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Common Classical Music Forms

Common Classical Music Forms

Author: Josephine Feist

Standard: CCSS-VAPA.6.1.6 Describe larger music forms (sonata-allegro form, concerto, theme and variations).

Objective: Students will identify and describe common musical forms in classical music.



Theme and Variations

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Sonata-allegro form

This video will go over a Sonata-allegro.

Summary: Features of Musical Forms


  • 2 harmonic parts: Exposition/ Development and Recapitulation
  • 3 thematic Parts: Exposition, Development, Recapitulation
    • Exposition: 2 themes 1 in tonic major/minor and 1 in dominant/relative major
    • Development: starts in dominant/relative major and can move to any key, must transition to tonic major/minor
    • Recapitulation: 2 themes both in tonic major/minor

Concerto Grosso form

This video will go over a concerto.

Summary: Features of Musical Forms

Concerto Grosso:

  • Three movements
  • Alternating Solo (1-5 instruments) sections and Tutti (rest of orchestra) sections
  • Tutti starts and ends with the main theme (Ritornello)

Theme and Variations

This video will go over a theme and variation.

Summary: Features of Musical Forms

Theme and Variations:

  •  Theme introduced first
  • Variations introduced (could be any number)
    • Rhythmic changes
    • Harmonic/chord changes
    • Melodic changes
    • Meter changes
    • Key signature changes
    • Tempo changes
    • Instrument/number of player changes