(musicTheory2) Lecture Notes: Ch. 24, One-Part and Binary Form

Terms and concepts covered from Chapter 24, so far:

  • content and form
  • formal design and tonal structure
  • one-part form
  • binary forms (two-reprise forms)

Content refers to the specific compositional elements present in a composition. Form is the organization of content.

Formal Design refers to sectional divisions, the relationship of themes and motives to each other, phrasing, metrical groupings, and other aspects that might go into the determining of number of parts, etc. Tonal Structure describes the relationship of tonal areas, melodic characteristics, harmonic language and voice leading.

A one-part form generally has a single motivic or thematic idea that continues throughout the music. The tonal organization can vary.

Binary form can encompass a wide area of music. True two-part forms with differentiated, or A-B, sections or rare. The most commonly known examples in instrumental music are Sousa marches (March – Trio, with the Trio in a different key). Binary forms usually describe pieces with two repeating sections, referred to literally as two-reprise form.

Two-reprise forms usually have some content relationship between the two sections. We have terms to refer to specific occurrences of formal design and tonal schemes.

Tonal schematics: if the cadence at the end of the first repeated section is in the original tonic, then the tonal scheme is sectional. If the cadence at the end of the repeated section is in the dominant or relative major, then the tonal scheme is continuous.

Thematic material: if the theme from the opening of the first repeated section occurs as the last phrase of the second repeated section (usually with slight modification), then the form is rounded. If only the cadence of the first repeated section (usually the last two measures) returns at the cadence of the second repeated section (transposed if needed), then the form is balanced.

Tonal and formal designs are combined as necessary. You can have a sectional, balanced two-reprise form; a continuous, rounded two-reprise form; a continuous, balanced two-reprise form; etc.


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