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Furchtenmachen by Robert Schumann Analysis


Another piano miniature by Robert Schumann, this piece also named as 'Frightening' which is a good name for the piece considering the general fear-like atmosphere. With development of the piano in the romantic period (c. 1800-1900) such as the the creation of the sustaining and soft pedals, the piano miniatures of Schumann are incorporating the developments of the piano into their pieces. Furchtenmachen was No. 11 in Schumann's Kinderscenen. Below is a complete analysis of the Furchtenmachen piano piece. Feel free to skip to the parts most relevant to you.

Structure 

  • The piece is in symmetrical rondo form being A B A C A B A. 

Section A

  • The starting tempo is at 96 crochet beats per minute.
  • The key of section A is in E minor.
  • The texture at the start feels like a three-part counterpoint. 
  • The first two chords of the piece are chord I and Vb with the right hand playing the same B note. This strongly suggests the key is in E minor.
  • The melody (with notes stem up) is mostly diatonic (uses notes of the scale). However, there are moments of chromaticism such as in bar two which features the chromatic notes ('not part of the key' notes) of B flat and E flat.
  • At bar 4, the key modulates to G major. This is made clear through chord I and V being present in G major which is an imperfect cadence.
  • Section A finishes at bar 8.

Section B

  • Section B is back in the original key of E minor.
  • The texture is melody dominated homophony.
  • The right hand has the use of syncopated off beat chords).
  • Section B has the use of disjunct (big leaps) notes in the left hand such as bar 8 which features an A to an octave lower A.
  • There is the notation 'Schneller' above the start of section B. This means to play section B much more quickly.
  • There is a perfect cadence on the weak beats of bar 10 in minor. (chord V to I).
  • At bar 11, the key modulates again to C major. 
  • The sequence in the left hand at bars 9-10 is repeated in bars 11-12.
  • The melody is in the left hand with the right hand playing syncopated chords.
  • At bar 12, there is a perfect cadence on the weak beats in C major.
  • Section B finishes at bar 12.

Section C 

  • Starting at bar 21, the dynamics change to forte (loud) for the first time in the piece producing terrace like dynamics (either loud or soft).
  • The semi quavers featured in bar 21 in the right and left hand are in 6ths with each other.
  • At bar 22, there is a brief visit to A minor.
  • Bars 21-24 feature five note chords thickening the texture. 
  • There is a perfect cadence (chord V to I) in bar 24 where the dynamics are now sf (suddenly loud).
  • The texture of section C is melody dominated homophony.
  • Bars 24-25 are a descending sequence of bar 25-26.
  • There is a 'Ritard.' at bar 27 which means to gradually slow down, preparing the tempo for section A again.
  • Bars 25-28 feature a stride bass accompanied left hand.

Summary

  • The piece is in symmetrical rondo form A B A C A B A.
  • Section A is in E minor and modulates to G major at bar 4. 
  • Melody is mostly diatonic with the use of few chromatic notes.
  • The whole piece is mainly in a texture of melody dominated homophony.
  • Section B is in E minor again and modulates half way through to C major. 
  • Section C has a hint of A minor and has a stride bass accompaniment in the left hand at bars 25-29.
The cadences in the piece are common but traditionally placed cadences are rare. Instead, imperfect cadences are used more (perfect cadences are only at bars 12 and 24 excluding repeats of sections).

Be sure to check out the other pieces I have analysed on Ask Will Online.

About Will Green

A student in England studying Automotive Engineering with Motorsport, Will created Ask Will Online back in 2010 to help students revise and bloggers make money. You can follow AskWillOnline via @AskWillOnline.

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