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Musical Form and Style

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Lori Roy

on 10 February 2015

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Transcript of Musical Form and Style

Throughout this unit we have been starting with the smallest elements of music and have been working our way up to bigger ones. The last structural elements we're going to discuss are form and style.
Musical Form and Style
Musical form is typically represented by letters, with a different letter representing each different section of music (ie. ABA)
Strophic form
AABA form
Verses of music (stanzas of poetry accompanied by a musical phrases) are sung with choruses in between them. The verses are generally used to tell the story of the song, while the chorus is the musical high point. The chorus will usually feature more rhythm, will be louder, and will generally be more active and higher.
How strict is form?
These are just a few examples of form. There are many different road maps for creating music and those maps won't always stay consistent. Some artists stick very closely to traditional forms, and others tend to break forms. You can be sure though, that whatever the artist did was intentional...you just have to figure out why.
Homework clip (due 2/12/15)
In music, form is when rhythm, dynamics, tone color, melody, harmony, and texture are organized into an effective piece of music. The way these elements repeat or contrast create a musical road map, or form.
pitch (with dynamics and tone color to further classify this element(
Melody played with harmony or other melodies= texture
The layout, or musical map of contrasting/ repeating melodies and textures= form
All of these elements combined= style
The form of some pieces of music, such as Classical sonatas, are incredibly complex. The form of pieces such as folk songs are often simple. The layout of the musical form can provide clues about the composer, the audience, and the purpose of the musical work.
Let's look at "Twinkle Twinkle."
Even if you can't read music, you
can look at the shape of the line to see the
repetition and contrast, which will give us the form.
Matching musical sections will be represented
with the same letter and contrasting ones will be
represented with a different one.
Let's look at one form of music: strophic form. Strophic form is one of the simplest, most common forms in music. It's often used in folk songs or popular music.
Jean Ritchie singing
"Barbry Ellen" (sometimes seen as "Barbara Allen")
Form uses the exact same melody repeated every single verse, therefore every verse is represented by "A"
In verse chorus form, the verse would be represented by A and the chorus by B because the music sounds different in each section.
Most verse-chorus songs follow a form of AABA. Sometimes this form is straight-forward and sometimes it's modified.
"Penny Lane"
The Beatles (1967)
Take a listen to "Yesterday" by The Beatles.
Is the form strophic or AABA? Can you diagram it?
What is the meter?
What is the texture?
Musical Style
When we combine all the elements we have studied, we get style. Style is the combination of qualities that make a work distinctive. Are the harmonies dissonant? Are they very consonant and open? Is the music lively? Is it in two like a march or in three like a waltz? Is the tone color bright, dark, tinny, mellow? Style is how we might recognize Taylor Swift from the Band Perry even though they both exist within the genre of country.

Musical style is quite frequently an echo of lifestyle. It reflects the values and beliefs of the people who created it. It is easiest to see this with popular music and the different worlds evoked by rock, rap, and country music. You can listen to these styles and instantly be transported to different time periods and places by the sounds that you hear.
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