Mozart: 'Symphony No.40'

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  • Created by: Callum
  • Created on: 10-04-14 21:34

Context

Classical Music: Key Features

  • Balanced and clear cut phrases that form questions and answers
  • More contrasts within a movement (compared to the baroque period)
  • Changes in dynamic no longer always sudden as composers now use crescendos and diminuendos
  • Texture are often simpler than in the Baroque period, and often homophonic
  • The harpsichord is replaced with the piano
  • Orchestras now included a range of wind  instruments - although the melody is usually heard in the strings
  • Other composers: Haydn, Beethoven

'Symphony No. 40'

  • Written in 1788 during the classical period
  • Intended to be performed in a large room of a stately home or a small concert hall
  • The symphony has 4 movements. This is the first of those 4.
  • No percussion, no trumpets and only one flute is unsual at this time!
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Structure and Tonality

This movement is in sonata form, in they of G minor. There are 3 sections to the sonata form.

Exposition - made up of the first and second subjects. G minor, B flat major

The first subject is a melody characterised by a falling motif. It is first played by the strings.

The second subject is a melody with descending chromatic patterns, shared between woodwind and strings.

Development - Based on the first subject which is developed and fragmented. Moves through various keys starting in F sharp minor

Recapitulation - G minor

The first subject is repeated with some variation.

The second subject is repeated with some variation.

(Coda) Repeated perfect cadences in G minor finish the piece.

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Melody and Harmony

Melody

  • Most of the melodies are made up of balanced, four- or eight-bar phrases that sound like questions and answers.
  • Many phrases are scalic (based on scales)

Harmony

The harmony is diatonic (set in a key) and functional, based around standard major and minor triads.  We can also find examples of:

  • Chromatic chords, such as the diminished 7th and augmented 6th
  • A circle of 5ths progression (in the second subject)
  • Pedal notes, which the cellos have just before the second subject starts.
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R/M/T and Texture

Rhythm, Metre and Tempo

  • The metre is 4/4 throughout
  • The tempo is 'Molto Allegro' - very fast
  • Short rhythmic ideas are repeated regularly to create unity
  • Rhythms are fairly simple, although there are some dotted rhythms and syncopation to create momentum and to add interest.

Texture

The texture is mostly homophonic. We can also find examples of:

  • Counterpoint and imitation in the development
  • Octave doublings, which are frequently used
  • Dialogue between the woodwind and strings at the start of the second subject
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Dynamics and Instrumentation

Dynamics

In the exposition... Apart form a short passage in the middle, the first subject is quiet The transition is loud The second subject begins quietley and gets louder towards the end

The development has a loud section in the middle but starts and ends quietly.

The recapitulation has similar dynamics to the exposition.

Most dynamic contrasts occur suddenly - there are only a few crescends and no diminuendos.

Instrumentation - chamber orchestra (woodwind, strings and horns)

  • The strings are busy almost all the time playing a variety of material (melody, quick running scales, sustained notes)
  • The woodwind don't play quite so much, and tend to have more sutained notes, and fewer quick runs than the strings.
  • The two horns are in different keys (G/B flat), which maximises the number of notes they can play between them . The horns mostly play held or repeated notes to sustain harmonies.
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