What is a correct sequence of notes in Chopin's Prelude #8 when playing slowly? How should 32nds be played against a triplet of 16ths plus and 8th? It seems that there are no together played notes in both hands like some tutorials advise (except the first). Should it be played like together-right hand-left-right-right-left-right-right-left-right-right, or how?

Chopin Prelude No. 8, Op. 28


There are, but that's not the point of this piece.

As long as you play this prelude slowly enough that you can distinguish these cases, it's way too slow for the intended effect. Once you've managed to reach the proper agitato speed, all that matters is that the first note of each beat should be simultaneous for both hands, and the second large note of the right should come after the lowest bass note. The small notes have to be as fast as possible in order to fit between those notes at all. Neither the player nor the listener will be able to perceive the exact timing between those notes anyway; the effect to achieve is that of a haze of chord notes.

(If you examine the score mathematically, you'll see that there are two more simultaneous notes in each beat: the lower bass note and the 5th demisemiquaver. But as noted, the point is not to hear this; if you can, it's not agitato!)

  • But how is it possible to have more beats than a time signature should have? When composing a piece with a program, this shouldn't be possible too. In the bass staff you have more beats than in the treble staff. There are 3 semiquavers and one quaver. If you multiply this with 4 it has way more beats than common time should have. – Stallmp Jan 6 '18 at 9:08
  • However 5/32 = 2,5 /16-s notes, so how have you calculated that 5th note in right hand corresponds to the last lower bass note in the left? However first note in the right with a dot prolongation it shifts somehow situation, i guess – player777 Jan 6 '18 at 10:55
  • @player777 The 16th notes form a tuplet, as indicated by the 3 below. That means that they only have 2/3 of their normal length. – Kilian Foth Jan 6 '18 at 17:02

The passage should be played as follows:

T = together
L = left hand
R = right hand

first half-beat //  second half-beat
T R L R L R     //  T R R R

More precisely:

T:Chopin Prelude in F# Minor
T:Order of notes
[V:RH] "_T"C"_R"c"_R"G"_R"B"_T"A"_R"F"_R"D"_R"d
[V:LH clef=bass middle=d] (3"^T"a2"^L"c2"^L"f2"^T"F4

For this and an excellent approach to practicing the piece, see "A Pedagogical Approach to Technique in Chopin's Preludes Op. 28" (Sheila Kay Barnhart, 2014, Ph.D. diss, West Virginia University, pp. 41-45).

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