Harmonic Analysis of Chopin's Prelude #4

by José Rodríguez Alvira

Frederic Chopin's (1810-1849) Prelude #4 for the piano is a highly chromatic piece. Yet it is based on a very simple harmonic progression as we will try to demonstrate in this article.

In the following animation we start with the basic chords on which the 12 first measures are based and transform them step by step into the chords we find in the prelude.

The basic chords are no other than the tonic, subdominant and dominant chords (i - V - i - iv - V - i - iv - V). Using different methods, Chopin transforms these chords in an almost magical way.

At the end of the animation you can listen to the complete Prelude played by Robert Ståhlbrand. The recording is courtesy of Piano Society.

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