Sonata form, Pt 1
“Sonata form” and the musical form known as the sonata are not the same thing. A sonata is a piece—usually for piano or for piano and one other instrument—that’s composed of several distinct sections called movements.
“Sonata form” refers to the structure of an individual movement, and it may be a movement of a symphony, concerto, string quartet, or indeed of any kind of piece—including a sonata. Single-movement pieces like overtures may also be in sonata form. To say that a movement is composed in sonata form means that the movement consists of three primary sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation. Sonata form has its roots in various formal structures of Baroque music, but it came to full flower in the works of the three composers who define the Classical era in music—Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven. We’ll talk more about sonata form tomorrow.
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