Explore Form

  • a-dog-iconb-cat-icona-dog-iconc-squirrel-icona-dog-iconb-cat-icona-dog-iconc-squirrel-icona-dog-icon

    Have I heard this before?

    Hearing the chorus is the best part of your favorite song.  It’s even better that you get to sing it several times!
    This repeating of ideas is musical form. 

    We have used colors and animals here to represent musical ideas:  dog, cat, squirrel.  Music is often represented by letters (ABC). 

    Can you identify the form represented at the top of the page?  Scroll to the bottom and check your answer!

  • Some of the musical forms are:

    Binary Form

    Binary form (AB) is one of the simplest forms.  It has two parts and often repeats each one (AABB).

    • A
    • A
    • B
    • B
  • Ternary Form

    In Ternary form the first musical idea or “A” returns after you hear the contrasting “B” material, or ABA.

    • A
    • B
    • A
  • Rondo Form

    In Rondo form the letters other than A can change. You can have lots of other letters or just a few, but they always have an A in between them. ABACA is just one type of Rondo form. It can have more, fewer, or different letters between the As. One characteristic of a Rondo is that the A musical idea tends to be a very catchy tune that is easily recognizable when it returns.

  • a-dog-icon

    A
    b-cat-icon

    B
    a-dog-icon

    A
    c-squirrel-icon

    C
    a-dog-icon

    A
  • Theme and Variations Form

    This form is a little different because you only have an A. The composer changes the A each time, but at its core it is still the same material. The idea of a variation is that the listener recognizes that it is the same idea but that it is different enough to be interesting. Composers can add notes to the melody to make it more decorative and showy. They can also change the instruments, how loud or soft, or change from smooth to punctuated. Another change to the A is to change the chords under the melody to go from major to minor, or happy to sad. Composers also add another melody on top for decoration called a countermelody.

    • A
    • A'
    • A“
    • A’‘‘
  • What form is illustrated with the icons at the top?