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Arch form

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Arch form

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In music, arch form is a sectional way of structuring a piece of music based on the repetition, in reverse order, of all or most musical sections such that the overall form is symmetrical, most often around a central movement. The sections need not be repeated verbatim but at least must share thematic material.

It creates interest through an interplay among "memory, variation, and progression." Though it appears static and to deny progress the pairs of movements create with the center a "unidirectional process" and the form "actually engenders specific expressive possibilities that would otherwise be unavailable for the work as a whole." (Wilson 1992, p.32)

Béla Bartók is often noted for his use of arch form such as in his Fourth and Fifth quartets, Second Piano Concerto, and, less so, Second Violin Concerto. (ibid)


  • Wilson, Paul (1992). The Music of Béla Bartók. ISBN 0300051115.

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Music Sound, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.