I have now reached the Capstone part of the course and in an effort to try to break out of my own habits and bring some more variety to my own work I have been listening to a number of Ternary Form examples and the other well known forms. I am surprised to find they appear to contain a variable number of bars – sorry measures. In fact practically the only part of the course where you have made reference specifically to a number of measures, I think, is when you talk about “The Basic Idea” being 2 measures. Your example piece “Bagatelle” finishes with a 9 measure section. This surprises me only because you have been very clear and specific about the requirements for the Sentence, Period etc. again without stating a required number of measures.
My question is: Are the exact number of measures important in any part of the various sections of, for example, Exposition (A): Contrasting middle (B), and Recapitulation (A’) etc?
Thanks for your help
What you have been practicing is called the “tight-knit” version of the thematic types. In a sense, they are the normative “standard” from which you deviate from. It is kind of like an archetype.
There are a number of loosening techniques we use on tight-knit themes in order to change aspects. The main ones are:
Extension – “The addition of extra units of similar material in order to stretch out a formal function in time.”
Expansion – “An internal lengthening of the constituent members of a formal function.”
Interpolation – “Adding unrelated material between two logically succeeding formal units.”
Fusion – “Combining together, or merging, of two formal functions within a single unit.”
Asymmetrical Grouping – “Asymmetrical is describing the uneven number of measures that results from either adding to or taking away from different formal functions within a theme.”
Functionally Efficient, Redundant, or Deficient – This describes whether a theme contains all the different formal functions (beginning, middle, and end), or if it is missing one, or adding additional redundant functions (for instance additional repetitions of the basic idea).
The last two are more about describing the effect of whats been done to the music.
In the end, these techniques are much more useful when you have mastered the more archetypal versions of the tight-knit themes. This is a major focus of the 201 course.
In the end, the number of measures is less important than the logical flow of ideas.