Three-Part Song Form
three-part song form (incipient ternary; rounded binary)
Smallest three-part song form
Part I: two phrases, usually as some kind of period
Part II: single four-measure phrase
Part III: return, either exact or with some modification, of one
of the phrases of Part I. (not the entire
If Part I is a parallel period, either antecedent or
consequent is used
If Part I is a contrasting period, only antecedent is used
Stephen Foster songs
My Old Kentucky Home
Old Folks at Home
Beethoven: Piano Sonata Op. 2 No. 2: IV
Schumann: Album for the Young #21 (Part III is extended)
Schumann: Theme from Impromptus Op. 5
Beethoven: Variations Op. 76
Beethoven: Quartet Op. 18 No. 4: IV
Beethoven: Piano Sonata Op. 2 No. 2: II (extended Part III).
Note: although Part III is seven measures long, it remains a single phrase with extension, while Part I is a parallel period
(and therefore two phrases).
Beethoven: Piano Sonata Op. 7: IV. Part III resembles the
consequent of Part I very strongly. However, there is a very strong feeling of
return to the initial idea—and
thus this isn’t just a binary with a musical rhyme at the end.
Beethoven: Piano Sonata Op. 14 No. 1: II. The sense of return
is strong—Part III closely corroborates the first phrase of Part I. (What
follows is a four-measure codetta.)
Beethoven: Piano Sonata Op. 49 No. 1: II. Part III is almost
an exact copy of the consequent of Part I, which is a parallel period.
Beethoven: Piano Sonata Op. 2 No. 1: II. Part III corroborates
the first phrase of Part I, although there has been considerable modification,
perhaps enough to say that it’s a modified second phrase of Part I. However, it’s an incipient three-part song form any
way you slice it.
Mozart: Sonata K. 331: I. Part III has a two-measure codetta.
Mozart: Fantasie and Sonata in C Minor K. 475. This has
written-out, ornamented repeats:
91-98: Part I (parallel period 4+4)
99-106: Part I repeated with variation
107-110: Part II
111-114: Part III (phrase 2 of Part I)
115-118: Part II repeated
119-122: Part III repeated
three-part song form
Part I: period through double period or phrase group in
length. Usually ends in an authentic cadence, either in the principal or a
related key. Interludes or codettas may follow part I.
Beethoven: Piano Sonata Op. 2 No. 1:III 11-13 (Part I is expanded as well.)
Mendelssohn: Song Without Words #23. This also has an introduction before Part
Part II: period through double period or phrase group in
length. Extensions, phrase group structures, structural irregularities are more
common here than in Part I. Every once in a while, Part II might be only a
The melody may be:
A transposition of Part I. Example: Schumann Album for the
Derived from Part I
Entirely new material
It usually ends in a half-cadence, giving it a transitional
It can be followed by:
Dissolution: Beethoven Op. 2 No. 2 III: 24-30
Part III: return of Part I. NOTE: all the examples are in
the handout packet; they are too long to include in the outline.
Exact or slightly modified
Longer than Part I, either by extension or with the addition
of new material.
Mendelssohn Song Without Words #25
1-10 Part I (extended consequent)
11-22 Part II
23-35 Part III (cadential evasions and extensions)
Mendelssohn Song Without Words #26
2-15 Part I (Parallel period with varied repeates)
15-29 Part II
29-40 Part III (begins with consequent but expands)
41-57 Coda—includes antecedent from Part I.
Mendelssohn Song Without Words #27
5-20 Part I (Parallel period with repeat)
22-28 Part II
33-44 Part III (Blends Part I with introduction and interlude
Mendelssohn Song Without Words #30
1-15 Part I
16-49 Part II
50-71 Part III (extended)
Shorter than Part I, maybe even a single phrase
Schumann Album for the Young #16
1-16 Part I (Parallel period)
17-24 Part II (new-ish material although reminiscent of Part I
25-32 Part III (antecedent = Part I antecedent).
Considerably modified, but still recognizably related to Part
Beethoven: Piano Sonata Op. 2 No. 1: III 29-40
Transposition of Part I—this is a more irregular form in
some ways. Example: Schumann Album for the Young #7: 17-end
1-8 Part I (Parallel period ending on V)
9-16 Part II to V/vi
17-24 Part III (=Part I transposed into IV)
25-28 Part III repeated in I.