Set Works

What you need to know

1. The most important thing you should learn about each set work is the
form, definition of that form, if the composer gets cheeky and deviates from the rules of that form and, if so, how and why.

  For example: Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture is....
A Concert Overture: A stand-alone work for orchestra that usually has a programme.
Programme Music: Music that tells a story
In Sonata Form:Which is a form in three parts - Exposition, Development, Recapitulation. The Exposition introduces two themes - theme one in the tonic, theme two in the dominant - the Development develops those themes and the Recapitulation repeats them - this time, both themes are in the tonic.
Tchaikovsky breaks the rules of Sonata form by modulating to unrelated keys, not developing both of his themes in the Development and featuring a theme from the Introduction in the Development and Recapitulation. Why? Because he is a composer from the Romantic era and they liked to break with traditional form for the sake of expression.

2. Know the main features of the composer's style and the features of the era the composer is from.

A lot of the time, these features are the same. You should also be able to give examples of these in the work you have studied.

  For example: Mozart lived and composed during the Classical era. His Piano Concerto No.23 in A major was written in 1786. Features found in Mozart's compositions are typical of the Classical style, these features include...
Use of standardised forms e.g. Sonata form;
Regular, structured phrases 2,4 or 8 bars long;
Homophonic Texture – one melody supported by chords
The standard orchestra included: Violin I and II, Viola, Cello, Flute, Oboe, Horn;
Modulation to closely related keys;
Lots of Alberti bass, tonic and dominant pedal notes, sequences, antiphony and cadenzas.

3. Know all your themes.

Be able to identify each one aurally and visually, know where and how many times each theme appears in each movement/song/piece and know the main differences between each playing of the theme. It helps a lot of students to have a memory aid for each theme (my students sing along to each theme e.g.Mozart, Piano Concerto... "Mvt I:Allegro", theme 2a: "in the evening we drink tea and scones."). Putting together theme comparison tables can be very helpful.

For example: Deane, Seachanges, Main Melody.
Subtraction principle is applied to this melody every time it is played.


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How a piece of music is structured.

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