Mozart: 'Symphony No.40'

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


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


  • 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)


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.


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


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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