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  • Photo du rédacteurE.M.G.


Dernière mise à jour : 18 févr. 2018

Listen to Louisiana Glide:

This Barrel house piece written in the D major key shows an interesting form: basically an ABA form with 2 themes A and B. However, a closer look reveals that each section (A and B) is itself divided in 3 parts: A (8 measures), A’ (8 measures) and A’’ (16 measures). Let’s remark that a melody beginning on measures 5, 8, 13 and 21 follows the Fibonacci sequence (13=8+5...). Also note that in each sub-part the first 4 measures of the A (or B) theme remain the same.


It is based on the dominant chord A7. In the first measure, there is a first inversion of A7 with the right hand playing block chords within octaves. In measure 2, as it is the bVII7 chord, the C7 chord may play a dominant role (since A7b9 and C7 have common tones). In measure 3, there is an opposite (and retrograde) motion between the lead which follows a chromatic upward motion from A to C#, and the bass which goes from C# to the dominant A. Measure 3 makes sound the chords AM/C#, C7, E-/B and C7/Bb. So there is chromatic approach logic in this introduction.

The A section: measures 5 to 68

Note the offset rhythm of the bass creating anticipations, in relation to the title. Indeed, it gives the impression of an endless fall. From measure 1 to 4, the bass uses the same falling pitch contour.

Measures 5 to 12: A

They are built on the following progression: DM / A7 / B7 / B7 and E7 / A7 / DM / A7

Measures 5 to 8:

In measure 5 the right hand begins on the 2nd beat and plays block chords within octaves. On the 3rd beat note the C#°7 diminished dominant chord. The 2 hands go in opposite directions. The lead follows a stepwise movement from the tonic to the subdominant, and is roughly a retrograde motion of the bass.

In measure 6, note that each note which has already been played in measure 5 has the same harmonization. The 2nd beat, for example, is now a passing I chord.

The 2 first beats of measure 7 are a transposition of measure 6 to fit with the B7 chord. On the 3rd beat note the G#°7 approaching chord of B7. In measure 7 and 8, the lead is a stepwise motion from F# to the tonic D. On the 3rd beat the G in the bass can be understood as a short modulation to the E minor key. The E# on the 4th beat is a chromatic approach to F#. The role of the G#°7 on the right hand can either be a passing diminished chord or a V/V before the 2nd inversion of BM.

In measure 8, the 2nd beat is a C#°7 chord, V of DM.

Finally, from measures 5 to 8, the lead is almost a motion from the tonic to the tonic an octave higher. The right hand at the end of measure 8 is a double chromatic approach to the 3rd D-F#.

Measures 9 to 12:

In measure 9, there is an ambiguity between the DM and the E7 chord, with the G# in the bass line and in the lead. This bass follows a downward motion from 8 to 9.

In measure 10, note in the right hand the chromatic approach of F# and C#. The 2 first beats of measure 12 is a transposition of 11. In this 11th measure the E is approaching the D, E and E# are approaching the F#.

Measure 12 is made up of A7, the dominant chord to come back to the beginning of the theme.

In measure 11 and 12, the right hand almost plays the same pattern as in measure 9 (same chromatic movement from a 9th to a 3rd. From measure 12 to 13, the melody could be summed up as E, D, C#, B, A.

Measures 13 to 20: A’

Measures 13 to 15 are like 5 to 7.

In measure 16, the lead is a rhythmic diminution of 15. It follows a chromatic upward motion from F# to A.

In measures 17 to 20, the bass differs from that of 9 to 12.

Chords of measure 16 and 17 could be explained by the common tones between C#7b9, G#°7 and E7b9.

In measure 19 and 20, the lead uses the “rag” rhythm and motif of the introduction in measure 4 (built on the 5th and the root of a chord). The left hand is like in measure 12.

Measures 21 to 36: A’’

Measures 21 to 25 are almost the same as 5 to 9. However, measures 26 to 36 differ from 10. In measure 26 there is a sort of climax on the 2nd beat.

In measures 27 and 28, measure 9 pattern appears again on a F#7 chord. On the 3rd beat of measure 28, note the diminished 5th of F#7.

