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Please note that you must have the most recent copy of Macromedia's Flash plugin installed to play the musical examples.

Grasping the whole composition

Driving through a city for the first time can be very disorienting. Building after building catches your eye. Youcircle past a monument, then a fountain. Restaurants, hotels and shops fly past. Trying to absorb and remember all of theselandmarks quickly becomes tiring. Was the town square before or after the park? Did you pass a museum? If you don't speakthe language, an extra anxiety sets in. You try to decipher the street signs, negotiate the traffic. By the time youarrive at the hotel, you fall on your bed, exhausted.

Similarly, it is easy to get lost in the moment-to-moment progress of a piece of music: There are often too many detailsto remember, too many implications to contemplate. If the work is particularly dynamic, you may become overwhelmed withits rapid progress. If the musical language is unfamiliar, even one poorly understood sound may throw you into confusion.

In your visit to a new city, it is wiser to begin with an overview of the neighborhoods. First, you notice that you aretraversing the old town, where the buildings are closely packed together and the streets narrow and winding. Then, youpass into the modern section, with sleek high-rises, set apart along straight thoroughfares. You don't need to speak thelanguage; nor is there the pressure to remember facades or street-names. Later, you may revisit the old town on foot,discovering quiet alleys and ancient monuments. But, for now, you content yourself with a general sense of the city'slayout: How large is the old town compared to the new? How much variety of architecture characterizes each neighborhood?This more patient, disciplined approach helps to orient your future explorations. It will be harder to get lost oroverwhelmed when you have a commanding sense of the city's geography.

Similarly, the path to informed listening begins with a grasp of the whole composition. There are tremendous advantages tobeginning with a commanding perspective: While details tend to pass by very quickly; the overall trajectory of the musicunfolds more gradually, giving you more time to consider it. The significance of an individual gesture is often clearerwhen related to the work's overall destiny. And, while the immediate sounds are bristling with personality and may bedifficult to grasp, the larger structure is often easier to hear accurately.

Thus, we will approach listening to a piece of music by moving from the whole into the details: We will begin by developingan awareness of the composition's form and destiny, then gradually sink into the details with a stronger sense of theirrelevance.

Musical form is the wider perspective of a piece of music. It describes the layout of a composition as divided intosections, akin to the layout of a city divided into neighborhoods.

Musical works may be classified into two formal types: A and A/B. Compositions exist in a boundless variety of styles,instrumentation, length and content--all the factors that make them singular and personal. Yet, underlying thisindividuality, any musical work can be interpreted as either an A or A/B-form.

An A-form emphasizes continuity and prolongation . It flows, unbroken, from beginning to end. In a unified neighborhood, wander down anystreet and it will look very similar to any other. Similarly, in an A-form, the music has a recognizable consistency.

The other basic type is the A/B-form . Whereas A-forms emphasize continuity, A/B-forms emphasize contrast and diversity . A/B-forms are clearly broken up into sections, which differ in aurally immediate ways. Thesections are often punctuated by silences or resonant pauses, making them more clearly set off from one another. Here, youtravel among neighborhoods travels that are noticeably different from one another: The first might be a residentialneighborhood, with tree-lined streets and quiet cul-de-sacs. The next is an industrial neighborhood, with warehouses andsmoke-stacks.

The prime articulants of form are rhythm and texture . If the rhythm and texture remain constant, you will tend to perceive an A-form. If there is amarked change in rhythm or texture, you will tend to perceive a point of contrast--a boundary, from which you pass into anew neighborhood. This will indicate an A/B-form.

Listen to the following examples. What is the form of each?

Labeling the forms

It is conventional to give alphabetic labels to the sections of a composition: A, B, C,. If a section returns, its letter is repeated: for instance, "A-B-A"is a familiar layout in classical music. etc

As the unbroken form, A-forms come only in a single variety. They may be long or short, but they are always "A".

As the contrast form, A/B-forms come in a boundless array of possibilities. There may be recurring sections, unique ones,or any combination of both. For instance, a Rondo --a popular form in Classical music--consists of an alternation of a recurring section andothers that occur once each. It would be labelled A-B-A-C-A-D-A,. Many twentieth-century composers became fascinated with arch-forms: A-B-C-B-A. etc

An on-going form, with no recurrence whatsoever, is also possible: A-B-C-D-E... Any sequence of recurring and uniquesections may occur.

How would you describe the following form? First, click when you hear a new section. Then, use the pull-downmenu to label each section.

This movement is labeled as an A-B-A form. It opens with frantic, somber, rhythmically persistent music. Thecontrasting section has a lighter, more carefree feeling and a new prevailing rhythm. Finally, the opening sectionreturns exactly.


Understanding the layout of the city is crucial for exploring it: once you understand its topography, you know how to findits landmarks, where the places for recreation or business may lie. Similarly, determining the form of a piece will tell youa lot about it. If it is an A-form, your next focus will be on the work's main ideas, and how they are extended across theentire composition. If it is an A/B-form, your next investigations will be into the specific layout of sectionsand the nature of the contrasts.

Questions & Answers

are nano particles real
Missy Reply
Hello, if I study Physics teacher in bachelor, can I study Nanotechnology in master?
Lale Reply
no can't
where we get a research paper on Nano chemistry....?
Maira Reply
nanopartical of organic/inorganic / physical chemistry , pdf / thesis / review
what are the products of Nano chemistry?
Maira Reply
There are lots of products of nano chemistry... Like nano coatings.....carbon fiber.. And lots of others..
Even nanotechnology is pretty much all about chemistry... Its the chemistry on quantum or atomic level
no nanotechnology is also a part of physics and maths it requires angle formulas and some pressure regarding concepts
Preparation and Applications of Nanomaterial for Drug Delivery
Hafiz Reply
Application of nanotechnology in medicine
has a lot of application modern world
what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
ya I also want to know the raman spectra
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
yes that's correct
I think
Nasa has use it in the 60's, copper as water purification in the moon travel.
nanocopper obvius
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
analytical skills graphene is prepared to kill any type viruses .
Any one who tell me about Preparation and application of Nanomaterial for drug Delivery
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sound reasoning. OpenStax CNX. May 31, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10214/1.21
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