This might be a silly question, and yes I used the search bar.

What kind of chords does Beethoven use, the dissonant ones, particularly in his Piano Sonatas (Pathetique, Moonlight, Appasionate)? I've been trying to emulate the sound for a few days now with no luck, and even if I get a nice dissonant chord, I don't know which context to use it in. From a few of them, I see flat9's and sharped 7th's, but what else? I know that he used a lot of crazy polychordal stuff, like in the beginning of the Pathetique Sonata, if I recall correctly.

So if anyone has any typical Beethoven chords and progressions, I'd love to hear em.
I can't say that I know very much about Beethoven, but I think a device which he uses is to alternate only the base tone of a chord.

For example, in the beginning of the 1 mvt. of the Moonlight Sonata there's an a-minor chord, which subsequently becomes a C6 by adding a C in the base, it's kind of nice to play around with.

Also, if my memory serves me well, the chord after the C6 is a F. And that's just going round the circle of fourths, it's something that's common in jazz standards as well as in classical music.
Last edited by mr_magic at May 1, 2008,
he also uses single tone alterations a bit, wherein he will do something like


which gives a progression of Amin, F (inverted with the III in the bass) Dmin (inverted with the V in the bass)

i don't know a ton of beethoven but i have seen some of his stuff do this alot.
What you're looking for isn't determined by progression so much. Any given sequence of chords isn't going to give you the same effect, a lot of it is determined by the treatment.

Beethoven's music isn't incredibly complex, but it's a hard style to mimic if you don't really understand it. Most of it is contrapuntal, and not overly complex counterpoint either; Beethoven did a lot of studying out of the Fux manual, and heavily incorporated it into his writing. A lot of the effect comes from careful treatment of pitch frames, and the timing of non chord tones, and their resolutions.

The counterpoint, and strong voice leading, are what z4twenny's talking about. The only real suggestion I have here is theory classes, a lot of part writing, the Fux manuscript or a counterpoint class, and a whole lot of practice.
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