B7 | Ritornello

  • In this component you will consider how to develop your compositions and to organise them into clear structures.
  • The term ritonrnello stems from the Italian language (‘to return’) and it refers to a section which reappears with contrasting episodes.
  • Therefore, you will be able to develop your compositions to encompass a greater range of creative ideas.
  • The keys of the ritornello will add colour in terms of expression.
  • The ritornello is different to a rondo as the principal melody of the rondo returns in the tonic while the principal melody of the ritornello returns in a number of keys that are related to the tonic.

Listen to the first movement of Vivaldi’s concerto for violin (op.8 number 3, RV293), L’Autonno (Autumn) which comes from the "The Four Seasons" collection. Following your work in previous components, you will be able to understand the harmony notes, chords and figured bass.


The sonnets that Vivaldi wrote to be read before each concerto in the collection:



B7 Exercises

Composing task

The ritornello structure is mainly associated with the Baroque period but this method of organising material is echoed in one of Beethoven’s most original movements, being the dialogue between the strings and piano in the second movement of his fourth Piano Concerto (Andante con motto) which is in E minor.


  • Compare the structure of Beethoven’s piece to Telemann’s structure in Exercise 1
  • Create a short piece of music using the same method.