I'm having trouble figuring out what's happening in the following bars of this piece in Eb major.

  • Bar 4: My best guess is that this spells out an Eb fully diminished 7 -- or idim7. (The F in beat 1 of the treble clef is an appoggiatura and not part of the chord harmony.) But I'm not satisfied with this analysis. It feels almost like a dominant to me. Also, even if it were a diminished, maybe it's based off some other note as the root? Ideally something that would make this fit into music theory better.
  • Bar 14: I'm lost here. It's an enharmonic Eb7 chord (with an added #4), but with C# instead of a Db, Tchaikovsky is communicating that it should be interpreted otherwise.

I filled in what I think are the other chords below. I'm more confident about these (but not 100% sure)

Waltz Op39 Tchaikovsky

1 Answer 1

  • Bar 4: This is known as a common-tone diminished chord. It's build on the Eb and is used to prolong the Eb major harmony. For more on common-tone diminished chords, see Understanding function of diminished chord in Paganini's 4th caprice.

  • Bar 14: The A is not a chord tone; it's an accented upper neighbor. The G is the chord tone. The chord is an augmented sixth chord built on Eb, moving to D and then ultimately to G minor. This is how augmented sixth chords work. They are typically built on b6 of a minor key, move to the V7, and then resolve to the i chord. For more on augmented sixth chords see How to analyze this chord in Moonlight Sonata 3rd movement?.

  • Thanks! Re Bar 14: I had considered a German Aug6 here, but my (naive) understanding of these chords was that they only occur between the b6 and #4 of the scale in order to voice lead to the dominant. I did some more research and it turns out that Tchaikovsky (in his textbook on harmony) defines them as "nothing more than inversions of certain chords having the 2nd degree lowered". The other thing here is that this implies a tonicization of D major. Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 4:07
  • 1
    @JackKinsella - The tonicization is actually of G minor or iii, as this answer says. Note that Bars 14-17 can be interpreted as Ger. Aug. 6th - V7 - V7 - i of G minor.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Sep 27, 2023 at 6:13

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.