3.4 Musical forms


Category: Elementary music theory | Tags: Musical forms

The term musical form (or musical architecture) refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections. In this chapter you will learn about the prelude, intermezzo and scherzo.

1. Prelude


prelude short composition in a free form, also preface, introduction.


A prelude (German: Präludium or Vorspiel; Latin: praeludium; French: prélude; Italian: preludio) is a short piece of music, the form of which may vary from piece to piece. While, during the Baroque era, for example, it may have served as an introduction to succeeding movements of a work that were usually longer and more complex, it may also have been a stand-alone piece of work during the Romantic era. Stylistically, the prelude is improvisatory in nature. The prelude also may refer to an overture, particularly to those seen in an opera or an oratorio. (Wikipedia)

Well-known preludes are J.S. Bach's Das wohltemperierte Klavier, Chopin's Preludes opus 28, Rachmaninov's Preludes opus 23 and opus 32 and Debussy's Preludes book I and book II.

2. Intermezzo


intermezzo originally, music played between acts of an opera; now often used as the title of a short, independent piece.


In music, an intermezzo (plural form: intermezzi), in the most general sense, is a composition which fits between other musical or dramatic entities, such as acts of a play or movements of a larger musical work. In music history, the term has had several different usages, which fit into two general categories: the opera intermezzo and the instrumental intermezzo. (Wikipedia)

Well-known Intermezzi are Brahms's Intermezzi opus 117 and Schumann's Intermezzo from opus 26.

3. Scherzo


scherzo a musical jest or joke.


A scherzo (plural form: scherzos or scherzi), in western classical music, is a short composition – sometimes a movement from a larger work such as a symphony or a sonata. The precise definition has varied over the years, but scherzo often refers to a movement that replaces the minuet as the third movement in a four-movement work, such as a symphony, sonata, or string quartet. The term can also refer to a fast-moving humorous composition that may or may not be part of a larger work. (Wikipedia)

Well-known scherzi are Schubert's Scherzo in B flat major, Chopin's Scherzo opus 31 and Beethoven's Symphony no. 5 3rd movement.