In this section we will get familiar with the meaning of the musical expressions used during the analysis, including their roles played within the flow of music, with the help of examples.
introduktio = introductory music. In the XVII.-XVIII. century it was general practice for symphonies to use slow introductory music before each movements of the sonata, which prepared the entry of the theme; and prepared the audience for the reception of the music.
Example: introduction before I. symphony IV. movement
During the analysis of each symphony the introductory music is thoroughly discussed, so instead now we will listen to a short introduction – it consists only of 6 beats –, we also hear the melody of the first theme. Be careful! The volume is forte!
Representatives of musical theory believe that the most characteristic style element of classical music is the motif, and its use within the structure and language of music. The question is evident:
What is a motif?
The smallest uninterrupted melodic and rhythmical unit, which cannot be divided further; it could be only two notes. It is the root of musical form. The expression of the elemental force of composition. “Ancient element.” The bud of musical thoughts. It does not form a closed unit.
The idea of philosopher F. Nietsche (1844-1900) is often quoted:
“Motif is a gesture of musical emotion.”
Think about architecture and the different motives applied to buildings!
Motif is the means of existence within Beethoven’s symphonies, which are the raw musical materials from which a theme, a movement, and a symphony can be composed.
It is like the pawn in chess, which is seemingly an insignificant figure, but it is also the “soul of the game” – as a famous chess player stated. A pawn can alone decide the result, the winner of a game; it is also invaluable during endplay.
01/ The best known is the fate-motif from the V. symphony.
02/ Less known is the horn-motif (VI. symphony V. movement)
The horn-motif summons the ancient life of shepherds.
03/ Similar is the beating-motif (IV. symphony II. movement)
The movement’s music begins instantly with the repeated motif of these two notes. This motif is always present during the movement, either in piano of in forte volume, sometimes woven into the fabric of music. You can read more about this during the analysis of said symphony.
04/ After the two “lyrical” examples now we will listen to two “sonorous” examples, where the volume is always fortissimo. These are the raving-, and the whirling-motives from the VII. symphony’s IV. movement.
About the roles of the motif
The roles: Abbreviations:
Ø motif-repetition m-r
Ø motivic play m-p
Ø motif-development mde
Ø motif-thinning mm
Ø motif-weaving mw
Motif is such a base unit of classical music and classical style which can be equipped universally with any role.
There are several ways of applying it within the flow of music.
The simplest is repetition, when a motif is repeated one or more times.
05/ All kinds of music, so Baroque music used it as well. In one of the Goldberg variations e the repetitions are played once by the right, once by the left hand. /Goldberg/
06/ VI. symphony I. movement. It is easy to recognize the repetitions of the short motif selected from the movement’s melody.
07/ We are listening to the repetitions of the faith-motif at the end of the III. movement, when freedom is soon achieved, and the forces of tyranny ar at their end. More can be read in the analysis.
08/ IX. symphony, the elaboration’s third section from the I. movement, where the three notes of the motif selected from the first theme’s melody is repeated.
09/ VIII. symphony I. movement, elaboration section, Where the motif selected from the theme is not only repeated, but also thinned; at the end of the section there is a dissonant climax, followed by the first theme, which is consonant, relieving the dissonant sounding.
In the symphonies’ scherzo themes the motif plays a different role. It serves as a cheerful, joyous element that often “plays along” with its audience; using a musical expression, this is the role of motivic play.
10/ VIII. symphony II. movement. Based on what has been said before, the type of play can be recognized spontaneously; more on this is discussed in the symphony’s analysis.
11/ I. symphony I. movement. It is in the scale-motif’s name that the melody goes through the notes of a scale /the scale on its own can be a melody!/. The motivic play with the scale-motif here represents the unstoppable flow of unbridled joy.
12/ Opus 2. No 3 – III. movement. We are listening to the whole scherzo theme of the piano sonata, where the music is fluent, playful, mainly because of the usage and weaving of motives..
Structure: A/ Scherzo B/ Trio C/ Scherzo
Sequentia /sequential development/
One way to use a motif in the flow of music is sequential, lat - meaning: “the repetition of a motif on a different pitch, thus “moving” it up or down.” – as it can be read in the Lexicon of Music.
“Sequential development” is the tool of composition and the technical tool of building musical structure. Baroque music also often applies it. Beethoven applies it as well, whenever the musical material desires.
