Rondo (It., also Eng. and Ger. by usage; Fr. rondeau)
- Malcolm S. Cole
(It., also Eng. and Ger. by usage; Fr. rondeau)
One of the most fundamental designs in music, the rondo is a structure consisting of a series of sections, the first of which (the main section or refrain) recurs, normally in the home key, between subsidiary sections (couplets, episodes) before returning finally to conclude, or round off, the composition (ABAC … A).
The very simplicity of the rondo concept, and its consequent wide usage, makes it difficult to give a precise account of its origins. Any connection between the medieval or Renaissance rondeau and that of the 17th and 18th centuries is at best tenuous; and parallels between the later rondo and (for example) the ritornello principle and the rondo cantata need to be more thoroughly investigated. Those few 18th-century theorists who mentioned influences on the rondo confined themselves to such popular examples as the Frantzösischer Ringel-Tantz (Walther), the Kreiz or Circul-Tantz (Niedt), the Zirckelstück (Marpurg, Türk), and the ...