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Classical Sprouts: What is a sonata?

Today, we’re going to take apart a Mozart sonata to see what it’s made of!

The term “sonata” can mean a lot of things, but we’re focusing on it as a form a piece of music can take.

There’s a pretty standard recipe that a sonata follows, and it has three parts.

The first part is the theme, or if we’re being fancy, the “Exposition.

It’s followed by the “Development”, and finishes off with a “Recapitulation,” which repeats both the development and that main theme again!

That’s a lot of big words that mean: there’s a theme, the theme changes, and then we return to that original theme again at the end.

Let’s listen to how it works in Mozart’s Sonata No. 16 in C Major.

Hey, thanks Mozart! That was really helpful — thanks for sharing your sonata with us so we could find out how it's built!

Here's another fancy diagram that might help you visualize what's happening in the piece:

Now you're experts!

Want to test your knowledge and see how different sonatas use this structure?

Here's a whole bunch!

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Classical Sprouts is produced by Emily Duncan Wilson.

Kate Botello is a host and producer at Classical IPR.
Emily Duncan Wilson is IPR's digital content manager and is the producer of "Classical Sprouts" and "Kids Commute".