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The Sonata and the Fugue
The Sonata-form (called variously first-movement form, binary form, ternary form, etc.), is the highest achievement of abstract music. The result of a long series of experiments in form, it is of so perfect and satisfying a nature as to have gained a permanent and final position as an art-form.
Though the general traits of this form are unmistakable, the individual expressions are so various that hardly any two specimens are exactly alike in structure. Each individual one has its own characteristic features, and in a sense gives a form of its own.
Here it will suffice to enumerate the essential features.
(i) Theme A, in the tonic key; a phrase or period ending with a perfect cadence, and followed by
Connecting matter, usually appearing as a continuation of theme A, leading into
(2) Theme B, a contrasting subject, or group of subjects, in a new key, probably the dominant in a major piece, and the relative in a minor piece; a good deal of incidental modulation may here take place. This part ends with a perfect cadence in the new key—dominant or relative.
(3) The development, or free fantasia. This consists of portions of themes A and B, or possibly new matter, worked up in surprising and interesting ways, with novel modulations, inversions, melodic changes, etc. This is the section that has most interest to the musician, and that offers opportunity for the display of the greatest skill in the composer. When this is finished it leads without break into
(4) Theme A as at first, possibly with some slight changes, but often without any. The original connecting matter will now be changed, and perhaps abbreviated, in order to lead into