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Old 12-11-2012, 04:16 PM   #1
Xiaoxi
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Analyzing Brahms: Insights to Help Us Improve Our Music

I often see these kinds of issues brought up by aspiring songwriters/composers on this forum: "I've come up with a cool idea, but I can't think of how to go on or what to do next" or "I always have trouble finishing a piece" or "I don't like the results. It seems very lacking and stale". These are very common problems, and it inspired me to write this lengthy analysis of Brahms' String Quartet No. 3. The first movement of this quartet shows an incredible level of maturity in compositional craft, one filled with creative solutions at every turn.

Composition advice is often put in vague terms, focusing only on the overall concerns and leaving a vacuum on the inner workings, which I suspect many people would like to know. Too often when we're struggling to write, we don't stop to ask, "Why this, now?", the answer to which will break the creative blockade. That is why I've attempted to retrace every step of this piece, breaking down every nuance along the way to show exactly what Brahms was thinking and what prompted each minute decision that allowed the music to progress and take shape. In documenting all this at such a micro level, I hope it will reveal to us new ways of approaching those common problems no matter what kind of music you're writing. Of course, this is a very long read (sorry no tl;dr), but there's no need to do it all in one sitting. What's important is taking it all in and really absorbing it, so read at a comfortable pace.

The focus will mostly be on 3 aspects:

Let's get started!
Download a copy of the PDF and listen along:


Introduction to the Sonata Form and its Exposition

Exposition - Theme A

Exposition - Bridge

Exposition - Theme B

Exposition - Coda

Introduction to the Development

Development - First Half

Development - Second Half

Recapitulation and Coda

Afterthoughts and Important General Considerations



Harmonic Analysis coming soon
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Last edited by Xiaoxi : 12-11-2012 at 10:22 PM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:24 PM   #2
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First. Don't have time to read it though.

EDIT: right now. I will in a few days when exams are done.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:46 PM   #3
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Reading now. And consider the Douglas Adams quote fixed.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:55 PM   #4
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i was really looking forward to seeing you try and get 5 posts reserved before we ruined your thread. but i'll need to set some time aside before i jump into it, work today and my last finals tomorrow, ick.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:17 PM   #5
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Hooray! I've been waiting for this.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:22 PM   #6
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Very interesting Xiaoxi. I'm transcribing and analyzing my favorite albums, so your post will come in handy reference.

Will read when I get the chance.
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:34 PM   #7
Life Is Brutal
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Will you be covering any Chopin in this discussion?
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nietsche
Reading now. And consider the Douglas Adams quote fixed.

That makes it all worth it :''''''''''''')

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hail
i was really looking forward to seeing you try and get 5 posts reserved before we ruined your thread.

I have to give myself a pat on the back for the solution I came up with. I'm a goddamn genius.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Life Is Brutal
Will you be covering any Chopin in this discussion?

Sure, here it is:

On the Subject of Chopin
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Last edited by Xiaoxi : 12-11-2012 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiaoxi

On the Subject of Chopin

LOL
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by amonamarthmetal
LOL


I also Lol'ed pretty hard.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:26 PM   #11
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you don't like chopin?! chopin is great!

i mean, he's not a master of composition like brahms, but he's great!

interesting read. i'll come back to it again when i have more time to really appreciate it in depth.
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i smell a theme.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:22 PM   #12
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No mo cho please!!!!!!!!!!

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Old 12-11-2012, 10:26 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AeolianWolf
master of composition like brahms

Well, let's not get crazy.
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:32 PM   #14
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The hell is THAT supposed to mean??!!
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:37 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xiaoxi
No mo cho please!!!!!!!!!!



How bout you Liszten to some Liszt, instead? Or can you not Handel it?
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:28 PM   #16
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How bout you Liszten to some Liszt, instead? Or can you not Handel it?

I'll be Bach

































































































































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Old 12-11-2012, 11:34 PM   #17
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I'm sick of Brahms after listening to his first symphony for analysis countless times.
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:40 PM   #18
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Mother****er I Didn't Even See It Was Brahms' 3rd String Quartet When I Came In Here Before

This Is Legitimately My Favorite Piece By Brahms

i guess capslock isn't tolerated here anymore.
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Old 12-12-2012, 03:12 AM   #19
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Hey, thanks for writing this. I listened to the piece and followed along with the sheet music, and I read your whole analysis while doing my best to go and revisit the sections you talked about. Approaching classical composition methods is kind of daunting so stuff like this really useful and inspiring. The final section really gave me some motivation and things to think about.

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Old 12-12-2012, 10:20 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by TheHydra
Hey, thanks for writing this. I listened to the piece and followed along with the sheet music, and I read your whole analysis while doing my best to go and revisit the sections you talked about. Approaching classical composition methods is kind of daunting so stuff like this really useful and inspiring. The final section really gave me some motivation and things to think about.

Glad it did something for you. Did you find it understandable/easy to understand?
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