Shostakovich String Quartet No. 8

A complete analysis of the string quartet from the WJEC Board A2 Level Music.


Overview of Movement 1 (LARGO)

This Largo is an important introduction to the string quartet. It is similar to prelude in character with a presentation of a number of musical ideas which have an important bearing on the rest of the work.


  • No conventional formal pattern 
  • ABA Fluid Ternary
  • An Incomplete Arch


  • Key of C Minor
  • Never looses sight of this underlying tonality 
  • Free use of incidental dissonances and false relations


  • DSCH/ Other allusions to his own and inspirational composers 
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Section A - A1 (First 14 bars)

A1 -  The movement starts with a fugato style texture with Shostakovich's personal signature of DSCH (2317) being entered canonically in order of cello to first violin:

Cello - C minor - TONIC ...Viola - G minor - DOMINANT ...Violin 2 - C minor - TONIC ...Violin 1 - F Minor - SUB-DOMINANT 

  • Canonical motif entries are more stretto texture as they don't follow through. 
  • This is ironic as you normally finish a fugue with a stretto not start one (BARS 0-8)
  • Ambiguous tonality with all the motif entries covering all 12 semitones notes apart from Db which is sounded in bar 7 by the cello where it clashes with neighbouring notes C and D. 
  • DSCH Motif is from his 10th symphony, the year Stalin died.
  • False Relations (bars 5-6) Bb and B
  • Harmonic Flow mostly of 7ths, 9ths, 6/4 suspensions, passing notes & neighbouring notes (diatonic + chromatic)

End of A1 bar 11; the cello has another DSCH motif however cannot finish it as it goes below it's range but it is resolved by the second violin on a B and modulates unexpectedly into Eminor at figure 1.

General - very sombre mood, dark and quiet. Clashes cause tension and forebode the darkness and seriousness (or perhaps not!)  the rest of the work.  

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hi do you have any more notes as i am doing this this year for my music would be very helpfull



more notes please.

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