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This is the piece I want to discuss: Waltz in C♯ minor. You can listen to it on YouTube here (played by Arthur Rubinstein) with added music score, or on musescore.com here (played as MIDI) also with music score.

Concretely I want to focus on 16 bars 33-48 (screenshot from musescore.com): Chopin Op. 64, No. 2, mm. 32 – 50

Bar 34 is same as 42 except that in 34 for left hand we have notes (C#) - (G#, E) - (G#, E) and in 42 we have (C#) - (G#, C#, E) - (G#, C#, E), i.e. in 42 C# is doubled by two C# octave apart.

Question 1: What is the point of this double C#? I think it is hardly distinguishable by ears whether it is double or single C#.

Question 2: Was this doubled C# really present in original Chopin score? (I can not find original score, do you have any link to the original?)

Also notice that the motif in 33-48 repeats twice in a row but in YouTube's score the doubled C# is only in first repetition, in second repetition there is only single C#. In contrast in musescore.com's score the doubled C# is in both repetitions.

Another question regarding harmony...

I did a little (nonprofessional) harmony analysis of these bars 33-48. I think the harmony goes like this:

| G#/C | C#m | G#7 | A | F#m | C#m/G# | G#7 | C#m |

| G#/C | C#m | G#7 | A | D/F# | - | G# | C#m |

maybe instead of F#m could be also F#m6 and instead of C#m/G# a C#sus2/G#.

Question 3: Is my analysis correct? Can also other chords be extended like F#m to F#m6 and C#m/G# to C#sus2/G#? And what chord could there be in 46 when no notes are played by left hand?

Also in 37 we have for left hand (F#) - (F#, C#) - (F#, C#) - i.e. doubled F# but without any third minor or major, so I only guessed that the chord should be F#m or F#m6 by looking on notes played by right hand.

Question 4: Why 3rd is omitted only in this particular case? I mean all other chords in left hand consist of three different notes but in 37 the chord consist only of two different notes.

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    This needs splitting into different questions. On this site, sometimes even two at a time is too much.
    – Tim
    Aug 10 at 14:35
  • Don't trust Musescore. I found an (non-autograph, non-urtext, ergo likely not the "original Chopin score") edition of this waltz on IMSLP, s9.imslp.org/files/imglnks/usimg/d/d7/…, that does not have the C# in the left-hand chords in Bar 42.
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 10 at 15:23
  • Though, yeah, I'd split Questions 3 and 4 away from the others and into their own questions.
    – Dekkadeci
    Aug 10 at 15:28
  • @Dekkadeci: Only original copy can resolve this. But maybe it is just a habit - when you have a free unused finger (and you are already satisfied with the current chord) then you can put that finger on a key that does not change the sound of the chord. Aug 10 at 16:45

2 Answers 2

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As Tim suggested, these are several questions and should be split. I can split the answer if needed.

Question 1: What is the point of this double C#? I think it is hardly distinguishable by ears whether it is double or single C#.

More volume, more texture in the second repetition.

Question 2: Was this doubled C# really present in original Chopin score? (I can not find original score, do you have any link to the original?)

Unfortunately can't help with this. As Dekkadeci suggested it might be someone's interpretation or mistake.

Question 3: Is my analysis correct?

| G#/C | C#m | G#7 | A | F#m | C#m/G# | G#7 | C#m |

| G#/C | C#m | G#7 | A | D/F# | - | G# | C#m |

Yes, but note it should be G#/B#, instead of G#/C. Even though B# and C are enharmonically the same note, B# is a major third from G, while C is a diminished fourth. Chords in western classical/romantic style are built by stacking thirds, and following this patterns helps to understand how they work.

what chord could there be in 46 when no notes are played by left hand?

I would consider it to be still D#, even though it contains some chromatic notes, as it continues the dominant buildup than then resolves to G# and C#m.

maybe instead of F#m could be also F#m6

Also in 37 we have for left hand (F#) - (F#, C#) - (F#, C#) - i.e. doubled F# but without any third minor or major, so I only guessed that the chord should be F#m or F#m6 by looking on notes played by right hand.

