you are doing here. Thanks, Steve!
"In music I think it's very, very dangerous if you start to compare and say, 'This is good, this is not good, this is only one possibility' . . . there are so many possibilities, but what is important is to be open to that." - Pavel Steidl

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

Post by EricKatz » Sat Aug 08, 2015 2:13 pm

Steve, thanks for taken the time for this lesson!!
It was very clear for me (a beginner in harmony), although the parts on measure 9, 11 and 15 will need some more study.
This Carulli piece is part of the D04 on line course here at Delcamp (lesson 3), so your essay provides very usefull additonal information for the D04 students. I think it would be very much appreciated if you use stuff from the Delcamp lessons D03-D06 as an example in your upcoming posts.
Keep up the good work!!

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

Post by GeoffB » Sat Aug 08, 2015 4:44 pm

stevel wrote:Mods, if there is a problem with this, please, by all means step in before I get too far!
Hi Steve,

Great idea for a thread and no major problems, but please see my PM about one particular point that needs attention.

Thanks,
Geoff
Classical Guitar Forum.

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

Post by Aucaman » Sat Aug 08, 2015 11:58 pm

Thank you, Steve.
This is such wonderful pedagogy. You do know how to lead us by the hand presenting first the black and white stuff and leaving all the shades of gray for later. This is so helpful for amateurs like me, who find that most of the material available is either too elementary or way too advanced.
Your approach is friendly and not overwhelming. I followed you without any problems until you got to the 7 chords. I'll need to read this bit many more times to understands sections like:
"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."
But that's my problem. I'll keep at it and I'm sure I'll be able to deconstruct/digest those sentences.

Once again, I thank you
:merci:

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

Post by stevel » Sun Aug 09, 2015 4:39 am

All of the Scale Degrees have Names. 1 is the "Tonic". 5 is the "Dominant".

We call the chord built on the Tonic note the "Tonic Chord". In a Major Key that's a Major Chord ("I") and in a minor key that's a minor chord ("i").

The chord that's built on scale degree 5 is called the "Dominant Chord".

But, in minor keys, we alter the 3rd of the Dominant Triad, which is the 7th scale degree, by raising it one half step. This turns the chord that's found on scale degree 5 in minor keys into a Major Triad (E-G#-B instead of E-G-B for example). This turns it into the same chord as found on scale degree 5 of a Major Key (so both the key of A Major and A minor have an E Major chord as their Dominant Chord).

With the V7 chord, we keep this practice, raising the 3rd of the 7th chord built on scale degree 5 in minor. This makes a chord that would otherwise be a minor 7th chord (E-G-B-D for instance) into the same structure as the same chord found in Major Keys on scale degree 5, which we call the "Dominant 7" (E-G#-B-D).

So when we talk about a "Dominant 7th" chord, we mean the 7th chord built on the 5th degree of a Major scale, and the same structure built on the 5th degree of a minor scale. To get that same structure though, we have to raise the 3rd of the chord (which is the Leading Tone).

As a result, we not only call the E7 in A Major the Dominant 7, but the E7 in Am the Dominant 7 as well.

But, we also say that this Structure is a "Dominant 7th Chord" and it also has a "Dominant Function".

The reason we do this is it's an important and unique structure, so sometimes we encounter chords that have a Dominant 7 *structure* but they don't actually have a dominant *function*, or are not built on the dominant scale degree.

So our G7 chord in the key of Am here has a Dominant *structure* (same intervallic content as the "real" Dominant chord, E7) but it's not "the" dominant (because it's not on scale degree 5).

HTH,
Steve

Jack Dawkins

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

Post by Jack Dawkins » Sun Aug 09, 2015 10:15 am

stevel wrote:... in minor keys, we alter the 3rd of the Dominant Triad, which is the 7th scale degree, by raising it one half step. This turns the chord that's found on scale degree 5 in minor keys into a Major Triad (E-G#-B instead of E-G-B for example). This turns it into the same chord as found on scale degree 5 of a Major Key (so both the key of A Major and A minor have an E Major chord as their Dominant Chord).
If the reason for the raised 7th is to alter the quality of the chord on the dominant, do we still expect to find it in other chords? If we are still in Am for example, do we expect to find an augmented C chord? I think I know the answer to this, because I have played a few pieces in minor keys and I don't think I've come across any augmented chords - but in that case do we expect to find Gm or G# dim? I just ask because of the issue you raised in the second analysis thread:
stevel wrote:OK, The chords here are Am - ?/A - Dm/A - Am

They're all over an A Pedal Tone. But since A is part of an Am chord and a Dm chord, we don't mark it or call it a NCT for those chords (though it may still be called a Pedal Tone, which means our Development Section had a Dominant Pedal Tone (the low E) throughout, even though it was always a chord tone).

So only this one chord which looks like G#-B-D doesn't have an A in it, so we call the Pedal A the NCT (parenthesize and label) and give the Roman Numeral to the upper chord.

What's that?

Some of you may have said "E7".

We've been talking about chords with missing notes. But remember I said that a 7th chord usually has the Root, and only in real specific contexts does it omit the root. We could say that the Tonic Pedal A is replacing the root on both an E7 chord and Dm chord, it just happens to be a member of the D chord. If that's the case though, why didn't von Call put an E in the upper part. It was certainly reachable.

Maybe it's because he was a "lesser" composer and didn't write as competently as he could...But maybe it was an intentional choice.

At any rate, the most accurate info we have is that this could be called G#o over a Pedal Tone A (oh, we usually write "Ped. because we already use PT for Passing Tone). Calling it E7 over the Pedal Tone deserves a little more explanation, but it's not horribly far-fetched.
Would we expect to find G# dim then, in Am, or does the logic behind the sharp only apply if we are talking about a chord of E? That would seem to point in favour of the E7 analysis. I tried tuning my 4th string up to E and adding that to the chord, and although this did sound fuller, to my ears it didn't change the harmony.

Many thanks again for these posts.

RustyFingers

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

Post by RustyFingers » Mon Aug 10, 2015 7:55 am

Jack Dawkins wrote:If the reason for the raised 7th is to alter the quality of the chord on the dominant, do we still expect to find it in other chords
The reason for altering the quality of the Dominant chord is because a minor Dominant chord doesn't provide as strong a sense of 'arrival' as a major Dominant chord. Try it for yourself - Am Em Am -vs- Am E Am. In order to confirm the tonic / key we need a very strong sense of arrival. So in minor keys we change the minor Dominant chord to a major Dominant chord. Whether or not the composer chooses to alter other chords when composing in a minor key is down to the musical effect they want to create. I tend to think of the augmented chord on the mediant, and the diminished chord on the leading-note as options the composer might use rather than rules they must follow.

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