A Minor Diversion: Post-Medial Caesura Insertions in Early Classical Sonata Forms

Attachments include paper and handout.


This paper concerns early- and mid-eighteenth century Type 2 sonata forms by a variety of composers including Boccherini and Haydn. It identifies a set of modestly scaled syntactic insertions between the medial caesura (MC) and secondary theme areas in major-mode sonata-form movements. They occur in the (unprepared) dominant minor and end on the dominant of that key. After this passage’s conclusion, the secondary theme follows in the dominant major. These insertions are difficult to classify: they form a part of neither the transition nor the secondary theme. This paper will discuss multiple examples of this phenomenon and its potential treatment by Heinrich Christoph Koch and Hepokoski and Darcy.

None of these labels truly captures how a modern listener or analyst perceives the form. Koch’s sonata form, though flexible, lies at too great a historical distance from the modern understanding. An analysis through Hepokoski and Darcy minimizes the effect of the moment by joining it with the normative secondary theme that follows. I propose the term “extrinsic phrase,” which incorporates the flexibility inherent in Koch’s work within the modern conception of sonata form, to describe these insertions. Examples of extrinsic phrases come from a variety of works including: a string trio by Luigi Boccherini (G. 79) and an early string quartet by Joseph Haydn (op. 1, no. 2).

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