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The last movement of a symphony or sonata is often in the Rondo form. The term rondo comes from the French “rondeau” meaning round. The rondo is a lively movement with a recurring theme. Its form is A-B-A-C-A-D-A. The listener becomes more familiar and comfortable with the theme each time it returns.
The rules of sonata form apply to the first movement of a sonata or a symphony. The movement is divided into three main sections, the exposition, the development and the recapitulation. The exposition states the primary theme in the home key of the piece and then transitions to the secondary theme in a new key. The development is a “working out” of these two themes reaching a climax before returning to the primary and secondary themes in the recapitulation. This time both themes are in the home key.
A "measure" in music is the term for the "box" of musical text in between two consecutive bar lines. A measure contains a particular number of beats, as noted in the time signature. For example a measure in 3/4 time will contain three quarter note beats. A measure in 4/4 time will contain four quarter note beats.
Usually a melody will divide itself up into two halves called phrases. Two phrases form a musical period. Each phrase ends with a cadence, a 'resting' place in the music. The first phrase of a musical sentence generally ends with a cadence that is incomplete, or feels as if it is left dangling. The second phrase ends with a cadence that gives a sense of finality.
A minuet is a dance which originated in France and became popular in the European courts of the 18th century. The minuet is in triple meter and its form is A-A-B-A: a first section which is repeated, a contrasting Trio section, and a return to the original material of the first section.
Meter, as in poetry, depends on the placement of the accent. You can feel the meter of a piece by tapping with your hand with the pulse. A Triple or Waltz meter is STRONG-weak-weak, or ONE-two-three. Duple meter is a steady ONE-two, ONE-two. Quadruple meter, common time, is ONE-two-THREE- four, with the ONE being the strongest, the THREE being the second strongest, and the two and four being the weak beats.
The word scherzo means “joke” in Italian. Beethoven preferred using the vigorous scherzo, rather than the more reserved minuet, as the third movement in his symphonies, sonatas, and chamber works. Later composers wrote scherzos as independent pieces. Examples include Chopin's Sherzos for piano, and the Sorcerer's Apprentice of Paul Dukas, a symphonic scherzo.
The classical sonatas of Haydn and Mozart were composed for solo instrumentalist, or solo with piano accompaniment and were generally written in three movements. The first movement, sonata-form; the second movement, slow and introspective; and the final movement, a rondo to bring the piece to a lively conclusion.