Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th 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.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An extended composition for one or two instruments, consisting usually of three or four movements

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, any composition for instruments: opposed to cantata.
  • 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.
  • 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.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a musical composition of 3 or 4 movements of contrasting forms

Etymologies

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)
From Italian sonata, from the feminine past participle of sonare (modern suonare), from Latin sonāre ("to make sound"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

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