I'm currently writing a sonata, and if I write the first movement normally with exposition, development and recap, but in 3/4 time and with that typical mm-BAP-BAP rhythm, would you still consider it as sonata form or would you call it a waltz? The second movement is just slow variations on one theme, and the third is a rondo.


1 Answer 1


A waltz is a type of dance, but need not be a specific musical form — although Chopin and Brahms, for example, used forms for their waltzes. A sonata is a musical form. So the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, you might take a look at Chopin's waltz's in particular, because they might lend themselves to an expansion into a sonata form, either as a single sonata-allegro movement or as a multi-movement expansion.

  • I’d even say that the term "Sonata" has pretty much graduated from being a form and is nowadays merely a term to convey a certain importance or grandeur.
    – Lazy
    Jan 13, 2022 at 11:49
  • @Lazy - The scores I've found on Musescore's website that are called "Sonata" yet do not adhere to that form tend to come off as slight and unimportant to me (partially because of their shorter length on average compared to scores called "Sonata" that actually are in sonata form).
    – Dekkadeci
    Jan 13, 2022 at 13:17
  • @Lazy I'd say, instead, that the word "Sonata" has several meanings as it relates to form, and is also sometimes misused. As Aaron hints, it can be the form of a single movement (especially as shorthand for "sonata-allegro form," or a multi-movement work (e.g. "Sonata no 1 for violin and piano"), typically with a first movement in sonata form. As Wikipedia says, "Sonata is a vague term, with varying meanings depending on the context and time period." I see no reason that a waltz shouldn't be the third movement of a Romantic-era sonata— Jan 13, 2022 at 13:37
  • —after all, Shostakovich puts one in his second string quartet. Jan 13, 2022 at 13:38
  • @AndyBonner Fair point, but in the OPs case I’d still suppose that calling something sonata is not bound to any form nowadays. By the way the forms we find are conventions. People did not compose to fit a form but rather they adopted working recipes. When the term "sonata" came up in the intermediate time between Renaissance and Baroque era it had no special form what so ever (it was just a term to specify a non vocal piece). And even the forms adopted in baroque music were quite different to what we nowadays call "sonata form".
    – Lazy
    Jan 13, 2022 at 17:06

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