The history of music is a vast history, one with roots as ancient as time itself. Historically people around the world have turned to music as a form of expression, even before there were other methods of communication. Today, music holds strong to its roots and offers many forms to evoke many historical feelings.
Music depends on form to a great extent. The word “form” in music simply refers to the structure of a song. There are some established forms that you will be immediately familiar with, as they define most of the modern music that people listen to. Classical has its own forms, such as the rondo and the symphony. It’s easiest, however, to understand the concept of form by first understanding how it’s described in terms of music theory.
Classical forms are far more complex than the forms used in popular music, in most cases. Musical statements are made, refined, developed, changed and remade within the same piece quite frequently. As an example, one of the most famous of classical forms is called the fugue. A well-known example is Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor. A fugue form consists of an exposition, a development and a recapitulation, in its simplest form. The fugue, however, is not always this way. In some forms, the texture of the music is as important as the structure. The fugue form relies heavily on counterpoint—a type of melodic construction—and key, which largely defines the form, in some examples.
Sonata form is, on the surface, nearly identical to the fugue form, having the same major components. This form, however, develops the themes differently than the fugue form and, eventually, became more popular than the fugue form. Sonatas develop themes by using keys very creatively, but within an expected set of norms. Typically, the theme is switched to the dominant key or the relative major key in the second section. In the third section, the composer is typically allowed great freedom to develop the theme further. This form has been developed and redeveloped extensively over the years. The music of the past tended to be more rigid and involved in its traditions, while modern musicians are oftentimes quite a bit more creative with how they adapt this form. Analyzing classical music is an art in and of itself. There are many more forms to explore in this genre, such as binary form and the rondo form.
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