George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Chaconne in G Major, from Trois Lecons (Three Lessons)
P.100 CD 2.1
There is a theme and 21 variations each lasting 8 measures long. All of the variations are supposed to be repeated but the recording that came along with the anthology did not play the repeats. Some of the variations have a first and second ending. The different variations include eight notes, triplets, and sixteenth notes that alternate in the left and right hand. The variations use upper, lower and double neighbor tones. The time signature switches as between ¾ and 9/8. Some variations feel as if they should be grouped together because the right hand plays maybe eight notes and a harmonic progression in the left hand and in the next variation the left hand would play eight notes and the right hand would play the harmonic progression
Roman Numerals in the key of g major:
I I, V6 V6, vi7/V, V, I6 I6, IV I6 viidim6, I I64, V7, I4-3 I
In variations 1-8 the same chord progression or similar is used. As the variations change and less harmonic chords are played it still sounds like the same because on the downbeat of each measure is the same as the original progression. The variations with lots of moving embellishments have less harmonic chords played but it still plays the same chords that are supposed to be played on the downbeat. The harmonic variation is shown in the rhythm of the progressions. A measure that started with a quarter beat and then half beat would vary to half beat, quarter beat measure or a quarter beat, dotted quarter beat, and eight beat measure, or a quarter beat and half beat rest, or quarter beat then quarter beat rest and then another quarter beat.
Variation 9, 10, 14, and 16 Roman Numerals:
i, v6, iv6, V, I, iv, i64, i
Variation 11, 12, 13, and 15 Roman Numerals for the first 4 measures:
i iv6, VII III6, VI ii6, V i6
Neapolitans: m102 (variation 12), m109 (variation 13)
Secondary dominants: m131, m133 (variation 16)
Secondary leading-tone chords: m.85 (variation 10), m131 (variation 16)
Minor v: m74 (variation 9), m114 (variation 14)
The harmonic progressions in the g minor variations are the same as the variations in g major except for chords that change when a key changes from major to minor. The descending bass line descends down a major second to the next measure. There is chromaticism in the 3rd and 4th measures of the progression. To make it a V the f-sharp needs to be changed in the minor key.
This Chaconne uses continuous and sectional variations. For continuous it has a ternary form where the first A section is major then the B section is in the parallel minor and the second A section goes back to the major key. The theme is clearly stated and the variations are easy to tell, aside from the variations being labeled. When it goes to the minor key the meter slows down. It has a change of character compared to the first section with all the moving notes. In the all of the variations there is a ground bass. In the minor section it uses the continuous technique of repeating the melodic phrase. Chaconnes tend to be continuous with a statement and a repeating harmonic progression. But Chaconnes also are hard to tell the division because the variations seem to all flow together.