Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!
Print

Music

Mozart

Mozart - Symphony No. 40: movement 1

In the following pages we will look at the first movement of Symphony No. 40 in more detail. Remember this movement is in sonata form, so it has three sections: exposition, development and recapitulation.

Exposition

The symphony opens with the first subject played on violins accompanied by the violas, cellos and double basses.

First subject

Look at the first subject. Notice the:

  • tempo marking – molto allegro (very fast)
  • 4/4 time signature
  • key signature of G minor (two flats)
  • dynamic marking p
  • melody starting on the fourth beat, a weak beat of the bar – this is known as an anacrusis
  • shape of the melody and its use of two quavers followed by a crotchet - a falling semitone motive (or motif)
  • question and answer phrasing – a four-bar phrase answered by another four-bar phrase
  • dark intense mood

A motive (or motif) is a short distinctive melodic or rhythmic idea and is used as the basis of longer passages of music.

Listen to the opening. Notice how the second four-bar phrase ends with a perfect cadence. Notice the use of the tonic pedal in the first six bars and the repeated quaver accompaniment.

The word 'pedal' is used here to mean a repeated note (in this case G) played against changing harmonies.

A perfect cadence sounds final and uses chord V (the dominant, in this case D) followed by chord I (the tonic, in this case G minor).

A transition or bridge passage leads to the second subject.

Back to The western classical tradition index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.