[Back to Choosing a Phrase Structure]

A period consists of a pair of 4-bar phrases (and antecedent and consequent) each of which starts with a basic idea and ends with a cadence. It should not take too much adaptation to stitch together the material written in Stages One and Two.

    • Basic idea (2 bars)  – this is the melody you wrote in Stage One
    • Contrasting idea (2 bars) – must end on V
    • Repetition of Basic Idea (2 bars) – exact repetition of first two bars
    • Contrasting idea (2 bars) – as before but ending on a perfect cadence

In this Haydn example the opening idea is extremely simple with a more flowing quaver melody taking us into the cadence. Notice how Haydn links from the arrival on the of the imperfect cadence at the end of the first phrase to the beginning of the next but continuing the quavers but at the end he stops on the first beat of the bar:

Haydn Piano Sonata, Hob IX No. 20/8, first movement

Period HaydnH19-20n8


This example from the second movement of Mozart’s Eine kleine Nachtmusik has slightly more complex material and the contrasting idea is changed quite a bit for the consequent phrase:

Period MozartKV525


The contrasting idea of a period is not, however, always strongly contrasted to the basic idea. In this example from the last movement Haydn’s String Quartet Op. 64 No. 5, the entire phrase is mostly semiquavers:

Period Haydn op64n5iv