String Quartet "The Joke", Movement 4 - Haydn

Revision Cards for The Joke by Haydn - AS Music Set Work 2011

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  • String Quartet - a Classical era genre. "Invented" by Haydn
  • This quartet was composed in 1781. It was part of a set of six, all of which were composed in a "new and special manner"


  • This work is the last of four movements (Movement 4)
  • Violin I has most melodic interest. Other instruments mainly supporting
  • Hints of wit and Humour - "jokes" that undermine Classical connventions


  • Originally intented for domestic performnace (at home)
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  • Rondo Form - main section in the tonic (refrain) alternates with contrasting sections (usually related keys) called episodes. This piece is unusual as the refrain gets shorter each time it appears, and the second episode is in the tonic key
  • Opening 8 bars frequntly reccur
  • Starts with a  rounded binary structure - AB/A with repeats - Similar to Bach's SARABANDE
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Structure Continued

  • Bars 0-36: A/BA -  Eb major
  • Bars 36-70: C -  Ab, Fm,Eb
  • Bars 71-107: ABA (no repeats) - Eb Major
  • Bars 107-140: C1 (removal of Dbs to avoid modulation) - Eb major
  • 140-172: A (Adagio) A1 (A with phrases seperated by rests) - Eb Major
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Rhythm and Metre

  • Compound Duple time - 6/8, apart from the slow (Adagio) section, which is simple suple 2/4
  • Note lengths are no shorter than quavers due to the speed of the music

- Except for a few demi-semiquavers and semiquavers in the Adagio

  • Rests play and important role - particularly for setting up the "jokes" at the end
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  • Periodic Phrasing - balanced two and four bar phrases (Characteristic of Classical Music)


  • Stepwise/Conjunct movement, with the occaisional larger interval
  • Chromatic notes are introduced
  • Occaisional ornaments and appogiaturas
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  • Functional harmony - frequent cadences, often proceeded by the supertonic (II) chord, as in bars 7-8
  • Dominant pedals (bars 16-28). Supports some chromatic coulouring (A natural and Gb, both resolving by step, one to the root and th other to the fifth of chord V)
  • Dissonances: Appogiaturas - ends of the third and fourth two-bar phrases (bars 14 and 16)
  • Suspensions and Dominant 9th - bar 148
  • Harmonic Rhythm (rate of chord change) varies
  • Second inversion chords are left unresolved for humourus effect
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  • Key: Eb major - defined by cadences and pedals
  • Modulation is limited and involves Ab and F minor in the first episode

- Occasional brief excursions to Bb

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  • Melody Dominated Homophony
  • Variety in texture managed by differing numbers of parts - four parts at opening, followed by three upper parts.
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  • Single family of instruments (strings) - used conventionally (bowed throughout)
  • Pedal points of both sustained notes and articulated quavers
  • Upper two parts in 3rds ad 6ths
  • Inverted pedals in top part, with lower parts exchanging melody lines
  • Double stopping (in Adagio)
  • Dynamics and articulation incications are detailed
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