4

The first measure has G-B-E-B, i.e. E minor tonic chord, first inversion. Makes sense so far.

Then the next measure is F♯-A-E-B followed by F♯-A-E♭-B , not so clear. According to this page the second measure was analyzed as B7/F♯, i.e. dominant seventh chord, second inversion, with suspended 4th. Which does make sense to me now -- if we write the notes as F♯-A-E-B going to F♯-A-D♯-B .

My question is -- if this harmonic interpretation is correct of course -- why is it notated with E♭ , instead of D♯ ?

According to my youtube-based music theory education, which I would welcome to be corrected on, B to D♯ is a major third and B to E♭ is a diminished fourth, which are enharmonic equivalents but different interval numbers and therefore different meaning. (And maybe even different pitches if not on a well-tempered tuning)

1
  • Sounds to me like Vsus going to V, so D# would be good.
    – Tim
    Jul 20, 2021 at 7:44

1 Answer 1

4

When notated with Eb, it becomes an F# diminished chord, aligning with the right-hand C, rather than with the B. The Eb is often used to accentuate the downward motion of the left hand.

Chopin here is not really trying to follow the sort of text book chord progressions where, say, a V chord leads to a I chord. Rather, he's using chromatic, step-wise voice-leading to create an overall harmonic motion, without concern for whether the chords created fit a particular label or model.

An analysis of the piece depends heavily on which chords one chooses as the "primary" chords and which are considered "passing" chords. There's a lot of room for interpretation in that regard.

In performing the piece, it's far more important to hear how one voice leads to the next, and the color it creates, and less important to label the chords.

1
  • There are quite a few publications which do use D# insted of Eb. But following the chromatic sequence down is one way of looking at it.
    – Tim
    Jul 20, 2021 at 8:31

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.