Chapter 3 – Phrase-size and also Phrase-rhythm

Before continuing it is necessary to suggest out some exceptions where the theory does not apply. In random order:

- Characteristic dances have the right to have actually cadence-points that are not on the first beat (e.g. Polonaise), or rhythms that proccasion complete repose (e.g. Scottish dances).- Recitatives have actually a type that is entirely identified by speech rhythm, therefore they are irconstant in respect of cadences, phrases and phrase-rhythm. Vocal forms tfinish to be less consistent anymeans because the interpretation and grammar of the lyrics deserve to not be interfered with.- Fugues and also pieces in equivalent style are created by different ethics wright here imitations and the continuous weaving of independent voices overdominion the need for regular phrases.- Fantasies and also various other improvised music carry out not necessarily have actually bar lines, let alone constant phrases. But they have to be judged carefully: some fantasies are frequently structured although notated without bar lines, and also complimentary fantasies often contain perfectly constant melodic and also thematic sections for contrast.

You are watching: What do we call two phrases of equal length?


Most authors agree that four bars is by much the the majority of prevalent, advantageous and agreeable length for a phrase. Counting bars appears easy however tbelow are some worries.

Upbeats deserve to cause confusion. In Figure 21 the upbeat takes even more beats than left over in bar 4, however upbeats might be neglected when counting bars.22Heinaffluent Christoph Koch, Versuch einer Anleitung zur Komposition, 3 vols (Leipzig, 1787), ii, 368.


Figure 21: An upbeat renders the expression look as well lengthy, instance by Koch.

In Figure 22 the oppowebsite case: the bass proves the phrase starts before the melody. Because it is therefore not a actual upbeat but rather a late entry, the first bar demands to be consisted of in counting.23Heinrich Christoph Koch, Versuch einer Anleitung zur Komposition, 3 vols (Leipzig, 1787), ii, 370.


Figure 22: A late enattempt rather of an upbeat, example by Koch.

A more surpclimbing problem is the relation between metre and bar count. Theory dictates the cadence-allude to fall on the initially beat of the last bar of the phrase, counted in easy metre. This is a metre via either 2 or 3 for numerator. A 4/4 is therefore really 2 2/4 measures notated in one bar, making Fig. 23 four bars long(!), as suggested by Koch. The proof is in the truth that the cadence-suggest is then on the initially beat of the fourth (virtual) bar.

Figure 23: Cadence-point halfmethod the bar, example by Koch (vol.II, 372)

According to John Wall surface Callcott (1766-1821) ‘the Caesure , in primitive Music, most frequently occurs in the middle of the compound Maesure, and also thus shows up to a modern-day check out ircontinual and also incorrect’–this was composed in 1806.24Callcott, A Musical Grammar, in Four Parts, First American edition, from the last London edition (Boston, 1810), para. 509. This old-fashioned means of notating we regularly uncover through Haydn that generally has the cadence-suggest on the third beat.

Early Classical style tended to move away from the compound 4/4 in the direction of basic 2/4 and also 2/2, as proclaimed by Johann Adolf Scheibe (1708-1776).25Johann Adolph Scheibe, Über die musikalischen Complace, im Schwickertschen Verlage (Leipzig, 1773), i, 205. Later in the Classical period 4/4 ended up being more well-known aobtain, but through a distinction.


Figure 24: The opening bars of Mozart"s Violin Concerto K.217 in "new" 4/4.

Fig. 24 is a ‘new’ type straightforward 4/4. The proof is the cadence-allude at the beginning of bar 4. Koch would certainly have said that it must rightly have actually been created in (simple) 2/2 and also blames sloppiness and also even ignorance of composers and also publishers.26Heinwell-off Christoph Koch, Versuch einer Anleitung zur Komposition, 3 vols (Leipzig, 1787), ii, 295. But a quick survey of scores by Mozart and Beethcooktop reflects the new 4/4 came to be typical notation. Almany all concertos by Mozart are in straightforward 4/4 and could just too have been created in 2/2.

This might seem prefer a dry theoretical conversation yet tright here are handy aftermath. For instance in Mozart’s Quintet for piano and also wind, K.452:


FIgure 25: Mozart, Quintet for piano and also wind, K.452, Bärenreiter NMA edition. The metre indication in bar 1 is c.

Recognizing the cadence-point halfmeans the bar, we realize that there are 2 phrases of 4 (virtual) bars in 2/4 rather of one 4-bar expression. Seeing it as two phrases will have actually you suffer two moments of repose, probably bring about an extra calm tempo, clearer punctuation and also possibly an extra explicit delivery than when you would certainly attempt to pace it as one phrase, arching over the break halfmethod towards the last bar. Dividing it into 2 phrases does of course not deny that the whole passage belongs together, punctuation also serves to connect after all, it only offers a various scope and also direction.

It is important to recognize that Fig. 23 and also 24 are two different forms of Allegro even though the tempo noting and also metre are similar. The old form (favor K.452) is characterised by the cadence-allude halfway through the bar, frequently through much faster harmony changes and also a much more active bass line, and is generally played around twice as slow-moving as the new type. It means we can not take metre and also tempo at confront value without relating it to phrase-size.

