This article investigates the sources of the recapitulation using statistical methods. The recapitulation has traditionally been viewed as an expansion of small ternary forms, resulting in a top-down approach, whereby the repeat of expositional material is explained in rotational terms. Here I present a bottom-up approach, demonstrating that the recapitulation arose as a concatenation between two previously independent practices: the double return of the opening theme in the tonic in the middle of the second half of a two-part form, and the thematic matching between the ends of the two halves of two-part form. Drawing on a corpus of more than seven hundred instrumental works dated 1650–1770, I demonstrate that these two practices arose and functioned independently from each other, increasing in frequency and in length, before being subsumed into an overarching rotational practice.
Of Beginnings and Ends: A Corpus-Based Inquiry into the Rise of the Recapitulation
Yoel Greenberg is lecturer in music at Bar-Ilan University and violist with the Carmel Quartet. His research interests concern the evolution of sonata form and interactions of music, art, and literature in the early twentieth century.
Yoel Greenberg; Of Beginnings and Ends: A Corpus-Based Inquiry into the Rise of the Recapitulation. Journal of Music Theory 1 October 2017; 61 (2): 171–200. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00222909-4149546
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