Music: An Art and a Language

By Walter Raymond Spalding | Go to book overview

its two episodes in A minor and C minor (which afford most dramatic contrasts to the lyric quality of the main subject) and its glorious, long-extended Coda of about three pages.1

As stated above, the Older Rondo-Form has not become obsolete; indeed, by reason of its possibilities for emphasis and contrast it has commended itself to modern composers. Striking examples may be found in the Finale of Brahms's Pianoforte Sonata in F minor, in the Finale of Tchaikowsky's Fourth Symphony and, above all, in the Symphonic Poems of Strauss, Don Juan and Till Eulenspiegel, in which the form is admirably adapted to the dramatic needs of these descriptive works. Additional examples, which can be readily procured, are the Slow Movement of the Sonata Pathétique, op. 13, Beethoven's well-known Andante in F major -- remarkable for its brilliant Coda -- and his Rondo, already cited, On the Lost Farthing. (See Supplement No. 38). Although there is a certain stiffness in this form these examples afford the student excellent rudimentary practise in ease of listening.


CHAPTER VIII
THE VARIATION FORM

MONOTONY, as previously suggested, is more unendurable in music than in any of the other arts. We should therefore expect to find musicians inventing new devices to vary their thoughts so that the interest of the hearer might be continually sustained and refreshed. Thus there gradually grew up the form known as the Varied Air -- a term meaning the presentation of the same musical material under different aspects. As far back as we can trace the development of instrumental structure, there appears this instinct for varying a simple tune by embellishments of a rhythmical and melodic nature. Examples abound in the works of the early Italian masters, in the harpsichord pieces of the English composers Byrd and Bull2 and in the music of Couperin and Rameau. But all these

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1
For a complete detailed analysis of the movement see Prout, Applied Forms, pp. 120-121.
2
We would cite the piece entitled Les Buffons by Bull, and Byrd's variations to the popular tune the Carman's Whistle, which latter have considerable archaic charm and distinction; for Byrd was a real genius. These are readily accessible in popular editions.

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