Study different forms!

In recent weeks I felt a great lack of knowledge about different musical forms. I understood how vital it is for a composer to know ways of developing an idea: how is was done in different centuries, in different countries: form of a song, variations, sonata, ricercare and fantasia. At least this basic stuff should be learned as early as possible.

A Song usually has Introduction (Intro – a hint about the mood of upcoming material) Verse, then Chorus, may be some Solo or Improvisation and after again Verse, then Chorus and in the end Outro – to summarize what happened (it might be almost the same as Intro but with some influences of what happened in the middle parts). There is no strict rule in which order to put middle parts (Verse, Chorus, Solo).

Variations present a melody from different angles. For me it’s more like a discussion between people: in the beginning one person present a topic – melody. Then discussion starts: people talk by presenting their own vision of the thing. Each time the theme is presented it is putted in different circumstances and different surrounding: in music it means different ways of accompaniments, different harmony, rhythm etc. In variations composer can show how imaginative he can be developing an entire piece from only one melody, theme, having it always recognizable in every variation but at the same time giving always a new sight on the thing.

Sonata’s structure is also pretty simple: Introduction, then comes Presentation of a First Theme, then presentation of a Second Theme, which should be a contrast to a First Theme, then comes a Development of those Two Themes, then might come a Repetition of the Themes and in the end it is Coda, kind of a sum of what happened before during the piece.

I started to be more interested in different traditional shapes and forms, when I noticed, that whatever and whenever I am writing smth new, a form of the piece often tends to be the same of those that I did before, or, when I try to be innovative, a piece comes out unorganized at all. Some of those main traditional forms, mentioned above are time-tested and work very well giving a composer support and direction. Later on one can experiment with those and create his own ways of developing ideas, melodies and themes.

PS. listening more to Mozart and Beethoven Sonatas – great experts in this area – can be very educative! 🙂 Though they had a bit different vision of sonata’s purpose: Mozart was thinking more about a game between different characters and Beethoven in his Sonatas was discussing more philosophical stuff: fight between good and evil, struggle between human and his/her fate (who wins?) etc.

Write your own sonata! This is a great way of learning and gaining knowledge: when you try to do smth yourself.