CCSF MUS27A Symposium musician with
                      his seven-stringed lyre beside the fluted column
                      of a building, ca. 460 b.c. University of
                      Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology (c) Instructor: Larry Ferrara  
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Music Appreciation
   
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Week 10

 

THE CLASSICAL PERIOD CONTINUED

 

MINUET AND TRIO FORM

The minuet and trio is usually found as the third movement of a four movement Classical era symphony, sonata, or string quartet and is the only dance movement in these Classical era works. It is in triple meter, of moderate tempo and itís use was borrowed by Classical era composers from Baroque period practice. The first minuet was paired with a second minuet called a trio. After the trio the first minuet returns. So in actuality the form should be called, Minuet Trio Minuet form. The second big section is called a Trio because in the Baroque era there were 3 instruments such as 2 oboes or violins, 1 bassoon or cello, plus continuo (harpsichord). During the Classical era the Trio section had just fewer instruments and if the Minuet was scored for a string orchestra the Trio would be for the woodwinds. After the Minuet and then the Trio section are each repeated, the first Minuet comes back without repeats. The internal structure is diagrammed as follows:

Minuet Trio Minuet
I:A:I:BA: I:C:I:DC: I:ABA:I

The Minuet was the most popular social dance in Europe during the 1680ís to 1690ís and remained popular after Louis the XIVís death well into the Classical era.

Etching of a Minuet
                            Court Dance

 

RONDO FORM

The classical form based on the principle of periodic thematic return. Typically rondo movements are light and engaging and occur as the last movement in a Classical sonata or Concerto. The meter is usually duple and the tempo is usually presto. The idea of departure and return is expanded in the rondo and the internal structure can be diagrammed:

A B A C A D A (coda)

The rondo theme is catchy and remember able because you are going to have to remember it when it comes back. The thematic material of the contrasting sections is usually filler music as to not compete with the tuneful rondo theme. The form goes like this: theme-something different-theme-something different-theme something different-theme and then inevitably a coda to tell you there are no more contrasts.

Notice how engaging and uplifting this rondo is from Haydn's Symphony 88 in G, final movement rondo. Also take note that the contrasting sections have musical filler and do not interfere with the tuneful rondo theme.

   

 

SONATA FORM

The homophonic forms of the classical period were created to accommodate the possibilities of homophonic texture. Remember that homophonic texture allows for variation and contrast to a degree not possible in polyphonic texture. The forms of the classical era were meant to accommodate the variational and contrasting possibilities inherent in homophony. Of the classical forms; theme and variations, minuet and trio and rondo, sonata form (or sometimes called sonata- allegro form) was the most important. Most sonata forms are in moderately fast to fast tempos. A slow tempo does not create the kind of conflict and contrast that a sonata form banks on, particularly in the development section. So most sonata forms are fast in order to create the sense of movement and tension.

Childe Hassam, The
                                Sonata, 1893.

Childe Hassam,
The Sonata, 1893.

The large scale sections of sonata form are exposition, development and recapitulation (then usually a coda). It is in the exposition that the themes are exposed. Similar to a book, a play or a movie within the first five minutes of the story a character or two is introduced. Usually the first character you meet is the most important character just because they are the first character. What ever relationships are revealed early are the relations that will carry through. So it makes sense the first section of a piece in sonata form is going to be the point where the themes are introduced. Typically the first theme is the more dramatic of the two, it galvanizes one's attention, it grabs one's attention. The second theme is typically the lyric theme. The greater the contrast between theme one and theme two the greater the potential drama, because the greater the difference between the characters the greater the need for resolution between those differences and between the characters the more dramatic the piece will be. So the first theme is more dramatic then the lyric theme second theme. These two themes are separated by a segment of the movement called a modulating bridge. The word bridge means transition, the second theme is typically more quite and then less pushy then the first theme needs to be introduced separately, the second theme would occur after the more aggressive first theme it will sound unimportant, it is supposed to sound like a main theme. The way composers make the two themes sound important is by putting a frame around them. So that's what a bridge does, it introduces a theme by leading up to it and then often having an open cadence right before the 2nd theme. The modulation during the bridge of the exposition is one of the main ways of creating contrast in sonata form. The two themes in different keys during the exposition and later in the same keys during the recapitulation is a another way of providing contrast albeit subliminal or subtle. The listener doesn't necessarily notice the harmonic contrast on a conscious level, but does detect a different key. Sonata form is two things at once. It is a way of dealing with two themes and it is a way of dealing with two harmonic areas. Because theme one is in the tonic, theme two is somewhere else and the tonic doesn't return again until the beginning of the recap. Theme two concludes with a section of music called a cadence or cadential material. A general rule of thumb you can say about the exposition is that if the piece is in the minor key the second theme modulates to the major. However if the first theme is in major, the second theme is in the key of the dominant or five steps away. Modulating bridge and cadence material are all based on the motives heard before.

After the exposition introduces all the themes it comes to a close and the development section starts. The development is built entirely on previously heard material. The development is also not characterized by any strong sense of the tonic. The development is like an extended modulating bridge. It will contain constant momentum while something dramatic is done to the two themes. The two themes are played with clever techniques such as polyphonic exploration, open cadences, fragmentation, re- orchestration, modulation, sequences, dynamic contrast and open cadence.

Finally the last big section of a sonata form movement, the recapitulation , brings back the the two themes (as they occurred in the exposition) but this time both themes are in the tonic key. These themes (forceful and lyrical) return in the recapitulation section just as they did in the exposition section of a sonata form movement but when they are revisited in the recapitulation the listener experiences them as both secure and stable because of the fact that they both fall in the tonic key.

Here is the sonata-form breakdown as it is found in movement IV of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550:

EXPOSITION  
   
Theme 1: Dramatic theme, disjunct, contrasting dynamics, minor key.  
   
Modulating Bridge: Sequence, motives, musical filler to provide transition, forward momentum.  
   
Theme 2: Lyric theme, conjunct, major key.  
   
Cadence Section: Closed cadences, sequences, motives, closing momentum.  
   

DEVELOPMENT  
   
Modulations:  
   
Re-orchestration:  
   
Polyphony:  
   
Dynamics and open cadences:  
   
RECAPITULATION  
   
Theme 1: Dramatic theme, disjunct, contrasting dynamics, minor key.  
   
Bridge: Sequence, motives, musical filler to provide transition but this time non- modulating, forward momentum.
Theme 2: Lyric theme, conjunct, minor key.  
   
Cadence Section: Closed cadences, sequences motives, closing momentum.


The major difference in an exposition and a recapitulation movement in sonata form is that the second theme in the recapitulation is in the tonic theme. In Mozart's Symphony No. 40 the overall key in G minor but in the exposition the second theme is in the major and then in the recapitulation the second theme returns in the tonic key minor.

Listen to Theme 2 as it appears in the exposition (new key, major):

   

Listen to Theme 2 as it appears in the recapitulation (tonic key minor):

   



Listen to the entire 4th movement of Mozart's Symphony No. 40 in G minor, K. 550.

   


In Mozart's piano sonata in C, K54 the first theme announced in the exposition is already gentle but Mozart is able to further the lyricism in the expositions second theme.

   

 

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