4.6 Musical forms


Category: Elementary music theory | Tags: Musical forms

The term musical form (or musical architecture) refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections. In this chapter you will learn about the tarantella and about polyphony.

1. Tarantella


tarantella fast folk dance in three-eight meter or six-eighth meter, virtuoso instrumental work.


Tarantella is a group of various folk dances characterized by a fast upbeat tempo, accompanied by tambourines. It is among the most recognized forms of traditional southern Italian music. The specific dance-name varies with every region, for instance tammurriata in Campania, pizzica in the Salento region, and Sonu a ballu in Calabria. Tarantella is popular in Southern Italy and Argentina. (Wikipedia)

In the movie The Godfather, a tarantella is played. A stylized tarantella is Chopin's Tarantella opus 43. This tarantella is not meant to dance, but to be listened to.

2. Polyphony


polyfonie polyphonic music, each voice is independent.


Polyphony is a type of musical texture consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony, or a texture with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords, homophony. Within the context of the Western musical tradition, the term polyphony is usually used to refer to music of the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. Examples of polyphonic composition techniques are the canon and the fugue. (Wikipedia)

Famous polyphonic works are the 24 fugues from J.S. Bach's Das wohltemperierte Klavier. Each fugue is preceded by a prelude.