Classical Period Forms

General types of musical material in Classical Period forms

Introductory- prepares or leads toward something (often unstable or focused on dominant preparation)

Expository- presents themes, usually in clear-cut phrases

Transitional- moves from one key and/or mood to another, often through sequence and melodic fragments

Developmental- submits themes to various treatments, including frequent modulation, fragmentation, fugue, combining one theme with another, etc.

Cadential or Closing- all phrases lead to cadences, often repetitively

The Multi-movement Cycle

(Used for multi-movement instrumental works in the Classical Period)

Movement

Tempo

Key

Form

I

Moderately fast

I

Sonata-allegro

II

Slower

IV, V

Ternary, Sonata-allegro, Theme and Var., Rondo

III

Fast- triple meter

I

Compound ternary form (Minuet & Trio)

IV

Fast

I

Rondo, Theme and var. Sonata-allegro

(Note: Third movement, Minuet and Trio, usually omitted in concertos. In lighter pieces such as serenades, there may be additional movements, such as extra minuets)

Sonata-allegro Form

Sonata -allegro form developed from rounded binary during the early Classical Period. In the A section, the modulation to V occurred earlier with new thematic material introduced which eventually became the second theme group. The B section evolved into the development, and the return of A became the recapitulation.

Slow Introduction (optional)- usually has no thematic relationship to movement proper

Exposition

First Theme Group (I or i)

Bridge or Transition (modulates)

Second Theme Group (V or III)

Closing Theme Group (V or III), including codetta

(Exposition usually repeated)

Development (various keys)

Recapitulation

First Theme Group (I or i)

Bridge or Transition ( doesn't modulate)

Second Theme Group (I or i)

Closing Theme Group (I or i), including codetta

Coda (optional)

 

Rondo form

ABACA or ABACBDA

 

Compound ternary form

ABA, in which each of the three sections is in binary (ab) form

Theme and Variations

Begins with self-contained song (original or by someone else), followed by a series of self-contained variations, each of which presents the theme with changes (extra notes or embellishments, changed from major to minor or vice versa, different articulation style, mood, etc).

 

 


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