Classical Glossary

Musical Forms (kinds of pieces):


Music that features one instrument or a group of instruments, usually playing with an orchestra.


Vocal soloists and chorus join the orchestra to tell a story in music, but without the staging and costumes of an opera.


A piece for a single instrument, for an instrument with piano, or for a small group of instruments, which draws out the capabilities of that instrument or combination.


A collection of several movements, often dance movements.


The musical equivalent of a novel, meant to show off the many moods and sounds of the orchestra.


A piece for beginning an opera, ballet, or concert.

Kinds of Movements:


A piece of music within a larger piece. Most symphonies, for instance, have several movements: each movement is in a different mood, and each has its own beginning and end.


A final movement. It might be in any form: a rondo, a minuet, a theme and variations, or something else.


Probably the most popular dance of all time. It is really two dances: you hear the first one, then a second dance that has a different sound ad feeling, then the first one again. Many symphonies have a Minuet movement. The Minuet is often called “Minuet and Trio,” because the second dance, the “Trio,” traditionally used a smaller group of instruments. The Minuet has this rhythm: ONE, two, three, ONE, two, three.


Beethoven and many of the composers who came after him put Scherzos in their symphonies instead of Minuets. Scherzo means “joke,” but the character of a scherzo movement is often ironic, turbulent, dark, or fierce.

SONATA (or sonata-allegro) MOVEMENT

A typical first movement of a symphony, concerto, or sonata, in which the composer introduces musical ideas at the beginning, then creates excitement and surprise by playing around with the ideas. Later, in a sort of homecoming, the ideas return in their original form.


A piece in which there is a melody that keeps coming back. In between appearances of the melody, there will be other music, and the melody often returns in sneaky, surprising, or entertaining ways.


The musicians play some music, and then that music is transformed in different ways, as though the same music kept coming back in different costumes.

Have a question about a Classical piece? Want some recommendations for an upcoming special event? We'd love to help! Email our "CLASSICAL DIVA" expert, Dominique Brunchmannclassicaldiva@jpophelp.com
Phone Number: 1-604-415-9615 FAX Number: 1-604-270-3657