13/ Bach: Goldberg variations. Let us pay attention – apart from sequential – to the most important characteristic of Baroque music, “liveliness”. In it there is no halt, no rest. Glenn Gould is playing the piano.
14/ I. symphony IV. movement. After the second theme there is a sequential development of a motif, moving upward.
15/ V. symphony IV. movement. The motif consisting of four notes sound first in bass, we can barely hear it; when played on violins it can be heard well. The motif is moving upward, which resembles a positive look at life. Listening several times is recommended!
A motif can not only be developed, repeated, or given a playful role, but it can also be thinned. How? Of course, not with sports and exercise, but with the composer reducing the motif to two notes or even to a single note through the repetitions. This is usually accompanied by the continuous decrease of volume /decrescendo).
16./ I. symphony 3. movement. Trio. We will hear the thinning of the Trio-theme. First we will hear the theme twice. The repetition that follows will reduce the theme to two notes, is repeated, while the volume gradually decreases.
17./ VI. symphony 2. movement. After the melody of the epilogue closing the theme, Beethoven continues to repeat its last note, until only one note remains. This is similar to when the ripples on the surface of water slowly become smooth.
18/ VII. symphony I. movement introductory music. Along with the thinning of the musical material the volume also decreases to pianissimo. At the end of this excerpt we can hear the melody of the entering first theme in piano.
There are different opportunities for motif-weaving, the way musical material, or the flow of music requires it.
19./ I. symphony 2. movement, elaboration.
Here Beethoven develops
the quart-motif, which this time sounds in minor key. /The
quart-motif is the theme’s first two notes/ Between the two notes there is a
“quart” (four notes long pause) distance, which is
do-fa in the solmization system, and C-F on a C-major scale.
We are listening to the whole first theme, the first two notes of which is the so called quart-motif. In the second example we here it embedded within the musical material.
20/ I. symphony 4. movement, beginning of the reexposition.
We are listening to a staccato-motif. The motif is not melodious, only moves up and down on the notes of the scale. We are listening to it in the lower bass regions as well.
Soon I will present and explain “counterpoint” as well!
21/ IX. symphony I. movement, first elaboration section.
The beginning of the first theme is also called falling-motif, which consists of two notes, and is repeated three times. This falling-motif is weaved in the elaboration section.
The dialectics of the motif /the part/, and the movement /the whole/.
The smaller unit of a speech, a presentation or an article /in the followings: text/ is the sentence; this is the part!
The sentence or sentences belong to a larger unit, the paragraph.
The paragraphs are organized within a three-part structure: introductory part, main part, and closing part. The three parts make the text, this is the whole.
This has been like this since the Greek!
sentence → paragraph → main part = text.
The most important characteristic of a sentence is its ability to be structured.
What do we mean by something being structured?
A well composed, well structured sentence has a connection with both the previous and next sentence. Naturally, it is also connected to the paragraph, and through the paragraph it is connected to the main part, and ultimately to the text.
Due to it being structured the connection is so strong, that omitting it would ruin the understanding of the paragraph and thought. Try it when reading a paragraph of an article!
It is exactly the same in classical music. In classical music, the smallest unit of a compositions’ theme is the motif. This is the part!
Here a motif is generally connected to a theme, and through the theme to tone of the movements’ main parts: exposition, elaboration, reexposition, coda. These four main parts make a movement, which is the whole.
Just as in the case of a sentence, the most important characteristic of a motif is its ability to be structured. Moreover, the motif is weaved into the musical fabric so much, as the motif of a hand-made Persian rug into the rug itself. Its power and role is significantly bigger than the role of the sentence within the text.
The roles played by the motif within the flow of music can be thought of as universal:
Ø it can appear alone
Ø it can be developed into a musical theme
Ø it can connect to another motif
Ø it can be structured into transition sections, closing sections, epilogues
Ø it is suitable /can be structured/ to compose short or long sections of music; our example is: I. symphony I. movement, elaboration section;
We can state that the motif is
present everywhere, and it has a strong connection to the flow of music, the
This is how the harmony, or if we prefer to think of a philosophical aspect, dialectics of part and whole is realized.
23/ We are listening to an excerpt from the “A” block of the IX. symphony’s 3. movement, where Beethoven repeats some parts of the slow melody arch on different instruments. The melody sounds on violins, while the short repetition on horns.
Echo-like repetition of the melody (echo effect)
24/ In Baroque music the echo-like repetition of some musical sections was an often utilized structure-technical tool. In this example, as soon as the melody sounds, it is immediately repeated as if an echo in bass, while the volume is not decreased. /Maybe it is not even the echo-effect?/
The example is from the IV. symphony’s first movement exposition.
