Although ’sonata form’ is often referred to as a ternary structure, it is not really so because its two sections are intertwined. For a true ternary structure there must be three separate sections and often in music the third is the repeat or mirror image of the first. A close parallel is the triptyque in visual art. In fact Mercure wrote a wonderful symphonic work called Triptyque in which the final movement is the exact reverse of the first.

The Minuet and Trio structure overall is actually a ternary structure when one lays it our as it is heard in performance.

- - - - - :// * * * * * :// ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ :// ====== :// - - - - - // * * * * * //

A                           B                            A

This type of structure continues to show up in musical compositions, often of course with the final A being varied and modified.
Doug Friesen, Dr. Elaine Keillor and Alison Kenny-Gardhouse

© 2010, National Arts Centre. All Rights Reserved.

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans