Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations in the Late-Eighteenth-Century Sonata

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Oxford University Press, Aug 31, 2006 - Music - 680 pages
Elements of Sonata Theory is a comprehensive, richly detailed rethinking of the basic principles of sonata form in the decades around 1800. This foundational study draws upon the joint strengths of current music history and music theory to outline a new, up-to-date paradigm for understanding the compositional choices found in the instrumental works of Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and their contemporaries: sonatas, chamber music, symphonies, overtures, and concertos. In so doing, it also lays out the indispensable groundwork for anyone wishing to confront the later adaptations and deformations of these basic structures in the nineteenth and earlier twentieth centuries. Combining insightful music analysis, contemporary genre theory, and provocative hermeneutic turns, the book brims over with original ideas, bold and fresh ways of awakening the potential meanings within a familiar musical repertory. Sonata Theory grasps individual compositions-and each of the individual moments within them-as creative dialogues with an implicit conceptual background of flexible, ever-changing historical norms and patterns. These norms may be recreated as constellations "compositional defaults," any of which, however, may be stretched, strained, or overridden altogether for individualized structural or expressive purposes. This book maps out the terrain of that conceptual background, against which what actually happens-or does not happen-in any given piece may be assessed and measured. The Elements guides the reader through the standard (and less-than-standard) formatting possibilities within each compositional space in sonata form, while also emphasizing the fundamental role played by processes of large-scale circularity, or "rotation," in the crucially important ordering of musical modules over an entire movement. The book also illuminates new ways of understanding codas and introductions, of confronting the generating processes of minor-mode sonatas, and of grasping the arcs of multimovement cycles as wholes. Its final chapters provide individual studies of alternative sonata types, including "binary" sonata structures, sonata-rondos, and the "first-movement form" of Mozart's concertos.

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Though it may well often be a case of 'old wine in new bottles', in past treatments those bottles were hidden in very dusty cellars. For depth (consideration of thousands of pieces) and clarity (concision and easy applicability) it is preferable to Rosen's famous pair, and concepts of medial caesura, deformations and rotational form are welcome relative newcomers. Even as an update alone, it is a worthwhile read and study aid: a work like this has been needed for some time! 


Sonata Form as a Whole Foundational Considerations
The Medial Caesura and the TwoPart Exposition
The Continuous Exposition
The Primary Theme P
The Transition TR
The Secondary Theme S and Essential Expositional Closure EEC Initial Considerations
SComplications EEC Deferral and Apparent Double Medial Caesuras TMB
Sonata Types and the Type 1 Sonata
The Type 2 Sonata
Rondos and the Type 4 Sonata
The Type 5 Sonata Fundamentals
The Type 5 Sonata Mozarts Concertos R1 The Opening Ritornello
The Type 5 Sonata Mozarts Concertos Solo and Larger Expositions Solo 1 + Ritornello 2
The Type 5 Sonata Mozarts Concertos Development and Recapitulation From Solo 2 through Ritornello 4
Appendix 1 Some Grounding Principles of Sonata Theory

The Closing Zone C
The Development Developmental Space
The Recapitulation Recapitulatory Space Recapitulatory Rotation
NonNormative Openings of the Recapitulatory Rotation Alternatives and Deformations
Parageneric Spaces Coda and Introduction
Sonata Form in Minor Keys
The Three and FourMovement Sonata Cycle
Rotation and Deformation
Index of Names
Index of Works
Index of Concepts

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About the author (2006)

James Hepokoski is Professor of Music at Yale University. His research interests include nineteenth- and twentieth-century music, musical form, hermeneutics, and historiography. Warren Darcy is Professor of Music Theory at Oberlin College Conservatory. His book Wagner's Das Rheingold (Oxford, 1993) won the Society for Music Theory's Wallace Berry Award in 1995.

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