Elements of Sonata Theory

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A Masterclass by Morgri.

A close look at 18th century sonata form.


This masterclass will take you into both the micro and macro details of the Eighteenth Century Sonata. We will explore A variety of sonatas written by Scarlatti, C.P.E Bach, Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoveen, that show how sonatas work and how sonatas vary. Such topics will include:

The type 1 sonata The type 2 sonata the type 3 sonata the type 4 sonata (sonata-rondo) the type 5 sonata (concerto form)

The idea of this masterclass is to give readers and composers a framework to listen to and exam these sonatas.

Textbooks and references

This masterclass will mainly cite material from Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations in the Late-Eighteenth Century Sonata by Musicologist and Theorist James Heposkoski and Warren Darcy. Articles by other theorists might also be used.

Materials and Coursework

- This masterclass will require certain scores and sheet music for reference. I will try to skip with stuff that is easy and free to find, but I can guarantee that they all will.

- Coursework will vary from analyzing the exposition, development, and recapitulation of the sonata; writing bass reductions that show the goal of sequences as well as primary goals of development sections; analyzing purple patches, interpolations, and expansions in phrases; and looking past keys to a deeper level of understanding (Text based sonatas).

Lesson I.

Basic Terminology

[b]Introduction[/b] - A brief passage at the beginning of that precedes the sonata and is not related to sonata form. In most cases it will be a slow passage that eventually ends on a HC. [b]Primary theme zone (P)[/b] - The first theme of a sonata. Usually comprised of a sentence phrase, it sets up the framework, theme, and tonic key of the sonata. [b]Tranisition zone (TR)[/b] - A phrase or number of phrases utiziled to modulate the piece away from the tonic key. Usually to the Dominant (if in major) or the relative Major (in starting in a minor key). Characterized by upward motion, louder dynamics, and rise in energy. [b]Medial Caesura (MC)[/b] A brief moment of pause that seperates the primary theme zone from the secondary theme zone. Always ends with a cadence, usually a HC in the new key, but not always. [b]Secondary Theme Zone (S)[/b] - The second theme. Always in a new key, usually characterized by more thematic, legato, hummable material, although this is not always the case. [b]Essential Expositional Closure (EEC)[/b] - The first [u]satisfactory[/u] PAC (perfect authentic cadence) in the new key. Ends the second theme. [b]Closing Zone (C or K)[/b] - anything after the EEC and before the development.

This terminilogy will be important for the next lesson. We were learn how to thoroughly examine the exposition of the sonata.