Symphony No.40 in G Minor First Movement

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  • Created by: Qiao-Chu
  • Created on: 29-03-13 10:03

Genre and Background

  • The Classical Era:
    • Balanced 4 bar phrases
    • Mostly homophonic texture
    • More woodwind use
    • Expression markings such as accents and crescendoes
    • Sonata form
    • Use of clarinet and piano
    • Contrasting moods in different sections
  • Symphony
    • Large scale orchestra piece in 3 or 4 movements
    • 1st = fast tempo
    • 2nd = slow
    • 3rd = minuet and trio
    • 4th = fast
    • First movement usually in sonata form
    • Symphony No.40 written in 1788 for a series of concerts
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Composer

  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-91)
    • Born in Salzburg, Austria
    • Child prodigy by age of 6 and travelled extensively
    • Settled in Vienna working as court musician for Archbishop
    • Wrote numerous operas - Don Giovanni, Magic Flute - 21 piano concertos, 5 violin concertos, 4 horn concertos, 41 symphonies, 1 requiem
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Melody

Both main themes are descending, mainly step movement = sad/melancholy with a lyrical feel. 1st subject starts on an anacrusis (upbeat). Melodies play octaves with other instruments and is broken between instruments.

  • 1st subject based on two note motif falling by step creating sad feel
  • All phrases balanced 4 bar, mostly diatonic
  • Bridge and transition contrasts with major tonality and strong rising arpeggio figure and rising scales
  • 2nd subject more chromatic and descending notation
  • Development based on subject 1 motif, uses imitation and counter melodies
  • Recapitulation has same melodies but various orchestration such as putting the melody in the bass with a couter melody in the melody
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Harmony

Functional Harmony - uses notes which belong to the key to form chords

Cadences - formed by two notes at the end of a passage of music. A sounds final and uses chord V (the dominant, in this case D) followed by chord I (the tonic, in this case G minor)

Pedals - pedal notes are heard in the alto part before the second subject begins. The use of the tonic pedal are in the first six bars and the repeated quaver accompaniment.The word 'pedal' is used to mean a repeated note (in this case G) played against changing harmonies.

Dominant Preparation - a circle of fifths progression is heard in the second subject.

Diminished 7th - 

Diatonic - diatonic and functional harmonies

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Tonality

Functional Tonality - modulations to related keys

  • Exposition
    • 1st subject in G minor
    • Bridge modulates to Bb major (relative major)
    • 2nd subject stays in Bb major
    • Codetta in Bb but has V7c in G min as the final chord
  • Development
    • Moves quickly from G min to remote key of F#
    • Modulation through cycle of 5ths (Em-Am-Dm-C-F-Bb)
    • Long dominant pedal notes
  • Recapitulation
    • 1st subject in G minor
    • Bridge modulates to Eb major (third lower)
    • 2nd subject in tonic G minor
  • Coda
    • G minor with repeated V-I cadences
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Texture

Mostly homophonic with some polyphonic sections

Orchestral crescendo - more instruments, more sound

Themes shared between instruments, melody passed around

Doubling of parts such as between flute and clarinet, and oboe and basssoon in octaves

Bassoons paired with cello and basses

Horns support harmony with long notes

Smooth sustained texture over quick quaver movement

Articulation markings such as sf, staccato and marcato

Dialogue between woodwind and strings

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Structure

Sonata form - using keys to structure music

  • Exposition
    • 1st subject in the tonic
    • Bridge/transition during modulation
    • 2nd subject in new key
    • Codetta
  • Exposition repeats
  • Development
    • develops on existing themes and keys
  • Recapitulation
    • 1st subject in the tonic
    • Bridge/transition during modulation
    • 2nd subject ALSO IN TONIC
    • Coda
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Tempo, Rhythm and Metre

1st subject starts on an anacrusis and mostly falling by step

Molto Allegro - very fast, 4/4 throughout

2nd subject followed by syncopated rhythm

Development has staccato countermelody

Simple rhythms and occasional use of dotted rhythms and syncopation to create momentum and add interest.

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Instumentation

Standard classical orchestration (25)

Double woodwind but only one flute - more sustained notes

Very few brass, only 2 horns (G and Bb - in different keys so more notes available to play as they can only play open notes of harmonic series (mainly tonic and dominant)

No percussion

Strings dominated melody - running scales, sustained notes, chords

New addition was clarinet

Performing directions: legato, accents, sf, crescendo, div., a2

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Dynamics and Articulation

In the exposition the first subject is quiet (apart from a short passage in the middle).
The second subject begins quietly and gets louder towards the end.
In the development there is a loud section in the middle but it starts and ends quickly.
The recapitulation has similar dynamics to the exposition.
Most dynamics occur suddenly and there are only a few crescendos and no diminuendos

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