(musTh211) Sonata Form, continued

The main topic today was analyzing sonata forms that don’t present big sectional “billboards.” (PAC’s to end the first theme group, strong HC with a pause at the end of the transition, etc.)

Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, Op. 2, No. 1, provides an excellent example of a piece without typically strong divisions in the exposition. Here’s a breakdown:

  • First theme group: mm. 1 – 8. The first theme ends with a HC before the fermata in m. 8.
  • Transition: mm. 9 – 20. While the first theme doesn’t end with an AC, from m. 9 onward you really don’t find E-naturals (#^7 in f minor) anymore. Measure 9 shifts V in f to v, and from there the move to Ab major is fairly easy. Measures 11-12 and 13-14 provide a sequence of harmonies, but not a “harmonic sequence” because the motivic pattern in the melody doesn’t follow sequential movement. There is a HC in Ab major at m. 20, but there is no rhythmic pause, as the left hand shifts to the accompaniment pattern for the second theme group.
  • Second theme group: mm. 21 – 41. Two things are uncommon about the start of the second theme group, which makes it hard to recognize at first glance. First, the second theme group starts over an Eb pedal in the left hand (the dominant scale degree in Ab). The second unusual aspect is that the initial melodic motive emphasizes b^6, giving the theme an unexpected minor quality. It isn’t until m. 26 that you get a C, and hence, the major mode. (b^6 continues to appear in mm. 29 and 30.)
  • Closing theme group: mm. 42 – 48. Here the unusual aspect is the continued emphasis on Ab minor rather than Ab major, with the Cb (b^3) appearing repeatedly as part of a vii°7/V harmony. The progression emphasizes both Cb and C natural, with a progression of vii°7/V – I6-4 – V7 – I, but the C-flats are always in the right-hand melody, and the C-naturals are always in the left hand harmonies.

The goal analyzing a piece like this is to understand that a composition is more than just its form. The reading article that goes along with today’s assignment is meant to further explore that issue.


One response to “(musTh211) Sonata Form, continued”

  1. […] ← (musTh211) Ch. 31, Single-Movement Sonata Form (Development and Recapitulation) (musTh211) Sonata Form, continued […]

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