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The "sonata" structure

Analysis of a "sonata" structure


Structure of a classical sonata wit its different sections such as the introduction, the exposition, the development, the recapitulation and the coda.
Originally, the word "sonata" is an instrumental piece intended to be played by a string instrument. This term is opposed to the "cantata" which was destinated to be sung.
In the classical period, the sonata form is a diagram used in a wide variety of compositions.
With the composer Domenico Scarlatti, the sonata is composed for keyboard instruments. It is a piece of music divided in several parts, usually three.
Let's be back here to the sonata structure used in the first parts of the classical symphony.
The sonata structure usually begins with an optional introduction that introduces: the tonality, beat, rhythm, atmosphere, style or mood of the piece.
It precedes the exposition that presents the main musical themes. For example, in a classical structure, we will find the first theme followed by a bridge, leading to a second theme and sometimes a coda that represents the conclusion of the exposition.
Both themes are often distinguished to each other by their mood, but also by their keys. For example, the first theme is played in the main tonality, and the modulating bridge brings us to the second theme played in the neighbor tonalities (fourth, fifth degree or relative key), or to more distant keys like in the romantic music for example.
In our example, the first theme is the key of C major, the bridge modulates to bring us to the second theme in the key of the sub-dominant F major, the dominant G major (fifth degree) or the relative key: A minor.
The following development is a serie of variations, transformations, superimposition or opposition of both themes. It is also the place of modulation to neighbor or more distant keys, depending on the period.
Both themes and the bridge are coming back in the recapitulation, but here, in the main key : C major.
Finally we conclude the piece with or without a coda. The coda may use elements of the themes, or free items such as harmonic pedals for example.

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