That Darn 3rd Section (Form Question)

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Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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That Darn 3rd Section (Form Question)

Post by stevel » Thu Jun 11, 2015 3:39 pm

This is not about new compositions, but ones of the past.

I've been playing all these little Carcassi and Carulli pieces (like from Carcassi's method).

I don't know if this is an Italian thing but why do the mostly have a 3rd section that often is, IMHO, out of place, poorly composed, etc. etc.

Many of the pieces are a two-reprise Rounded Binary form for the first two sections.

Let's take a piece in C - usually the A section will be in C, and modulate to G, then the second section will be in G and have a partial return of the A material (which is what makes it rounded binary). Or at least there will be a dominant pedal section. This is very typical of most small classical period compositions in simple forms like this - piano literature abounds with them.

But these guitar pieces very often (almost to the point of always) include a third section - in Am - that really seems to be "out of character" with the first part. In many cases it feels like it was "stuck on". It's either totally different, drastically simpler, etc. etc.

Every once in a while I run across one where this 3rd section is better/more interesting than the first 2 sections, and sometimes they're all on even keel, but more often than not, the 3rd section just doesn't fit.

I'm wondering if there was some commonplace Italianate form where there was always a "bravado" section, or "pedal" section, or something like that added.

This is often in Da Capo al Fine works, so you basically get:

||: A :||: B 1/2A :|| : C :|| A || B 1/2A ||

When it's all said and done (assuming you don't take the repeats on the da capo - which I'm on the fence about in some pieces).

While I'm on this mini-rant, does anyone know anything about the things like Lagrima - where it's a da capo form and the A section is in Minor, and the B section is PARALLEL Major or vice versa. So A section E Minor, B section in E Major, or the reverse - A section in E Major and B Section in E minor.

You get:

Major Minor Major - all the key of E


Minor Major Minor - all the key of E

Most classical pieces would modulate to the Dominant or the RELATIVE key.

This seems to be a "spanish" thing in my limited experience - using the Parallel key for an A(M) B(m) A(M) form.

Sure some of these little pieces will have a "minor" section in the parallel when it's a T&V (that's typical to have one in Major Key variations) and sometimes in a rondo for variety.

But the ABA thing in mMm (like Lagrima) or MmM seems somewhat particular to and common in guitar pieces (I play a lot of similar little piano pieces and they don't do this to any large degree - I can't even recall one) - especially from Spanish composers.

Any info?


Paul Wegmann

Re: That Darn 3rd Section (Form Question)

Post by Paul Wegmann » Thu Jun 11, 2015 6:49 pm

Hi Steve, I think the third section is part of a rondo form, do you have an A section after C section? or this piece ends on C section?
If the composer wrote in minor key, is a contrast for the other 2 sections, contrasting in moode and level of complexity too. IMO.

Kjetil Heggelund
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Re: That Darn 3rd Section (Form Question)

Post by Kjetil Heggelund » Thu Jun 11, 2015 7:02 pm

Hey there! You could post the score to such a piece here. I can only guess that you're probably in a menuet & trio form...Are they in 3/4 time? Menuet & trio is a more grande ABA form. The "Lagrima-form" has more romantic key centers, tonic & tonic-variant. Tonic and the relative/dominant are more classical. Guitar composers of the time are some decades behind the big famous composers in regard to harmony.
Kevin Aram "Torres", 2009
Stephan Schlemper "Transparence", 2015
Whatever you can do to have a good time, let's get on with it so long as it doesn't cause a murder...FZ


Re: That Darn 3rd Section (Form Question)

Post by Lucky » Thu Oct 01, 2015 11:10 am

I encountered a lot of these A-B-A pieces as well.
We call this the 'Song Form', in Dutch. That's a literal translation, I don't know what the proper name in English would be.

I think especially Tárrega used the major-minor-major (or vice versa) set-up a lot.

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