We have the right to just speculate why Mozart did not create it in 2/4. Maybe he felt the item referenced an older style of music that warranted the more typical notation. Maybe he felt that the many bar lines in 2/4 would certainly visually contradict the larger scope of the activity, making it visually too busy and also energetic. It is interesting that in his 18 piano sonatas Mozart uses a 2/4 only one time in a very first activity however 8 times for a ‘finale’ movement. Maybe he wanted to show that the first and also third (virtual 2/4) bar were the vital bars, which could be melodically true however is harmonically less convincing. Though the question have the right to not be answered it definitely has implications for the method each of us phrases and also plays the music.


Having cadences at regular intervals creates a greater level of rhythm, the phrase-rhythm, that is especially necessary in Classical music. Phrase-rhythm does not have to be constant but it does should be in balance.

The usual Classical phrase is a 4-bar expression, or Vierer in German, which I will certainly abbreviate to 4-er. Other lengths are not difficult but they are generally supplied as a variation fairly than the fundamental unit for a piece. (Antonio Borghese (fl.1777) is the just exemption I found, explaining phrases by indicates of 3-ers.27Borghese, A New and also General System of Music, 11.) Even as late as 1885, Saint-Saëns still felt the should clarify the use of 5-ers in the Scherzo from his Violin Sonata op.75.


Figure 26: 5-bar phrases shown by Camille Saint-Saëns, Violin Sonata op.75, mov.2. (Manuscript)

Cadences showing up at constant intervals can end up being all as well predictable (e.g. in Galant style) and also Reicha suggests strongly in favour of exploring with different lengths bereason audiences have become bored by the present predictcapability of melodies.28Anton Reicha, Traité de haute composition musicale, Czerny edition, 4 vols (Vienna, 1824), ii, 554.

Johann Bernard Logier (1777-1846) illustprices just how the ‘spirited (geistvoll) and also effective expression’ developed in Mozart’s Serenade K.388 by phrases of 5 + 4 + 3 bars, would be sacrificed if preserved in a continual 4 + 4 + 4.29Johann Bernard Logier, System der Musikwissenschaft und der praktischen Composition (Berlin, 1827), 296.


Figure 27: Mozart"s original ircontinual phrases.


Figure 28: Phrases made consistent by Logier.

Without a doubt, it impacts expression in an effective method, however what about Classical balance? When transforming phrase-rhythm basic advice seems to be:

- Phrases with also numbered bars are still desired over odd numbered bars.- Use odd numbered bars in pairs to balance them into an also number aobtain.

The phrase-rhythm in the aria ‘Plaire au coeur de ce que j’aime’ by Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816) is pincreased by Reicha for being ‘varied in an ingenious way’.30Reicha, Traité de haute complace musicale, ii, 426. According to his analysis the initially duration is 26 bars (5 + 5, 2 + 2, 2 + 2, 4 + 2 + 2), the second 18 (5 + 5, 2 + 2, 4). A final phrase has been added to close the aria via even more character (3 + 3 + 2 + 2). The phrase-rhythm is certainly not continuous but still very symmetrical, eexceptionally odd number paired through a compagnion (Reicha) to maintain balance.

He opposes this by the aria ‘Ah! Que je fus bien inspirée’ from Dicarry out by Niccolò Piccinni (1728-1800) via a first period of 29 bars (3 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 7 + 5) and also a 2nd of 40 bars (6 + 6 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 5). Reicha clintends the, otherwise well-composed aria, has a shaky, undecided melody that is tough to remember, and also he blames absence of symmetry in phrase-rhythm for making the individual phrases appear unassociated.31Reicha, Traité de haute composition musicale, ii, 465.

Phrase-rhythm is not simply a theoretical idea. Especially Haydn is a understand of irconstant phrases and the phrase-rhythm adds spice and originality, however also even more than that: the composer apparently required to deviate from the norm to expush somepoint that can not be expressed within it. In order to bring that across in our playing we have to acknowledge the three approaches to vary the length of a phrase:

- Invent a melody that sounds entirely logical and also finish at this different length (Koch calls this a ‘narrow’ phrase, eng).- Add more material to a standard 4-er (an ‘extended’ expression, erweitert).- Combine 2 phrases into a longer one (a ‘compounded’ expression, zusammengesetzt).

Extfinished phrases


The the majority of common means to extend a expression is by repeating a component of it. Looking at Paisiello’s aria from Reicha’s analysis, we watch the initially 5-er was created by repeating two halve bars from the original 4-er:


Figure 29: Paisiello"s expression of 4 bars extended into 5 by repetition.

Tright here are many type of possibilities: you can repeat 1 or 2 bars literally, or embellish the repeat, or also repeat them at one more step of the essential. Two examples by Koch:


Figure 30: (A) Extfinished by 2-bar repeat on different action of the range, (B) extended by repeating 1 bar embelliburned. Instances by Koch (II, 431 en III, 161)

Whereas the Paisiello instance is an obvious repeat, the Koch examples are much less simple to acknowledge. Sometimes it is hardly possible to decide whether a 4-er was extfinished or simply conceived as a narrowhead 5-er, favor in Schubert"s C minor Impromptu D.899,1. Is bar 3 a repetition? It have the right to be left out after all.


