The Word Movement In Music Normally Refers To

movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. While individual or selected movements from a composition are sometimes performed separately, a performance of the complete work requires all the movements to be performed in succession. A movement is a section, “a major structural unit perceived as the result of the coincidence of relatively large numbers of structural phenomena”.

Music – Introduction:

In music, the introduction is a passage or section which opens a movement or a separate piece, preceding the theme or lyrics. In popular music, this is often known as the song intro or just the intro. The introduction establishes melodic, harmonic, or rhythmic material related to the main body of a piece.

Introductions may consist of an ostinato that is used in the following music, an important chord or progression that establishes the tonality and groove for the following music, or they may be important but disguised or out-of-context motivic or thematic material.

As such, the introduction may be the first statement of primary or other important material, may be related to but different from the primary or other important material, or may bear little relation to any other material.

Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements such as pitch (which governs melody and harmony), rhythm (and its associated concepts tempo, meter, and articulation), dynamics (loudness and softness), and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture (which are sometimes termed the “color” of a musical sound). Different styles or types of music may emphasize, de-emphasize or omit some of these elements.

Music is performed with a vast range of instruments and vocal techniques ranging from singing to rapping; there are solely instrumental pieces, solely vocal pieces (such as songs without instrumental accompaniment), and pieces that combine singing and instruments. The word derives from Greek μουσική (mouse; “(art) of the Muses”).

What is movement in Music?

There are two possible answers to this question, depending on the meaning one assumes for the word “movement”. If it is taken in the sense of a major shift in cultural terms, then music has been through a whole series of movements during its history, including those of classicism, romanticism, and modernism.

However, it is more likely that the questioner had in mind the divisions of larger pieces of music into sections that are usually (but not always) marked by a pause in the performance. Works are that most often described as having movements are symphonies, concerti, sonatas, and chamber pieces such as trios and quartets.

However, it is also possible to use the term for the separate elements of suites, masses, sets of variations, and various kinds of program music. The divisions of operas and ballets are normally described as acts and scenes, thus reflecting their relationship with the theatre rather than the concert hall.


Movements are frequently seen as having a degree of independence from the work to which they belong. Classical music radio stations, such as the UK’s commercial station Classic FM, play separate movements more often than full symphonies, etc, and many listeners are often unaware of how they relate to the complete work.

There are indeed some movements that are so famous in their own right that they have virtually left home – examples include Widor’s Toccata, which is actually the final movement of his Symphony for Organ No. 5, and the brilliant scherzo by Henry Litolff that is the 2nd movement of his Concerto Symphonique No. 4. In both cases, the vast majority of music listeners have not heard a single note, other than these movements, that was written by the composers in question.

First Movement Sonata Form

It is not easy to generalize, but the standard symphonic (etc) first movement follows what is known as sonata form. That is, it has three sections, namely exposition, development, and recapitulation. In other words, the theme or themes are presented at the outset, they are developed in various ways, and repeated in some form or other at the end. However, that statement is a huge over-simplification!

For example, many movements include material at the beginning or end that falls outside this pattern, generally referred to as introductions and codas, and transitional passages that link the various parts together. There is also no rule that states that all the themes must be introduced at the beginning, or indeed how many themes there should be.

Another aspect of sonata form is the use of key structures within the movement. It is typical for the first and second themes to be indifferent keys, with changes from major to minor, or vice versa, modulated via a transitional passage.

It is also common for the development to start in the same key as the exposition ended, and for the recapitulation to return to the keys used at the start of the exposition. However, great composers are adept at bending the rules to achieve their effects, and it is their originality in these and other matters that make them great.

Second Movements

Whereas first movements are usually fairly brisk in pace (allegro), second movements are often much slower (adagio or andante), and sonata form is not expected. Second movements are commonly referred to as slow movements, although this is a relative term. A good slow movement can indeed be “moving” and emotional, sometimes comprising a single long tune that develops more from subtle key changes than from the introduction of secondary themes. There is no rule that states that a second or subsequent movement must relate directly to the opening movement, but often this is the case.

