GCSE Music Edexcel- Area of Study 1: Repetition and Contrast

Revision Cards covering the area of study one topic for GCSE Edexcel Music.

  • Created by: Rosie
  • Created on: 21-04-10 17:47

How music is organized

Music needs form and structure.

  • In order of importance, the most basic part of organization are the beats in the bar, followed by the phrasing.
  • The overall shape is called the structure.
  • Structure could be the verses or chorus in a pop song, or the movements of a symphony, depending on which style of music you are looking at.
  • Composers usually plan the structure in a piece of music before they go into detail.

Most Music uses REPETITION

Repetition means using a musical idea- e.g. a melody and using it more than once.

Repetition is a good way of giving music it's shape, as once a listener recognizes the tune, it then acts as a 'landmark' of sorts- it's reassuring to hear it again in the piece.

Repetition is an important part of music, but if overused can be boring. A good composer will balance repetition with contrast. Like a balanced diet, if you like.

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Ternary Form

Ternary Form has been around for ages, and the best way to think of it, is as a sandwich.

Ternary form has 3 sections.

Section A- First Idea Bread
Section B- Second, contrasting idea Filling
Section A- First Idea Bread

Each section normally repeats, so it goes AABBAA.

Section A ends in the main key, usually with a perfect cadence.

Section B modulates the music to a related key, e.g. the dominant or relative minor, and goes back to the main key before it ends.

Finally, when the music goes back to Section A for the last section, it can be exactly the same or with some variation, e.g. with ornaments.
If it is different, then it can be called

Next card goes onto when & by who ternary forms were used...

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Ternary Form Contin.

Baroque composers used Ternary Form in Arias* *Aria= Solo in an Opera

The Baroque period was from 1600-1750, and most Arias were Ternary Form.

The composer Handel wrote many of these, and they were called

'Da capo Aria.'

After repeating Section A and Section B, you would come to the instruction: 'Da Capo al Fine.'

It means 'Go back to the beginning, and play to the end.' (The end being where 'Fine' was indicated in the music.)

Classical composers used Ternary Form in Symphonies.

In a classical symphony, the third movement is often a type of Ternary form called 'Minuet & Trio.'

The Minuet and Trio are each in Ternary Form. The Trio is in a related key for contrast.
They are both sandwiched together to give the whole movement a Ternary Form.

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Ternary Form Contin.

Finally, The Romantics used Ternary to get a Change of Mood

The Romantics liked using Ternary Form, because it gave them the chance to create a completely different mood in the middle section.

e.g. Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu is written in Ternary Form:

Section A Section B Section A1

C # Minor D Major C # Minor


The video above is a performance of Chopin's Fantasie Impromptu, and is a good and clear example of a Ternary Form Piece.

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Rondo is another form that uses lots of Repetition

Basically, a Rondo keeps coming back to the original tune, with variations inbetween to 'liven' it up.

Literally, Rondo means 'going round.' A rondo starts with a main idea in Section A, moves into a new section, goes back to A, moves into a new section, goes round to A... and so on. The contrasting sections are called 'Episodes.'

e.g. A-B-A-C-A

  • The new section after A always contrasts with it.
  • The main theme is always in the main key, and each episode tends to modulate to a related key.
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