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    Form, The unifying force in Music

    Form, like the trunk of a tree, carries the structure of a composition. It is the unifying force in Music

    As we can recognise different animals and identify them by their form, so it is with Music.
    Each of the ingredients in music has its own degree of importance and significance.

    Form is the over-riding order within each element of a composition that embraces and unifies the whole.

    Just as symmetry of the features of a tree has a shape and proportion, so it is with Music.
    There is form, shape and logic.

    Think of the unending sucession of Day and Night, of season after season.There is form, shape and logic in these phenomena of nature.
    As there are many varying and different types of trees in the creation, so there is many varying styles and types of forms in music.

    Example of the Sonata Form

    First we will touch on the a-b form, it is known as binary form, meaning two parts.
    This form was used in th dance movements of the 17th and 18th centuries by such individuals as Bach and Handel

    The A-B-A form is a three part scheme which is one of the most satisfying forms in music

    Let's use a variation of this form as an example, that is the Sonata A-B-A1 Form.
    The Sonata Form consists of Three large sections:

    1. A - The Exposition
    2. B - The Development
    3. A1- The Recapitulation

    The Exposition can be compared to the introduction in a speech, the SPS or the Specific Purpose Statement

    The Development of the song is likened to the body of a Speech, the filling in of, adding to or building upon the premise.

    The Recapitulation can be compared to the Conclusion of the whole into a peaceful, pleasant and harmonious conclusion

    Let's expand upon the above mentioned parts of the Sonata Form further

  • Exposition

    The exposition will consist of two themes that must differ completely from one another
    Generally one theme being in a MajorKey that has a dramatic Complexion, with smooth paced patterns as compared to the second theme in a MinorKey perhaps with jagged rhythms.

    These Themes will go from a Forte to a whisper. Composers will link these two themes togehter with a Bridge or Transition.

    This affords the opportunity to move smoothly from one tonality to the other

  • The Development

    This section presents the greatest challenge to the composer.

    Here, there are no limiations, free reign is the rule at this juncture.

    The composer may restate the 1st and 2nd theme, the bridge, or move from key to key, even introduce a new melodic line.

    The Development is the most exciting part of the entire sonata.
    Here a journey in a composers ingenuity ensues and results in a powerful, memorable and enjoyable experience for the listeners of such music.

  • The Recapitulation

    In the recapitulation, both themes co-exist peaceably with one another, versus the difference in the Exposition

    So From we can see, is the basic structure of the shape of Music.
    It is the Trunk that carries the rest of the structure, that unifying force that upholds and supports a compositions other components.
    To read more of the subject, the tree of music, click hereMelody-Simplicity capturing your attention!

    1998 Bryon Tosoff

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Bryon Tosoff, providing piano instruction in rcm classical exam prep, & jazz, blues and pop.

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Updated April 18, 2003 Bryon Tosoff