A10 | Devices and Ternary Form

Listen to this

What is the purpose of devices?

  • Composers in the early Baroque period faced the dilemma of how to make pieces longer. Having introduced the main melody, what should happen next?
  • Devices in music are a means of creating variety without wandering too far from the main theme. In classical music works often derive from ONE idea or melody that is introduced at the beginning of the piece. One of the most important skills that you will learn when composing is how to develop, or play around with, the initial idea.

Here are some of the devices that you will come across in the specification:

  • repetition
  • sequence
  • inversion
  • drone
  • pedal note
  • modulation
  • imitation
  • ornamentation
  • canon
  • contrary motion

Using a short melody, how about attempting to draw diagrams as follows? (Link 1)

Further listening to more ternary forms

Mozart: Minuet and Trio from the Eine Kleine Nachtmusik

Dvořák: Scherzo from his Symphony no.8 in G major.

Section B starts at 01:41 and section A returns at 06:07.

Devices and ternary form (ABA)

  1. Look at the video. How many buildings do you see in Berlin having an ‘ABA’ shape? Musical structure has been created out that which is similar and that which is dissimilar.
  2. Make a very short list of the contrasting musical elements in the middle section in the song by Handel which is in an ‘Aria Da Capo’ structure.


Look again at the table in A8. How about extending and expanding it so that you can create even more variation and contrast in the middle section? This time, you need to create a contrasting section in a piece which is in an ABA (Ternary Form) structure.

Link 2

Composition task

Using your ideas, compose a middle section (B) which contrasts with the main theme in terms of the number of musicla devices. Use

Link 3 in A8