Binary and Ternary Forms

Binary form—the division of a unit of music into two sections, either because (1) there are two periods (2) there are two repeated sections (“two-reprise form”).

Typical harmonic plans:

Binary Form Introduced

Typical sources of contrast early in the second section

  • Motivic development (transformations and fragmentation)
  • Sequences
  • Modulations (other than to V or III)
  • Pedal points (usually ^5 to set up a return of ^1)

Binary Form Example 1 (Mozart, K. 284, iii)

 Binary Form Example 2 (Handel, Prelude in G major)

Binary Form Example 3 (Schubert, Waltz, D. 779, No. 16)

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