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