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What is rondo

Rondo (from French rondeau – “circle”, “movement in a circle”) is a musical form in which repeated (at least 3) conducts of the main theme (refrain) alternate with episodes that differ from each other

A – B – A – C – A – … – A

An unchanging main theme – refrain – is like a chorus, side themes – episodes – are, by sense, tunes. The number of episodes can be from two or more (as indicated by points in the scheme). Rondo is an old form. It comes from round dance songs with a refrain, which was repeated without change, and only the verses were updated in the refrain, but not the melody (A B A B1 A B2 A … A). In professional music, this is one of the most common forms. In medieval France, troubadours and trouvers composed rondo in the form of poetry and music. Medieval musical and poetic rondos have a special structure that does not coincide with the above general scheme, but it is also based on the return of the refrain. They were composed as one-voice or three-voice compositions and performed with accompaniment of instruments.

What is Rondo (Rondo)

From the 17th century rondo (with the ABAC scheme A … A) is widely used in opera, ballet, instrumental music. Apparently, the first example of the rondo in the opera is found in the prologue of the opera Orpheus K. Monteverdi, which is based on the alternation of orchestral playing (riturnel) and the singing of the Muse, that is, on the alternation of instrumental refrain with several vocal episodes. French composers F. Couperin, J. F. Rameau, L.K. Daken wrote small pieces for harpsichord with program headings in the form of a rondo (“Reapers” by Couperin, “Venetian” by Rameau, “Cuckoo” by Daken). Subtle sonic imagery, grace, grace, and dance rhythms are characteristic of these plays. The refrain and episodes are miniature, their number ranges from 5 to 17 or more. By nature, the episodes are close to the refrain and rather complement, shade it, than contrast.

In the works of J. Haydn, V. A. Mozart, L. Beethoven, rondo is a typical form of the finale of the sonata-symphonic cycles, only occasionally is an independent play. In finals, the character of the music is usually song-dance, with a touch of humor. But they also have works of lyrical, in-depth content (Rondo in A minor for Mozart’s piano). The new in the Rondo Viennese classics was the emphasized contrast between the refrain and episodes, and the strict restriction to five widely developed parts.

Rondo, in the works of composers of subsequent generations, is distinguished by great freedom: multiplicity is revived in it, refrain can change upon return, the richness of imaginative contrasts borders on kaleidoscopicity (R. Schumann’s “Vienna Carnival”). Separate plays, parts of a sonata-symphonic cycle or suite, romances (The Sleeping Princess by A.P. Borodin), opera arias, (Farlaf’s rondo from the opera Ruslan and Lyudmila M.I. Glinka), opera scenes are written in the form of a rondo (a scene of playing music from S. S. Prokofiev’s opera “The Duet”), episodes of ballet music (fourth picture in I.F. Stravinsky’s ballet “Parsley”).

The rondo principle offers many possibilities. First of all, it is the extreme clarity and harmony of the structure, its completeness and stability due to the repetition of the refrain. At the same time, rondo has wonderful opportunities for contrasts of various kinds (between refrain and episodes). In addition, the ability to saturate the entire structure with development is important, although at the same time some other principle of shaping is added to the rondo principle, which partially suppresses the first. The shape of the rondo perfectly combines unity and dynamism.

The rondo principle includes many forms of varying lengths and designs. In addition to independent plays or parts of cycles, the principle of rondo often penetrates into other forms (for example, rondo-sonata). A whole opera scene can be written on the basis of the rondo principle (Introduction from “Ruslan and Lyudmila” Glinka – choral fragments form a semblance of refrain).

Rondo-sonata is a musical form of the class of stable mixed forms, having the features of a rondo and sonata form. The form consists of three main sections, in which the extreme sections (both or one of them) are built according to the rondo principle, and the middle one is a development borrowed from the sonata form.

The old concert form is related to the rondo form (by its principle of repeatedly conducting the theme and alternating it with other material). However, it is not a kind of rondo due to the scale of the changes to which the main theme is exposed, and the elaboration that is not characteristic of rondo.

Rondo, in modern terms, has a very diverse application. It can be used more traditionally (the ending of the cycle), or more freely – for example, an independent miniature (some Chopin’s nocturnes – as turning the slow part of the cycle into an independent play), an independent vocal play (Borodin. “The Sea”), can be built on the basis of the rondo very large constructions (Introduction from Ruslan and Lyudmila Glinka).

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