Of course you need to look at both hands. F#m is a diatonic chord, so even if the A note was not played at all, we would hear the chord as F#m. On the other hand the D# note comes on a weak part of the measure, it is not accented, so to me it doesn't feel like need to be notated as a part of the chord. It is a diatonic passing tone.

Question 4: Why 3rd is omitted only in this particular case?

That's an artistic choice. First of all, it is not omitted entirely, it is played by the right hand. Second, there is relatively little movement between A (VI) and F#m (IV), the A note is retained from the A chord. Then, the following connection F#m (IV) to C#m/G# (I) is also weak (in comparison to dominant seventh, and secondary dominant present in the progression). Also perhaps Chopin decided that F# to G# movement is more interesting to emphasize.

instead of C#m/G# a C#sus2/G#.

As above, no need to mention the diatonic passing note D# in the chord symbol. Moreover "sus2" would suggest that D is played instead of the third, E, which is not true, left hand does play E.

If you really wanted to notate C#m chord with added D#, you would call it C#madd2. I don't think such chord is common in Chopin's music. Perhaps you could find C#m9, but it would suggest also presence of minor seventh, B note.

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  • Yes, what I meant by C#sus2/G# was more like C#m(add2)/G# but I wrote it wrongly. Aug 10 at 16:39
  • For left hand chord missing in bar 46. What if chord D#/G or D#/D# was played? It sounds interesting to me. Aug 10 at 16:50
  • @azerbajdzan there is pedal notation in this measure, so the performer should simply hold the same chord, D#/F# Aug 10 at 19:42
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    Regarding C versus B♯, it would make it confusing if the B♯ was notated as C. At least for me, because the chord is G♯ it is easier to read as a G♯ chord when there is a B♯ and that makes the reading simple. Aug 10 at 21:43
  • I might claim that the inclusion of the second in a minor chord is part of Chopin's vocabulary/use, because it so often occurs at-least-in-passing, if not necessarily part of a "chord". And minor triads (maybe with 7th) with added second are very common in jazz since at least the 1940s. Almost formulaic. Aug 11 at 1:57
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The left-hand C#4 in m. 42 is an error

There are two publicly available autographs of this Waltz. The first is an incomplete sketch, the second is complete.

First autograph, m. 42

m. 42, first autograph
(Image source: Chopin Variorum Edition)

Second autograph, m. 42

m. 42, second autograph
(Image source: Chopin Variorum Edition)

The first autograph is ambiguous, since Chopin did not include the left hand. The second autograph makes clear why the error is present: Chopin's C4 ledger lines are easily mistaken for note heads. This misread is present in the French first edition as well as most subsequent editions.

Henle Urtext

A notable exception is the Henle Urtext edition, which does not include the C#4 in m. 42.

m. 42, Henle Urtext
(Image source: sheetmusicplus.com)

As Henle explains in their Critical Commentary:

[The French and German first editions] have c#[4] in chord on beats 2 and 3; ditto in M 162 in [the German edition]. [The two autographs above] slightly indistinct; however, see M 34, 50 and 58. (pp. 103–04 in the linked PDF)

Henle's edition is based primarily on the engraver's copy of the piece, which is held in a private collection, along with the French edition for comparison.

In short, Chopin used the two-note chord at every parallel occurrence except m. 42. Since the second autograph is consistent with the two-note version, and since there's no musical reason to include the C# only at that spot, the C# is an error.

Analysis

The analysis is spot on, with one minor error: the final G# should be G#7.

Why no left-hand A3 in m. 37.

  1. Chopin sticks to two-note chords in the left hand in order to preserve the open voicings of the chords.
  2. Note the progression of the upper notes in each dyad, beginning at m. 33: D# E B# C#. This brief melodic sequence reinforces the drive of the right hand. Were Chopin to have used A in m. 37, it would have continued that sense of drive, rather than partially suspending it. By continuing the right hand motion, but "suspending" the left hand, the feeling is one of movement by inertia rather than drive. This momentary "turning off of the engine" is supported by the presence of the quarter rests in mm. 37 and 38 and the delay of the expected chord in m. 39.
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