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Thread: How was this song built? Handel-passacaglia

  1. #1
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    Red face How was this song built? Handel-passacaglia

    Piece with transcription:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjywSnVcVtI

    Im very new to trying to comprehend theory/ why things sound the way they do/ how notes go together.
    I broke down the notes in the first few measures of this song , and put them into a chord analyzer to see what was going on, but that didn't really shed any more light on the matter. In fact, it brought up some things that confused me even more (chords containing notes that aren't in the key etc.)

    My terminology and symbolism might be a bit off, but, basically what i see happening is a 3 note root chord played out in the base clef (which i have in the first column) while dyads are being played in the treble clef (2nd column). Since the dyad is being played over the sustained bass chord, i assume they combine to make one big chord (the result of which i have in the parentheses).

    This piece is in Gmin (same as Bb maj right?). From what i understand (sans a key change), every note of every chord "should" be composed of Bb C D Eb F G A, correct?

    Bass clef Treble clef


    Gmin + Bb D (octaves/voicings)
    Gmin + C Eb (Ebmaj13)
    Gmin + C A (Cm13) ?
    Gmin + Bb D (voicings)

    Eb6 + C Eb (octaves)
    Eb6 + C Eb (octaves)
    Eb6 + Bb D (EbMaj13)
    Eb6 + C Eb (voicings)

    F + A C (voicings)
    F + A F (voicings)
    F + G Eb (F9)
    F + A F (voicings)

    Bb + Bb D (voicings)
    Bb + Bb D (octaves)
    Bb + A C (Bbmaj9)
    Bb + Bb D (voicings)

    Eb + G Bb (voicings)
    Eb + G Bb (voicings)
    Eb + F# A (??? Cmin13 but doesnt explain the F#)
    Eb + G Bb (voicings)

    C6 + A C (voicings)
    C6 + A C (voicings)
    C6 + G Bb (cmin13)
    C6 + A C (voicings)

    D
    F# & D dyad
    D E natural C (D9?)
    F# & D dyad
    G Bb dyad
    A note
    G note

    - So my big question is.. what's going on- is there a pattern here?
    - Can Eb6 be substituted for Eb any time, as long as the 6th note is in the same key? If that's the case, couldn't F6 be used here instead of the Fmaj?
    - Why does the cmin13 chord (if thats truly what it is) contain F# in this key?
    - What are some other takeaway points i can learn from this?

    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
    Senior Member Truckload's Avatar
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    The baroque passacaglia has a repeating phrase, or line of music, that persists throughout the piece. Usually the repeating line of music is first stated in the bass, the lowest notes in the chords in the first four bars of this piece. In this case the subject is G - E - F - B - F - C - D - D - G. The artistry of a passacaglia arises from the composers variations or elaborations with each repeat of the line. The idea being to keep repeating the "subject" or melody while finding a different way to vary or elaborate with each repetition. One of the most famous pieces of this type is the Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor.

    The passacaglia is very similar to a cannon (or round). As with a passacalia, the composer of the cannon must continually find different ways to vary or elaborate on the theme or subject with each repetition of the subject. The most famous cannon is of course the Pachelbel Cannon in D.
    Pyotr Ilich Tchaikovsky - "I sit down to the piano regularly at nine-o'clock in the morning and Mesdames les Muses have learned to be on time for that rendezvous."

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    Senior Member Vasks's Avatar
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    m. 1 = G minor chord (tonic) then C minor chord (subdominant in first inversion)
    m. 2 = F major chord (subtonic) then B-flat chord (mediant)
    m. 3 = E-flat chord (submediant) then A diminished chord (supertonic in first inversion)
    m. 4 = D major chord (dominant; harmonic minor) and then G minor chord (tonic)
    Last edited by Vasks; Mar-09-2016 at 17:51.
    "Music in any generation is not what the public thinks of it but what the musicians make of it"....Virgil Thomson

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