THEME AND VARIATIONS
TERMS AND CONCEPTS

Sectional Variation (Closed)

The theme is larger than a phrase, often a period or some kind of part form like a binary. Like the theme, each variation is punctuated by closure. Examples are theme and variation types or 18th century "doubles".

Continuous Variation (Open)

theme is a phrase (4 to 8 bars long) or two. The variations are correspondingly short and have more open closure than the sectional variation closure. One flows into the next without interruption. Examples are ground bass, chaconne, and passacaglia types (various spellings of passacaglia)

Theme with variations:

(either sectional or continuous) can be movements or sections of a movement in larger works.

Other:

Plainsong mass, cantus firmus, parody mass, paraphrase mass, chorale prelude, Chorale Variations, Canons on the same theme, Baroque double, collection of works using same theme, Different settings of same chorale tune, songs with varied strophes, varied da capos and recapitulations, Serial Variations.

VARIATION PROCEDURES:

In all variation processes, be able to identify, describe, and distinguish between invariant and varietal factors.

Potential Constants (invariants) which contribute to unity
Potential Variables (changes) which contribute to growth and creation of shape.
Continuous Variations
Examples of Sectional Variations

Bach
Bach
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Brahms
Britten
Dohnanyi
Handel
Handel
Haydn
Mozart
Mozart
Mozart
Schoenberg
Aria with Thirty Variations (the "Goldberg Variations")
English Suite No. 2 (2nd Courante--ex. of "double")
Diabelli Variations, op 120
Piano Sonata, op. 14, no. 2, 2nd movement
Piano Sonata, op. 26, 1st movement
Piano Sonata, op. 57 ("Appassianata")
Piano Sonatas op. 109 and op. 111, the finales
Piano Variations in F ma, op 34
Quartet in E flat ma, op. 74 ("Harp")
Sym. No. 3, finale
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, op. 24
Variations on a Theme by Henry Purcell
Variations on Nursery Song
Suites 4 and 5 for harpsichord (more "doubles")
Suite 5 uses the tune "The Harmonious Blacksmith"
Quartet, op. 76, no. 3, variations on an Austrian Hymn
Clarinet Quintet, K. 581, Allegretto Con Variazioni
Quartet in D mi, K. 421, finale
Violin Sonata, K. 305
Variations on a Recitative for Organ, op. 40

Examples of Continuous Variations

Bach
Bach
Beethoven
Berg
Brahms
Brahms
Britten
Handel
Purcell
Passacaglia in C ma
Partita in D mi of solo violin (the Chaconne)
Thirty-two Variations in C mi for Piano
Wozzeck (act 1, scene 4)
Sym. no. 4 (finale)
Variations on a Theme by Haydn
Peter Grimes
Chaconne in G ma
Dido's Lament from Dido and Aeneas

Developmental or Metamorphic Variations

a process that does not adhere as strictly to an existing structure in the theme but rather explores characteristic features of the thematic material.


Examples of Developmental or Metamorphic Variations

Copland
Elgar
Ives
J B Chance
Schoenberg
V-Williams
W Shumann  
Variations on a Shaker Melody, In Appalachian Spring
Variations on an Original Theme (Enigma)
Variations on "America" for organ
Variations on a Korean Folk song (band)
Theme and Variations for Band, Op. 43a
Variations on a Theme of Thomas Tallis (strings)
Variants on a Medeaval Tune (band)

New Versions of Old Works

Hindemith       Symphonic Metamorphisis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber

More Examples of Continuous Variation

Hindemith
Stravinsky    
Stravinsky
Orff
Chopin
Britten
Mathis der Maler (the Suite) last movement near end
Beginning of Firebird, large sections of Rite of Spring
sections of Symphony of Psalms
Carmina Burana
Polonaise in A flat, op. 53
Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (the Dirge)

Basso Ostinato:
Ostinato patterns in:
More Examples of Variations

Bach
Bach
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Brahms
Brahms
Brahms
Brahms
Brahms
Brahms
Dello Joio
Elgar
Ginastera
Handel
Haydn
Mozart
Mozart
Rachmaninov
Strauss, R.
von Weber
Chorale Variations on Seigegrusset, Jesu gutis
Goldberg Variations, Aria with Thirty Variations
Symphony No. 3, Op. 55, final, orchestra
Trio in C, Op. 87, second mvt
Diabelli Variations, Thirty-three Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op. 120
Variations on a Theme of Robert Schumann
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Händel, Op. 24
Variations on a Theme of Haydn, Op. 56a, orchestra
Quintet in B minor, Op. 115, for clarinet and strings, last mvt
Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 21, no. 1
Sextet in G, Op. 36, third mvt
Variations, Chaconne, and Finale
Variations in G minor on an Original Theme, op. 36 (The Enigma Variations)
Variacciones Concertantes
The Harmonious Blacksmith, Air and Variations in Suite No. 5 in E
Variations in f minor HOB XVII: 6
Ten Variations on Come un agnello by Sartis, K. 462
String Quartet in A, third mvt, K. 464
Rhapsody of a Theme of Paganini, Op. 43, piano and orchestra
Don Quixote (cyclical use of hero's theme, see also Ein Heldenleben)
Eight Variations on an air du ballet from Vogler's Castor and Pollux
Bach
Bach
Bach
Bach
Bach
Bach
Bartok
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Beethoven
Blacher
Boccherini
Britten
Britten
Byrd
Chopin
Chopin
Delius
Dvorák
Franck
Harris
English Suite 6, Sarabande with double
Chorale Variations and Partitas on
Christ, der Du bist de helle Tag
O Gott, du frommer Gott]
Ach, was soll ich Sundig machen
Five canons on Von Himmel hoch
Concerto for violin, second mvt
Sonata for Piano, Op. 57, second mvt
Sonata for Violin, Op. 96, last mvt
String Quartet, Op. 74, fourth mvt
String Quartet, Op. 127, second mvt
Variations on a Theme by Paganni, Op 26
Quintet No. 6, Op. 30, last movement
Variations on a Theme by Frank Bridge, Op. 10
Variations on a Theme by Henry Purcell (The Young Person's Guide)
Carman's Whistle
Variations, Op. 2, for piano and orchestra, from Don Giovanni
Variations on a Theme from HalŹvy's Ludovic, Op. 12
Appalachia
Variations for Orchestra
Symphonic Variations in F# minor for piano and orchestra
String Quartet, No. 2



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