Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Lesson - 72 : Forms of Music

Today let us discuss briefly about the various forms of music in WCM.

Just to have an idea what they generally mean.

Forms of Music, mean the Structural format and other Associated shapes and characters etc, which makes them distinctly different from each other.

For example, in our system of music, we have different styles like -Folk songs,
-Devotional songs,

-Songs meant for Dance,


-War related songs,

-Songs depicting stories,

-songs used for Dramas etc etc

Also each song has its own individual structures.

Some are small, others are big,

There are definite segregations like Preludes, Pallavi, Charanam etc…!

WCM also has its own classification and forms like these..!

Traditionally WCM has two major groups.
One is for voice singing and another about musical instruments..!

Both of these were getting evolved / developed with the passage of time..!

Both were supportive of each other and generally you can always see the combination of them.

But it’s a fact that dominance of instruments oriented music are relatively more in WCM.

Just to mention the few names of various forms of music as a check list :

Voice oriented music types are : Cantata, Choral / Choir Music, Aria, Opera etc.

Instruments oriented music are : Sonata, Toccata, Fugue, Concerto, Chamber music, Symphony, Rhapsody etc.

Dance oriented music are : Minuet, Gavotte, Bourree, Waltz, Scherzo, Suite etc.- Polish, Hungarian, Russian form of Dance etc.

Each of the above has their own distinct style and musical structure of its own.

And again, as we see in any field, all these forms and structures were also undergoing changes with time, so their meaning connotations will vary with time.

Again, each of the composers, has their own affinity towards certain form of music and has done a lot of works in that field.

If you identify Vivaldi with Concertos, Bach is famous for Fugue, Concertos, Toccatas, Dance music, Church music etc.

Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven are famous for their Symphonies while Brahms, Chopin, Liszt, Mendelsohn etc for their Piano music.

If Wagner is known for his Operas, Tchaikovsky is famous for the Suites and Symphonies.

In the initial form of music, Binary structures were followed which was normally in two sections A-B format.

The music in Part-A will start in a particular tonic scale and after development end in the modulated scale usually of the dominant .

In the Part-B, the modulated scale is expressed briefly and while ending return back to original scale of Part-A.

In the Ternary structure, 3 clear sections of A-B-A format is used.

While further development of music, different formats like A-B-A-C-A , A-B-A-C-A-D-A etc are slowly added.

Similarly, at the starting, Preludes are added and in the end Coda (meaning tail..) are added

and in between bridging passages are added to strengthen the theme covered in the music.

Sonata-Rondo is such form of music which covers most of these aspects.

With the evolution of various forms over the period, Symphony form also came into existent (after the period of JS Bach…)

which is normally having 3 or 4 major parts in it

and each one is set in different speed format called the movements.

And that form stayed as an ultimate form of music which is a test case for any composers, because it covers all form of music with

Dance form (like Minuet) to Sonata form etc,

with slow speed (of Adagio, Andante) to fastest piece (of Vivace Allegro etc.)

and covering all departments of Orchestra…!

So symphony composing is having its own significance in WCM !

The following is the definition / explanation given in the Oxford Dictionary of Music

“…..As the word is now generally used, it means a large-scale orchestral composition (usually in 4 movements but often in 1, 3, or 5, occasionally in 2), a sonata for orchestra, the 1st movement and others being in sonata-form.

It is reserved by composers for their most weighty and profound orchestral thoughts, but of course there are many light-hearted, witty, and entertaining symphonies.

The movements of the Classical and early Romantic symphony were usually an opening allegro, followed by a slow movement, then a minuet or scherzo, finally another allegro or rondo.

Frequently the slow movt. is placed 3rd, sometimes last……”

Such description of various musical terms you can get in this web site below:

Please have an encounter (!) with various musical terms so that you can “dash” with the Jargon throwing people in future !

The above is an excellent site for all Classical Music related matters and a lot of list of musical works, biographies of Composers etc. everything on WCM is there !

So Enjoy…!


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