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Best book(s) on Sonata Form? #2596280 12/19/16 06:59 PM
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Does anyone have a recommendation for a good book on understanding the shape of the sonata and sonatina forms?

This is not for the purposes of theory & composition, but for piano-playing: to have a good understanding of the overall narrative that a classical sonata will take, and so be able to express it better in practice & performance. smile

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Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596295 12/19/16 07:51 PM
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If you want a different take from the standard "sonata form" and triadic harmony approach try:

https://www.amazon.com/Music-Galant-Style-Robert-Gjerdingen/dp/0195313712


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Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596311 12/19/16 08:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ICW
Does anyone have a recommendation for a good book on understanding the shape of the sonata and sonatina forms?

This is not for the purposes of theory & composition, but for piano-playing: to have a good understanding of the overall narrative that a classical sonata will take, and so be able to express it better in practice & performance. smile


1- The "theory and composition" route is by the far the most practically useful route for the pianist to use as an interpretive tool.

2- Sonata form is one of the most powerful and flexible forms ever conceived. No single description will help you understand all the things it can do or express, except in a very limited way that ends up being very unhelpful.

3- It is clear from your remark that you don't really understand the "theory and composition" route as a useful tool for yourself. Such a pity! Stick with it until you do.

There is a bunch, 200+ years, of pseudo-musical/intellectual garbage written about musical forms that is long on persiflage and opium, and incredibly short on any common sense or useful tidbits. Avoid it until you understand what the theorists and composers are saying. You will, of course, by that time be saying the same thing I'm saying. Which is exactly my point.

Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596324 12/19/16 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by ICW
Does anyone have a recommendation for a good book on understanding the shape of the sonata and sonatina forms?

This is not for the purposes of theory & composition, but for piano-playing: to have a good understanding of the overall narrative that a classical sonata will take, and so be able to express it better in practice & performance. smile

It looks to me like you're asking the question in a misleading way.

It seems that what you want to know about is, the overall form of pieces that are called "sonatas" and "sonatinas."

That's not "sonata form"!
"Sonata form" is the form of certain kinds of movements.
Most 1st movements of sonatas (and sonatinas and symphonies) are in this form; many other movements also.

But the overall form of a sonata (or sonatina) is a different thing.

Which thing are you asking about?

Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596346 12/19/16 11:16 PM
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If it were me having the question, what I'd do is go to YouTube, search on "sonata form" and start to watch the first twenty or so videos that came up. I'd not finish watching the ones that were obviously lame and amateurish, but I'd watch the rest all the way through. There is some good learning material there, I think, and it is coming from a variety of angles, which is helpful.

Also, to my way of thinking, the essentials of the subject matter are going to be the same regardless of whether you are wanting to learn it for composition or for performance.

Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: wr] #2596349 12/19/16 11:29 PM
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Unless I'm misunderstanding what he's describing, which of course is possible, that would only give him stuff other than what he's wondering about.

Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596403 12/20/16 04:33 AM
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The Classical Style, by Charles Rosen


Michael

"Genius is nothing more than an extraordinary capacity for patience."
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Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: laguna_greg] #2596415 12/20/16 06:49 AM
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laguna_greg,

1. You are right.

2. I think you misunderstand my intention. I don't want to "understand all the things it can do or express", but to understand its basic form a little better. Maybe that will come with more advanced grades/levels of piano, since theory is a requirement for those grades/levels. Still, I wasn't asking for anything like that.

3. To be honest, I said I wasn't asking from a theory/composition standpoint not because I dismiss it as a tool for myself, but because if I had been asking from that standpoint, this thread might've been moved to the Composers' Lounge, which seems to be inactive... so I posted here with the hopes of lots of replies.

It's funny that you said "such a pity" so quickly. I don't think my post betrayed even a shadow of where my goals, desires, and studying are directed. It was just a simple question, after all. smile

Of course, this isn't about rules; it's about a language, which one learns to communicate in. That is music...

Mark_C, Isn't it a bit pedantic to distinguish between "pieces called sonatas" and "sonata-allegro form"? Scarlatti's sonatas are in sonata form. I suppose my question was unclear, though, about a 4-movement work called a "piano sonata" vs a sonata-allegro movement, but I was not being intentionally misleading. I'm referring to the self-contained structure of one movement.

wr, YouTube was indeed my first resource, but I prefer something that I can hold in my hands. smile



Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596426 12/20/16 07:55 AM
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Originally Posted by ICW
Scarlatti's sonatas are in sonata form.

