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Classical Forms

CC BY, Elliot Jones Santa Ana College

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Classical Forms

  1. 1. Classical Form
  2. 2. Baroque to Classical  Artists react to Baroque grandiosity  Polyphony gives way to homophony (again)  Enlightenment ideals influence society and its music
  3. 3. The Enlightenment  The Age of Reason  Era of scientific discovery  Rise of democratic ideals  Conflict with old societal structures  Church  Nobility  Eventually conflicting ideals lead to revolution (American and French)
  4. 4. Classicism in Music  Elegance and symmetry  Lyrical melody  Homophonic texture  Frequent repetition  Dominance of the Viennese School  Haydn  Mozart  Beethoven
  5. 5. Dramatic Quality  Classical music exhibits rapid change  No longer restricted to a single emotion  The mood of a piece changes frequently  Textures and tempos fluctuate  More frequent and gradual dynamic change
  6. 6. Form  Form is very important in absolute music  Form refers to the structure or organization of a piece of music  Important formal elements  Themes  Thematic Development  Sonata-Allegro form
  7. 7. Absolute Music  Music with no literary or pictorial references – music for its own sake  Form organizes absolute music  Absolute music is often organized into contrasting sections  AB – binary form  ABA – ternary form
  8. 8. Theme  A theme is a melodic idea  Themes are musical building blocks  They help organize melodic structure  The unify a lengthy composition  A theme usually made up of two phrases – antecedent and consequent
  9. 9. Thematic Development  Often referred to just as “development”  Development provides interest as a piece’s thematic material is varied in different ways:  Melodic  Rhythmic  Harmonic
  10. 10. Sonata-Allegro Form  Sonata form is ABA form on grand scale  Three overall sections:  Exposition  Development  Recapitulation
  11. 11. Exposition  Themes are presented or “exposed”  Themes are presented in the home key and then in contrasting key  2 – 4 themes common for Classical period
  12. 12. Development  Thematic development occurs here:  Variation, expansion, contraction  The development provides drama  Frequent modulation creates tension
  13. 13. Recapitulation  Often called “Recap”  The recap is essentially a restatement of the exposition  Tension is released by return to tonic key
  14. 14. Listening Example  Title: Overture to Don Giovanni  Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Genre: Opera
  15. 15. Notes on Overture to Don Gio.  Slow sinister introduction presents music from the dark ending of the opera  Change to fast tempo marks beginning of exposition – two themes  Recapitulation “fades” as music moves directly into opening vocal ensemble
  16. 16. Theme and Variations  Form based on a theme that is presented and then repeatedly changed (variations)  Two kinds of variation:  Changing the melody itself  Changing the accompaniment to that melody  Haydn was first to use this form in a symphonic movement
  17. 17. Rondo Form  ABACABA (common example of rondo)  Minimum of three repeated refrains and two contrasting sections  Rondo is a very old form  From Medieval rondeau (poetic form)  Baroque ritornello form  Easy to hear – repeated opening material
  18. 18. Listening Example  Title: Horn Concerto in Eb major, III  Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart  Genre: Concerto
  19. 19. Notes on Horn Concerto, III  Rondo form - ABACABA  Listen for returning A section  Horn plays A first, orchestra repeats theme  Listen for instrumentation: horn vs. orch.  Lively triple meter
  20. 20. Multimovement Cycle  Used in various genres:  Symphony  Concerto  Sonata  String quartet  Usually 3 or 4 movements in prescribed forms and tempos
  21. 21. Symphonic Movements  1st movement  Fast (i.e. Allegro)  Sonata form  2-4 Themes  2nd movement  Slow (i.e. Adagio)  Possible forms:  ABA  Theme and Variations  Modified Sonata form  More lyrical  3rd movement  Moderate tempo  Minuet & Trio (ABA)  Triple meter  4th movement  Very Fast (i.e. Presto)  Generally lighter mood  Finale  Triumphant (Beethoven)

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