Transcript Theme 1

The Classical Era
• The Enlightenment:
– Reason & philosophy > social & religious establishment
– Middle class > Aristocracy
– Questioning > tradition
• Wars with the purpose of revolution
– 7 year War
– French Revolution
• Napoleon becomes Emperor by involvement, not
• The American Revolution
• Turning away from the elaborate, & extravagant
Classical Music
• Simpler, lighter and clearer then Baroque
• Emphasis on grace, elegance and beauty
• Orchestra grows in size and instrumentation
– Abandoned use of Harpsichord or BC
• Concentration on sacred homophonic forms:
– Symphony, Concerto, String Quartet, Sonata
• Clear, predictable melodies, harmonies and
Functional Harmony
• By the end of the Baroque Era, musicians
are composing in a firmly established
tradition of functional harmony based on
two main elements:
– TONIC (I) Acts like a resting place, feels like
‘home base’
– DOMINANT (V) Wants to pull back to the
tonic. Feels full of tension and unease.
Classical Forms
• Sonata Form:
• The Classical Era’s most popular form
• Used in Symphonies, Concerti, String Quartets,
– When used, Sonata form is almost always seen in the
first movement and in a moderate to quick tempo.
The Exposition
• The themes are introduced for the first
– Theme A (in the tonic key)
– Theme B (in the dominant key)
– A short transition to the development
• In Concerti, the Exposition is played twice,
once by the orchestra and again by the
soloist. This is called “double exposition”.
The Development
• One or both of the themes become more
complex, and complicated through a
series of compositional developments.
• There is no set or typical length of duration
for the development section. This section
can be as short or as long as the
composer desires.
The Recapitulation
• Simply, the restatement of the Exposition
with one exception:
– Both themes are played in the tonic key.
• As the piece is wrapping up in this last
section, maintaining the tonic gives the
piece a more conclusive feel.
Optional Elements
• Introduction: A short passage at the
beginning of a work that is usually slow in
• Coda: Literally translating to ‘tail’, a brief
passage at the end of the work serving as
a finale.
• Cadenza: Usually found in concerti or
sonatas, an improvised unaccompanied
solo used as a virtuosic vehicle.
Theme and Variations
Theme (Main melody of the movement)
Variation 1 (alteration to main theme)
Variation 2 (new alteration to main theme)
Variation 3 (new alteration to main theme)
• Composers will alter the main melody in a
number of ways including key, meter,
instrumentation, mood, dynamics, etc.
Minuet and Trio
Minuet and Trio:
<Theme 1 (A) repeated>
<Theme 2 (B)
Theme 1 slightly altered (A’) repeated>
<Theme 3 (C) repeated>
<Theme 4 (D)
Theme 3 slightly altered (C’) repeated>
Theme 1 (A)
Theme 2 (B)
Theme 1 slightly altered (A’)
• The Minuet is the only dance form that holds in popularity past the
Baroque Era.
Theme 1 (A)
Theme 2 (B)
Theme 1 (A)
Theme 3 (C)
Theme 1 (A)
• Rondo’s almost always serve as the last
movement in any multi-movement Classical Era
• The Rondo is the natural progression of Ritornello
The Classical Era Multi-Movement Genres
• Symphonies, String Quartets, Concerti,
Sonatas have the following movement
– First movement: Sonata Form
– Second movement: Slow
– Third Movement: Minuet and Trio (optional)
– Final Movement: Rondo Form