III. One-Part Forms

One-part form -- A tonally closed musical entity not divisible into smaller sections.

"Tonally closed" means "beginning and ending in the tonic, exhibiting melodic and harmonic closure."

By this definition, all periods except for those with modulating consequents are one-part forms. Other musical units that do not satisfy the definition of period may nevertheless be one-part forms.

A one-part form may be divided into discrete phrases, but it lacks the contrasts of surface design typical of multi-part forms (binary, rondo, etc.).

One-part forms are of two types: those exhibiting harmonic interruption and those not exhibiting harmonic interruption.

One-Part Form with Interruption

A one-part structure with at least one structural dominant serving to interrupt and restart the overall tonal progression of the music.

Undivided One-Part Form

A tonally closed musical entity not exhibiting structural interruption.

Examples from Burkhart:

Study these. Decide whether or not they exhibit interruption. Find other one-part forms in the anthology.


Prelude No. 1 in C from Well-tempered Clavier, Book I


All seven of the Preludes, Op. 28 given in Burkhart exemplify one or the other sort of one-part form

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