Table of Contents
Section 6: Bibliography
1. Ternary form is usually thought of as three-part form. This is not exactly accurate, but you need to be aware of this consideration. It is usually characterized as ABA. Notice that, while there are three components in ABA form, two of the components are the same (A and A).
2. Ternary form is harmonically closed, meaning that each section stands on its own harmonically, ending on the tonic, not requiring another section to bring the harmony to a close. Sometimes, however, the B section is not closed in itself, but leads back to the A section. This works, in part, because we have already heard the A section, so we can distinguish it from the B section without the added assistance of a final cadence.
3. The two sections, A and B, usually are different one from the other. Often, B will be in a different key.
4. The two A sections are usually exactly or nearly the same.
5. Many compositions in ternary form feature the D.C. al Fine mechanism. These are easily identified since the Fine will usually accompany a double barline in the middle of the piece. Think about this for a minute. If there is a conclusion halfway through the piece, the resolution of tonic has been achieved. Anything that happens after that may be considered a new section.
6. Compound ternary form may be thought of as form within a form or a nesting of forms. For example, the Scherzo of Brahms' Piano Sonata in F minor, Op. 5 has a macro ternary form, A-B-D.S. al Fine (The segno appears in measure 2). The A section may also be considered ternary form within itself, while the B section is binary form.
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