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F. Chopin: Piano Prelude No. 15 in D flat Major (Raindrop Prelude)

Updated on July 4, 2012

F. Chopin: Piano Prelude No. 15 in D flat Major (Raindrop Prelude)

Revision notes for the Edexcel GCSE Scheme of work

Born in Poland in 1810, Chopin eventually moved to Paris where he fell in love with the French novelist Amantine Dupin. He died at the tender age of 39 from tuberculosis.

Chopin was a pianist and composer during the Romantic period during the 19th century. Romantic art is characterised by being emotional and expressive with harmonies and strong melodies.

The Raindrop Prelude was finished 1839 and is taken from a set of 24 preludes (where there are 12 pieces in a major key and 12 pieces in a minor key).

The piece is nicknamed the Raindrop Prelude as it's often said that it sounds like rain falling due to the repetition of notes (will be discussed later). The idea came from the sound rain falling on the roof in Majorca where Chopin was staying.

The score is very detailed - it includes a lot of markings: pedal markings, fingerings, dynamic markings, and Italian terms. The pedal markings are under the bass stave, showing the pianist where to push the pedal (ped.) and let go of it (*). The fingerings help the player know which finger is to play which note by placing little numbers above the note, as it can get confusing sometimes.

Key Features

Dates - 1810 - 1900

Romantic Era – The period of western classical music from about 1820 – 1900

Instruments of the orchestra:

- Piano developed and improved

- Wider range of instruments in orchestra

Musical structures:

- Sonata form

- Symphony

- Structure conveys mood

Key Features:

- Wide range of feeling and emotion in music

- Represents natural world

- Melody lines become more developed

- Freedom for composers

- More chords being used

- Harmonies are often chromatic or discordant

- Very wide ranges of dynamics (ppp - fff)

- Links to other art forms

- Nationalist & folk music explored

- Expansion of orchestra

- Development of piano


What is it?

MAD T-SHIRT is a tip for remembering musical features by going through 9 key parts of any musical piece.

They are:

Melody, Articulation, Dynamics, Texture, Structure, Harmony (tonality), Instrumentation, Rhythm, Tempo


Raindrop Prelude


- Lots of ornamentation in the first melodies and in section A: acciaccaturas and appoggiaturas

- Melody starts in right hand in section A, moves to right in section B, back again in A1

- Dominant Pedal note of Ab repeated to simulate raindrop pattering

- Falling motif of 'F Db Ab' to simulate rain drop


- Pedal used to help the piece flow

- No use of staccato notes, only legato, and accented notes (always on beats 1 and 3 to help with the rhythm)


- Changes from [p] to [f] very quickly, in some places in 2 bars, in B section, the piece changes dynamics gradually, creating the sense of the storm getting heavier and softer


- Melody and accompaniment


- Ternary form (A, B, A1)

- A: storm starting

- B: storm in full force

- A1: storm ending

Harmony (tonality)

- A: Db Major, then Ab Minor, Bb minor, then back to Db major

- B: C# Minor (tonic minor of Db Major), then to E major, and back to C#

- A1: Back to home key (Db Major)

- Chords help support the B section, and chordal sections are used in the later part of A, and the final 6 bars of A1


- Piano soloist


- The whole piece is in 4/4

- Dotted rhythms add syncopation to raindrop pattern


- Rubato at the beginning, to help the pianist express feeling in the music, then to Rit. At the end, slowing down the piece at the final perfect cadence creating the sense that the rain is stopping

- Demisemiquavers makes the piece sound faster, adding to the raindrop effect


- For all those words you didn't understand and more! -

Soft pedal - once pressed it softens the hitting of the note, creating a softer tone

Sustain pedal - once pressed it allows the strings to vibrate freely

Arpeggio - the notes of a chord played individually, rather than all together

Cantabile - song like

Tempo rubato - expressive or rhythmic freedom,

Fugue - An imitative polyphonic composition in which themes are stated successively in all of the voices of the contrapuntal structure.

Acciaccatura - an ornament that is played as quickly as possible before the written note


- Baroque - trill starts one note above and goes quickly between the 2

- Classical - trill starts on the note written and goes up, quickly between the 2

- Second to last note is usually one below the note

- Mordent - like trills, but played for longer and start and finish on the same note, playing between 2 notes

Turn - starts on the note above the written note, then hits the written note, the one below, and back to the written note, e.g. written note: C - D C B C

Dominant pedal - sustained or repeated notes in the dominant note of the key

Inner pedal - a sustained or repeated note in the middle of a musical texture

Inverted dominant pedal - a sustained note as the highest part in a musical texture

Pivot note - a note that the composer may go up or down from, pivoting from the original key to a second key used


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