The Classical Sonata Form Essay

The Classical Sonata Form Essay

Length: 940 words (2.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Classical Sonata Form
From the Classical period and onwards, sonata form became the basis for most instrumental music. Sonata form became established as the clearly defined structure of the first movement of instrumental compositions. This form consists of three sections: exposition, development, and recapitulation. If you have studied anything about story form, you know a lot about Sonata form, because they are identical in their purpose. The exposition (same word is used in music and literature) sets the scene. This section is where the musical themes are introduced, the mood is set, and the key, main rhythmic patterns, and harmonies are stated. The second section, the development, is like the "heart" of the story. This is where the music explores the themes, keys, rhythms, and harmonies, and weaves the musical material into something new and interesting. The development should sustain your interest, make you wonder what is going to happen next, just like in a well-told story. The final section, the recapitulation, is like the closing section of a good story. In the recapitulation, the opening material comes back, but everything is resolved and finalized, just like wrapping up the loose ends in the story.

The following examples come from Mozart's Symphony No. 25 in G minor, which you might remember as the music for the opening scene of movie Amadeus.

Sonata Form Example: Symphony No. 40 in G minor
The first movement of a large Classical work is usually built in sonata-allegro form, the most crucial of the Classical forms. To illustrate this form, we will be listening to the first movement of Mozart's famous Symphony No. 40 in G minor.

Symphony in E-flat major, Op.11, No.3: III. Menuetto
It should be noted here ...


... middle of paper ...


...ntury, mainly because this combination creates a perfect balance between high and low sounds. The main melody, played by the violins, is supported by the harmony, which is created by the viola and the richness of the bass line provided by the cello.

The string quartet medium is perfectly suited for the focus on balance, restraint, and symmetry typical of the Classical period, but it has been used as a vehicle of the most personal musical thoughts by many composers through the ages, including Mozart (23), Beethoven (16), Johannes Brahms (6), Prokofiev (2), Shostakovich (15), Elliot Carter (5) (his 2nd won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1960), Michael Tippet (5), Elizabeth Lutyens (13), Elizabeth Maconchy (13), Heitor Villa-Lobos (17), Alberto Ginastera (4), Darius Milhaud (18), John Cage (4), Milton Babbitt (6), and Sofia Gubaidulina (4) to name just a few.



Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Importance of Function Over Form in the Classical Concerto

- In the 18th century, the concerto was transformed into a viable instrumental genre to both demonstrate virtuosity as well as a cohesive character that embodied the natural. Though the series of changes from the Baroque concerto grosso to the Classical concerto were gradual and cannot be attributed to a single composer, the Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor K. 466 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is a skillful representation of the genre in that era. Of particular interest in this concerto is the treatment of sonata form in the first movement....   [tags: Classical Music]

Better Essays
1404 words (4 pages)

Classical And Romantic Era Of The Moonlight Sonata Essay

- Ludwig van Beethoven was an exceptional composer and musician in his time period for numerous reasons. He produced countless symphonies, sonatas, masses, and even an opera. He was a very talented man in the Classical and Romantic era, and he will be remembered for many centuries to come. One of his works that intrigues me the most is his Piano Sonata No. 14, otherwise known as the Moonlight Sonata. Not only is it a hauntingly beautiful piece, but it is also very historically significant. Completed in 1801, the Moonlight Sonata stretched the boundaries of music in Beethoven’s time period....   [tags: Ludwig van Beethoven, Piano]

Better Essays
1531 words (4.4 pages)

Beethoven and the Classical and Romantic Periods Essay

- Out of all of Beethoven’s one hundred and ten works, he wrote thirty-two piano sonatas. Of those thirty-two piano sonatas, the thirty-first piano sonata was one of the most important and was composed in the year 1821towards the end of Beethoven’s life. It is one of Ludwig van Beethoven’s final sonatas for the piano, given the full name: Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat major, op. 110. I am writing about a video performance – found on YouTube – by Richard Goode in 1993. The performance piece is a sonata which is defined by Kerman as “a chamber-music piece in several movements” (Kerman, 427) The thirty-first sonata came to be in an interesting way....   [tags: Beethoven, Piano Sonatas, Classical Music]

