Universität Salzburg

Do musical forms migrate? – Aspects of the popularization and distribution of the small rounded two/three-part form in Europe of the 18th century

The idea that the Viennese classical style (Vcc) is influenced by a Volkston [folk tone] is closely connected with the small rounded two/three-part form (srttpf) for which Mozart's “Komm lieber Mai”, Beethoven's “Freude schöner Götterfunken” and the children’s song “Hänschen klein” serve as paradigms: the form consists of four sections (with a central caesura), of which the second and fourth sections are authentic or varied repetitions of the first section (as a whole or in part), while the third section is different. Both parts or only one part on one side of the caesura can be repeated (sometimes accurately indicated by means of a repeat sign, sometimes undetermined if the double bar indicates the caesura, for instance). In music theory, this or related forms have been called 'rounded binary' or 'small ternary'.
While the close relationship between the 'folk tone' of the Vcc and the preference for the srttpf is known, it has been neglected so far that a similar preference for this form can be observed in the popular song and dance collections and ballad operas that were published in London between 1710 and 1765. Against this background the question arises: Is the preference for the srttpf in the context of popular music at two different times and in two different places, 1400 km apart, a mere coincidence? This paper reconstructs the relationship between the London and the Viennese corpora regarding form preferences. It presents a selection of the results of the research project „Historiography of musical form through mir“ (http://historiography-of-musical-form-through-mir.sbg.ac.at/).


Conference Photo Nicholas Hunter.jpg

Beate Kutschke, Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin at the University of Salzburg, approaches music history from a culturologically-oriented perspective. In addition to other research topics such as ‘music and protest’, ‘music and heroism’ and ‘music as a sign system’, she currently leads a research project at the University Salzburg that reconstructs the popularization and distribution of the small rounded two/three-part form in Europe of the 18th century by means of computer-assisted music-analysis. The project’s findings will be published in her fourth monograph.

Beate Kutschke