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Sonata form


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  • 1. Sonata Form
    and Beethoven’s 5th Symphony
    RSNO Maestro Music 2011
  • 2. Intended Learning
    In this presentation, we will learn about sonata form
    Beethoven used sonata form to write the first movement of his 5th Symphony, which will be the first piece performed in Maestro Music 2011
    We will learn about the different parts of sonata form and how Beethoven applied them in this piece
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 3. Introduction
    You will almost definitely recognise the first line of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, even if you didn’t know that was what it was!
    But there is more to that infamous four note motive – da dadadum – than meets the eye
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 4. Introduction
    Beethoven apparently referred to it as ‘fate knocking at the door’, which many people believe was a reference to his impending deafness
    Wherever he drew the inspiration, he could not let go of those powerful few notes: They crop up again and again, forming the basis for the entire first movement
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 5. Introduction
    Beethoven could be said to fall in to both the Classical and Romantic periods in music, and certainly exhibits traits from both
    He constantly pushed boundaries, siding him more with the Romantic composers, but he still used Classicalforms
    One of the most important of these is Sonata Form
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 6. Sonata Form Outline
    You might think it strange that sonata form is used in a symphony, not, as you might expect, in a sonata
    But composers such as Mozart and Haydn had been doing so before Beethoven in the first movement of their symphonies and he simply carried on the tradition
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 7. Sonata Form Outline
    Sonata form can be summed up by splitting it in to three sections:
    • Exposition (A1)
    • 8. Development (B)
    • 9. Recapitulation (A2)
    Sometimes a Coda follow the recapitulation, as in the case of Beethoven’s Fifth
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 10. Exposition
    This is the first section of the piece
    It introduces the main themes and motives that will be heard throughout the movement
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 11. Exposition
    It usually consists of:
    • First Subject: an opening theme in the tonic key
    • 12. Transition (or bridge passage) to another key
    • 13. Second subject: a second, usually contrasting, theme in the new key
    Often, the whole exposition will be repeated
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 14. Exposition
    These are the themes to be listening out for in the first movement of Beethoven 5:
    • The famous four-note motive is the First Subject:
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 15. Exposition
    • Beethoven immediately captures our attention with this abrupt motive
    • 16. It is also memorable, so we will recognise it as it reoccurs throughout the symphony
    • 17. The transition also contains the four-note motive, where it is slightly elongated to become a solo horn call
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 18. Exposition
    The Second Subject is a longer, legato phrase in the relative major (E flat):
    Listen carefully, though, and you will hear the first subject motive in the cellos and double basses, accompanying the strings’ and winds’ second subject
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 19. Development Section
    As the name suggest, this is the section of the piece where the themes from the recapitulation are developed
    The composer is therefore creating new music from existing ideas, be they melodic or rhythmic
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 20. Development Section
    The music will travel through a number of keys (composers such as Beethoven and his successors pushed the boundaries and used keys that were further and further from the ‘home’ key, or Tonic)
    Towards the end of the Development Section, the composer has to find a way back to the Tonic and to the Recapitulation, where the themes of the exposition are replayed
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 21. Development Section
    Snatches to listen out for:
    • The development section starts ominously: The four-note motive is passed around different groups of instruments, sounding unsettled for a while
    • 22. This passing around continues to build to a loud climax
    • 23. Straight after that, listen to the notes at the end of this motive: Beethoven slightly extends the theme by adding two longer notes after it
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 24. Development Section
    • These longer notes then take on their own structural role, again being passed between the strings and woodwind sections
    • 25. Beethoven strips the music down further by taking away one of these notes so that just a single minim is passed back and forth
    • 26. This gives the music the feel of completely winding down, especially as it also gets quieter
    • 27. Just when you think the music has calmed down, the four-note motive makes a dramatic reappearance, leading the music back in to the recapitulation
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 28. Recapitulation
    Traditionally, the recapitulation re-establishes the tonic key after all the explorations of the development section
    It will sound pretty similar to the exposition: The first and second subject are played again, but this time the second subject should also be in the tonic
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 29. Recapitulation
    Sometimes a coda is added on to the end of the movement, further re-establishing the home key
    Beethoven typically breaks the mould early on in the recapitulation, giving a solo oboe a short cadenza before continuing on with business!
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 30. Recapitulation
    Again, he pushes the boundaries of what would have been expected at the time by making the listener think that the whole movement could finish in C major, not C minor, the original key!
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 31. Recapitulation
    The coda would traditionally have tied up any loose ends for a neat finish, but Beethoven continues the tension, building more contrasts between short notes and longer, legato phrases
    Eventually though, the four-note motive reappears and we are transported back to C minor for a suitably dramatic ending
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011
  • 32. Experiences and Outcomes
    Having reflected on my personal experiences, including participation and engagement with professionals, I can listen to a wide range of music and identify and analyse technical aspects, make informed judgments and express personal opinions on my own and others’ work[EXA 4-19a]
    Copyright Sophie Lang 2011