Sonata Form

Sonata form is a large-scale musical structure used widely since the middle of the 18th century (the early Classical period). While it is typically used in the first movement of multi-movement pieces, it is sometimes used in subsequent movements as well—particularly the final movement. The teaching of sonata form in music theory rests on a standard definition and a series of hypotheses about the underlying reasons for the durability and variety of the form—a definition that arose in the second quarter of the 19th century. There is little disagreement that on the largest level, the form consists of three main sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation; however, beneath this, sonata form is difficult to pin down in terms of a single model.

The standard definition focuses on the thematic and harmonic organization of tonal materials that are presented in an exposition, elaborated and contrasted in a development and then resolved harmonically and thematically in a recapitulation. In addition, the standard definition recognizes that an introduction and a coda may be present. Each of the sections is often further divided or characterized by the particular means by which it accomplishes its function in the form.

Since its establishment, the sonata form became the most common form in the first movement of works entitled "sonata", as well as other long works of classical music, including the symphony, concerto, string quartet, and so on. Accordingly, there is a large body of theory on what unifies and distinguishes practice in the sonata form, both within eras and between eras. Even works that do not adhere to the standard description of a sonata form often present analogous structures or can be analyzed as elaborations or expansions of the standard description of sonata form.

Read more about Sonata Form:  Defining 'sonata Form', Sonata Form in Concerti, The History of Sonata Form, Sonata Form and Other Musical Forms, Theory of Sonata Form, Musical Criticism and Sonata Form

Other articles related to "sonata, sonata form, form":

Sonata Theory - Key Concepts
... Sonata Theory understands the rhetorical layout of a sonata as progressing through a set of action spaces and moments of "structural punctuation." These action spaces largely ... the initial musical material of the sonata, excluding an optional introduction which is not considered part of the sonata form proper ... Generically, however, the sonata is required to depart from this home key for the later action spaces, so the tonic proposed by P is only provisional one of the main generic goals of the following sonata ...
Symphonies By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky - Melody Versus Form - Theme or Form First
... This was the natural approach for composers for whom the mechanics of sonata form had become second nature ... Beethoven, in contrast, wrestled mightily with his themes, adjusting them to fit the musical form he was going to use ... For both men, form came first ...
Musical Criticism and Sonata Form
... Owing to its centrality to classical music, the sonata form has been a topic of interest to musical critics since its origin ... critics including Eduard Hanslick, who praised the form for its intelligibility ...
Symphonies By Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
... Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky struggled with sonata form, the primary Western principle for building large-scale musical structures since the middle of the 18th century ... harmony and structure actually worked against sonata form's modus operandi of movement, growth and development ... Compared to this mindset, the precepts of sonata form probably seemed as alien as if they had arrived from the moon ...
Sonata Theory - Methodology
... Rather than attempt to prescribe a set of rules to which all pieces in sonata form must adhere, sonata theory seeks to demonstrate that sonata form is "a ... The theory, then, understands the sonata as an example of dialogic form the compositional choices that create an individual piece of music are in dialogue ... At any point in a sonata movement, such as at the beginning of the secondary theme or the end of the development, a composer had various choices for how to proceed ...

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