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The most common forms of music

You have probably come across such philosophical concepts as form and content. These words are universal enough to denote similar aspects of the most diverse phenomena. And music is no exception. In this article you will find an overview of the most popular forms of musical works. Before calling the common forms of musical works, let us determine what exactly is form in music? Form is what relates to the design of a work, to the principles of its structure, to the sequence of conducting musical material in it. The form of musicians is understood in two ways. On the one hand, the form is a layout of all parts of the musical composition in order.

On the other hand, form is not only a scheme, but also a process of formation and development in a work of those expressive means by which an artistic image of a given work is created. What are these expressive means? Melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre, register and so on. The rationale for such a double understanding of the essence of musical form is the merit of the Russian scientist, academician and composer Boris Asafiev.

FORMS OF MUSICAL WORKS

The smallest structural units of almost any musical work are a motive, phrase and sentence. Now let’s try to name the main forms of musical works and give them brief characteristics. A period is one of the simplest forms, which is an exposition of a complete musical thought. It is common in both instrumental and vocal music. The norm of duration for a period is two musical sentences that take 8 or 16 measures (square periods), in practice there are periods, both longer and shorter. The period has several varieties, among which the so-called “deployment type period” and “difficult period” occupy a special place. Simple two and three-part forms are forms in which the first part, as a rule, is written in the form of a period, and the rest do not outgrow it (that is, the norm for them is either a period or a sentence).

The middle (middle part) of the three-part form can be contrasting with the extreme parts (showing a contrasting image is already a very serious artistic device), or it can develop and develop what was said in the first part. In the third part of the three-part form, it is possible to repeat the musical material of the first part – this form is called reprise (reprise – this is repetition). Verses and chant-chorus forms are forms that are directly related to vocal music and their structure is often associated with the features of poetic texts that underlie the song. The verse form is based on the repetition of the same music (for example, a period), but each time with a new text. There are two elements in the chorus-chorus form: the first is the chorus (the melody and the text can change in it), the second is the chorus (as a rule, the melody and the text are stored in it). Complex two-part and complex three-part forms are forms that are composed of two or three simple forms (for example, a simple 3-part + period + simple 3-part).

Complex two-part forms are more often found in vocal music (for example, some opera arias are written in such forms), and complex three-part forms, on the contrary, are more characteristic of instrumental music (this is a favorite form for minuets and other dances). A complex three-part form, like a simple one, can contain a reprise, and in the middle part new material (most often this happens), and the middle part in this form can be of two types: “trio type” (if it represents some kind of harmonious simple form) or “type of episode” (if in the middle part there are free constructions that do not obey either the periodic or any of the simple forms). A variational form is a form built on the repetition of the original theme with its transformation, and these repetitions must be at least two, so that the resulting form of a musical work can be attributed to the variational. The variation form is found in many instrumental compositions of classical music composers, and no less often in compositions by contemporary authors.

Variations are different. For example, there is a type of variation, such as variations on an ostinate (i.e., immutable, held) theme in a melody or bass (the so-called soprano-ostinato and basso-ostinato). There are figurative variations in which, with each new conduct, the theme is colored with various decorations and is progressively fragmented, showing its hidden sides. There is another type of variation – characteristic variations in which each new theme takes place in a new genre. Sometimes these transitions to new genres greatly transform the theme – just imagine, a theme can sound in the same work as a mourning march, as a lyrical nocturne, and as an enthusiastic anthem. By the way, something about genres can be found in the article “Basic music genres.”

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