Chapter 4 musical form and musical style
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Chapter 4 Musical Form and Musical Style. Form in Music. Form Memory Outer form Inner form. Repetition Contrast Return Variation Genre. Key Terms. Form in Music. Overall shape of a musical work Arrangement, relationship, or organization of various elements of music Rhythm

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Chapter 4Musical Form and Musical Style

Form in Music

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Outer form

Inner form






Key Terms

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Form in Music

  • Overall shape of a musical work

  • Arrangement, relationship, or organization of various elements of music

    • Rhythm

    • Pitch and melody

    • Dynamics

    • Harmony

    • Tone color

    • Texture

    • Tonality

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Form in Music

  • Musical works can divide into clear sections with clear-cut relationships or unfold gradually and organically

  • Form is not purely intellectual

  • Our experience of form shapes our emotional response to a work

  • The emotional trajectory of a work is forged by careful use of repetition and contrast

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Form in Music

  • Musical works are formed through repetitions and contrasts of elements

    • Repetitions may be strict or free

    • Contrasts may be subtle or dramatic

  • Repetitions and contrasts define relationships between phrases of a melody or sections of a work

  • Memory is the key to hearing these relationships as they unfold in time

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Form in Music

  • Possible relationships between phrases, themes, or sections

    • Repetition (a a)

      • Parallelism

      • Identical or nearly identical restatement of a phrase, theme, or section

      • Feels reassuring, but lacks excitement

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Form in Music

  • Possible relationships

    • Contrast (a b)

      • A new phrase or section

      • May have subtle connections to previous material, or may be entirely new

      • Provides excitement of new phrase, theme, or section, but doesn’t feel stable or complete

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Form in Music

  • Possible relationships

    • Variation (a a’)

      • A restatement of previous material, but one or more elements are altered

      • Simultaneous repetition and contrast

      • Similar enough to sound like the same idea, but definitely not identical

      • Variation can change or transform the mood or feeling of a phrase, theme, or section

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Form in Music

  • Possible relationships

    • Contrast and return (a b a)

      • Unlike repetition, return is restatement of original material after contrasting material

      • You can’t return home if you never leave!

      • Commonly used, emotionally satisfying formula (unity and variety)

      • Combines excitement of new material and sense of relief with return of familiar material (homecoming)

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Listening for Form

  • Try several examples—which of these do you hear?

    • Repetition?

    • Contrast?

    • Variation?

    • Contrast and return?

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Form and Forms

  • Form is organization of elements in a work

  • A form refers to one of many standardized patterns used by composers

  • Possible forms include:

    • Strophic form (A A A …)

    • Ternary form (A B A)

    • Fugue

    • Baroque dance form (aabb)

    • Sonata form

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Form and Forms

  • An example: A B A form

    • Three large sections: statement, contrast, return

    • Each section might have its own form

      • A = a b a

      • B = c d c

      • A = a b a

    • Such “nesting” arrangements are often used to create more complicated forms

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Form and Forms

  • “Outer” and “inner” form

    • Standard patterns outline a work’s overall shape—its “outer” form (e.g., A B A)

    • “Outer” forms are reassuring, provide a satisfying, easy-to-follow overall shape

    • “Outer” forms do not describe the content of each section, its moment-to-moment inner workings, or the feel of contrasting material—its “inner” form

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Form and Forms

  • “Inner” Form

    • Take any work in A B A form

      • Is B in a different mode or key?

      • Is B’s contrast due to rhythm, texture, tone color, or some other element?

      • Does the return convey excitement, trickiness, or relief?

    • Take any other work in A B A form

      • The answers will be different!

    • Same “outer” form, different “inner” form

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Musical Genres

  • Categories or types of musical compositions

  • A genre can be defined by a its:

    • Performing forces (number and kind of instruments or voices used)

    • Function or purpose

    • Text

  • Not to be confused with form

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Musical Genres

  • Examples of genres:

    • Concerto

    • Mass

    • Oratorio

    • Symphony

    • Sonata

    • String quartet

    • Song cycle

    • Madrigal

    • Opera

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Genre vs. Form

  • A genre is defined by its broadest features (performers, function, etc.)

  • A form is defined by its internal sections and their interrelationships

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Genre vs. Form

  • In literature, poetry is a genre

    • A work in verse

    • Usually breaks down into stanzas and lines

    • Often uses poetic meter and rhyme

    • Traditionally intended for public reading

  • Haiku, sonnets, and limericks are forms

    • Each has a specific number of lines (3, 14, and 5, respectively)

    • Each uses a specific poetic meter (or specific number of syllables per line)

    • The last two have an expected rhyme scheme

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Genre vs. Form

  • In music, the symphony is a genre

    • a large work in several movements for orchestra (performing forces)

    • written for entertainment at a public concert (function)

  • Each movement of a symphony may use a different form—Haydn’s 95th uses:

    • Sonata form

    • Theme and variations

    • Minuet form

    • Rondo form

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Listening for Genre

  • Try several examples—answer these questions:

    • What is the function of this music?

      • Public or private entertainment? Worship? Patriotic? Commercial?

    • What are the performing forces?

      • Orchestra? String quartet? Chorus? Solo voices? Piano? Rock band? Jazz combo?

    • What is the genre?