Better Essays
1704 words (4.9 pages)

Chopin Sonata NO. 3 Essay

- MUS 404: Keyboard Literature June 22, 2010 Piano Sonata No. 3 in b minor, Op. 58 by Frédéric Chopin Chopin’s third sonata is a masterwork filled with pianistic elements, daring harmonies, experimental form, and a wealth of expressivity. In this four-movement work, references to other Chopin compositions and influences from fellow composers are found. At the same time, there is a progressive element; it looks forward to the heights which would be achieved by Chopin and later composers. Background Chopin wrote the Sonata, Op....   [tags: Music]

Better Essays
1571 words (4.5 pages)

The Classical Music Era Essay

- Introduction The Classical Era was a time of great change in both culture and music. Previously, the Baroque Era had been influenced mostly by the Catholic Church and the conservation of aristocracy. Their architecture was very ornate and was meant to impress visitors. Baroque palaces would usually have courts, grand staircases and reception rooms to show how wealthy they were. The Classical Era, on the other hand, was focused on a philosophy called “enlightenment”. The main idea of enlightenment is that by reason, balance, and logic, man could accomplish anything....   [tags: Musical Form, Composers, Development]

Better Essays
843 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on Classical Music and The Era of Symphonies

- In the classical era Symphony was the time when live concert where perform more often. The concerts that during the past millennium, classical music has been created by some of the musical mind the world has ever seen with Beethoven, Mozart and many more. The wide of Range of genres that these great artist composers, including orchestral, instrumental, choral and opera. The era’s the music used the two theory of natural and pleasing variety and The two ideas that can be traced in all the elements of musical technique rhythm, dynamics, tone, melody, texture and form....   [tags: Music, Classical Era]

Better Essays
714 words (2 pages)

Essay about Mozart's Piano Sonata in A Major

- Mozart's Piano Sonata in A Major The recognised style in the classical period in which this was written was to write sonatas in Sonata form- the concept of a recapituation, development and exposition. Indeed, the majority of Mozarts other sonatas were written like this. However, this sonata has a different but very distinct form. The first movement is a theme and a set of six variations. Each variation aswell as the theme comprises of four four bar phrases, as illustrated below....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
414 words (1.2 pages)

Essay on Sonata Allegro Form

- Sonata Allegro Form The roots of this form can be traced to the simple binary form of the baroque era. With binary, the two sections are thematically similar with a sameness of texture and theme throughout the movement. The term sonata originally referred to instrumental music, not a particular form of composition. The Baroque sonata can be traced back to an instrumental song of the late Renaissance called canzon da sonar. This leads eventually to the trio sonata, for four instruments despite its name, which consisted of two melody instruments, a chord playing instrument, and a basso continuo....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
434 words (1.2 pages)

Essay on Sonata Allegro

- Sonata Allegro form was a development of the classical era. It represents a more open form than many of the earlier Baroque forms such as fugues, rondeau form, etc. While there is a formula that can be applied, there was not a rigid, formal concept for the form. Rather it evolved over the classical era and beyond. Haydn was one of the early exponents of this form. It was named "Sonata Allegro," because the final Allegro movement of a Sonata was most often created in this form. It is by no means restricted to this general rule, however....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
519 words (1.5 pages)

Classical Music Essay

- Classical Music n : traditional genre of music conforming to an established form and appealing to critical interest and developed musical taste [syn: serious music] Classical music, as the name suggests, is a well-established kind of music, at least in the West. Classical music concerts take place in every cultural center, and they take many forms, from a solo to large symphonic orchestras, from a sonata to an opera. This kind of music has many fans, especially among circles of intellectuals....   [tags: Music Musical Classical Essays]

Better Essays
1100 words (3.1 pages)