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Section 24.4 Rounded Binary

In a rounded binary form, the material at the beginning of the first section returns, often shortened, after a contrasting phrase at the beginning of the second section. A generic phrase diagram of rounded binary form is shown below.

Below is an example of a rounded binary form.

Figure 24.4.1 Mozart, Piano Sonata in D major, K. 284, III.

Because both the first section (the A section) and second section (the B section) repeat in the example above, this form would be called “two–reprise continuous rounded binary form.”

Another example of a rounded binary form is below.

Figure 24.4.2 Schubert, 20 Minuets, D. 41, No. 18 in F major

This form of the example above would be called “two–reprise continuous rounded binary form” because:

  • Two–reprise means both the first and second sections repeat

  • Continuous means the first section does not end on the tonic chord

  • In a rounded binary form the opening melody returns after contrasting material

Rounded binary form is often encountered in compositions during the Classical era (1750–1825) in music by Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, especially as the form of a theme from a theme and variations, and as the minuet and/or trio section in a Minuet and Trio.