Creating Variation within Traditional Classical Music Forms While much of the Classical era music is stereotyped for sounding the same, there is much variation within the style and music of that period. Although there are many different forms and variations of those forms, deviations in that respect are not as easily recognized to the casual listener. It takes some attention and focus to notice a formal variation. What the casual listener will recognize are deviations which grab attention of those who may have not been paying any attention before, or which defy the expectations of those who have been paying attention.
The most effective techniques are deviations in rhythm, dynamic, and harmony. Rhythm usually creates an expectation in the ear of the listener, based on convention. For example, If you hear a piece coming to a cadence point and the chords come In short stabs on the oft)eats for an even number of bars, you would expect It to land on the downbeat of the subsequent bar, whether It be after the 4th bar, 8th bar, etc. In other words, you expect a resolution of the rhythmic tension.
When it goes unresolved, in this case if it were to finish on another offbeat, that would stick out, because it defies the expectation established by convention. In Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, on page 21 of the score, the violin starts playing a continuous triplet line, accompanied by nothing shorter than a quarter- note length. At this point, there Is nothing Interfering with the now Lilting triplet feel. However, after about 11 bars of this, the accompaniment adds straight eighth notes n top of the triplets, which stand out in stark contrast to the violin rhythm.
Probably the most obvious of techniques to defy expectation is dynamic contrast. Heyday’s “Surprise” Symphony makes comical use of this technique. The second movement of the work starts with a very quiet statement of a simple melody, which repeats but with a sudden, bombastic, fortissimo chord at the end. It then continues at Plano with a consequent melody, not at all referencing what Just occurred. A casual listener would have a hard time not noticing the sudden contrast In dynamic alee.
Heyday’s use is doubly deviant, because even with a sudden dynamic change like that, it is at least expected that the new dynamic would be continued, but Haydn goes right back to piano. Harmony may be the least used aspect from which to deviate. However, Heyday’s Symphony No. 94 again provides a fine example of It. In the second-to-last variation, which Is scored heavily and sounds very grandiose, the last bar of It goes from an F major chord (with a D in the melody) to a fermata on an F# fully diminished seventh chord.
This is entirely unexpected, especially because a variation on the melody has been going on, and the flute sounds as if it would have gone from a D to a C, landing on the tonic of C major (the tonic key), but it instead goes up to an Be, creating a very striking dissonance relative to the rest of the piece. The established forms, the most effective technique is to defy expectation. This is accomplished most noticeably by deviations in rhythm, dynamic, and harmony, as shown through Heyday’s Symphony No. 94 and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major.