Features of 'Raindrop' Prelude, Chopin

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Features of Prelude in Db Minor ­ Chopin
The Prelude In D Flat Major was completed in 1839. It is taken from a set of 24 preludes (one for each of the 12
major keys and one for each of the 12 minor keys). A musical prelude is often an introductory piece but not in this
case. The short pieces are self-contained and free-standing.
The Prelude in D flat is nicknamed the Raindrop Prelude. It is often said that this refers to the persistent repeated
notes which sound like rain falling. However, Chopin disliked descriptive titles and he did not give it this nickname.
The idea came from George Sand who told of the sound of dripping water falling on the roof where they were
staying in Majorca.
The score is very detailed ­ it includes a lot of markings for the performer to follow. These include pedal markings,
fingerings, dynamic markings, and Italian terms. The pedal markings are given under the bass stave. They show
the pianist where to depress the pedal (ped.) and release it (a star-shaped sign). The fingerings are given by small
numbers on some of the notes. The dynamic markings refer to the loudness or quietness of the notes.
Here are the Italian terms and their English definitions:
Italian term English definition
sostenuto rather slow
sotto voce below the voice, in an undertone
smorzando fading away
slentando becoming broader, gradually slower
presto very quick
ritenuto immediately slower
Like many short piano pieces of the Romantic period, this prelude is in ternary form ­ a three-part form (ABA1)
where the second A section is the same as, or very similar to, the first A section. The B section provides a contrast
to the outer sections. The basic structure of the Chopin Prelude in D flat is:
A B A1
Bars 1­27 Bars 28­75 Bars 76­end
Major key, long melody heard Minor key, new melody heard mainly in A shorter version of the opening A
several times the bass section
This is the opening of the piece (section A):
Notice the:
time signature of 4/4 (C refers to common time)
key signature of D flat major
melodic line which falls and then rises in a long curve
septuplet in the final bar where 7 semi-quavers are played in the time of 4 (the septuplet is preceded by
a grace note ­ a single note ornament)
The melody is supported by broken chords so the texture is homophonic.
Look at the opening bar of Section B. Notice the:
%6. new key signature of C sharp minor ­ this uses an enharmonic modulation
%6. sotto voce marking
%6. repeated quavers in the treble clef (right hand)
%6. long melody in the bass clef (left hand), mostly in crotchets

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If you look at the piano you will see that the note D flat is the same note as C sharp ­ it is the enharmonic
equivalent. A modulation is a change of key.
1. Which
period was Chopin composing in?
2. Which of these types of compositions was Chopin famous for composing?
3. Which describes the form of Chopin's Prelude in D flat?
4. What is the enharmonic equivalent of A flat?
5.…read more


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