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View Full Version : Confused about sonata-form...Help!


euphony131
11-19-2000, 11:29 PM
Hi all,

I've read how Beethoven stretched and challenged the limits of SONATA-FORM, but I'm confused on what that form traditionally constituted. The way I understand it is a sonata is for solo instrument and in three movements -- Fast/Slow/Fast with the 1st and 3rd movements in the same key. Apparently the 1st movements of a sonata were done in SONATA-FORM -- part I: themes presented, part II: the development, part III: recapitulation. Now I understand the SONATA FORM was also used for the first movements of symphonies and this is where Beethoven challenged the dogma. Have I got all this right??? What confuses me is that the description I've read about SONATA-FORM sounds like it's describing ALL THREE MOVEMENTS of a sonata and not just the 1st one. It's a bit heady to take in. Thanks so much all!

Peter
11-20-2000, 12:42 AM
You are basically right in your description of Sonata form. Sometimes it can be found in other movements, but it generally applies to first movements. In text-book sonata form you have an Exposition where two contrasting ideas (themes) are presented, the second usually in the dominant key.A codetta rounds off the Exposition which leads to the Development.In the Recapitulation, both themes are usually in the tonic key.Then a Coda closes the movement.

Actually Beethoven was not the first to break from the accepted form (which Czerny claimed to have first described as late as the 1840's ) - there are plenty of examples in Mozart and Haydn that do not fit traditional Sonata form - Beethoven's real contribution came in his expansion of the form, particularly the Coda which virtually takes on the roll of another development section. He did this in forms other than the Symphony as well.

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'Man know thyself'

Chris
11-20-2000, 12:58 AM
The exposition is repeated many times, as well.

In my opinion, not understanding sonata form and some of the other major forms is what makes a lot of people think that classical music is boring. They don't understand why things happen when they do, so it seems confusing. It's a bit different from verse, refrain, verse, refrain, etc. so it takes a little effort to figure out what is going on. Once you do, though, it's all great http://www.gyrix.com/~cgraye/ubb/smile.gif

Peter
11-20-2000, 10:54 AM
Originally posted by Chris:
The exposition is repeated many times, as well.



I'm not with you here Chris ! - Sometimes there is a double Exposition (Usually in concertos). Do you mean that composers often ask for a repeat of the Exposition (rarely observed)? Your comment suggests that we have to sit through endless expositions before we move on to the development !
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'Man know thyself'

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 11-20-2000).]

Chris
11-20-2000, 11:08 AM
Wha? I mean there are times when the exposition is repeated. In concertos yes, but also in other kinds of pieces. Beethoven's 5th Symphony and the "Hammerklavier" piano sonata to name a couple.

Peter
11-20-2000, 03:21 PM
The Exposition is nearly always intended to be repeated - I can think of few examples in B when this isn't the case - Razumovsky no.1 is an example .Double Exposition is not the same as repeating the exposition.

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'Man know thyself'

Chris
11-20-2000, 03:51 PM
Oh, I thought you were saying that you knew of no pieces besides concertos where the themes are presented more than once before heading to the development. I knew that had to be a mistake reading your posts on my part.