harmonic progression analysis : help needed!

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harmonic progression analysis : help needed!

Postby admin » Wed Jul 15, 2009 5:27 pm


I'm studying (a bit alone...) harmonic analysis. For example I'm studiying the piece named
"La Lugubre - Sarabande" of F. Couperin.

Here, p.65 of the PDF (p.52 of the book) you can find the sheet music.
http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/7 ... Works1.pdf
Here is a recording : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3Q9DUEE ... r_embedded.

I want to analyse (bar after bar) the chord changes, harmonic progressions, cadence, etc.

This piece ("morceau" en français = piece ?) has only 2 "flat" ( b ) but seems to be in Cminor.
(which should have 3 "flat") : it begins and ends with C minor chord, and in a book of harmonic
analysis, it says : C minor.

But I don't understand : I see :

1 I C minor
2 V of IV C 7
3 IV Major (in Cminor the fourth degree must be Minor ! except if it is
in dorian mode, I think it's not the case here)
So I don't understand !

Thanks in advance for helping me to analyse such a piece!


Posts: 57
Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 7:30 pm
Location: Sweden

Re: harmonic progression analysis : help needed!

Postby L.Palo » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:44 am


Maybe a little late for an answer but anyway...

We have to understand the conventions of the time when the music was written to understand. It's very much common that even in late baroque music like Bach's the notation of key signature is not a key signature in the modern sense (we many times find d-minor without any key signature, g-minor with only one flat and even E-major with only three sharps). Your perfectly right that it's a legacy from the dorian "times", even though the tonal scheme turns towards our modern understanding, the old ways and conventions were still very much used.

There are also other ways to explain the use of "abnormal" key signatures that relate to the prevailing temperaments used by keyboard instruments in early days. Though I don't think that's the case here, but in many temperaments, most notably in mean tone with pure thirds, you have a g-sharp but no a-flat and you have a e-flat but no d-sharp. This will explain some very curious notation of chromatics and keys in the early days.

But in your case I think it's written like it is because of tradition at that time. And as far as harmonic analysis is concerned you can very well have a major chord on the fourth step even in a minor key, that's not impossible at all. Think for instance of the melodic version of the minor scales (compared to the harmonic versions).

Anyways, a little late for my answer but here it is...

Kind regards

Lars Palo

Posts: 44
Joined: Mon Jan 12, 2009 11:57 pm

Re: harmonic progression analysis : help needed!

Postby Joz » Tue Nov 03, 2009 8:26 am

Thanks for your answer !

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