Third Movements

The symphonic structure has changed over the centuries, such that from the 18th century it became common practice for symphonies, sonatas, and quartets (etc) to comprise four movements, whereas concerti only had three. The “extra” third movement was typically a minute and trio or a scherzo.

A minute is basically dance in triple time, and a trio has a simple three-part structure of two contrasting sections with the third part being a repetition of the first. The word “scherzo” literally means “joke”, and is generally a relatively playful and light-hearted section, in the nature of a fast minuet.

Final Movements

Final movements are the opportunity for the composer to pull everything together and build towards a climax that will inspire the audience to break into loud and prolonged applause. That at least has been the pattern since the Romantic era, and there is plenty of choice for the concert planner who wants to end the evening on a high. Sonata form is common for final movements, as are long and complex codas that allow the performers a final flourish. In concerti, the soloist can give it their all to earn their bouquet!


One special feature of movements in concerti is the cadenza. This is a passage in which the soloist (or soloists in double concerti, etc) plays on their own with the orchestra silent and the conductor at rest. In earlier times, it was usual for the soloist to improvise at these points, and this often gave rise to problems when they would soar off on flights of fancy of their own, sometimes having great difficulty in returning to where they started from. This practice has faded since the Classical period ended, with most cadenzas being written by the composer, although the soloist still has the opportunity to show his/her individualism in how they interpret the tempo of the piece, etc. It is noticeable that some modern performers have re-invented the improvised cadenza in performances of works by, for example, Vivaldi. Nigel Kennedy’s highly acclaimed interpretation of The Four Seasons is a case in point.

As stated above, it is not easy to be hard-and-fast when describing what movements look and sound like. There are so many variations on the theme that generalizations are bound to be accompanied by hosts of exceptions!

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called a movement in music?

The German word for “movement” (in this musical sense) is “Satz” which really means “sentence”. A movement is like a sentence: a collection of things that belong together to make sense. All the movements together are like several sentences: they tell the whole story.

What are the 4 movements?

The four-movement form that emerged from this evolution was as follows:

  • an opening sonata or allegro.
  • a slow movement, such as andante.
  • a minuet or scherzo with trio.
  • an allegro, rondo, or sonata.

What are the 4 movements of a symphony?

With rare exceptions, the four movements of a symphony conform to a standardized pattern. The first movement is brisk and lively; the second is slower and more lyrical; the third is an energetic minute (dance) or a boisterous scherzo (“joke”), and the fourth is a rollicking finale.

What are music and movement in early childhood?

Music and movement enable children to learn new words and concepts through activities such as chanting rhymes, creating sounds using household items, and singing songs to learn the alphabet.

What is the fast movement in music?

In music, allegro distinguishes a movement that’s meant to be played very quickly. Your piano teacher might instruct you to try playing a piece allegro. If you’re reading sheet music and you see the word allegro, you’ll know that particular section or movement should be played in a lively, spirited way.

What does Leger mean in music?

A ledger line or leger line is used in Western musical notation to notate pitches above or below the lines and spaces of the regular musical staff. A-line slightly longer than the note head is drawn parallel to the staff, above or below, spaced at the same distance as the lines within the staff.

What is the second movement in music?

Generally, the second movement of a piece will be written as a slow movement, although composers occasionally write other movements as a slow movement as well. The tempo of a slow movement can vary from largo to andante.

Why are there movements in classical music?

A longer piece of classical music is often broken up into smaller, bite-sized chunks. It makes it easier to perform and listen to and provides a bit of contrast. It’s like having a four-course meal instead of loading yourself up with a big plate of cheesy pasta.

What is a gliding movement in classical music called?

Ans) Gamaka, also known as Zamak, refers to ornamentation that is used in the performance of North and South Indian classical music. The term gamaka itself means “ornamented note” in Sanskrit. Gamakas involve the variation of the pitch of a note, using heavy forceful oscillations between adjacent and distant notes.

To Sum Up

A movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. the composition in music is like borrowing a beat from another song and adding it into your own beat or rhythm. A piece that sounds fairly complete and independent but is part of a larger composition

Moving to music is a great way to stay active, have fun and be silly! Learning how to move to the beat or in a different way when the music changes are a great way to be creative and imaginative while developing skills that will last a lifetime.

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