Form Analysis

Thomas Palmatier • April 2024Tom's Tips • April 8, 2024

Start big (what’s the title?) and dig deeper at each reading.*

What’s the composer trying to say? Too often we skip over what they havea told us in their notes.

What’s the big form?  (Fast, slow, fast?)

Where are the peaks and valleys?

What are the tempo relationships? 

You have effective knowledge of the score when you know how to teach it.

Once you know the form and “where things are going,” most phrasing and shaping questions will answer themselves.  Phrasing and shaping are ways of propelling you to your destination.

*Many are proponents of Macro-Micro-Macro. I am not, because that seems to imply an end state to the deeper study at which time you zoom back out. Score study is different for every director. Sometimes, you only have time to get the tempo and meter. Sometimes, you can dig ever deeper. Just try to learn as much as you can about the piece and be open to revising your views on it as you go.

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