Music Analysis 2: Classical Form and Phrase Structure

University of Ostrava: Faculty of Fine Arts and Music
The aim of this course is to provide the students with knowledge and skills which are requisite for the understanding of phrase structure (from individual musical phrases to larger formal units) in works from the Classical and Romantic repertoire. Attention is paid to the internal structure of musical phrases, with particular focus on the relationship between motivic units and harmonic progressions. By studying numerous examples from works by Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, and early-nineteenth-century composers, students learn to identify basic types of phrase structure (sentence, period, hybrid) and describe various creative deviations from the norm (expansion, contraction, fragmentation, cadential evasion etc.). Through the analysis of phrase structure, motivic structure, harmonic progressions (sequences, modulations, cadences), and tonal relationships (home key, dominant, parallel minor), students gain the understanding of functional relationships between constitutive sections of higher formal units from small binary and ternary form to sonata form.
Before starting the course, students should be equipped with the knowledge of basic music theory, harmony, and counterpoint (the content of the prerequisite course Music Analysis 1).
On completing the course, students will have the knowledge and understanding of: - basic types of musical phrases and formal structures common in Classical and Romantic repertoire; - the syntactic relationships between different musical components in tonal music; - the interdependence of harmonic progressions, motivic structure, and phrase structure; - the functional relationships between constituent units within larger formal structures. On completing the course, students will be able to: - navigate the formal structure of works from the Classical and early-Romantic repertoire from individual musical phrases to larger formal units; - describe the structure of a musical phrase in terms of adherence to or deviation from the norm, represented by the eight-bar archetypes (sentence and period); - work out a complex analysis of a given composition, focusing on formal structure with respect to motivic structure, phrase structure, harmonic progressions and tonal relationships; - present analytical insights clearly and eloquently, using a combination of verbal explanation, annotated musical examples, diagrams etc.; - critically reflect their own performance practice in the light of the analytical observations.

Further information

  • assessment
    Other (In order to complete the course, students are required to: - complete all the tasks assigned throughout the semester; - successfully complete the final examination (written assignment + oral examination).)
  • level
  • Completed Semester
    spring semester
  • How many semesters does the course last?
  • hours per week
    90 minutes
  • Link of the course
  • Target group of course
    Instrumentalists, advanced
  • credits
  • Type of Course
  • Degree Level
  • e-learning-elements
    online video tutorials, Moodle (e-learning) assignments and tests
  • Course
  • students #
    15-25 students
  • Hours per year
    There are 13 weeks per semester and two 45-minute lessons per week.
    BEACH, David, and McCLELLAND, Ryan. Analysis of 18th- and 19th-Century Musical Works in the Classical Tradition. New York: Routledge, 2012. ISBN 978-0-415-80666-4. CAPLIN, William. Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 978-0-19-514399-7.
  • evaluation grid
  • evaluation grid
    and document


Martin Čurda

current position

academic assistant


University of Ostrava: Faculty of Fine Arts and Music


Be a part of our european project !

This European project (KA 203 Strategic Partnership) created by Salvatore Gioveni promotes cross-border collaboration in the field of Music Theory through sharing knowledge and transferring pedagogical innovation. It thus responds to a lack of centralised source and framework to deepen reflection by means of cross-disciplinary study at European and international level.

There is a significant wealth of educational practices from one country to another in this sector, especially in terms of harmonic musical notation and analysis. However, HMEI's are facing the nonexistence of a European network for pedagogical staff in Music Theory so far. To improve the situation, the project will among other things develop several intellectual outputs such as Online Platform (IO 1), an EU Bibliography (IO 2), a Repository Courses (IO 3), a Multilingual Glossary (IO 4) and an Exchange Online Learning Platform.

Besides the Conservatoire royal de Bruxelles as leader and manager of the project, the following partner institutions are involved: Music Academy S. Moniuszki Gdańsk (Gdańsk, Poland), F. Liszt Academy of Music Budapest (Budapest, Hungary), Estonian Academy for Music and Theatre (Tallinn, Estonia), HfMTh "Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy" (Leipzig, Germany).

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