Interrelated Dimensions of Music: Structure

Structure is how we describe the order of sections in a piece of music.

Nearly every piece of music follows some sort of structure, using different sections as the building blocks of the piece. Here are some ways we can tell if we have a new section:

  • New melody

  • New rhythm

  • New key

  • New tempo

  • New lyrics

  • Different Instrumentation

  • Change in Dynamics

An obvious example of structure can be found in pop music. Take any current chart hit and you’ll probably find that there’s an introduction, followed by a verse, then a chorus, and likely a bridge or middle 8 section. This is commonly known as Song Structure.

In classical music, different structures are known as ‘forms’ which we identify by using different letters. The main structures we see are: Binary form, Ternary form, Sonata form which is similar to Ternary but the repeating A section is slightly different, and Rondo form.

  • Binary - A B

  • Ternary - A B A

  • Sonata - A B A1

  • Rondo - A B A C A

Instead of letters, you’ll sometimes find sections can have different names such as:

  • Statement or Exposition

  • Development

  • Recapitulation

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