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Hi all!


I'm one of those people that claim they don't follow specific forms when writing, and really i don't. I find minuet forms and symphony forms very limiting. But yet i still seem to fall into this pattern when i write of what may be considered an Allegro to a slower section then back to an allegro, or the same pattern inverse.


I just wanted to know what everyone else thought. Are forms a good way to keep music relevant(entertaining to its listeners, easy to listen to?) or are they limiting? Do our patterns in writing come from the music we hear ourselves?

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I think it is important to at least have an idea about a form. Otherwise I guess there are too many options open to choose from while composing. But I guess that it would depend on the piece and the composer how strict the form is.

Well, let's put it this way, if I don't use any form, I get lost in my own music. But maybe that is still about being not so very skilled and experienced...


Hyun Jung

I think subconsciously we want to recreate our own version of music we hear.  Maybe the form we pursue is ever evolving and can never be recreated exactly as we imagine it because we want to make it our own with our own unique voice.  No, I don't follow a specific form.

it's taken me a long time to break out of the classical box, and even when i'm trying my hardest to fizzle out what i've 'learned', i find myself needing at least the very basic of musical structures as a framework (A-B-A, A-B-A-C-A). It's awesome and makes life so much easier to know the theory and harmonic patterns when you're noodling around, but a harmonic progression is only a string of roman numerals if you can't feel it.


I like to think that musical structure & form is parallel to the pirate's code: it's more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules. :)

That is a cool way of looking at it Kristy.  :)
Form shall set you free!
I like turtles
Thanks Ann! :)

Ann Rodela said:
That is a cool way of looking at it Kristy.  :)
There are three fundamental elements of composition Harmony, Rhythm and Form. In fact they're all part of the same thing but at significantly different speeds. You can't really have one without the other. So if you say "I don't use form" then there's a good chance all your doing is just minimising that element to a point of least significance. As soon as you introduce a change then form is being invoked.

From my own work the question revolves around whether previous material is to be reintroduced in some manner. I tend to find through composed work sounds more progressive but then there is to some extent less skill involved.

If you're not interested in building form into your compositional plan, which is totally fine, it's probably worth baring in mind that you'll be using it one way or another anyway.

For a while I was writing barque cantatas for church - and I love the form.  There is recitative, chorales, the chorus and arias - all very organized.  I wrote over a dozen and what I realized is that if Bach himself were to speak to me, he would say 'get into your own century and quit fooling around with mine'.  The baroque and classical forms are great templates and make writing a decent piece more straightforward - you can usually get a reasonable result following the standard conventions.


Ultimately I decided to become a minimalist - this is music of our time and I believe composers need to write music that reflects our present situation.   Find some contemporary music you like and study it - this will ultimately be more rewarding than trying to better Mozart, Beethoven or Bach at their own game.





I am a novice composer with little to show in instrumental works since I am mainly a choral composer. 

But as a listener and fan of instrumental works, I think that form is less important that expressions of motif. Theme and variation is key to interesting music. “Form” for me is less important than strongly implanting a theme and creating variations for the listener to appreciate as interesting. 

Rules are meant to be broken but not at the expense of listener appreciation. 

Most listeners do not know form, but they know what woks for them musically.

Ask yourself if you are you composing for yourself and professional musicians, or for a general audience?


Quote From Paul :

Find some contemporary music you like and study it - this will ultimately be more rewarding than trying to better Mozart, Beethoven or Bach at their own game.


I find this comment limiting. We do not have to be better than Bach, Mozart, etc. Salieri was no Mozart, but we can still enjoy his output. Why deprive fans of baroque or classical music a new musical experience? The comment implies that all composers of early of musical styles have exhausted the repertoire. That implies that no new music of the period genre  is legitimate. 

I reject that.  

Other composers have commented on some of my music in the same vain. They ask: “Why do you dare to compose in the same genre as Bach, Pergolisi, Byrd, etc? The answer:  Because it is cool!!!  

Why not ADD to the repertoire of the Baroque period?  The Renaissance period?  The Classical period?  


Work in a style, but make it your own!


"Why not ADD to the repertoire of the Baroque period?  The Renaissance period?  The Classical period?  

 Work in a style, but make it your own!"


Well, fair enough.  If you get fulfillment from writing in one of the historical forms then write on.  But I think the case can be made that is also limiting.  We live in exciting times - for the first time in history the composer has control of the creation, realization and world-wide distribution of his work.  Music written for electronic realization and delivery by the internet is as revolutionary as the printing press was to the development of literature 500 years ago.  This is the way forward.  The historical forms are beautiful - but so are the illustrated hand-written manuscripts of the middle ages - and history is taking us in a new direction. 



For about 300 years people used the sonata form, I don't believe there is anyone who can really claim that it limited beethoven, or motzart, or chopin and so on. 

Traditional forms, now that we see the whole music theory as a big picture, it is but an outline, a loose guidline which we may or may not follow. In there we can fit all sorts of things, we can change it and bend it to our liking. 

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