sonata form


: a musical form that consists basically of an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation and that is used especially for the first movement of a sonata

Examples of sonata form in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web To these older materials, however, the work adds more adventurous harmonies and stretches the older sonata form. San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Apr. 2022 Contrary to classical sonata form there is no slow movement, no brooding themes, nothing to detract from the buoyant mood. David L. Coddon, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Aug. 2020 By 1784, sonata form had imprinted itself on the listening culture enough to feel like instinct; Vienna audiences could rest comfortably in the run of classical forms as familiar—and thus enjoyable—narratives. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, 29 May 2020 This short, exciting opener sets themes from the eponymous operetta in a classical sonata form with an exposition, development, and recapitulation. Jessica Rudman,, 13 Oct. 2019 However, the order of those movements doesn’t follow the classical model of fast sonata form followed by a slow movement, a dance movement (usually a minuet or scherzo), and a fast sonata or rondo finale. Jessica Rudman,, 13 Oct. 2019 But longevity allowed him a career in almost perfect sonata form, with a final period that recapitulated some of the joy of the first without ever trying to evade what had come between. Douglas Murray, National Review, 11 July 2019 In early 19th century Vienna, however, long, tuneful melodies weren’t easily adapted into four-movement sonata forms like symphonies or string quartets. Christian Hertzog,, 25 Mar. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sonata form.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1858, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sonata form was in 1858

Dictionary Entries Near sonata form

Cite this Entry

“Sonata form.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!