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FORM The Blueprint of Music Why do we have form? Form is a way to organize music in a way that makes more sense to the performer and the listener. Form is a key part in helping with communicating music. Types of Forms in Music There are many different types of forms in music – some range from relatively simple to incredibly complex. The forms we will discuss are: binary (AB), ternary (ABA), canon, round, theme and variation, fugue, rondo, and sonata allegro. Overall structures (larger forms) include: symphony, concerto, sonata, and suite. Binary Form (AB) Binary Form or AB form is the MOST used form in all pop, rock, country, and some rap music. Prefix bi- means TWO – so Binary Form is any song that has two main parts. Music on the radio is mostly binary because those two parts are: verse and chorus Ternary Form (ABA) Ternary Form or ABA form is a form that has 3 distinct parts. The “A” section returns at the end in its entirety to form the ABA Think of it like a sandwich with the first slice of bread being A, meat/cheese being B and the bread returns again with A. Canon/Round A canon and round are essentially the same thing. To perform a canon/round, one group of musicians will begin playing at the beginning of a piece and once they reach a certain spot, another group begins at the beginning. Ex. Row Row Row Your Boat Theme and Variation • Theme and variation is one of the easiest forms to recognize when you hear it. • First, a theme is played – then as the piece progresses, that same theme continues to be played, but the composer changes it slightly (perhaps adding more notes, taking away notes, changing harmonies) to create variations. • Each variation of that theme is usually separated into a section all its own (meaning there are usually moments of silence between each variation). Fugue The fugue is one of the more complex forms in music, but they can also be relatively simple. In a fugue, there is a main theme/melody called a “subject.” A fugue begins with just ONE voice playing or singing that subject. The one voice plays all the way through the subject and once it is finished, another voice enters playing the subject again while the original voice plays harmonic material. Once that second voice finishes the subject, another voice enters at the beginning of the subject. The piece continues on with different voices trading around the subject until it finally ends with one last statement of the subject. Rondo Rondo form is quite simply a form where a section keeps coming back. A common layout for rondo form is ABACA – the “A” section is stated at the beginning then comes back two more times exactly the same as before. The two middle sections (“B” and “C”) are not only different from A, but also different from each other. Sonata Allegro Form Sonata allegro form is a more in-depth version of Ternary Form (ABA) Sonata allegro form has 3 main sections (ABA) but each of those sections has a specific name. The first “A” (A1) is called the “exposition” “B” is called the “development” Second “A” (A2) is called the “recapitulation” Each section has a specific purpose/job Sonata Allegro Form Cont… The Exposition states the two main themes of the piece of music. The Development takes those two themes and (similar to the variations from theme and variations) changes them to create new material that sounds different but recognizable at the same time. The Recapitulation restates the two main themes from the Exposition almost exactly the same way they were heard before in the exposition. Sonata Allegro Form contd. Sonata allegro form is the most used and frequently seen form in classical music. It is used as parts of symphonies, concertos, sonatas, and on its own as well. Composers such as Mozart and Haydn made this form very popular and later Beethoven revolutionized the form making it his own. Larger Forms Symphony – a large orchestral work usually made up of 4 movements. 1st Movement is Fast and usually in “sonata allegro” form. 2nd Movement is slow/lyrical 3rd Movement is dance-like 4th Movement is either very fast and brilliant or very dramatic and heroic. Symphonies are one of the major forms used by composers: most classical composers composed at least ONE symphony – some composers such as Haydn wrote over 100 in their lifetime. Concerto A concerto is a specific form written for a solo instrument with an orchestra accompanying. The concerto has 3 movements usually following a format of Fast, Slow, Fast. The first movement of a concerto is also normally in “sonata allegro” form. Sonata A sonata (not “sonata allegro form”) is a piece of music written for a solo instrument to play by itself (with no one else except maybe a piano). A sonata has 3 movements just like a concerto usually following the format of Fast, Slow, Fast. The first movement of a sonata (just like a concerto and symphony) usually uses the “sonata allegro” form. Suite A suite is usually a collection of 5 short pieces (usually dances). They vary in tempo from movement to movement but usually start Fast and end Fast.
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