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How did Beethoven do this?

  1. Oct 8, 2016 #1
    In Beethoven's Piano Concerto #5, third movement, the exposition contains an ascending phrase. When the exposition is reprised, the ascension goes up one extra time. And yet nothing after it seems to have been transposed to anything higher as a result. How is this possible? Where did the extra ascension go?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2016 #2
    I don't know, but Beethoven made his own rules. The Emperor Concerto is one of his greatest, but also sometimes baffling works. I couldn't find any specific reference to a "missing ascension" in descriptions I read, but this one may give you some clues.

    Last edited: Oct 8, 2016
  4. Oct 8, 2016 #3

    Ben Niehoff

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    Here's a recording with sheet music, maybe you can figure it out. If you mean the reprise at 5:26, then it's actually the exact same line!

  5. Oct 8, 2016 #4
    No, I mean where the section with the rising triples near 1:14 is reprised near 6:43.

    The first time, there are accents on Fmsus4, Ab, and FMaj7, the latter of which marks the transition to falling triples. The second time however, the rising triples extend past the third accent, to a fourth accent on Fdim.

    Does this have something to do with the symmetry of a dim chord (Fdim = Abdim)?
  6. Oct 8, 2016 #5


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    @Jonathan Scott may be able to help.
  7. Oct 8, 2016 #6

    Jonathan Scott

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    I don't understand the question. That section starts in the same key of Eb in both versions (at bars 49 and 294 in my piano score), but the second version has two extra bars (at bar 304) which means that instead of ending on a F7 (not Fmaj7) chord it ends on a Bb7 chord. From that point onwards everything is the same as the first time but a fourth higher in pitch.

    (In concert that's probably quite easy to remember, but when I've just played the first version in rehearsal, it's very easy to play the second version if one rehearses the same section again!)

    [Edited to correct minor typo]
  8. Oct 8, 2016 #7
    I was asking why it isn't obvious that the pitch is raised. Or is it just that I haven't been trained to hear it?
  9. Oct 8, 2016 #8

    Jonathan Scott

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    It's the same music but in a different key. If you're not normally aware of keys then you probably wouldn't notice. I started learning the piano when I was 5, so like many people who start their music young I have fairly reliable perfect pitch.

    It's also different instruments (starts with horn instead of bassoon if I remember correctly).
  10. Oct 8, 2016 #9

    Ben Niehoff

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    So in the first case, it looks like the chords are

    Ab, F7/A, Bb, F7/C

    while in the second case, you have

    Ab, F7/A, Bb, F7/C, Bb/D, Edim, Bb7/F

    Perhaps one could write C7/E instead of Edim, but there is no C being played. Anyway, as you can see, the bass note rises by one step (either half or whole) for each new chord. The approach to the final chord is actually different, so it shouldn't feel like he's landed in the same place, but rather that he's extended the original line by an extra measure.

    I haven't taken the time to listen, but if I had to guess, the first instance of this is meant to introduce a modulation in Bb major, whereas the second one is meant to stay in Eb major in preparation for the ending of the piece.
  11. Oct 8, 2016 #10

    Jonathan Scott

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    Yes, I agree with all of that.
  12. Oct 9, 2016 #11
    The ear does funny things, Shepherd tones for example fool the ear and it is impossible to hear whether a following tone is higher or lower than a previous tone. notes are called tritones. Some musicians exploit this to create things like Bach's endlessly rising canon. If you play an ascending sequence and then drop one of the notes an octave in the next sequence, and if you pick the right note and placing, it sounds as if the sequence just goes up.
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