VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of Informational Site Network Informational
  Home - Music Terms - Music Lessons - How to Sing - Music History - Singing Choirs - Children Songs - The Voice - Advice for Singers

Most Viewed

The Double-period
Distinction Between Bipartite And Tripartite Forms
Lesson 4
The Sonatine Form
The Exposition
The Recapitulation
T The Second Rondo Form
The Necessity Of Form In Music
The Melodic Figure

Least Viewed

The Exposition
The Recapitulation
The Sonata-allegro Form
The First Part
Lesson 3
Locating The Cadences
Repetition Of The Parts
Lesson 12

Random Music Lessons

The Exposition
Part I
Relation To The Three-part Song-form
The First Rondo-form
Lesson 16
Lesson 11
Unity And Variety
Inherent Irregularity
Lesson 10
The Exposition

Application Of The Forms

The use of the various forms of composition, that is, their selection
with a view to general fitness for the composer's object, is,
primarily, simply a question of length. The higher aesthetic law of
adjusting the design to the contents, of which we spoke in the
preceding chapter, comes into action after the main choice has been

The smallest complete form, that of the PHRASE, can scarcely be
expected to suffice for an independent piece of music, though its
occurrence as independent section of an entire composition is by no
means rare. The nearest approach to the former dignity is the use of
the Large phrase in one instance by Beethoven, as theme for his
well-known pianoforte Variations in C minor; this theme, and
consequently each variation, is a complete and practically independent
composition. At the beginning of Beethoven's pianoforte sonata, Op.
27, No. 1, the student will find a succession of independent
four-measure phrases, each with a definite perfect cadence, and
therefore complete in itself; this chain of independent phrases is, in
fact, the structural basis of the entire first movement, interrupted
but briefly by the contrasting Allegro. The simple phrase may, also,
find occasional application in brief exercises for song or piano; and
we have witnessed its use as introduction, and as codetta, in many of
the larger designs.

The next larger complete form, the PERIOD, is somewhat more likely to
be chosen for an entire composition, but by no means frequently. The
early grades of technical exercises (public-school music, and similar
phases of elementary instruction) are commonly written in period-form,
and some of the smallest complete songs in literature (a few of
Schumann's, Schubert's, and others) may be defined as period-forms,
extended. The theme of the Chaconne (found in the works of Handel,
Bach, and even some modern writers) is usually a period. Of the
Pr?ludes of Chopin for pianoforte (op. 28), at least four do not exceed
the design of the extended period. But these are, naturally,
exceptional cases; the proper function of the period-form in music is,
to represent the Parts, and other fairly complete and independent
thematic members of larger forms. This is very largely true of the
DOUBLE-PERIOD, also; though it is a very appropriate and common design
for the hymn-tune, and similar vocal compositions; and is somewhat more
likely to appear as complete composition (in exercises, smaller piano
pieces and songs) than is the single period. Nine of Chopin's Pr?ludes
are double-periods.

The TWO-PART SONG-FORM, as already intimated, is not as common as might
be supposed. It is sometimes employed in smaller compositions for
piano (variation-themes and the like), or voice; and is probably the
form most frequently chosen for the hymn-tune. But its most important
place in composition is in the larger forms, as its design adapts it
peculiarly to the purposes of the themes, both principal and

The THREE-PART SONG-FORM, on the contrary, is unquestionably the most
common of all the music designs. Probably three-fourths of all our
literature are written in this form, with or without the repetitions,
or in the related Five-Part form. It is therefore difficult to
enumerate the styles of composition to which this admirable design is
well adapted, and for which it is employed.

The GROUP-FORMS will be found in many songs, ?tudes, anthems, and
compositions of a fantastic, capricious, rather untrammeled character,
in which freedom of expression overrules the consideration of clear,
definite form. It is the design perhaps most commonly selected for the
Invention, Fugue, and--particularly--the various species of Pr?lude;
though these styles, and others of decidedly fanciful purpose, are not
unlikely to manifest approximate, if not direct, correspondence to the
Three-Part Song-form. The modern Waltz is usually a group of

The SONG-FORM WITH TRIO is encountered in older dances, especially the
Menuetto, Passapied, Bourr?e, and Gavotte (though even these are often
simple Three-Part form, without Trio); and in many modern
ones,--excepting the Waltz. It is characteristic of the March,
Polonaise, modern Minuet, Gavotte and other dances, and of the
Minuet--or Scherzo-movement, in sonatas and symphonies.

The FIRST RONDO-FORM is sometimes substituted for the Song with Trio
(to which it exactly corresponds in fundamental design, as we have
learned) in compositions whose purpose carries them beyond the limits
of the Three- or Five-Part forms, and in which greater unity, fluency
and cohesion are required than can be obtained in the song with trio;
for instance, in larger Nocturnes, Romanzas, Ballades, ?tudes, and so
forth. The peculiar place for the First Rondo-form in literature,
however, is in the slow movement (adagio, andante, largo) of the
sonata, symphony and concerto, for which it is very commonly chosen.
It may also be encountered in the small Rondos of a somewhat early
date; and is of course possible in broader vocal compositions (large
opera, arias, anthems, etc.).

From what has just been said, the student will infer that the
rondo-form is not employed exclusively in pieces that are called
Rondo. In the sense in which we have adopted the term, it applies to
a design, and not to a style, of composition; precisely as the
sonata-allegro form may appear in a composition that is not a sonata.
This must not be overlooked. Furthermore, there are a few cases in
literature in which a movement marked Rondo is not written according
to the rondo-form.

The Second and Third Rondo-forms are so similar in purpose and
character that they are generally applied in the same manner, with no
other distinction than that of length. Besides occasional occurrence
as independent compositions (for instance, the two Rondos of Beethoven,
op. 51, the A minor Rondo of Mozart, the Rondos of Field, Dussek,
Hummel, Czerny, etc.), these designs are most commonly utilized for the
Finale (last movement) of the complete sonata, concerto,
string-quartet, trio, and other chamber-music styles; more rarely for
the finale of the symphony.

The SONATINE and SONATA-ALLEGRO FORMS, likewise, serve corresponding
purposes, and are chosen according to the length or breadth of design
desired. The sonatine-form may therefore be expected in the first
movement of smaller sonatas, or sonatinas (as they are often called),
but it is not infrequently employed in the slow movement of larger
sonatas or symphonies.

The most distinguished of all music-designs, the sonata-allegro form,
is almost invariably chosen for the opening movement of sonatas,
symphonies, concertos, trios, string-quartets and similar compositions,
sometimes in greatly augmented dimensions. It is also not unlikely to
appear in the slow movement, and finale, of the symphony.

Next: Lesson 19

Previous: Lesson 18

Add to Informational Site Network

Viewed 2093