Musical Dictionary

For terminology pages eg: Sonata form

Minuet and Trio, Scherzo

The 'Minuet and Trio' is a dance movement whose origins go back to the late Baroque. It appears, often as a last movement in suites of dances by Handel and J S Bach and many other contemporaries.

In the Classical period of Mozart and Haydn it almost always appears as the 3rd movement in a symphony, chamber or solo work. Minuets are in 3 time - eg: 3/4

The structure is as follows:

Variation Form

Variation form is just another way of developing a theme or musical idea.

At the beginning of the movement or musical section, a theme is presented, usually in its unadulterated form.

A series of variations follow - each variation will elaborate on the original through changes in the rhythm, added ornamentation or extra notes. (These are just some of the techniques)

Very often, the theme and the subsequent variations are divided into two parts which are both repeated (ie: AABB)


The concerto emerged as a distinct musical form in the late Baroque period.

A concerto is work for a soloist and an orchestra. Hence, Concerto for violin and orchestra, Concerto for piano and orchestra etc.

In a concerto the solo instrument and the orchestra have a relationship in which dialogue between the two is the glue which binds it all together. Thematic ideas are passed about, exchanged and developed, and virtuosic solo passages are supported and punctuated by the orchestra,

Sonata Form

Sonata Form is a musical structure which underpins the vast majority of 1st movements in symphonies, concertos, chamber and solo works of the 18th and 19th centuries. It can also appear in other movements, most often in the final movement of a work or even in the slow movement (usually the 2nd movement).

Sonata form (not to be confused with 'Sonata' - as in Sonata for violin and piano) is not a very complex structure and once one gets the idea, it is easy to understand.