Romantic Piano Music

?
  • Created by: S_Bluck
  • Created on: 22-07-20 12:20

Developments of Piano

• cast iron frames as opposed to wooden frames which allowed for larger and stronger strings under increased tension

• felt instead of leather on the hammers

• seven octave range (as opposed to five)

• establishment of the sustaining and una corda pedals.

1 of 9

Results of piano development

• a more sonorous tone offering a broader palette of colours

• a better sustaining power to support legato phrasing (of longer note values) and an espressivo cantabile

• a greater dynamic range with more sensitive gradations from ppp to fff and an ability to balance textures

• greater expressive direction given by the composer to the performer on the printed score

• pianistic techniques involving wrists and forearms (as opposed to a purely digital action).

2 of 9

Chopin - Typical attributes

  • Slow tempo with regular rhythmical flow in the left hand creating a ,elancholic and reflective character

  •  melody – dominated texture, above a largely unvaried homophonic accompaniment

  • extensive ornamentation, somewhat improvisatory in feel and imitative of the ‘bel canto’ style

  • very wide range of pitch (in the left hand arpeggio patterns as well as the melodic tessitura)

  • significant rhythmic variety in the melody, including twos against threes and use of sextuplets etc

  •  largely conjunct melodic shapes, full of yearning appoggiaturas

  •  slow moving, functional harmony with chromatic inflexions

  •  clearly designed tonal scheme

  • overall arch shape with a quiet start, building to an impassioned climax before subsiding to a final repose

3 of 9

Romantic Period Characteristics

  • Between 1830 and 1900
  • Composers, artists and authors moved away from the formal restraint of the Classical period
  • intense energy and passion
  • greater emotional expression
  • longer, virtuosic phrases with more varied pitch and dynamics
  • New structures such as the rhapsody, nocturne and song cycle were introduced
  • Used increasingly elaborate harmonic progressions
  • Reflect the tension and nationalism of war and revolution throughout Europe
  • The orchestra expanded in size and more instruments were added (Piccolo, contrabassoon, bass drums and triangles)
  • Materials used to construct woodwind instruments also improved and expanded their musical quality and variability. 
4 of 9

Melody

  • Bel Canto Style - lyricism (shown through the short, singable 2 bar phrases and the arched melodic contours) and fioroturas 
  • Chopin’s Fioraturas in bars 31-37 use broken chords, chromaticism, trills, and highly complex cross-rhythms -makes the melody very technically challenging and help to create a climax for the listener.
  • Structured into two main tunes, both of which are developed throughout the piece.
  • Sometimes Chopin alters the rhythm of the original melody. For example, the melody from bar 2 is changed from straight quavers into triplets
  • Bar 31, Chopin adds Fioraturas to the melody in bar 2, and towards the end of the piece, in bar 47, Chopin uses a version of the melody from bar 23 in the tonic major to modulate back to the home key. This creates variety and keeps the melody interesting.  
5 of 9

Structure

  • Abridged sonata form (a sonata form without the central development section)
  • Melody develops slightly every time we hear the recapitulation - adds intensity to the mood of the piece via new dynamics and fioritura’s in the higher tessitura of the piano. 

Introduction - Bar 1 - E minor

A Section: exposition - Bars 2 - 22 - E minor

B Section: exposition - Bars 23 - 30 - B major

A Section: recapitulation - Bar 31 - 46 - E minor

B Section: recapitulation - Bar 47 - 54 - E major

Coda - Bars 55 - 57 - E major

6 of 9

Harmony

  • Mostly diatonic harmonies moving at a slow harmonic pace - create a stable foundation for the melody.
  • Most of the chords are tonic or dominant chords. ( Bars 1 - 4, only two chords are used- I and V7) - Calming mood which reflects the calm of the night
  • Occasionally there are some more chromatic chords (Diminished chord in bar 5 - tension, 4-3 suspension in bar 8, Tierce de Picardie in the final bar of the piece)
  • Chopin only uses chromatic harmonies at the melody’s climax, so overall the harmony is functional and extremely stable.
7 of 9

Rhythm

  • Characterised by the triplet quaver ostinato in the left hand, which often creates cross rhythms with quavers or semiquavers in the right hand. 
  • Steady andante tempo - steady rhythmic foundation throughout
  • Use of rubato - Chopin implies through ritenuto and calando markings - pianist can highlight the more expressive moments of the piece and this helps to tell the story
8 of 9

Texture

  • Melody dominated homophony throughout
  • Occasional moments of polyphony
  • Throughout the entire piece, there is a triplet, broken chord accompaniment in the left hand with pedal points with the melody in the right hand play extract - Texture inspired hugely by John Field.
  • Field introduced Chopin to the use of ostinatos and pedal points, something that Chopin then continued to write in the rest of his pieces.
9 of 9

Comments

No comments have yet been made

Similar Music resources:

See all Music resources »See all Romantic Piano Music resources »