Apr. 25th, 2012

crysania4: (Default)
At first glance you may not realize you probably know this work.  Or, at the very least, you've heard of it.  This prelude is more commonly known as "The Raindrop Prelude."  I can't remember when I first heard this work, but the first time I did, the middle section of it caused the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.

It still does every single time I listen to it.

The work is one from a set of 24 preludes Chopin wrote and while they're all lovely, this is certainly the most famous.  It's a beautiful, fairly straight-forward work in ABA form.  The opening and closing sections are a sweet and lovely Db major.  The middle, more dramatic section, switches to its parallel minor (C# minor).

So why "raindrop"?  Where did that come from?  Chopin himself did not subtitle the work.  In fact, Chopin was far too much of an "absolute" composer to give any of his works subtitles.  ("Absolute" music is music written for music's sake alone, as opposed to program music which is intended to tell a story or give the listener some sort of atmospheric idea.)

There are two thoughts, both of which combined have given it this name.  The first came from George Sand, his lover of many years, who said upon arriving home in a rainstorm one evening that she came across a distraught Chopin who had had a horrible dream when he fell asleep at the piano.

He saw himself drowned in a lake. Heavy drops of icy water fell in a regular rhythm on his breast, and when I made him listen to the sound of the drops of water indeed falling in rhythm on the roof, he denied having heard it. He was even angry that I should interpret this in terms of imitative sounds. He protested with all his might – and he was right to – against the childishness of such aural imitations. His genius was filled with the mysterious sounds of nature, but transformed into sublime equivalents in musical thought, and not through slavish imitation of the actual external sounds.

Chopin himself vehemently denied that any of his music had such a picturesque idea.  But the idea of the "raindrop" aspect persisted.  He was certainly working on some prelude during this time.  But which one?  Why did this one end up with the subtitle and not another one?

Well, the other aspect of this piece that gives it its name is the near constant repetition of the pitch Ab (which turns into G# in the middle section).  It floats through nearly the entire work, coming in and out through the quieter A sections and becoming insistent in the middle.  If you concentrate though you can almost always pick it up.  Some have said this mimics the "gentle patter of rain."  Chopin would likely argue otherwise.  Unfortunately for Chopin, it is likely to always retain this nickname.

No matter which way you look at it, it's a lovely piece of music.

You can listen to it here on youtube.
crysania4: (Default)
Dahlia likes wearing hoodies too. I couldn't resist seeing what Dahlia looked like wearing my hoodie.


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