3.3.4 Digging Deeper

Digging Deeper

You may well have analysed some elements just by scanning the score. For example, you may have noted the medium – the number and type of instruments and /or voices, whether there were solo parts and so on. Other elements will require closer examination. The surface elements of rhythm such as the tempo and meter marked at the start are immediately obvious, but more subtle aspects of rhythmic relationships between parts will require deeper consideration. Are there interruptions to the tempi (pauses or fermatas)? Do they change during the piece (accelerando/ rallentando)? Are there sections which have a rhythmic, metric or tempo relationship with each other? Let’s take an example of one element: structure.

Reflecting on Structure

(Allow around 10 minutes for this activity)

What are the elements of the macrostructure you need to consider? What smaller components are important and how might they help you understand the music? How do you interpret the structure of this movement?


To understand the macrostructure of a movement, you need to have a clear idea of its overall formal organisation, for example,  sonata form (also called sonata principle or sonata allegro form). The smaller components are the sections which constitute that structure – the exposition, development and recapitulation. Smaller still are the subsections – the first and second subjects that make up the thematic material of the movement and the passages that connect them. Breaking these down further, one can see phrases and motifs and relationships between them. 

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