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W. Dean Sutcliffe

In the 18th century sectional binary form continued to appear in folk music and in chorales (for example in Bach’s chorale no.38, Straf mich nicht in deinem Zorn). It is most commonly found in arias, and may be understood retrospectively as a da capo form that unexpectedly fails to complete itself. This almost always occurs for dramatic reasons, as in Jonathan’s ‘No, no, cruel father, no!’ from Handel’s Saul, where a lamenting first section in B minor is succeeded by a G major Allegro. Both sections are harmonically closed, leaving the larger structure open; AB is clearly a more appropriate designation here. A more complex example is Iole’s aria ‘My father! ah! methinks I see’ from Handel’s Hercules. In the first section, beginning and ending in C minor, Iole relives the killing of her father by Hercules. The relative major is held in reserve for the second section, in which Iole bids her father rest in peace. Rather than finishing in E♭ major, though, the music clouds over into E♭ minor, implying that Iole’s remembrance of the violent death has invaded her thoughts. The close thus reverts to the mode of the first section and creates some sense of rounded shaping to the whole, if in the first instance for dramatic reasons; there are also some subtle thematic recollections from ...

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W. Dean Sutcliffe

Binary form is characterized by an articulated movement to another key followed by an articulated return to the tonic. A conclusive arrival on the principal contrasting key (normally the dominant) marks the end of the first section, and is matched by the final return to the tonic at the end of the second half. Each section is usually marked to be repeated. Binary form is generally understood to imply a continuous form in which the harmonically incomplete first half demands continuation. It may also be sectional or composite, however, and contain harmonically complete and thematically distinct first and second halves. In its most characteristic manifestations binary form is associated with Baroque instrumental music, in particular the dance movements of the suite; but so obvious a form was in use long before the Baroque period....

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Michael Tilmouth

The medieval Bar form can be classed as a sectional binary form in which only the first part is repeated, giving an AAB structure. Even in the early rondeau and other formes fixes, in which a complex system of phrase repetition was required by the verse structures, the music itself was often made up of two periods or phrases. With the disappearance of the formes fixes, and the development of instrumental music whose shaping owed a good deal to the symmetries of phrases required for dancing, binary movements became more and more frequent.

Some of the keyboard settings from a Venetian collection of about 1520 ( I-Vnm Ital.iv.1227) illustrate this. De che le morta la mia signora has two strains closely corresponding in rhythm, the first in G minor, the second beginning in B♭ and moving back to G minor. No repeats are indicated but they would make good sense. Elsewhere in the collection double bars suggest that repeats should be made (...

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Pauline Norton

(1) A black American folk and spectacular dance characterized by rhythmic patterns created by the feet hitting the floor. It became a theatrical dance in the middle of the 19th century principally through the influence of William Henry Lane, who performed under the name ‘Juba’. The dance often concluded the song-and-dance numbers in late 19th-century minstrel shows, and seems to be related to the ‘break’ sections in these numbers, which consisted of short, two- or four-bar interludes of danced rhythmic patterns between the solo verse and the chorus. Both the dance itself and the idea of performing dance between the sections of a song influenced tap dance in the 20th century.

(2) A riotus dance or gathering (see also Hoedown). The fiddle or banjo music accompanying such dances, particularly in the white-American folk tradition from the late 19th century, often has rapid figurations, arpeggios, and triplets added to vary the melody, suggesting something like the 16th- and 17th-century English practice of ...

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[colotomy](from Gk. kōlon: ‘section’, ‘limb’)

A term adopted by the ethnomusicologist Jaap Kunst in his work on the gamelan music of Java and Bali, to describe the phrase structure of the gendhing (‘piece’). Each major section of a gendhing begins and ends on a gong beat and is further subdivided into subsections and phrases by several other single-note instruments of the gong type; their function is to mark the skeletal melody (adapted and played by the metallophones in unison) at regular metric periods. Over a dozen different colotomic structures are in regular use, each with its own name such as ...

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