36. Binary Form

Binary Form Diagram

Draw one diagram outlining the typical key structure of a continuous binary form in a major key. Draw two more diagrams outlining the typical key structures of continuous binary forms in minor keys. Use uppercase letters to label the sections and Roman numerals to label the keys.

major keys:
minor keys, to relative major:
minor keys, to minor dominant:

Binary Form Key Structure

Complete the table below, describing the common key structures of sectional and continuous binary forms. For each binary type and home key combination, specify the key most likely found at the conclusion of the first section as well as the expected accidentals (if any) that would indicate a key change. Two examples have been provided. A continuous binary form in B minor would likely modulate to either D major (the relative major) or F# minor (the minor dominant). If it modulated to the relative major, there would be no need for additional accidentals. But if it modulated to the minor dominant, one would most likely encounter G#s or E#s, scale degree $\hat2$ or the new raised leading tone. A sectional binary form in E major, on the other hand, would still be in the home key by the end of teh first section and would therefore require no additional accidentals.

type home key first section ending telltale accidental(s)
continuous
B minor
D major / F# minor
none / G# or E#
sectional
E major
E major
none
continuous
C major

G major

F#
sectional
Db major

Db major

none
continuous
E minor

G major / B minor

none / C# or A#
continuous
A major

E major

D#
continuous
G minor

Bb major / D minor

none / E§ or C#
continuous
Ab major

Eb major

D§
continuous
D major

A major

G#
sectional
A minor

A minor

none

Completing Balanced Binary Forms

Each of the exercises below shows the beginning of a short composition followed by empty staves. Compose your own music for the second section of each piece to create a binary form. Make each binary balanced by rewriting the conclusion of the first section at the end of the second. Barlines have been omitted from the empty staves so that the second section can be the same length as the first or longer. (Note: These excerpts are taken from actual compositions. Refrain from consulting the original scores as you work, particularly since the sources may be in a different binary form.)

source: Katerina Veronika Anna Dusíkova, 6 New Waltzes, No. 6

source: Ignatius Sancho, 12 Country Dances, “Bushy Park”

Completing Rounded Binary Forms

Each of the exercises below shows a short rounded binary form with several measures left blank. Compose your own music to complete the second section. Devise a strategy for how you will transition back to the home key when the opening material returns. (Hint: You could write a short sequence, for example, or work with a motive from the opening section above a dominant pedal in the home key.) Note that because these are continuous binary forms, the opening material will need to be recomposed for the piece to end conclusively in the home key. (Note: These excerpts are taken from actual compositions. Refrain from consulting the original scores as you work, particularly since the sources may be in a different form.)

source: Josephine Aurnhammer, Harpsichord Sonata in A major, II. Menuetto 1

source: Ignatius Sancho, Minuets, Book II, No. 2

Analysis

Analyze each of the binary forms shown below. First, identify each of the cadences indicated on the score. A star is used to pinpoint the location of each cadence. Label the cadences by type (e.g., “PAC,” “IAC,” “HC”) and key (e.g., “G minor”). Additionally, indicate the relation of each cadence’s key to the home key. (For example, a PAC ending on a Bb-major chord would be in the relative major or mediant key if the starting key was G minor. This would be indicated by writing “III” in the parentheses provided, since Bb-major is the mediant of G minor.) After identifying the cadences in each piece, answer the questions that follow.

J Hoffmann, 6 Piano Duets, No. 5 in Bb major

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

Bb major

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 8: PAC in Bb major (I)

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally closed

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

sectional

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

simple

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

no

Elisabetta de Gambarini, Harpsichord Sonata in D minor (Op. 1, No. 6), II. Minuetto

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

F major

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 8: PAC in C major (V)

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally open

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

continuous

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

simple

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

no

Josephine Aurnhammer, Harpsichord Sonata in A major, II. Minuet 1

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

A major

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 8: PAC in E major (V)

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally open

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

continuous

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

simple

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

no

Joseph Bologne Saint-Georges, 6 Sonatas for 2 Violins, No. 3 in A major, II. Aria con variatione

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

A major

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 6: PAC in E major (V)

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally open

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

continous

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

simple

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

no

Ignatius Sancho, Minuets, Book II, No. 8

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

Eb major

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 8: PAC in Eb major (I)

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally closed

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

sectional

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

yes, in m. 25

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

rounded

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

yes

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

balanced

Elizabeth Turner, 6 Lessons for the Harpsichord, Lesson No. 2, II. Andante Affettuoso

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

G minor

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 8: PAC in Bb major (III)

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally open

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

continous

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

simple

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

no

Jane Savage, Keyboard Sonata in G major (Op. 2, No. 1), II. Lento

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

E minor

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 22: PAC in G major (III)

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally open

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

continuous

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

yes, m. 37

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

rounded

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

yes

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

balanced

Elisabetta de Gambarini, Sonata in G major (Op. 1, No. 4), I. Tempo di Gavotta

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

G major

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 12: PAC in D major (V)

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally open

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

continuous

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

yes, m. 25

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

rounded

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

no

Françoise Desfossez, Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor, II. Adagio

In which key does this first section of this binary form begin?

F# minor

How does the first section end? Indicate the location, type, and key of the cadence that closes the opening section.

m. 25 (26): PAC in A major

Is the first section tonally open or tonally closed?

tonally open

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a sectional or continuous binary form?

continuous

Does the opening material return toward the end of the second section? If so, where?

yes, m. 43

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a rounded or simple binary form?

rounded

Does the second section conclude with the same material as the first section?

no

Based on the answer to the previous question, is this a balanced period?

no