This analysis is of the first movement of "From Foreign Lands and People" from the Schumann Piano Suite: "Kinderszenen (Scenes form Childhood), Op 15 No 1. A piano score showing motivic patterns, can be found in PDF format by clicking below:


An analysis outline showing voice leading, root progression patterns and phrase structures can be found in PDF format by clicking below:


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Step 1 - Identify the Cadences, Phrases and Formal Structure

The phrase structure can be determined by identifying the cadences. This stage is relatively straight forward, for this piece. The music is in two sections. The phrase structure can be summarised as follows:

Bars Length Cadence
1 to 8 8 bars Perfect (V - I) both chords in root position
9 to 14 6 bars Perfect (V - I) both chords in inversion (see below)
15 to 22 8 bars Perfect (V - I) both chords in root position

At this stage, we haven't examined the structure of these phrases sufficiently to determine whether they are complete or incomplete or whether any combine to form larger phrase structures. The phrase numbers are indicated in the score by numbers in a circle (in red). The melodic content confirms this segmentation as will be seen in the next section.

The first section is 8 bars in length, is made up of a single phrase in G major and is repeated. Chromatic harmonies are used only to decorate the tonality. They do not establish new keys. There is a cadence at the end of the section and this is a perfect cadence (V- I) in G (bars 7 to 8). Both chords of the cadence are in root position. The melodic and cadential elements thus suggest that the first 8 bars forms a complete unit. This is confirmed by the repeat marks at the end of the section. This can be formally described as section "A" of the structure. Phrase 1. therefore corresponds to formal section A.

The second section has two distinct phrases. The first phrase is 6 bars long (bars 9 to 14). The phrase starts on an E minor chord. The chord progression has the initial appearance of being in E minor, but it soon becomes clear that this is dynamic harmony in G major. The first two chords (E minor and A minor) are followed by D and G which which makes this:

vi - ii - V - I

progression in G major. Whilst we arrive at the dominant chord of E minor (B major) at bar 12, this is immediately followed by a G chord. The phrase ends with a perfect cadence in G major at bar 14. The fermata (pause sign) over the G chord emphasises that this is the end of the phrase. However, it is worth noting that the V - I cadence is weakened by the fact that the dominant chord is in 3rd inversion and the tonic is introduced in first inversion. This is the middle section - section "B". (The "middle eight" as popular musicians might call it, except there are only 6 bars). This middle section contains melodic material, in the bass line, developed from the first phrase "A". See later.

The second phrase of the second section is an exact repeat of the first section phrase, except for the final minims. Consequently this is section "A" repeated.

The formal structure is thus:

A, B A

Or if we take account of the repeats:

A A, B A B A

I will avoid describing this as binary or ternary as these are normative terms and are confusing as sometimes pieces have characteristics of both, as does this piece. It is binary in the sense that it is formally divided into two sections but it is ternary in the sense that it follows the pattern A - B - A. I will describe the formal structure with reference to its melodic and cadence structure, rather than attempting to fit it into a given pattern. This is in keeping with the approach taken in the remaining analyses on this site.


Next Section: Schumann - Voice Leading and Root Progression Analysis

Schumann Analysis Index Page



Ver. 2.6