Advanced Sight-Reading Curriculum - Part 3

16-bar Binary Form (10)

The small binary form was the standard form for dances and other short pieces from the Baroque period through the Romantic era. In its simplest form, it is 16 bars long, divided into two 8-bar sections, each of which is repeated. Each section of 8 bars is normally divided into two 4-bar phrases.

We’ll begin by sight-reading a work by Czerny and noticing how the phrasing works. Then we’ll remove the right-hand melodies and improvise our own melodies over the given left-hand accompaniment. Finally, we’ll improvise our own little piece, applying a suggested melodic idea to a harmonic outline.

1. Czerny - Study, Op. 139, no. 23

The phrases are made clear by the slurs. Notice how nearly every phrase begins with the same rhythm, and how both halves of the binary form end in the same way.

Improvising a New Right Hand Melody

The piece is now reprinted without the right-hand melody. Improvise a new melody of your own using some of the patterns of construction we noticed in the originals (repeating rhythms, matching phrase beginnings, similar conclusions, etc.).

The remainder of this set of exercises features additional pieces and exercises for improvising with both hands using two bar beginnings as a starting point and a suggested harmonic outline for the entire 16 bars. Please see the box below for further information on subscription or purchase options.

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