Music Theory Questions: First Movement of The Sonata by Mozart

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Question

Your assignment is to answer the following questions regarding the Theme and first two Variations from the first movement of the Sonata in A Major, K. 331 by Mozart. You may listen to the piece online.

The project is only concerned with approximately the first five minutes of the movement.
Listen to the piece several times, with the score in hand, then answer the following questions.

1) On the attached score page (the blown-up copy of the Theme), mark off the phrases using brackets. Indicate where you hear cadences, and label each one as a half cadence or full cadence. Turn in this marked-up page with your other answers.

2) Discuss the structure of the melody in the Theme. Identify the salient motives. What techniques are used to vary these motives? Trace any linear processes (stepwise motions, including patterns involving non-adjacent tones) that are outlined in the melody. Are the melodic cadences perfect or imperfect?

3) Discuss how Mozart creates unity and variety in each section of the piece. As the piece moves from section to section (Theme, Variation 1, Variation 2), what elements are varied and what elements are kept consistent?

4) Are there any irregularities in the phrase structure of the theme? If so, where does the irregularity occur? Is the same phrase structure maintained in the Variations?

5) The expressive character of the Theme might be described as placid. Is there an aspect of the harmony that contributes to this character? Identify this element, stating where it occurs.

6) Does Mozart change keys anywhere in the assigned excerpt? If so, state where and to what key. If not, try to offer a general explanation accounting for the moments where accidentals (notes outside the tonic key) appear.

Solution Preview

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The first movement of Sonata in A Major, K331 by Mozart is written as a Theme and Variations. The initial eighteen-measure Theme itself is written in rounded binary form with a two- measure coda to end the Theme: part one, part two, and coda. Part one consists of the first eight measures (1-8). Part two consists of the second eight (9-16). The coda is the last two measures (17-18). In part two, the first four measures (9-12) slightly expand the main motivic material (summed up, perhaps, in the first four measure (1-4); the second four measures in part two (13-16) are nearly identical to the second four measures in part one (5-8), except that in part one, Mozart writes a perfect authentic cadence, while in part two, Mozart only provides an imperfect authentic cadence. That is because in the coda Mozart provides a more convincing perfect authentic cadence to close the Theme. Nevertheless, the recurrence of the second half of the part one material in part two makes the Theme a rounded binary form. In the scheme below, part one is marked as A1 and A2. Part two is marked as B1, A2, and coda....

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