Chapter

The Primary Theme (P)

James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy

in Elements of Sonata Theory

Published in print August 2006 | ISBN: 9780195146400
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199850983 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195146400.003.0005
The Primary Theme (P)

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The primary theme (P) is the idea that begins the sonata process, and with the initial impulse of primary theme we have taken the first step that will trigger sequentially the other sonata stages. Primary theme establishes its rhetorical function as the initiator of rotations; its first appearance signals the beginning of the exposition rotation and the referential layout that serves as the rule for interpretation of much that follows. Once the exposition is completed, prepared return to primary theme or a recognizable variant thereof may indicate the onset of a new conceptual rotation which can be either partial or full. Primary theme can be launched in various ways because many characteristics and topics are appropriate for P-theme, and P-ideas frequently visit a volatile succession of contrasting topics as they proceed.

Keywords: sonata; initiator; topics; exposition; rhetorical function; primary theme; contrast

Chapter.  13301 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Music Theory and Analysis

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