1.4 Research questions and method

My research question is as follows:

In which ways can we use the outcome of an analysis to develop a practice method focused on learning the general musical language of a score, instead of just memorizing the right notes?

  1. a)  In which ways can we use the harmonic reductions to create exercises that prepare us for practicing the piece?

  2. b)  What role does improvisation play in this process?

  3. c)  What do formal analysis and reconstructions bring us in making an alternative


By means of formal analysis, reconstructions and harmonic reduction I will downsize the score to its essential harmonies and melodic contours. In this research I hope to find out which kind of exercises can be created.
Generating data
1 through analysis will thus be the first step. This then results in a lead sheet or framework of certain parts of the piece and the player, through the act of harmonizing bass lines, improvising melodic content and/or textures moves toward the actual score. Preparing this skeleton requires a theoretical framework that focuses on:

  • Harmonic analysis, harmonic reduction and the reconstruction of sequences.
  • Formal analysis and reconstruction.
  • A concise study of Beethoven's piano figurations or textures within opus 110.



Of course we could use more methods of musical analysis, for example Schenkerian analysis. Within the framework of this research I have decided to limit myself to an analysis that doesn’t require too much specialized theoretical knowledge and can probably be produced by most instrumentalists. The idea behind this is that piano teachers could produce an analysis and produce and alternative score themselves for their pupils.2 Of course further research could be interesting in order to see if more specialized ways of analysis such as Heinrich Schenker’s approach or Hans Keller’s Functional Analysis, would bring different results.

As a case study I will use the first movement of the piano sonata opus 110 by Ludwig van Beethoven. This piece offers sufficient harmonic and analytical questions to develop a process that is broadly applicable to more repertoire. I would like to advise the reader to keep a score of the first movement at hand while reading this research.