Escuela de Lenguas UNLP/Academic Writing/Music/Rondo
The Rondo is a musical form based on the alternation of a main theme or refrain with secondary sections, called episodes or couplets. The rondo is generally used as the final movement of classical sonatas, concertos or symphonies. In this musical form, the refrain is always the first section to appear and it defines the tonal centre of the piece. If it is used as the final movement of the sonata is called sonata rondo, and its formal schema is A B A C A B’ A. This schema presents some parallelisms with the sonata form. The A B A sections correlates with the exposition of the sonata, episode C can be related with the development section and A B’ A sections with the reexposition. In the sonata rondo, each episode is related with the refrain since they prepare each new entrance of this section. Other rondo forms present shorter alternated schemas, such as A B A C A (called five-part rondo) or A B A.
The rondo form in classical music Edit
The rondo has been used, usually as the final movement of multi-movements works, by many classical composers such as Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven. We can find some examples in the last movements of Mozart’s Piano Sonata No.16 in C major K.545 and Clarinet Concerto in A major K.622, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.8 Op.13 and No.15 Op.28, and Haydn’s String Quartet in C major Hob.III:39.
The term “rondo” develops first from the rondeau, a form of medieval French music usual in the songs of the troubadours. This is considered one of the most common French chanson forms between the 13th and 15th centuries. The musical structure of the rondeau is generally AB-aAab-AB, where the capital letters refer to the refrain verses, and the small letters to the secondary verses. The rondo form also develops from the rondeau of the French clavecinists. From a structural point of view, these pieces are long rondos that alternate a refrain section A with a series of couplets. The formal schema of this rondeau is A B A C A D A (…) A. The rondo form makes this scheme shorter by reducing the number of couplets to three in the sonata rondo.
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