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Ternary Forms

Review of Binary Forms

 Describe: simple sectional binary


Review of Binary Forms

 Describe: balanced continuous binary


Review of Binary Forms

 Describe: rounded sectional binary


Review of Binary Forms

 Describe: rounded continuous binary


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Both Rounded Binary and


Ternary forms have an overall
ABA thematic design.

How are we supposed to tell


Which is which?
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Ask the following questions:


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Ask the following questions:

• Would B make sense if


played alone?
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Ask the following questions:

• Would B make sense if


played alone?
• Does B have its own tonal area?
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Ask the following questions:

• Would B make sense if


played alone?
• Does B have its own tonal area?
• Does B have its own motives?
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Ask the following questions:

• Would B make sense if


played alone?
• Does B have its own tonal area?
• Does B have its own motives?
• Does B have its own character?
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Ask the following questions:

• Would B make sense if


played alone?
• Does B have its own tonal area?
• Does B have its own motives?
• Does B have its own character?
Every “Yes” supports ternary form.
Every “No” supports binary form.
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“Keep in mind that at some point


this simply becomes an issue of
individual judgment, and the
difference is not particularly
important.”
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“Keep in mind that at some point


this simply becomes an issue of
individual judgment, and the
difference is not particularly
important.”
Is that irritatingly ambiguous?
Should we look at a German Shepherd
puppy to relieve the stress?
That’s much better.
Ternary Forms

 As with binary forms, any ternary form


with an open first part is continuous.
Ternary Forms

 As with binary forms, any ternary form


with an open first part is continuous.
 As with binary forms, any ternary form
with a closed first part is sectional.
Ternary Forms

 As with binary forms, any ternary form


with an open first part is continuous.
 As with binary forms, any ternary form
with a closed first part is sectional.
 A ternary form with all three parts closed
is fully sectional. *
Ternary Forms

 As with binary forms, any ternary form


with an open first part is continuous.
 As with binary forms, any ternary form
with a closed first part is sectional.
 A ternary form with all three parts closed
is fully sectional. *

(asterisk)
Ternary Forms

 As with binary forms, any ternary form


with an open first part is continuous.
 As with binary forms, any ternary form
with a closed first part is sectional.
 A ternary form with all three parts closed
is fully sectional.*
 As you might expect, these are referred to
as continuous ternary, sectional ternary,
and full sectional ternary.
Sneaky Composer Trick

* Note this sneaky composer trick:


If you harmonically close all 3 of your sections, there is no
pressure to make the A and B sections contrast in character,
because they are already clearly delineated. Thus, you can
compensate for your lack of
melodic creativity with your
Music Theory super powers.
Pretty devious, huh?
Sneaky Composer Trick

As a result, full sectional ternary forms sometimes


lack imagination contrast in the B section.
Ternary Forms