Music at School


Area of Study 1

1st Movement, Symphony No. 40 by Mozart

The key to understanding this piece of music is to understand the structure, and what happens in each section. There are four movements to whole symphony:

  1. FIRST MOVEMENT Molto allegro (very fast) – sonata form
  2. SECOND MOVEMENT Andante (walking pace) – sonata form
  3. THIRD MOVEMENT Allegretto (between Andante and allegro) minuet and trio form
  4. FOURTH MOVEMENT Allegro assai (very, very fast) – sonata form

Although only the first movement is our set work, it’s helpful to see that three, out of four movements, are also in sonata form. So what is sonata form?

Sonata form has three main sections: Exposition, Development and Recapitulation.

Here is what happens in each section:

  • Exposition – this is the main “story”
    • first subject (theme or character) in G minor
      • starts quietly (p)
      • transition which is marked f (loud) and is in Bb major.
    • second subject starts in bar 17 and is played on violin
      • second subject is in Bb Major
    • Codetta to finish off the exposition.
      • Towards the end the key changes back from Bb major to G minor.
    • Exposition is repeated.
  • Development – developing the exposition
    • based on the 1st subject
    • more chromatic
    • starts in F# minor but moves through lots of other keys
  • Recapitulation – think “recap”. It’s the exposition that comes back.
    • a recap of the exposition with longer sections and different keys
    • At the end there is a coda (a longer version of the codetta from the exposition) and the piece finishes by alternating between the chords V (D) and I (Gm) before reaching a perfect cadence.

Classical Struture: Ternary

Open this file: les-hommes

It is the melody from a piece of Mozart. You’ll see that bars 1-4 (up to the double bar line) is section A. After the double bar line starts a new section for four bars. After that in bar 9 section A is repeated but an octave higher.

With the repeat marks at bar 4 you might write the structure like this:

AABABA – (without the repeat marks it would like this: ABA). This makes the structure Ternary.

Romantic Overview

Here is an overview of music in the Romantic Period: (click image)

Why not try to create your own mind map with essential information?

Classical Overview

Click on the picture below to give you an overview of music in the classical period

Why not try and create your own mind map of essential information?


A canon is a device used by composers to create a contrapuntal texture. (contrapuntal just means that the melodies work in contrast to each other). The most famouse canon is probably “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”.Composers through the ages have used this device to create textured music and will often apply their own style (or the style of the era). For example, you can hear canons in 18th century Baroque Music as well as 20th century minimalist music.

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