Books on Musical Form

Books On Musical Form

Read and learn about musical form.

"The spirit of a composition will not become clear to you until you understand the form."
Robert Schumann

📖 "The intelligent listener must be prepared to increase his awareness of the musical material and what happens to it. He must hear the melodies, the rhythms, the harmonies, the tone colours in a more conscious fashion. But above all he must, in order to follow the like of the composer's thought, know something of the principles of musical form."
Aaron Copland in What to Listen for in Music (1939)

📖 "The most casual lover of music will find greater enjoyment in his listening if he has some understanding of the long- and short-range plans of the composer, for without it music can be only a matter of the momentary enjoyment of isolated sensations which happen to reach the seat of the emotions. To the serious music-students, whether he be an aspirant to the profession of music, or a listener determined to extract from the art as much as he can of that which so any great men have out into it, intimate and conscious understanding of design is even more important than close acquaintance with the technical details of harmony and counterpoint. For the composer, appreciation is the only sure foundation upon which he can build for himself."
Cedric Thorpe Davie Musical Structure and Design (1953)

📖 "The understanding, and therefore the study, of musical design (or form, or structure), is one of the essentials of intelligent attentive listening."
Cedric Thorpe Davie Musical Structure and Design (1953)

📖 "Teachers and students alike run the risk, if they are not ever watchful of the need to regard music as music, of confusing the basic design with the finished individual product; of coming - to put the point slightly differently - to regard musical forms as if they were moulds into which composers simply pour their music; or (a better simile) as if they were like architects' plans to which unlimited numbers of virtually identical houses may be constructed.
The truth about musical design is far different, and may well be illustrated by reference rather to living beings. For example, no two humans are quite alike in appearance, let alone in spirit and character; the same can be said of cats or dogs, and no doubt of earwigs or cheese-mites. Yet all the members of each species conform to a common type, in so far as all are built on a recognisably similar framework, while all have common outward characteristics (e.g., all humans have two eyes, ten toes, and so on). Similarly, no two pieces of music has brought with it the evolution of a number of well-defined types of structural basis, to one or another of which the majority of movements conform."
Cedric Thorpe Davie Musical Structure and Design (1953)

📖 "There can be said to exist an anatomy of music, and the profitable study of musical design consist in mastering the anatomical principles without losing sight of the fact that they are no more than that, and then examining the ways in which the great composers have made them the basis of the living individual organisms which are their creations."
Cedric Thorpe Davie Musical Structure and Design (1953)

📖 "We may helpfully compare the position of the composer producing living pieces of music - each with its own individuality yet belonging to its species - with that of the great classical painters, whose intimate knowledge of anatomy provided the basis upon which they created their figures, giving them life and character by their genius. The music student, whether he would write music, or understand fully what others have written, must learn his musical anatomy."
Cedric Thorpe Davie Musical Structure and Design (1953)

Books on Musical Form in German

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