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Sonata Form by Mark Feezell Copyright 2010

How composers use Sonata Form

Sonata Form by Mark Feezell Copyright 2010


How composers use Sonata Form


Sonata is from the Italian sonare, to sound or to play.
Basic sonata form consists of an exposition, development, and recapitulation.
Do not confuse sonata form with the sonata genre, a 3 or 4 mvmt piece for 1 or 2 performers.
(Introduction)
Introductions occur only once in their entirety, at the very beginning of the movement.
Not all sonata forms include an introduction
Exposition
First theme group (or Primary Theme)
Often (not always) assertive or dramatic in character
Tonic key typical
May end with a PAC or dissolve into transitional material
(Transition)
Second theme group (or Secondary Theme)
Typically in V if the movement is in major, III if the movement is minor
Often (not always) more lyrical than the first theme
Sometimes early sonata forms (Haydn) simply transposed the first theme for the second theme
(Transition)
Third theme group
Sometimes it is appropriate to speak of a third theme
Some authors prefer to use the terminology secondary themes for all themes after the first
theme
Codetta
Must come back in the recapitulation to be a true codetta
Typically emphasizes the key of the last theme group (usually dominant or relative major)
Lots of tonic-dominant chord progressions
Development
Various motives from the introduction and exposition are explored in a variety of keys
Modulatory and unstable
Sequential, motivic, or harmonic structures often guide the development
Developments are NOT random wanderings; rather, composers use them to work through
conflicts present in the exposition
Ends with a retransition anticipating the recapitulations motivic material, accompanied by a
dominant pedal point.
Recapitulation
Normally, the recapitulation restates the themes from the exposition transposed to the TONIC key.
(Coda)
Occurs once at the end of the movement, if present. Not all sonata forms include a coda.
Terminal development: Development in the coda (rare before Beethoven)
To find the coda, compare the recapitulation and the exposition measure-by-measure until all
material from the exposition has been stated. The remaining music is the true coda. (Remember
also: Once a codetta, always a codetta. The return of the codetta is part of the recap.)
The sonata form principle:
The tonal conflict created by the secondary themes in the exposition must be reconciled to
the tonic key.



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