Figure 31: Schubert Impromptu D.899,1 - a narrow 5-er or a prolonged 4-er?

Whatever before you speak to it, this 5-er (which complies with eleven continual 4-ers) is among the most beautiful alters in phrase-rhythm in the literary works.

Importantly, repeating part of a phrase is even more than a mechanical procedure. Koch states the repetitive motif need to be ‘worthy’ of repeating: it demands to recurrent the expression of the expression in a high level, or highlight a brand-new facet of it.32Heinwell-off Christoph Koch, Versuch einer Anleitung zur Komplace, 3 vols (Leipzig, 1793), iii, 155. The Paisiello is a great example: the recurring passage has actually the message de ce que j’aime (‘of the one I love’); a worthy subject to dwell upon. Musically a repetition deserve to be highlighted by transforming dynamics, including embellishments, creating a brand-new twist in the accompanying voices (harmony, texture), and so on Though Koch is writing for aspiring composers it is likewise inspiring advice for performers, really giving us a chance to bridge the gap in between concept and practice.

Repetition does not basically adjust the prosections of a expression because the repetition can be omitted. With included repetition, Reicha clintends, a phrase typically still sounds even numbered rather of the odd bar count it looks. The put bar ‘has somepoint appealing bereason it adds originality and also attraction’.33Anton Reicha, Traité de haute composition musicale, Czerny edition, 4 vols (Vienna, 1824), ii, 457.


By growth one bar gets stretched right into 2 prefer Koch illustrates:


Figure 32: (left) A narrow expression, which is broadened into a 5-er (right). Example by Koch (III,171).

Expansions lend more weight to a expression. Expansions at the start of phrases are frequently found at the grand also finale of a bigger composition, specifically oratorios. Expansions at the finish of a phrase normally increase the cadence to end up a section with more grandeur, often used in solo concertos. Reicha considers this retard de la cadence a pleasant way to break symmeattempt. In chamber music it is frequently notated via fermatas as in Fig. 33 (a), in concertos it is commonly written out choose (b).34Anton Reicha, Traité de haute complace musicale, Czerny edition, 4 vols (Vienna, 1824), ii, 399.


Figure 33: Retard de la cadence, examples by Reicha.

The distinction in notation demonstrates that in significance the phrase-rhythm has not been disrupted also though the bar count has. If the cadence is embelliburned we gain a proper cadenza; this type of totally free cadenza aobtain does not adjust the bar count.

See more: Why Did The Color Of The Bromothymol Blue Change D In Your Control Tube?


Figure 34: Cadenza by Reicha over the previous example.

It is essential to realize that the cadenza is not a ‘stop’, the phrase must still end up and Reicha alerts that a cadenza have to never be so lengthy regarding make the audience forget the resolution of the cadence ‘that it rightcompletely so eagerly awaits.’

Other techniques

Repetition and expansion add melodic material ‘from the inside’. Koch lists several various other techniques that add on (usually) much less extensive material. Their much less distinctive attributes make it unlikely to upcollection the balance in phrase-rhythm.

- inserting/repeating a characteristic rhythmic pattern.- making use of a progression, which is a sequence of the very same material on different steps of the range.- utilizing a passage which is basically adding unconsiderable passage-work-related. In this means you can conveniently produce very long phrases. - through an interpolation you can insert non-related phrase-components right into the phrase. They need to but add interpretation to the existing expression.- via an appendix (Koch: Anhang, Reicha: addition) you include product at the end of the phrase. An appendix deserve to give even more decisiveness to a cadence or, the opposite, move in the direction of a cadence on a various chord. Often the appendix in its rotate gets an appendix, which leads to another appendix, etc.; this have the right to extend the material significantly. Or the appendix deserve to be simply an added bar in another instrument. as in this instance by Reicha:

Figure 35: Appendix by included bars in orchestra, example by Reicha.

The Mozart game


Figure 36: Illustration from

Regardless of the previous renote, Koch treats extensions under the heading ‘About the art of connecting a melody according to mechanical rules’. This offered me the idea for an ‘app’ to play about via extensions. It is based on the initially 2 phrases of Mozart"s Musikalisches Würfelspiel (musical dice game) K.294d wbelow a various minuet is ‘composed’ depending upon exactly how the dice roll.

I have actually taken the game one step even more by having actually the dice add extensions according to Koch"s methodology. The initially aim wregarding test how these extensions have the right to occupational within phrases. But it also illustprices Koch’s remarks about different genres requiring various kinds and amounts of extensions. Consequently by having actually the app add extensions, the minuet is taken ameans from its dance structure and turned into somepoint even more akin to the opening of a sonatina. Besides clicking ‘auto extension’ it is additionally feasible to experiment manually by clicking the check boxes. Of course the musical outcome of this mechanical experiment will certainly necessarily be contrived however periodically exciting examples appear!