Show off your theory chops with my weekly challenge! You’ll find a new question here every Monday. Please comment to post your reply.
This week’s challenge:
Listen to the audio from the third movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 17, “The Tempest.”
What is the chord in the red section? Give the analytical name, within the context of the piece’s key. Then, tell me what’s unusual about how Beethoven wrote it here.
Come back Friday, July 9th for the answer!
ANSWER for 7/5/21
If you spent the week craving three-flavored ice cream, you probably got the right answer! This is the Neapolitan, or “flat two chord.” Typically heard in minor keys, it’s a major triad built on the flatted second note of the scale. It functions the same way as a diatonic II chord: a predominant, or preparation for V. But usually it’s found in first inversion, and therefore called Neapolitan 6. That gives a strong authentic cadence: N6 to V to i. In this example, though, Beethoven uses the Neapolitan in the less typical root position, creating a weaker, more subtle cadence: N to V6 to i. But Beethoven is well aware of this, and follows it up with another authentic cadence, this one stronger. It’s all about where you’re headed.
This summer I’m creating a whole new module for the Breaking Barlines course: Chromatic Harmony! Sign up for a monthly subscription for full access to all video lessons, worksheets, and answer keys. Stay tuned for new lessons on the Neapolitan and other types of chromatic harmony. I created Breaking Barlines with one thing in mind: making music theory effective and FUN!