Which of These Is Not a Classical Music Form?

You might be surprised to learn that not all classical music forms are created equal. In fact, some of them are quite different from one another.


Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both liturgical and secular music. While a more precise term is also used to refer to the period from 1750 to 1820 (the Classical period), this article is about the broad span of time from before the 6th century AD to the present day, which includes the Classical period and various other periods. The central norms of this tradition became codified between 1550 and 1900, which is known as the common-practice period.

Sonata Form

In music, sonata form is a very common and well-defined style of composition building on the ternary principle, firstly used by composers in the Baroque period. The word “sonata” comes from the Latin and Italian word sonare, meaning “to sound”. Sonata form is based upon a two-part structure that developed during the Classical period — Binary Form and Ternary Form. Sonata Form usually has three sections:

The first section (exposition) features the main theme(s) of the piece in contrasting tonalities (famously known as the “conflicting keys” principle). In a Sonata Form piece, there will be at least two themes present; one in the home key, and one in a contrasting key. The exposition usually repeats at least once.

The second section (development) features further exploration of the material presented in the exposition. This section typically features more modulations to different keys and chromaticism than the exposition. Composers will often re-use themes from the exposition during this section as well.

The third section (recapitulation) brings back material from both sections in the home key, often with some alterations (ornamentation, decoration). If a coda is present, it typically happens after this section.

Rondo Form

Rondo form is a musical form that is built around a central melody that returns several times throughout the course of the piece. A rondo is usually in binary form (A-B-A-B-A), ternary form (A-B-A), or sonata form. The main melody of a rondo is known as the “refrain” or the “theme.”

Scherzo Form

The Scherzo Form is not a classical music form.

March Form

March form is a type of music composition for marching bands. It is characterized by its use of repeating sections, or strains, and a central theme. The march form originated in military music and was later adopted by civilian bands.


Now that we’ve looked at a variety of classical music forms, it should be clear that there are many different types of classical music. While some forms are more popular than others, all of them have their own unique features and characteristics. So, when you’re listening to classical music, don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of compositions. You might just find a new favorite!

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