Meaning of SONATA in English


form of musical composition based on exposition, development, and recapitulation. As explained below, however, the term is also used in other senses. Deriving from the past participle of the Italian verb sonare, to sound, the term sonata originally denoted a composition played on instruments, as opposed to one that was cantata, or sung, by voices. Its first such use was in 1561, when it was applied to a suite of dances for lute. The term has since acquired other meanings that can easily cause confusion. It can mean a composition in two or more movements, or separate sections, played by a small group of instruments, having no more than three independent parts. Most frequently it refers to such a piece for one or two instruments. By extension, sonata can also refer to a composition for a larger instrumental group having more than two or three parts, such as a string quartet or an orchestra, provided that the composition is based on principles of musical form that from the mid-18th century were used in sonatas for small instrumental groups. The term has been more loosely applied to 20th-century works, whether or not they rely on 18th-century principles. Quite distinct from all of the preceding, however, is the use of the term in sonata form. This denotes a particular form or method of musical organization normally used within instrumental sonatas, string quartets, and other chamber music, and symphonies written since the beginning of the Classical period (the period of Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven) in the mid-18th century. The first concern of this article will be to establish the principles of musical form often associated with sonatas for small and large groups of instruments. They will be approached through an examination of the principle of musical structure called sonata form. A historical account of the origins and development both of the instrumental sonata and of sonata form will then endeavour to throw light on other meanings of the term. In conclusion, some estimate will be offered of the present and possible future roles of the sonata in musical life. form of musical composition for one or more instruments, usually consisting of three or four movements that are contrasted in rhythm and mood but related in tonality. The use of the word sonata is associated with the rise of instrumental music: its derivation from the Italian sonare implies something sounded, as opposed to cantata, something sung. The term first appeared in the 13th century and became widespread toward the end of the 16th century, when instrumental music began to be written in much greater quantities. At that stage its meaning was quite general: Giovanni Gabrieli wrote sonatas for several groups of instruments, to be performed in a church, as well as ones for more modest ensembles. During the 17th century more precise definitions began to emerge, and the sonata took on its association with small groups of instruments, the names sinfonia, symphony, and concerto being introduced for larger ensembles. At the same time, it became common practice for sonatas to be written in several separate sections, or movements, contrasting in speed, and to be scored for one or two soloists with harmonic support, usually supplied by a keyboard and a bass instrument such as the viola da gamba (a stringed instrument of the period); the two-soloist type is normally called the trio sonata, and it became the central form of chamber music for Baroque composers from Arcangelo Corelli and Henry Purcell to Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel. Another development of the period was the distinction between the sonata da chiesa (church sonata) and the sonata da camera (chamber sonata), a distinction that cut across that between the solo and trio sonata. Church sonatas usually had four movements in a slow-fast-slow-fast pattern; the genre survived until the end of the 18th century. Chamber sonatas were less standardized, sometimes having sequences of dances, as did suites, or the fast-slow-fast pattern that became usual in the Classical period. Around the middle of the 18th century the trio sonata began to disappear, and with the rise of keyboard virtuosity the sonata for solo harpsichord increased in importance. Domenico Scarlatti wrote more than 500 such sonatas in single-movement form. As Joseph Haydn and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart understood the sonata, it was in essence a keyboard solo, perhaps with one other instrument taking a subsidiary part. Both composers adopted the three-movement fastslowfast pattern as standard. Beethoven also adhered to this convention in his 32 piano sonatas, though with significant deviations: his last sonata, for instance, has only two movements. He did not, however, accept the dominance of the piano in sonatas with other instruments, and in his violin and cello sonatas the string player becomes an equal partner. To the next generation of composers the sonata seemed an old-fashioned and constricted form. Robert Schumann and Frdric Chopin felt more at ease in genres of their own devising; Franz Liszt incorporated a literary program in his Aprs une lecture de Dante and combined the normally successive movements of the sonata into a single span in his Sonata in B Minor. The duo sonata fell into a decline until near the end of the 19th century and the appearance of the late works of Johannes Brahms and Csar Franck. In the 20th century the use of the term sonata has become as confused as it was in the Renaissance. Piano sonatas have been composed with explicit reference to the works of Beethoven, including the sonatas of Sir Michael Tippett and Pierre Boulez, but otherwise the form and instrumentation of sonatas has become much freer. The term sonata form denotes both the organization of tonal material within a movement and the relationship between movements. The main divisions within a movement in sonata form are the exposition, the development, and the recapitulation. In the exposition the two-part tonal material has an inherent element of contrast. Its themes, though not necessarily two in number, present a conflict of mood. The tension between these parts is heightened by a conflict of key: the opening material is in the tonic key; the contrasting material is in a second key, normally in a close relationship to the tonic but sufficiently distinct to mark a certain distance from the starting point. In the development any portion of the preceding material and in many cases new, or seemingly new, material may appear in any order and in any combination. Frequently the material is broken down into its constituent fragments, and these fragments are themselves combined and developed. Opposing moods are illustrated and made to interact. Toward the end of the development section a sense of premonition is introduced that is fulfilled by a return of the tonic key and, with it, the original opening material. In the recapitulation both of the opposites that set up their contrasting tonalities and moods in the exposition are heard again and in the same order. Instead of appearing in a key or keys contrasted with the tonic key, the opposing material now appears in the same, or mainly in the same, key as the opening material. The tension of the opposites is not so much relaxed as brought into balance. A coda may then follow, sometimes of such elaborate proportions as to simulate further development; but a sonata-form movement is complete only if it ends with reconciliation. Additional reading E. Borrel, La Sonate (1951), a general modern study; W. Mellers, The Sonata Principle from c. 1750, in Man and His Music (1957), a description of stylistic trends that led from the Baroque to the Classical attitude; M. Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era, from Monteverdi to Bach (1947), a general survey covering the period of the pre-Classical sonata; D.F. Tovey, Sonata Forms, in The Forms of Music (1956), a brilliant study, Essays in Musical Analysis, vol. 12 (1935), perceptive program notes on specific symphonic works, Essays and Lectures on Music (1949), important studies of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Brahms, and A Companion to Beethoven's Pianoforte Sonatas (1931); F.H. Marks, The Sonata: Its Form and Meaning in Piano Sonatas by Mozart (n.d.); H. Keller, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, in R. Simpson (ed.), The Symphony, vol. 1 (1966), an imaginative and learned application of modern analytical principles to Mozart's symphonies; H.C. Robbins Landon, The Symphonies of Joseph Haydn (1955), a monumental, detailed study of one of the central areas of sonata-form history; Charles Rosen, Sonata Forms (1980), an exploration of the musical form in the context of social conditions.

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