The andantino, from Khachaturian’s Pictures from Childhood, is written for solo piano. Although it is a relatively short work, lasting only twenty-nine bars, it contains many elements which are common to Khachaturian’s compositional style, such as a strong folk music influence.
The melody, whether Khachaturian’s own or an existing folk melody, provides the work’s form. The regular four-bar phrases, which connect into three eight-bar phrases, divide the work into a simple ternary form, with a single bar introduction and a four-bar coda.
Intro – bar 1
A section – bb. 2–9
B section – bb. 10–17
A section (with slight variation) – bb. 18–25
Four-bar coda – bb. 26–29
The first A section melody essentially decorates the perfect fifth descent between G and C, the dominant and tonic degrees of C minor. The descent is interrupted at the end of the first four-bar phrase by the mediant note (E flat).
The second A section’s melody, although slightly embellished, outlines the same perfect fifth descent.
The B section is built from melodic motifs found in both A sections, the B section, however, decorates two different intervals in its eight-bar duration: the first four bars decorates a perfect fourth descent, while the second four bars decorates the familiar perfect fifth descent between G and C.
The final four-bar coda decorates the note C.
Although the work is notated with a C minor key signature and has a strong melodic connection to that key, Khachaturian’s harmonic accompaniment makes full use of chromaticism and modal elements to colour the basic C minor tonality – even the melody includes several instances of modal inflection (see below).
To achieve modal inflections in the harmony, Khachaturian cleverly builds the accompaniment for the two A sections and coda on a descending sixth interval: major sixth for the first A section and minor sixth for the second A section and coda.
The descending major sixth of the first A section occurs between the root and third degrees of a C minor triad
while the second A section’s descending minor sixth occurs between the third and fifth degrees of a C minor triad
The coda’s descending minor sixth occurs between the submediant and tonic of C minor.
The notes of the C minor triad which frame both A sections’ sixth intervals are connected with a chromatic descent
The coda’s minor sixth is similarly connected, although its descent includes major seconds and is therefore not a true chromatic descent
The B section is built on a minor seventh interval, although a minor sixth interval is found between the first and last notes of the seven-bar section (F – D flat). The minor seventh of the B section occurs between the lowered supertonic and mediant of C minor – the lowered supertonic is also used melodically in bar 16, and to create the work’s final cadence, a Phrygian cadence, in bars 28–29.
As with both A sections, the framing notes of the B section’s minor seventh interval are connected with a descent which, although mostly chromatic, includes a major second in bar 16
The descents in all sections and the coda form a continuous descent broken by leaps in bars 9–10 and 17–18; the leaps keep the descent from moving below the bass staff.
The descents of the first A section, B section and coda are essentially harmonised in thirds but also include tritones (bars 14–16) and a perfect fifth in the final bar (bar 29).
The B section is mainly harmonised using major thirds as opposed to the first A section which uses mainly minor thirds; the coda also uses mainly major thirds. The use of ‘brighter’ thirds in the B section and coda provides further contrast between the sections.
The descent in the second A section is harmonised in sixths as it is an inversion of the harmonised thirds of the first A section.
It is the use of the harmonised thirds, sixths and occasional tritones combined with the melody which creates the work’s harmonies. However, the chord used to complete each eight-bar section is always a C minor triad, either inverted or in root position,
this creates cohesion and helps to ‘resolve’ the accompaniment’s chromaticism. It also connects all of the harmonies to ‘C’ – many of the chords do not create functional progressions as they are formed as a result of the harmonised descents rather than from any one scale or mode. However, the scales and modes from which most of the chords could be drawn all contain C as their tonic; in this way Khachaturian’s harmonies are also connected through pitch axis.