GCSE Music Analysis - Mozart - Symphony No.40 in G Minor
Features Of The Classical Period (1750-1830)
- Balanced phrases.
- Simple textures.
- Harpsichord replaced with piano.
- Range of wind instruments.
Mozart's Symphony No.40 is written in Sonata form. Sonata form consists of the three following parts:
- Exposition is where the main themes (usually 2) are initially presented.
- The first theme is always in the home key. (In this case it's G Minor)
- The second subject contrasts to the first and is always in a related key to the first. (In this case it's B ♭ Major, which is the relative major of G minor).
- Development is where the composer 'develops' one or both ideas that were heard in the exposition.
- The section features various keys but avoids using the tonic or the dominant. (In this symphony it moves through various keys but starts in F# minor).
- Music in this section is often ambiguous and is constantly changing and feels restless because of the exploration of different keys.
- Recapitulation is a 'recap' of the exposition.
- The first subject is in the tonic key (G Minor) as it was in the exposition section and the second subject is also in the tonic key and there is no modulation as the work draws to a close.
- Sometimes the work finishes with a small coda.
- Balanced phrases (4 or 8 bars) that sound like questions and answers.
- Many phrases are scalic (made up of scales).
- Diatonic and functional harmonies.
- Based around standard major and minor chords with examples of chromatic chords.
- A circle of fifths progression as heard in the second subject.
- Pedal notes which are heard in the alto part before the second subject begins.
Rhythm, Metre and Tempo
- 4/4 throughout.
- Molto Allegro tempo (very fast).
- Simple rhythms and occasional use of dotted rhythms and syncopation to create momentum and add interest.
- Mostly homophonic.
- Use of imitation and octave doubling (different parts playing the same thing but in a higher range).
- Dialogue between woodwind and strings.
- In the exposition the first subject is quiet (apart from a short passage in the middle).
- The second subject begins quietly and gets louder towards the end.
- In the development there is a loud section in the middle but it starts and ends quickly.
- The recapitulation has similar dynamics to the exposition.
- Most dynamics occur suddenly and there are only a few crescendos and no diminuendos.
- It is played by a chamber orchestra made up of strings, woodwind and horns.
- The strings are busy most of the time and plays a variety of things such as the melody, running scales, sustained notes and chords.
- The woodwind instruments do not play as much as the strings and they tend to have more sustained notes and not as many quick runs. They share the start of the second subject with the strings.
- There are two horns in different keys which maximizes the number of notes.