Sonata form is probably the most important musical form to understand because it comes up everywhere. I mean everywhere and that’s because it’s one of the most brilliant ways of developing your musical ideas in a well-rounded and dramatically effective way. It seems to have developed from the binary form and you can start hearing it from the music of Joseph Haydn on woods.
So let’s go and I’ll presume you see my videos on musical seeds and tonality I’ll give you a quick overview of Sonata form and then we’ll go into a little more detail with a famous example Sonata form can be divided into three main parts first the exposition which basically presents or exposes all the main scenes all the main musical material and seeds. This is made up of two groups, which will definitely be in contrasting keys and may also have to contrast seems moods or ideas. So that already sets up a kind of conflict and particularly a conflict of keys and the exposition is often repeated then does the development.
Which explores and develops the material we’ve heard in the exposition and this is usually more discursive and blusa in structure and we’ll move through many keys. And finally, we got a recapitulation which literally Recaps the exposition but with a Twist things of a same in some ways, but in other ways crucially different for example the first and second group will return but now both will be in the home key. And so the total conflict from the exposition is resolved.
The reason that this model is so good is that it gives great space for compelling musical arguments to be developed an interesting parallel to the Sonata form. Is that of a discussion between two people with different points of view take Hegel’s dialectic first, we get our csis or statement is like a first group of the exposition and this gives rise to an antithesis which contradicts on the gates the thesis. This is like a second group that comes in a contrasting key and then through many discussions dissecting and rebuilding which is out development week.
How to a synthesis which resolve the tension between the disagreement this is like a recapitulation. So you see the Sonata form is a great model for building dramatically engaging pieces of music in my opinion the three most exciting pulling swag composers get the opportunity to blow your mind of the development section the return from the development into the recapitulation and the second group of the recapitulation and you’ll find out why I threw the rest of this video.
So this is the fundamental Sonata form structure though is often topped and tailed with an introduction and Dakota. The introduction is normally at a slower Tempo and its job is to set the mood for the piece as well as perhaps him to some of them a load of material Dakota gives a solid sense of finality to the peace if the recapitulation has already done. So under the code of my also bring closure to any unanswered questions, we might still have about the music. So let’s look a little closer and we’ll use Mozart symphony number 40 in G minor.
As an example first the exposition which is divided into two groups in contrasting Keys. What’s important to understand is that there are no limits to the number of seems or amount of somatic material that may appear in a group. You may be presented with many musical ideas, which will come back later. They may just be one seemed a group the first and second group can even use the same material tied it often uses exactly the same in his first and second group vote that’s in the very early stages of Samantha for them. Is that key?
The first group will always be in the home tonic while the second group will always be in a contrasting key. Typically if the first group was in a major key the second group will be in the dominant key is the first group was minor the second group will move to the dominant or the relative major things get a little more adventurous as we progress through history. These two groups will often have very contrasting seems all moods though. That’s not a necessity for Sonata form. However, it can definitely make a drama.
How interesting these two groups are normally connected together by a transition passage which allows the music to transition or Bridge from one key to the next and these transitional material might be memorable or interesting in its own. Right? So with Mozart’s 40th, the first group in G minor gives us this team.
Then the transition gives us this material and changes key for us.
The second group in B-flat major gives us this, contrasting scale xene.
I finally the exposition will often and with a co-debtor a co-debtor literally means a small Cota so it off as a sense of finality but not too much fun. He wants to close off the section not the whole piece and the code that it will family close the music and I’ll second key. So here it closes the exposition in B-flat major but most gives us a reminder of the first steam open the whole Exposition is repeated. And this is the case with this Mozart piece.
Some people think the repeat is important because it gives the music the right sense of proportion others ignore the repeats because they can make the peace go on a date next comes the development at this is the point of major interest in the peace weather composer can run free and do crazy and creative things with that ideas. So the point is to develop the material. We’ve already been exposed to importantly it was generally completely avoid going into either of the main Keys we had in the exposition instead. It’ll probably go through a
Wide range of keys and be reluctant to settle on any of them apart from this there are no real rules for the development section. I’m Different composers will do things very differently. So innocent is the exposition is more clearly structured the development allows things to be more chaotic and unstructured. One thing you’ll generally find is it the seams will be broken up and then rebuild or recombines to make new phrasal sequences of a different kind as a clip from Mozart’s development. Listen to how it’s constantly changing key reluctant to settle in any and how it’s breaking up and rebuilding the material we had from the exposition.
Finally, of course, the development has to bring us back to the home tonic for the start of the recapitulation. So the development section will typically end with an amazing passage of dominant preparation. This moment can often be a high point of tension in climax in the peace, especially with Layton composer Mozart uses this dominant preparation to shower us with classical Thunder.
One last note in a few cases like Beethoven’s eroica Symphony the composer might also introduce a new important theme in the development section. I consider this an expansion of Sonata form rather than traditional Sonata form, but it does add an extra Dimension to the structure.
Next comes the recapitulation the point of this is to recap the two groups of the exposition at least to some extent. However, there are always surprising twist. Some of these will be subtle like a change in the way they use the instruments or dynamic. So something however other changes the most significant, so it’s not an exact repeat of the exposition of retelling of it in a slightly different way.
The two groups don’t have to be stated in their entirety. In fact, it’s actually more important to State the second group fully than the first because the second groups recap will no longer be in its original key, but in the home in tonic, so the conflict that was set up in the exposition is in some sense resolved in the recapitulation. There is three points of major interest in the recapitulation which give license for the composer to do something amazing. First is how the development leads into the recap which we’ve already looked at. The second interesting part is the transition. Where is in the exposition for transition took us to a new key now.
Cuz it has to rewrite this passage to keep us in the home key and the composer will often use this as an excuse to do something remarkable. He is a bit of Mozart’s redesign dramatic transition takes the old transition material and runs wild with it.
I said interesting part is really the second group a how the composer will alter the second group if he also did a tool that changes the key from B-flat major to G minor it would have been perfectly acceptable to just go to G major that’s allowed into nautical the motel takes it a step further and makes it mine which completely changes the character of the theme to something more tragic. So it’s a crucial moment in times of the mood of the piece. The ultimate has resolved itself into tragedy not positivity face.
Has become zits.
Finally, there’s the coda which gives a solid ending to the peace. There are many possibilities and the objective is to wrap up some movement and give it a sense of finality ending in the home key Mozart. Keep it fairly simple and dramatically affect.
Sometimes a composer might decide to depart from the home tonic and use the energy of the coda to find their way back again. He’s my favorite example of that sweat. Beethoven is in his home key at the end of the recap and then shoots himself in the foot.
And then he shoots himself again apparently with a machine gun and then he has to find his way back home again. So that in total is a Sonata form is one of the most brilliant ways to develop a musical audience, which great composers have been using for Generations.
I hope you enjoyed this post and there will definitely be more like this coming up as well as analysis of great pieces of classical and film music. So, please do like if you want to see more and share this post if you like it. Thanks for reading it.