Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thinking about sonatas: Most of us learn them as if the goal is to play them through from start to finish. Once that is drilled into our fingers it is like pulling teeth to attach the notion of a sonata to meaning.

A sonata is a collection of pieces: a dance, a song, and a puzzle piece or two, usually a sonata form or a rondo. The sonata form, usually the opening movement, is not a narrative. Rarely does it begin with a clear statement either of the key or the meter. The clarity is hidden somewhere within the movement.

Perhaps that explains the necessity of repeating the first section: Since the beginning does not make full sense when played first off it has to come around again a second time in the context of other material before we get a feeling of knowing where we are.