Sonata form

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Sonata form (also sonata-allegro form) is a musical form that has been used widely since the early Classical period. While it is typically used in the first movement of multimovement pieces, it is sometimes employed in subsequent movements as well. Study of the sonata form in music theory rests on a standard definition and a series of hypotheses about the underlying reasons for the durability and variety of the form. "It consists of three main sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation."[1]

The standard definition focuses on the thematic and harmonic organization of tonal materials that are presented in an exposition, elaborated and contrasted in a development and then resolved harmonically and thematically in a recapitulation. In addition, the standard definition recognizes that an introduction and a coda may be present. Each of the sections is often further divided or characterized by the particular means by which it accomplishes its function in the form.

Since its establishment, the sonata form became the most common form in the first movement of works entitled "sonata", as well as other long works of classical music, including Symphony, trio, string quartet, and so on.[1] In accordance, there is a large body of theory on what unifies and distinguishes practice in the sonata form, both within eras and between eras. Even works that do not adhere to the standard description of a sonata form often present analogous structures or are meant to be elaborations or expansions on the standard description of sonata form.


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