25/ In case of this other example I cannot decide whether a repetition or the echo-effect is utilized, but it is beautiful nevertheless.
II. symphony II. movement.
What we call transition is the musical material that is situated, played between the first and second, and the second and closing themes, as well as between the exposition and elaboration, elaboration and reexposition, and between the reexposition and coda sections. Beethoven for example uses transition between the third and fourth movements of the V. symphony, or between the III. and IV. and IV. and V. movements of the VI. symphony. The transition can be long or short, but it may be omitted as well.
Why is transition necessary?
As we know, three musical themes sound within an exposition. If the composer would present these after one another, it would harm the continuity, the beautiful sounding of the music, as well as the unity of the movement and the principles of art. (Think about the shades of colors in the art of painting.) In nature, night does not turn into day and vice versa in a second: darkness gradually takes over light. And how many different phrases we have for these events: day is dawning, night is falling, it is growing dark etc.
Everyone who writes have surely experienced how sometimes it is difficult to switch from one sentence to another; to shift one idea, one thought into the next, and express them with words, sentences.
The result is nice, if the shift is done smoothly. We shouldn’t even realize that it happened. It should be witty, apt, and it should serve the previous sentence, thought as well as the next. Every solution is different. It can be longer, shorter; simple or complicated, or even tortuous.
It is not an easy task in music either! Of course I will explain the musical content of nearly every transition during the analysis of the symphonies’ movements. Furthermore, the beginning of each transition is marked under the musical flow chart with the Δ time-mark.
Considering all of this presenting and analyzing examples would not be expedient, chiefly because we are not familiar with the marking system yet, with which the musical structure is described. There is a significantly detailed explanation and demonstration within the analysis of the VI. symphony’s V. movement, regarding the musical material of the transition between the first and second themes. We will look into it there!
Latin word /contrapunctus/ - /kontrapunkt/: a multi-part structure (polyphony), where the different parts carry an independent melodic message.
The name is derived from the phrase “punctus contra punctum” (am. scorehead, against scorehead). The phrase is in use since the XIV. century.
Tinctoris’ 1477 definition is interesting: such a controlled and intelligent joint sounding, which derives from the mixture of two parts sounding simultaneously.
In musical education this theme is elaborated in a separate textbook.
And now the examples. These are far more enjoyable than theory.
26./ II. symphony I movement introduction, 3. section.
The musical theme sounds on deep strings, while the counter-point is played on violins; after a short while these roles are reversed. Pay attention! The Forte begins!
27./ III. symphony I movement, elaboration “A” block.
Perhaps the most beautiful example. The theme ripples in bass, to which the counter-point is played on violins. After a short pause the section is repeated.
28./ III. symphony I movement, coda, preparatory section.
This example is very similar to the previous one. The volume is much more low-key. The counterpoint again connects to the main theme’s melody; its tempo is faster, its rhythmic are more variegated.
29./ III. symphony I movement, coda closing section.
For the third time we are listening to the same thing, but in a different way; the most beautiful way. All further explanation is unnecessary; we only need to take pleasure in Beethoven’s music.
30./ III. symphony IV. movement, “A” block.
I am not the only one to believe that Beethoven’s III. symphony is a milestone in the history of musical arts. It is grand. The symphony of symphonies.
As for the examples: further explanation is insufficient; it is only enough if we listen, make others listen.
Fermata - sign on the sheet of notes: d
Fermata, it., meaning: crown. In music – semicircle shaped sign, with a dot in it, which lengthens the time value of the pause; the length is determined by the conductor or performer.
The fermata’s role is to stop, or somehow put a hold on the haste of music (we also use the word block); it also signifies that some kind of twist, shift is about to happen in the flow of music; it appears chiefly in closing and cadencial passages.
31./ IV. symphony IV. movement, coda.
In this example after the bassoon solo, the music continues in fortissimo without any transition, which leads to the raging of a frightening, shrill dissonant chord, which is then followed by the fermata.
32./ II. symphony IV. movement, coda.
We are listening to the repetitions of a motif, at the end of which we hear the fermata. What is also typical of Beethoven is a tiny musical idea: he repeats the fermata in pianissimo.
33./ VIII. symphony I movement, coda.
In this example we experience the base role of the fermata (as described previously). Not only there is a dynamic shift, but there is also a change in the tempo.
