MUS 312 Form & Analysis

B. Structural Units

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  1. SECTION:  The term may refer to a major structural unit perceived as the result of the coincidence of relatively large numbers of structural phenomena; however, the term may also be used to define smaller structural units. Thus, a large section may be composed of a number of smaller ones.

  1. PERIOD:  The period is a structural unit analogous to the sentence. It is typically constructed of two or more smaller units called phrases.

  1. PHRASE GROUPS:  Sections in which phrases are linked by a series of cadences of an inconclusive nature.

  1. OTHER STRUCTURAL UNITS:  Cadential section; closing section.


Asymmetrical--describes a period in which the phrases differ in length.

Cadential extension--the prolongation or delay of the cadence by the addition of material beyond the point at which the cadence is expected.

Contrasting--describes a period in which the musical content of the phrases differs.

Double period--a periodic structure in which the antecedent-consequent relationship is fulfilled by pairs of phrases.

Elision--the (melodic) connection of two phrases in such a way that the cadential point of the first coincides with the beginning of the second.

Interpolation--the lengthening of the repetition of a phrase by the insertion of material not heard in the original phrase.

Link--material that appears between the end of one phrase and the beginning of the next, but belongs to neither.

Modulating--describes a period in which modulation occurs in the consequent phrase(s).

Parallel--describes a period in which the musical content of the phrases is the same.

Symmetrical--describes a period in which the phrases are the same length.

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