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.
The basic chords are no other than the tonic, subdominant and dominant chords (i - V - i - iv - V - i - iv - V).
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.
These are the chords in the first 12 measures. Use the arrow button to see how they are transformed step by step...
A suspended fourth chords is added between the first two chords.
The tonic chord is substituted by a secondary dominant chord of the iv degree.
We add a seventh to the A minor chord.
We add a ii degree chord before the V degree chord.
The tonic chord is transformed into a secondary dominant chord.
Two appoggiaturas (G# and B) are added to the iv degree chord.
Another suspended chord is added before the V degree chord. Listen the new chords...
We add an F natural before the E of the next chord. The D natural and the G# from the next chord are anticipated.
The G natural from the next chord is anticipated. A Bb and a C# move chromatically.
A vii degree chord substitutes the dominant chord.
The V/iv becomes a vii/iv and it is preceded by a ii degree. Notes D and F move chromatically and create two new chords.
An augmented ninth is added to the dominant chord.