Observation: in Baroque music, we can experience (e.g.: in Bach’s organ compositions) that there are extremely long closing chords at the end of a musical piece. Why? Because the melody of Baroque music is continuous, endless; its rhythm is less diverse, there are no stops or rests in the flow of music; that is why the closing chords in the cadencial parts are so long. (These are not fermatas!).
The method of development: fugato
First we must determine the word fugue. Italian word, original meaning: running, chasing.
Music: a closed counter-pointed, multipart musical form built according to exact rules, in which the theme /motif/ is played through the consequently entering parts.
According to L. Bernstein advice, if it comes to fugue, think about the canon, which is the form that sounds the melody in different consequent parts.
We all know that one of the biggest masters of fugue was J. S. Bach, who lifted this form to perfection. The fugue, as a form of art has more than 20 different types: dual-fugue, master-fugue, counter-fugue, canon-fugue, regular-fugue etc.
For us the word fugato is more interesting; meaning: a musical section, which usually only contains a fugue exposition; it starts as a fugue, but it does not become a full, independent, closed fugue form. This “musical section” is more similar to the canon form, than the fugue form.
Beethoven, not very often, but uses this kind of musical form called “fugato” in his symphonies (piano sonatas, string quartets).
34/ I. symphony II. movement. The melody’s slow tempo makes it possible for us to observe the recent entries, and the following musical developments.
35/ III. symphony IV. movement. We are listening to the fugato development of the bass-melody, to which comes a counter-point. Here the bass theme sounds powerful.
36/ III. symphony II. movement, 3. section. We are listening to the fugato development of the funeral march /or more precisely its inverse consequent part/ in the movement’s third section, to which comes a counter-point.
22. piano sonata III. movement. We are only listening to the fugato
38/ Bach: Goldberg variations. So that we don’t only listen to fugato, in one of the variations only the fugue is played.
By closure we usually mean when a process is closed or comes to an end. The notion is the same in music as well. The composer closes the musical process, as at the end of a movement, an exposition, or even a theme.
The closing of the musical material does not require melodiousness or content; it is beautiful if it properly fits into the previous musical material, sounding, rhythmic etc.
39/ I. symphony I. movement, the closing of the first theme. The first theme is repeated, than a closing section is composed from the material at the beginning of the melody, the final chord of which starts the transitions musical material, while volume gradually increases.
40/ VI. symphony II. movement; the exposition’s closing with motif-thinning, and gradual decrescendo. The exposition is closed by the epilogue, the short melody of which is repeated. Then the motif composed of that melody is repeated, decreasing until only two notes remain, while the dynamics gradually lessen to pianissimo.
41/ VIII. Symphony I. movement’s closing. During the closing, no matter how peculiar, the three forte chords are thinned, while the volume gradually decreases, until finally the beginning of the first theme sounds. /theme head/.
echo gr-lat – echo, acoustics: the reflected sound waves from some sort of surface; music: in terms of from – the repetition of the same musical section with decreased volume /echo-effect/, often applied in Baroque music; on the organ there is the Echo-structure, which is a separated set of pipes /on the side or on the ceiling/, to make the echo-effect even more apt. < back
The history of Bach’s variation composition:
Keyserlingk, Hermann Carl /1696-1764/ was an imperial earl, Bach’s ardent follower, visited Leipzig several times. The earl was often ill, and suffered from insomnia. His protégé, Goldberg, who played on the piano for him when he could not sleep, had to live in the room next to him.
Because of this, the earl, possibly in 1741 requested /ordered/ a piano-piece from Bach, which thereafter was regularly performed for the earl when he was awake, and it became his fondest music. Bach’s reward was 100 Louis-gold pieces in a golden cup.
Goldberg, Johann Gottlieb /1727-1756/ was a real talented harpsichord player and composer; he died at a very young age, he was 29. Bach’s piece was later named after him.
Bach’s variation piece contains 30 different variations. It is built on a single bass-theme, and above each variation Bach composed a different counter-part.
The most authentic performer
of the composition is said to be the Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould /1932-1982/.
(Source: Walter Kolneder, Bach-Lexicon)
polyphon gr – music: multi-part, having different parts; polyphony – such a multi-part structure, in which the parts have different melodies; its opposite is homophony (gr – meaning: “the unity of sound” (singing the same note/s/ in an orchestra), which originally solely referred to unisonous music < back
legato it – bound; a method of performance where one note is followed by the other without any pause