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Short Forms

These forms are used to compose short pieces


Binary, Simple. Two sections, labeled A and B, usually with repeats ||: A :||: B :|| . Each section
commonly divides into two parts, with the second part of ||: A :|| focusing on the dominant when the
first part is in a major key, or focusing on the relative major if the first part is in minor. The second
part of ||: B :|| returns to tonic. In very short Binary pieces, a modulation or motion away from tonic
may not occur. Many classical dances are in Simple Binary form. Examples: Beethoven, German
Dances.
Binary, Rounded. Two sections, labeled A and B, usually with repeats ||: A :||: B :|| . Each section
commonly divides into two parts, with the second part of ||: A :|| focusing on the dominant when the
first part is in a major key, or focusing on the relative major if the first part is in minor. The second
part of ||: B :|| returns to tonic. Additionally, the Rounded Binary brings back the first or second part
(usually the second part) of the ||: A :|| section at the end of ||: B :|| . In very short Binary pieces, a
modulation may not occur. Most classical dances are in Rounded Binary form.
Strophic. A vocal form in which the same music is repeated with different verses; i.e., the text
changes, but the music does not. Thus, it is musically: A A A A A A . . . etc. Examples: most folk
songs.
Strophic-Binary. A combination of Strophic* and Binary* forms, sometimes called the Refrain
form.
||: verses
A
||
B
1.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Refrain or Chorus
2.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
3. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

:||

A Refrain, or Chorus, is sung after each verse. It contains the same music and text every time it
repeats, while the || A || section changes the words and repeats the same music. Examples: many
popular songs.
Ternary Sometimes called song form. A three section form: A B A. Each section commonly has
repeats. Each section begins and ends in the same key, but the B section is normally in a different
key from A, a perfect 5th above or the parallel minor of the home key of A section (V or i). however,
in many works of the Classical period, the B section stays in tonic but has contrasting thematic
material. It usually also has a contrasting character; for example section A might be stiff and formal
while the contrasting B section would be melodious and flowing. Commonly, the third section will
feature more ornamentation than the first section (as is often the case with da capo arias). In these
cases the last section is sometimes labeled A or A1 to indicate that it is slightly different from the
first A section.
Examples: classical minuets and scherzi, Beethoven, Op 28, III. Scherzo.