By Alan Belkin

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3) Creating suspense over larger spans of time We have already mentioned that suspense is valuable in all forms. The major differences in its application to larger forms have to do with the prominence given to incomplete gestures. As mentioned above, interrupting an idea in midstream and continuing it later creates powerful suspense. It is possible to start and suspend a musical idea more than once in a large form. In such cases, often the interruption may seem peculiar in its first presentation, but will gain in meaning as the movement progresses.

The number of simultaneous musical elements arriving at extremes for any given climax determines its importance and intensity. In a preceding example (String Quartet #2), the climax is marked by the arrival of a new motive, in 32nd notes, for the first time in this movement. (repertoire example) Bruckner, Symphony #9, 3rd movement, m. 206: The climax of this passage - also the main climax of the whole movement -, is achieved by a combination of the most dissonant harmony, the most complex rhythm and orchestration (four layers: sextuplet 8th notes in upper winds and horns; 32nd note figuration in the violins, held notes in the tubas; and the dotted note rhythm in the bass instruments); sheer loudness (fff); and the extremely long buildup.

Binary Binary forms come in many varieties: The two parts may be symmetrical or not; the first part may have a conclusive cadence ("sectional binary") or an open cadence ("continuous binary"); the second part may or may not bring back elements from the first section to round off the form. It is typical of the form that both sections develop the same material. Frequently each section is repeated with a double bar. The first part is normally a closed design, such as a period or a double period. In the simpler types (symmetrical, sectional), the main type of contrast in the second part is in harmonic detail.

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A Practical Guide to Musical Composition by Alan Belkin


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