Sunday, August 29, 2004

Ternary Form

Ternary form is the way of structuring a piece of music in which there are three parts. The first and third parts are almost identical and the middle section sharply contrasts the other two. Because the sections are set up this way, ternary form is often represented ABA. Other than being found in classical music, ternary form also appears in marches, where the middle section becomes more flowing before returning to the march, in baroque opera arias, and in the minuet and trio. Then, the difference between compound ternary form and simple ternary form must be expressed. Compound ternary form occurs when each large section divides itself further such as A- ABA, B- CDC, A- ABA. Thus the form overall is still ABA but when broken down is ABACDCABA. Simple ternary form is when the larger sections have no further structure.
Sources: The Harvard Dictionary of Music, 4th Edition. Don Randel.
Ternary Form: Fact-Index