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An Evening with Friedrich Gulda at the Keyboards

In a live recording from the Amerikahaus, Munich, Friedrich Gulda reveals the versatility of his keyboard playing by performing the old master's as well as his own compositions on both clavichord and piano.. Read more >>

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Author Topic: how to write a sonata  (Read 1770 times)
marijn210999
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« on: December 21, 2014, 08:59:56 PM »

Hi you all,

I'd like to recieve some advise on how to writr a sonata. What is the sonata form and how can you modulate between keys? Like to hear from you all.
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slane
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« Reply #1 on: December 21, 2014, 10:29:42 PM »

Maybe you should do this MOOC (Massive ooen online course) on classical music composition.
https://www.coursera.org/course/classicalcomp

I think it might teach you exactly waht you want. Its starts on Jan 13th.
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quantum
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2015, 04:54:00 PM »

Look up sonata form in any one of various texts available.  It is not necessary to absorb all details on your first read through, just get an overall idea of the form and typical key relationships. 

Listen to recordings and follow along the scores to various sonatas.  Mozart and Beethoven are a good place to start.  Note that composers will not always stick to the "rules" which is completely fine. 

Begin writing sonatas, even though you may not have a solid understanding of the form.  It is through writing that insight will be gained into the form. 

Improvise sonatas at the piano. 

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Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach
mjames
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2015, 05:49:58 PM »

Best way imo to understand the sonata form is to play a bunch of sonatas.
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Pianism is my religion, Bach is my God, and Chopin's my prophet.
awesom_o
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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2015, 05:25:52 AM »

Like the fugue, the sonata is not a strict form. The rough idea involves having an exposition section, in which a main subject is introduced, followed by a development section, in which the subject goes some place new, and a recapitulation, wherein the subject triumphantly returns home.

I recommend that you hone your skills on short, relatively simple pieces, until your style has developed to quite an extent. Binary form is useful for smaller works, and it takes real skill to write miniatures filled with genuine charm and depth of emotion.

Modulation requires mastery of harmony; something you must have firmly under your belt to seriously consider writing.

Have you studied advanced harmony and counterpoint yet?
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pianogeek_cz
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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2015, 03:05:49 AM »

I fully agree with awesom_o that writing miniatures is an excellent practice.

When composing, especially shorter pieces, restrict yourself. If you stay tonal, try restricting yourself to two voices, six to eight bars and see what you can do with it.  Or restrict yourself to one voice and write something for a solo string/woodwind instrument! (The Bb Clarinet is excellent for such practice, as it has a very obvious wide expressive range.) Working with a piano, it is very tempting to be stuck in "harmony mode" and only compose by combining pitches; this is only a very narrow (although pretty awesome!) section of composition. You can think in colors, registers, rhythms, textures, figurations, even types of physical motion...

Harmony and even more importantly counterpoint are essential tools to have in your bag of tricks. Don't miss out on pre-Bach music: renaissance vocal polyphony (Palestrina, A. & G. Gabrielli, di Lasso, ) and early organ music (Titelouze..!) is excellent for learning counterpoint "unadulterated" by thinking in chords (Bach's genius lies partly in how he was able to combine this much older thinking in horizontal terms with newer, vertical thinking in chords.)

Learning some figured bass is well worth the effort, too! (For a nice tutorial: http://www.thinkingmusic.ca/thinkingharmony/figuredbass/) Another most worthwhile study is that of Gregorian chant.

It's quite possible to compose a full-fledged sonata form in 32 bars (or even way less). You don't actually have to follow classical harmony or harmony at all, although staying within the tonal world will make it easier. What the form dictates is only a large-scale balance of the expected and unexpected, the "Yay, this part I remember from earlier" and "He just did WHAT???" moments. Like most musical forms, a sonata form is essentially a template for when to repeat yourself and when not to, and some minimal guidance on what relationships there should be between musical ideas to maintain that balance.

A great way of practicing is writing literature for kids - it has to be pretty short and without many complications, plus you can get mercilessly genuine feedback on the engaging/boring front from them. Smiley

If you wish, I could come up with some set of exercises in composition for you.
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eldergeek
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2015, 10:56:47 PM »

Whilst I'm not actually trying to write a sonata myself, I have been fascinated by trying to understand the composition process for many years now.

Most fascinated by your comment that learning about Gregorian chant could be very worthwhile - I have enjoyed listening to Gregorian chants, but never really understood how they relate to modern musical theory (and modern musical notation!).
Is there any chance you could expand a bit on how you see knowledge of Gregorian chant as being worthwhile for someone trying to understand composition?

Also, does anyone know of a nice introduction to the curious notation traditionally used for writing Gregorian chants?
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slane
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« Reply #7 on: January 24, 2015, 02:53:03 AM »

I started the "write like mozart course" I mentioned before and its dulllll! Maybe because my theory isn't good enough so it was too hard for me, which can easily be confused with dull.
Anyhoo, I've been watching Jonathon Biss's lectures on Beethoven's Sonatas, and they are really interesting. The course and self paced, so there's no pressure to watch an hour of video every day but I've been watching and watching them.

https://www.coursera.org/learn/beethoven-piano-sonatas
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