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Section 13.5 The Double Period

The Double Period

A double period consists of at least 4 phrases and is comprised of an antecedent group and a consequent group. The first two phrases in a double period are the antecedent group and the final two phrases are the consequent group, which ends with a cadence that “answers” the less conclusive cadence (or “question”) that ended the antecedent group.

The melodic scheme of abab’ (four phrases) is commonly encountered in a double period. A double period with this melodic scheme would be described as a “parallel double period” because both the antecedent group and consequent group begin with the same melody.

Figure 13.5.1 Beethoven, Piano Sonata Op. 10, No. 1, II
Figure 13.5.2 Formal diagram of a double period (Beethoven, Op. 10, No. 1, II)

A double period will typically have one of the following cadential schemes:

Figure 13.5.3 Possible cadential schemes in a double period

Notice that the first two phrases of an antecedent group can consist of an IAC followed by a HC (“Scheme 3” in the above example). This may seem confusing if you are focused on analyzing phrases solely in groups of two instead considering how many phrases are in a section before analyzing the cadential scheme and the form.

Subsection 13.5.1 Repeated Period

You may encounter a section consisting of four phrases that is not a double period but instead is a repeated period.

Figure 13.5.4 Beethoven, Piano Sonata Op. 53, I

Examine the difference between these two formal diagrams, noting the cadence after the second phrase in each:

Figure 13.5.5 Formal diagram of a repeated period (Beethoven, Op. 53, I)
Figure 13.5.6 Formal diagram of a double period (Beethoven, Op. 10, No. 1, II)

In the next section we will examine phrase combinations that are not periods.