American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A composition for one or more solo instruments, one of which is usually a keyboard instrument, usually consisting of three or four independent movements varying in key, mood, and tempo.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In music, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, any composition for instruments: opposed to cantata. These old sonatas were usually in more than one movement. The character of their themes and their structure varied widely, those called
church sonatastending to grave themes and a contrapuntal treatment, and the chamber sonatas resembling the canzona and the suite.
- n. In recent music, an instrumental work, especially for the pianoforte, made up of three or four movements in contrasted rhythms but related keys, one or more of which are written in sonata form. The movements usually include an allegro with or without an introduction, a slow movement (usually adagio, largo, or andante), a minuet or scherzo with or without a trio appended, and a final allegro or presto, which is often a rondo. A certain unity of sentiment or style is properly traceable between the successive movements. The sonata is the most important form of homophonic composition for a single instrument. A sonata for a string quartet is called a quartet, and one for a full orchestra is called a symphony.
- n. exposition, containing the first subject, followed by the second, properly in the key of the dominant or in the relative major (if the first be minor);
- n. development or working out, consisting of a somewhat free treatment of the two subjects or parts of them, either singly or in conjunction;
- n. restatement containing the two subjects in succession, both in the original key, with a conclusion. The succession of sections and the relations of keys are open to considerable variation, and episodes often occur. The sonata form is distinctive of at least one movement of a sonata or symphony, and usually of the first and last; it also appears in many overtures.
- n. music A musical composition for one or a few instruments, one of which is frequently a piano, in three or four movements that vary in key and tempo
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Mus.) An extended composition for one or two instruments, consisting usually of three or four movements
- n. a musical composition of 3 or 4 movements of contrasting forms
- From Italian sonata, from the feminine past participle of sonare (modern suonare), from Latin sonāre ("to make sound"). (Wiktionary)
- Italian, from feminine past participle of sonare, to sound, from Latin sonāre; see swen- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“The term sonata was originally used in two senses: in its larger sense it indicates an extended musical composition with three or four movements, all which taken together form the sonata.”
“By the term sonata-piece, however, is meant the particular movement of the sonata which gives the name to the whole piece.”
“The term sonata in common usage can have one or more of three different meanings:”
“This sonata is a major piece of music for both the violin and, in transcription, the guitar.”
“Choices include the third movement of violin sonata no. 24 in C major (the high tones of the violin work wonders on the parasympathetic nerve), first movement of the oboe quartet in F major (the high frequency tones have a soothing effect on the cranial nerves) and the second movement of 35th symphony in D major (the calm arpeggios relieve tension from the body).”
“But whether they can be called a sonata is another question.”
“In it, in fact, Beethoven may be said to have broken away from form, for after the word sonata he adds the qualifying phrase "quasi una fantasia," signifying that, although he calls the work a sonata, it has the characteristics of a free fantasy.”
“a modern sonata than some that bear the name, but, avoiding the name sonata, it is able to go its own way in any form of originality which pleased the composer.”
“I wonder if this is the same Ravel who declared that long before he sat down to write the actual notes for any of his 1927 violin sonata’s motifs or themes, he had clearly framed in his mind the form, instrumental texture, and full character of all its motifs and themes.”
“Reviewing Barenboim's 2002 London recital that included the same excerpts from the Années de Pèlerinage as he plays on the program at the Met, The Guardian said: "It was inspired programming to put together the three Petrarch sonnet-derived pieces, along with the so-called Dante sonata from the Italian book of the Années de Pèlerinage.”
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