In measure 32, this D°7 is an approach chord of DM, as they both contain D. The measure 9 pattern appears again in the right hand. Also note in the right hand the root of the C#7b9 chord above the block.

Measures 33 to 36 are conclusive with the progression DM B7, E- A7, DM, A7. Measure 34 uses again measure 9 pattern. In measure 35, note the embellishment around the 5th of DM. Measure 36 uses the measure 4 pattern.

Measures 37 to 68 are the same as 5 to 36 an octave higher.

Finally, this first section uses many first inversions of chord (measure1, 6, 7, 9, 10…), 6th intervals in the lead, octaves, approach notes, chromatic tones, diminished approach chords. An appropriate use of registers with the most treble tones in the middle of phrases creates climax and enhances the theme.

The B section: measures 69 to 100

In this part the right hand uses octaves while the left hand plays a rag time accompaniment (alternating between a bass and a block or triad of the chord of the moment).

Measures 69 to 76: B

Measure 69 like the A theme, begins on the 3rd of DM followed by the root. By the way the first 5 notes are the same as in measure 5. In measure 6 there is a V/VI (F#7) chord, the right hand playing the same rhythm as in measure 17. Measures 69 and 70 have the same pitch contour as 71 and 72. Measures 70 and 71 are on the B7 chord.

Measures 73 to 76 are based on E7 / A7 / DM. In measure 75 the measure 9 pattern is used again. From measure 73 to 75, the bass plays the same 10th pattern from root to 3rd. Note the use of diminished passing chords in the bass between the 9th and the 3rd (in measure 73: E7, F#-, E°7 and E7). In measures 74 and 75 the left hand is a transposition of 73. As regards the right hand, measures 73 and 74 show the same pitch contour adapted to the A7 chord.

Measure 76 is based on G- (a minor subdominant), DM, D°7 and E-7 under a tonic pedal.

Measures 77 to 84: B’

Measures 77 to 80 are almost like 69 to 72.

In measure 81 there is the same bass process as in 73 (C#7, D#-, C#°7, C#7). Note the similarities between the lead in 81 and 70. In measure 83, there is a chromatic lead from the 3rd to the 5th of the F#7 chord. In measure 84, a II V progression with a downward scale of D major bring the beginning of the theme back.

Measures 85 to 100: B’’

Measures 85 to 88 are the same as 69 to 72. Measures 89 and 90 look like measures 73 and 74. At the end of 90, a G7/D chord brings the F#7 chord of 91. Measure 91 make us ear again the measure 9 pattern.

From measure 91 to 93, the lead can be summed up as follows: F#, E, D, C#, B.

At the beginning of 93, the lead recalls measure 72, then it uses chromatic notes from the root to the altered 13th of B7.

Measure 94 is a repetition of 93.

Measure 96 consists in a E#°7 passing chord. From measure 97 there is an acceleration of the harmonic rhythm to announce the end of the B section and bring back the A theme.

Measure 97 to 99 use a I, V/II, II and V progression. In measure 98 the lead is once again based on measure 9. The right hand in measure 99 follows an upward scale of DM from the tonic to the tonic.

Measures 101 to the end: back to the A theme

In measure 131, the lead is the same as in 99, but the bass follows an opposite movement.

Unexpectedly, we could draw a parallel between the form of this Barrel house boogie and that of the last movement of the Fernando Sor Shiny variations. Indeed, the 2 pieces repeat the beginning of a theme and make variations on the second part of it. Let’s note that in Death ray boogie and in the Weary blues it is the opposite: this is the end of the theme which stays the same.

So, in Louisiana glide unity is kept thanks to the 3 repetitions of each theme, of the measure 9 pattern and that of measure 4. Moreover, in spite of many short modulations, the key of D major stays all along the piece.

Variety is brought by the 2 different types of arrangement of the left and right hand and the 2 themes. The B section shows a clearer harmony and is closer of a rag-time playing.

A strong identity in this style of music comes from the stride octaves bass, approach and passing tones or chords, diminished chords, block chords in the right hand, the use of tensions, typical rhythms and chords progressions…

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