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The Preludes and Beyond

Bengt Edlund

The first study of this volume looks for reminiscences of Dies Irae in Chopin’s works. A great number of allusions and affinities are found in the preludes as well as in Chopin’s output. The study also yields insights into Chopin’s composition method. These intertextual findings are used in an attempt to establish the extra-musical content of the Second Ballade. Five preludes – A minor, E minor, B minor, A major and C minor – are closely examined, using diverse analytical approaches. A primary concern is to critically assess previous readings, and Schenkerian ones in particular. An analysis of the initial right-hand passage of the F-minor étude from Méthode brings up matters of idiomatic and ontology.


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Chapter 5. How could analysis be deconstructed by the A-major Prelude?


Chapter 5 How could analysis be deconstructed by the A-major Prelude? Some introductory remarks on deconstruction Deconstructive thinking has been introduced by the ever-older New Musicology into the ever-newer old musicology as a way to unearth the double messages that music works unknowingly hide like hats lodging two rabbits, or rather one rabbit and one duck. It might therefore be worthwhile to study an investigation of this kind in order to evaluate the merits of deconstruction as a method of music analysis and criticism.1 Unfortunately, deconstructive writings are sometimes sophisti­ cated beyond readability, but there is one item that I really like: Rose Rosengard Subotnick’s painstaking analysis of Chopin’s A-major Prelude.2 Being a musicologist with an analytical bent, my 1 Adam Krims insists that there is no such thing as a deconstructive method in Derrida (he claims that there are several methods or indeed none) and certainly no general methodological commodity involving the use hierarchical oppositions; cf. Adam Krims, “Disciplining Deconstruction (For Music Analysis)”, 19th Century Music 21(1998) 3, 297-324. His critique of various attempts at “deconstructive” music analysis is thought-provoking, but there is an element of orthodoxy in his line of reasoning. Methods are sometimes founded by individuals, but they are established by scholarly practice and following, and while the benefits of having methods of humanistic study patented are questionable, the idea of protecting a non-method seems absurd. 2 Rose Rosengard Subotnick, “How Could Chopin’s A-Major Prelude Be Decon­ structed?”, chapter 2, pp. 39-147, in Subotnick, Deconstructive Variations:...

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