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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

Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
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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