THE ELEMENTS OF FORM
ART of any kind is inconceivable without form. The beauty of structure can be one of the best of delights to the music-lover, as it is to the biologist, the anatomist, the painter, the sculptor, and the architect. Music maybe comes nearest to architecture, in the vital part that form or design plays in its life, though it is really unlike any other art, and analogies are misleading.
The simplest elements count, in form--the building up of a tiny two- or three-note motive against another motive, of phrase against phrase, sentence on sentence, until a series of these constitutes a section of a short piece. This section will be balanced by a contrasting one, similarly built up in general lines, but with subtle variety in detail; and so a piece grows. The experienced composer can think in long stretches. If we analyse in short ones, we must remember that when he knows his job, much of his building may become subconscious work. He knows where he wants to go, and that other mind --call it what you like--having been laboriously instructed in his youth, now knows how to get him there and does not necessarily worry him often about the road and the vehicle. But he may agonize for days over a transition, or shape and reshape a phrase. Beethoven was a great reshaper. His notebooks show his processes, and they should make impatient would-be creators humble. Schubert, on the other hand, scarcely ever sketched or altered. Music just poured out of him.
When first man, tired of monotonously repeating a little figure, varied it, he became a builder of form. Variety in unity is the root of form. There are two such simple roots: one is exemplified in the folk-tune that contains two ideas, conveniently labelable A and B,