Scarlatti's Sonatas are not in sonata form.

They're in binary form, which is the common form for Baroque music.

That's why it's important to distinguish between Sonata Form and sonata.

(And 'son of a sonata', as per Mr Borge...... wink ).


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596429 12/20/16 08:03 AM
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Thank you for the clarification bennevis. I showed my ignorance...

Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: Parks] #2596437 12/20/16 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by Parks
The Classical Style, by Charles Rosen


When I read that book, many years ago, it seemed interesting and reading it was worthwhile, but it was rather hard to absorb. Maybe I should pull it off the shelf and try slogging through it again - sometimes books seem very different on rereading after some years.

Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596457 12/20/16 09:44 AM
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I can't believe I am going to say this, but if the OP just wants a general idea of what Sonata Form is, then "just Google it", compare seven sources, and take away the common threads among them all. If any of the sources have anything that is way out there from the general consensus, then that would require further investigation.

If you really, really want to dig deep into it, then "Theory & Composition" is the route you need to take, and people are still writing new and interesting ideas on musical forms.

I am extremely thrilled that the OP wants to apply this knowledge to their piano playing. It's impossible to bring one's playing to "the next level" (well, even early levels) without knowing what the heck it is that you are playing in the first place...


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Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596474 12/20/16 10:36 AM
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Another Rosen book is Sonata Forms. I bought a copy many years ago but never did more than skim it; perhaps I should take another look.


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Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596489 12/20/16 11:24 AM
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Originally Posted by ICW
Mark_C, Isn't it a bit pedantic to distinguish between "pieces called sonatas" and "sonata-allegro form"?

I think the fact that you're asking this seems to mean that indeed what you're wondering about is something other than exactly what you said, because these things are completely different....

Last edited by Mark_C; 12/20/16 01:36 PM. Reason: shortened, because it seems to have been wrong (although the things are indeed different) :-)
Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596499 12/20/16 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by ICW
wr, YouTube was indeed my first resource, but I prefer something that I can hold in my hands. smile

ICW - Print these out and you'll pretty much have what you need to get started. smile

https://www.scribd.com/doc/41294/Outline-of-Sonata-Form

https://www.scribd.com/document/7742340/Symphony-No-40-Visual-Analysis

https://www.scribd.com/doc/41292/Mozart-Symphony-No-40

Then look at the 1st movement of Mozart's K545 sonata, for example, and see if you can determine the form yourself. Be aware, however, that you will USUALLY find slight variations to the basic formula in any classical sonata SA movement - so be prepared for a few surprises. grin








Last edited by Carey; 12/20/16 11:43 AM.

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Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: Carey] #2596502 12/20/16 12:00 PM
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Carey: Please see the post above yours. grin

(Those things that you gave him aren't about what he's wanting to know.)

Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596514 12/20/16 12:38 PM
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No love for the "program notes" form and analysis writings of Donald Tovey, I assume. (I've never read him. 😀)

https://music.ku.edu/form-analysis
Davie: Musical Structure and Design (Covers forms in various movements of a sonata, not just "1st mvt. sonata-allegro form.")


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Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: Mark_C] #2596522 12/20/16 12:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark_C
Carey: Please see the post above yours. grin

(Those things that you gave him aren't about what he's wanting to know.)


Mark - Actually I think it is - but perhaps we should let him make that determination.

The OP said to you: "I suppose my question was unclear, though, about a 4-movement work called a "piano sonata" vs a sonata-allegro movement, but I was not being intentionally misleading. I'm referring to the self-contained structure of one movement."

From this I gathered that he simply wants to understand the basic SA form used in the classical era.



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Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: Carey] #2596528 12/20/16 01:08 PM
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OK! smile

Re: Best book(s) on Sonata Form? [Re: ICW] #2596533 12/20/16 01:18 PM
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Do you own a copy of "The New Harvard Dictionary Of Music" edited by Don Randel?
(A handy and fun book to have in the bookcase)

Randel dedicated 8 - 10 pages to the Sonata, including form and history. You may find some of the material enlightening.

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