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Musical Form
Devil's in the details!
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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ELCBK
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March 12, 2023 - 1:46 am
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https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f7/61/23/f76123407f039f23c21444c3303d692f.png

Why is the form important? 

Well, for me it's important if I want to memorize music - it helps to know up front what is repeated, what is partially repeated and what is completely different. 

Most music has parts designated with letters - starting with A, B, C, etc... 

⬅ Common Forms 

 

1 Phrase = 1 Part, so AABB = 'A' phrase, 'A' phrase repeated, 'B' phrase, 'B' phrase repeated.

BUT, when breaking music down into parts, I'm afraid I might be seeing phrases as smaller bits than others* - so how much is too much?   

*Keep in mind, unless I note otherwise - these are what I'm hearing: 

 

From what I read at Music Theory Academy, early 'Classical' waltzes had an AB structure which later became much more complex with long intro, coda & more, but what about other genres? 

I think many waltzes are just AABB, but I've been learning another handful of Celtic CRITTER tunes, including The Unicorn Waltz - which caught my attention not only because it's in E minor, but it's got an unusual waltz form that's interesting - AAB1B2C1C2DD, or maybe it would be considered just AABCDD?  ...btw, the sheet music at thesession.org is VERY accurate for this tune! 

McDonnell's Traditional Irish Music Slow Session site talks about the waltz rhythm, but not the structure - yet shows the example of The South Wind, AAB1B2 (B2 has last 3 measures different than the B1 part).  Would some people consider this just AABB? 

I'm wondering because Kevin Burke teaches Stella's Waltz at FIDDLEVIDEO.com & I hear more phrases than just AABB (which he says it is)!

...so, NOW I have to question if what I'm hearing is not right, or does he just likes to simplify things (?) 

 

 

Gypsy Waltz I've played and other Texas style Waltzes I've seen are usually AABA.

Swedish Waltzes can be different.  Emelie Waldken says Vals efter Lasse i Lyby is AAB1B2A2, but I've played Lilla Kulturbidragsvalsen - it has an intro, then AAAABBBB! 

I've played Les Poules Huppees (Crested Hens) & thought it was a French waltz, AABB - but info at The Session points out this is really a ⅜ time Bouree!  Katy Adelson plays another French waltz (valse-musette style), Le Retour des Hirondelles (link to play-along sheet music) - I think this might be A1A2BBC1C2(?)  ...but I think the A parts could be broken down more.

 

 

Anyway, this last one is MUCH more complex than what I'm used to!  My brain's about ready to explode, so if anyone can help me make sense of THIS waltz - it would help me tremendously to understand it's form!!!  

- Emily 

 

For more info:

What Is Form In Music? A Complete Guide - Hello Music Theory

Musical Form - Western Compound Forms - Britannica

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ELCBK
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March 11, 2024 - 11:12 pm
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Folk songs & Rock ballads, that I heard on the radio growing up, still give me joy today - and I've posted many songs throughout the forum (in different genres) that have fabulous melodies to play on our bowed string instruments. 

I really should learn more about different song structures.  In post 7, "Ideas about making original music Thread", ABitRusty posted a good video from Jameson Nathan Jones.  The video starts here at a nice little section talking about music form.

Lyrics have been set to traditional tunes, as well as music composed for poetry & prose.  So, what happens when we love a song & want to play it on Violin, Viola or Cello - without the lyrics?  I think it's easy to see we need to be creative with variations so repetitive verses & chorus don't become boring... many good AND boring Violin cover examples can be seen on YT. 

I need to start going out of my way to make this a priority - especially songs where I actively play along with a singer in a video.  I'll catch myself absorbed with the lyrics I hear in my head (even in languages I don't know) & forget that the words change (not boring in MY head), but the melody doesn't change!  ...so, a little boring when I hear what I play with no vocal. 😕  

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ELCBK
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March 11, 2024 - 11:41 pm
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Wanted to post a little info I found at irishtune.info - "Structure of Reels"

Reels have 8 Bars to a part. 

It's surprising just how MANY Reel forms are played (I counted THIRTY SIX!), plus it goes on to say "This chart does not include an additional 21 reels that do not have a consistent 8-bar structure." - but I don't know if that's just 21 Reels (think so), or kinds of these reels. 

The top 5 by percentage: AABB, AB, AABBCC, ABC, and ABB. 

The largest (1): AABBAABBCCDDCCDDEEFFEEFF! 

...seems like a whole set!!! 

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ABitRusty
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March 12, 2024 - 9:29 am
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@ELCBK said
Wanted to post a little info I found at irishtune.info - "Structure of Reels"

Reels have 8 Bars to a part. 

It's surprising just how MANY Reel forms are played (I counted THIRTY SIX!), plus it goes on to say "This chart does not include an additional 21 reels that do not have a consistent 8-bar structure." - but I don't know if that's just 21 Reels (think so), or kinds of these reels. 

The top 5 by percentage: AABB, AB, AABBCC, ABC, and ABB. 

The largest (1): AABBAABBCCDDCCDDEEFFEEFF! 

...seems like a whole set!!! 

  

YIKES!!

Ill leave that one for you.  lol.  And I thought 4 and 5 parts was a chore to learn 🤣

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ELCBK
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March 15, 2024 - 12:37 am
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My talking about 'songs' had me head into the abyss of Irish & Scottish "Airs", a while back. 

Originally, I thought these 'Airs' were just slowed down tunes of any form (cause I've seen them listed as dance forms, even if they aren't danced to) - with a little extra emotion thrown in... let's just say I've been trying to climb out of this deep abyss of controversy for a little bit.

Going to start a new thread for this (among Celtic music topics), because I found a lot of great info - but one interesting thing I found... 'some' Irish Airs are very free in form, especially when it comes to meter!  

Understanding these Airs can be tied to Sean-nós singing, can be helpful when trying to impart a 'feeling' playing them. 

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ABitRusty
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March 15, 2024 - 1:52 pm
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ELCBK said
My talking about 'songs' had me head into the abyss of Irish & Scottish "Airs", a while back. 

Originally, I thought these 'Airs' were just slowed down tunes of any form (cause I've seen them listed as dance forms, even if they aren't danced to) - with a little extra emotion thrown in... let's just say I've been trying to climb out of this deep abyss of controversy for a little bit.

Going to start a new thread for this (among Celtic music topics), because I found a lot of great info - but one interesting thing I found... 'some' Irish Airs are very free in form, especially when it comes to meter!  

Understanding these Airs can be tied to Sean-nós singing, can be helpful when trying to impart a 'feeling' playing them. 

  

Agree.. I think for the most part the songs are different.  maybe best with no time signature.  granted some are popular waltzs ..those are different.  thinking youre talking about songs in a slow air type and especialy sean nos type songs.

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