Arch form is a sectional structure based on repetition in such a way that the overall structure of the music appears "symmetrical". Sections do not have to be repeated verbatim but merely have to share common thematic material.
Béla Bartók was one of the first notable composers to make extensive use of the form. He utilized the form in both his fourth and fifth string quartets as well as his second piano concerto (where the overall structure was three movements of fast-slow-fast with the outer movements sharing common thematic material and the slow movement being structured in itself as slow-fast-slow with both slow sections using the same material). Bartók's Out of Doors suite is also notable for its arch form with the middle movement itself being an arch form and the key plan being E - G - A - G - E. Samuel Barber's famous Adagio for Strings also makes use of the arch form.
Though many variations exist, arch form is generally structured as ABCBA.
Notable compositions that utilize arch form
- Béla Bartók
- Fourth String Quartet
- Fifth String Quartet
- Second Piano Concerto
- Out of Doors suite
- Samuel Barber
- Adagio for Strings
|Polyphonic forms||Canon • Canzona • Invention • Fugue • Organum • Ricercar • Round • Sinfornia|
|Sectional forms||Strophic form • Chain form • Binary form • Ternary form • Rondo form • Arch form • Ritornello form|
|Cyclical forms||Ballet • Concerto • Mass • Oratorio • Opera • Requiem • Sonata • Song cycle • Suite • Symphony|
|Bagatelle • Fantasia • Etude • Impromptu • Prelude • Rhapsody • Symphonic poem|
|Dance forms||Allemande • Ballad • Bolero • Contradance • Estampie • Jig • Polka • Waltz|