Despite differences in critical alignment, epistemological underpinnings, and reportorial coverage, studies of sonata forms nevertheless tend to share one feature: they devote the least amount of space to recapitulations. Two presuppositions might explain this neglect: (1) the recapitulation is an exact (or near-exact) restatement of the exposition’s thematic materials, and (2) it takes but one tonal alteration (or “adjustment”) of these materials to make a recapitulation conclude in the key in which it began. This article aims to examine the second of these presuppositions in hopes of painting a more complete and analytically adequate picture of actual practices. Its goals are, first, to give an idea of the range of strategies available to composers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and, second, to show how familiarity with these strategies can open a space for new interpretations of formal drama and the plotting of narrative. The central analytic section of the article presents a taxonomy of six compositional strategies for making tonal alterations: alterations in silence, immediate alterations, thick alterations, multiple alterations, alterations without adjustment, and self-effacing alterations.

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