I wanted to follow up to analyze the top voice on the right hand of the Liszt Transcendental Étude No.1 (Prelude).

Here are my (related) questions:

  1. Is the red box note a B-flat or B? (It looks that in the 2nd bar, it only labels as B not B-flat, but in the 4th bar, it labels as B-flat. In both bars, the previous appearance of the same note is written as B-flat with $b$ or $\flat$.)

  2. According to Aaron Liszt Transcendental Étude No.1 (Prelude) -- chord progression along the Arpeggio (in the first 4 bars), saying that


This is a melodic, diatonic sequence: ascending fifth, descending second, descending second.

But this is only partially true, not entirely true. The one ascending, and two descending patterns go differently at least in those blue, green, and orange, pink lines.

Are there some good logics behind these different patterns here?

Of course, we know the music cannot be fully theoretically composed -- but I wanted to know what Liszt wants us to do, what is his mindset, in his Transcendental Étude No.1 (Prelude) in C MAJOR!

enter image description here

  • I'm not clear on what your question is. 1) It should be Bb in every case; it's just an error in the score. If you look at a more modern edition (try the Zoltán Gárdonyi edition on IMSLP, you'll see the Bb included each time. 2) The pattern is the same every time, as specified in the other post. Are you asking why sometimes they are minor seconds versus major seconds? This is because it's a diatonic sequence, so the notes are adjusted to stay within the scale.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 23:37
  • >> "they are minor seconds versus major seconds?" YES.
    – wonderich
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 1:05
  • >> "This is because it's a diatonic sequence, so the notes are adjusted to stay within the scale." That is great. I just wonder whether there was some exception. So are there also Major 5th vs minor 5th issues here for ascending? Thanks!
    – wonderich
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 1:07
  • There's no major and minor fifth. A fifth is always seven semitones. Doesn't have a major and minor variant.
    – Divizna
    Commented Dec 16, 2023 at 3:46

1 Answer 1


The B♭ in the first bar is there as an extra reminder that it IS a B♭ as per the previous accidental, not the B natural suggested by the Em/G modulation at the start of the sequence.

Since you've been reminded that it's a B♭ in the 1st bar, a competent pianist need not be reminded again for the same sequence in the 3rd bar.

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.