A musical work and each of its movements has its architecture, referred to as form. This may be thought of as path that helps the listener understand what the composer is doing in the music. The composer may also consciously decide not to conform to a particular form. Concerts are often planned following a conventional pattern, which can also be called a form. Compositions have their form, as do their movements, and thus a concert may be seen as a structure made up of concentric forms.
Form of a symphony concert
A symphony concert conventionally features three works: an opening work (overture), a soloist work (concerto) and an orchestral work (often a symphony), the latter with the orchestra in the main role.
Forms of symphonic works
Movement structures in symphonic works
Did you know that key may be vitally important for the content of a composition? In tonal music, the key has what is known as the tonic or fundament, the ‘home base’ where the music starts and finishes. The seven degrees of the scale and the chords built on those tones each have their own function. In functional harmony, the listener’s expectation is that a certain chord will move in a certain way, being followed by one of several expected chords. In this context, a composer may express a lot by varying the harmonic logic. In classical symphonies, keys are important parameters in the forms of the movements.
The sonata form is typically found in the first movement of a concerto or a symphony.
The rondo form is another common form used in movements of a concerto or a symphony.
The passacaglia is a form that is based on repetitions of an unchanging melodic line over which the music is constructed.
The minuet was originally a solemn courtly dance in triple time, dating from the Baroque era.
Variation form is an open-ended structure that features a theme and a number of variations on that theme.