The next prelude, No. 9, features yet another texture. Although it is only 12measures long, this piece showcases Chopin's elegant use of common chord modulations, 3rd based root movements, and dense harmonic textures.
Figure 5 (above) is a harmonic reduction of Prelude No. 9. Chopin chooses a very different texture in this piece. The R.H. plays chordal figures while the loping melody is represented in the extremely low register of the L.H. Of particular interest in this prelude are the number of modulations that occur in only 12 measures of music. The piece can be divided into three sections based on clear cadential points; the first is an imperfect authentic cadence in E major in measure 5, concluding the first statement of the theme. After a series of modulations, another imperfect authentic cadence appears, again in E major, in measure 9. Another set of modulations precedes the conclusion, a perfect authentic cadence between measures 11 and 12.
Although all three cadences are in the tonic key of E major, Chopin manages to modulate though at least momentarily, to no less than six different keys. A primary feature of this prelude is the number of common chord modulations, often through chromatic mediants and mode mixture, instead of using secondary dominants, or augmented 6th chords. The piece begins with a typical progression in the key of E major, but it could be suggested that in measure 4 Chopin is in B major (V) for moment. The first divergence from harmonic normalcy occurs in measure 5 where the IAC is followed by V-i-VI in the parallel minor. VI in E minor becomes V in F major, followed by a ii-V in F major that does not resolve to I. Instead, resolves to III with a lowered 7th (or V7/vi). If we analyze this A7 chord as the Neapolitan chord in the key of Ab major, it would follow that the next three chords of measure 7 are vii diminished 7th, ii, and vii diminished 7th. This notion seems to be confirmed by the I-iii-V-I progression in measure 8. The piece modulates back to the tonic key of E major through use of mode mixture; I in Ab major becomes minor (i). This facilitates a common chord modulation back to E major because Ab minor, spelled enharmonically as G# minor, is the key's iii chord. This developmental section is concluded with a second IAC in Ab major.
The third and final section of this piece begins with a simple progression in the tonic key of E major. Again mode mixture appears on beat 4 of measure 9 when Chopin uses an A minor chord (iv in E major). This chord becomes iii in F major, followed by I-V. On beat 4 of bar 10, Chopin again uses common chord modulation: Bb (IV in F major) becomes III in G minor. This is followed by i-V7-I and we are momentarily in the key of G major. G becomes III, a chromatic mediant borrowed from E minor, and the work ends with a PAC in the tonic E major. Also of note in Prelude No. 9 are the number of appoggiaturas in the bass voice that support the harmony in a similar way to those found in the top voice of No. 8. Dubbed "Vision" by many critics, this piece provides excellent material for the study of chromaticism in tonal harmonic progressions.
Expanded Harmonic Vocabulary in the Preludes of Frederic Chopin
Chopin Prelude in E Minor Op. 28 No. 4
Chopin Prelude in E Major Op. 28 No. 9
Chopin Prelude in Db Major Op. 28 No. 15
Written by Chuck Newsome
About the Author: Chuck Newsome
A lifelong resident of metropolitan Detroit, Chuck Newsome has been working professionally as a musician and educator for the last 12 years. During that time, he has devoted his life to helping young musicians improve and reach their goals. Chuck holds Bachelor of Music (B.M) and Master of Music (M.M.) degrees from Wayne State University. He is currently a faculty member in the Department of Music at Wayne State University, and the Educational Coordinator for the Detroit Jazz Festival. In addition, Chuck is a faculty member at J.C. Heard Jazz Week at Wayne and an Educator in Residence with the Detroit Jazz Festival’s Infusion Program. He has worked with Detroit Public School students at Martin Luther King, Jr. Senior High School, Detroit School of the Arts, Cass Technical High School, Renaissance High School, Duke Ellington Conservatory and Bates Academy. As a dedicated jazz guitarist, Chuck has performed with such Detroit, national and international jazz notables as Joe Lovano, Eddie Daniels, Kurt Elling, John Clayton, Diane Schuur, Sean Jones, Marion Hayden, Chris Collins, Russ Miller, Rob Pipho, Gary Schunk, David Taylor, and Sean Dobbins. He has also been featured as a guest soloist with the Wayne State University Big Band. At the 2012 Detroit Jazz Festival, Chuck appeared twice—as a performer with the Detroit Jazz Guitar Ensemble and as the conductor of the WSU Jazz Big Band featuring Joe Lovano and Judi Silvano. Chuck is an active composer and arranger, with over 100 works to his name.