Main accomplishments

At the end of the research process we can attempt to answer the research questions from which we started. I will start by answering the sub-questions and then we will arrive to answering the main question. The sub-questions are:

  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 version?

The harmonic reduction of the first movement proved to be highly important in creating the exercises. This reduction served as a basis to create most of the exercises and provides an insight in the harmonic patterns Beethoven used. We noticed for example that the harmonic layout of the first theme and the beginning of the transition are very similar (see example 9 on p.19). The exercises concerning the transition were constructed mainly from this harmonic reduction.

Improvisation is used in many exercises in a few different ways. Improvisation was used significantly in the main theme exercises and the development section. The different types of improvisation used where:

  • Improvising a soprano against a given bass,

  • Improvising a sequel to a given melody,

  • Improvising a different sequel to the same melody, but harmonized in a different


  • Improvising a melody by elaborating a melodic reduction,

  • Improvising a bass line,

  • Improvising a harmonization.

Formal analysis was crucial in the sense that it gave me an overview and insight into the structure of the movement. It thus allowed me to combine, for example, the transitions of the exposition and the recapitulation in the exercises. The analysis also led to a focus on fascinating parts of the piece as the development section and it revealed the hidden complexity of this formal section. By doing so it created the necessity for constructing exercises about this part. The reconstructions enhanced my insight in the development section and where used extensively in creating the exercises for this formal section. This allowed me to show, without words, the ingenuity and complexity of this part to the player. We moved from simple (reconstructed) sequences to Beethoven’s varied version of the basic motives.

Let us turn to our main question and formulate an answer:

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?

In the exercises I have showed the potential of analytical data to serve as the basis for discovering and experiencing the general language of a piece in the practice room. The general language thus refers to the basic harmonic progressions and melodic outlines and their reductions, something we can describe as the skeleton of a piece. These exercises are meant for advanced students who had classes in analysis and harmony and could provide these players with an insight into the piece right from the start of their practicing process. Within the context of this research I did not use all the data delivered by the analysis. We could for example have used the reconstructions of the transitions. Nevertheless the data used has shown the possibilities for the practical usage of the outcome of an analysis in creating exercises to prepare the player for practicing the first movement of opus 110. We have thus created an adapted version of the traditional score, inviting the player to harmonize, texturize, improvise, sing & play and discover the elaborate version Beethoven created of a seemingly simple skeleton.

It is important to mention here that by means of the exercises I do not want to avoid reading problems or devaluate the importance of strong (sight-)reading skills for any classical musician today. Sight-reading should remain a part of the daily practice. Rather I firstly want to make the player aware of certain standard or general harmonic progressions, in the sense that they will occur in other works by Beethoven as well. Secondly, awareness towards the choices Beethoven made and their implications for performance are created and establish a closer connection of the performer to this process.

I believe a performer should work on several pieces simultaneously, as is common practice in conservatories. When a few pieces are approached in the way I have proposed, maybe once a player reads a traditional score the wheels are in motion and a different way of thinking is implemented bringing harmony, analysis, ear-training, improvisation and instrumental skills closer together and developing a pianist’s musicianship in a broad sense.




Future work

In this exposition I have explored the possibilities in using analytical data in order to develop exercises to prepare one to start assimilating a score. I have not tested the exercises with a considerable panel of students and this would be the first thing to investigate in the future. Due to the scope of such a survey I have decided not to include it within this research, which focused on the construction and production of the exercises.

A second area where more research could be done is to find out whether this approach can be adapted to other instruments as well, for instance more melodic instruments like violin or oboe. Could this repertoire also be deconstructed and then put together in the form of similar exercises? This also raises the question whether music from different styles, periods and forms (the sonata form provides a clear formal framework) could be used. The approach might be the same, but in certain 20th century repertoire rhythm probably should be approached much more specifically. In the present research rhythmical analysis is of very little importance.

Furthermore the data gathered in this research was collected by means of traditional formal analysis and reconstructions and by means of a harmonic analysis. We could research if for example Schenkerian analysis brings results that lead to a different kind of exercises, maybe focused on the longer lines within a movement. By doing so this kind of analysis and exercises might contribute significantly to long term planning in the building of musical tension within a movement. It probably contributes most in longer first movements than the one of opus 110, as for example the first movement of Schubert’s B-flat major piano sonata, D960. Other specific analytical approaches could be tested as well, like Hans Keller’s Functional Analysis.