I'm trying to write my first minuet, so I'm analyzing Mozart's early ones.

Mozart's Minuet in F major, K5, with analysis.

Here from measure 1 to 4 it seems like it's a sentence because the continuation part is not strictly imitated as a period (consequent) is.
But it also has two cadences, so I think it must be a period.

Also, does the second part with arpeggios have a strict structure like a period or sentence? Or is it free to go anywhere?

  • 1
    I’m intrigued why you think the best way to start writing minuets is to study compositions by a 6 year old ...
    – Lazy
    Commented Jun 20 at 6:57
  • @Lazy Not just any six year-old. This particular child was already composing circles around the rest of us.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jun 20 at 7:00
  • @Aaron At 6? Surely not. Take a look at this composition. It is not by any means great. Or even solid. That’s classic myth building. Mozart was a 6 year old child then, and I think it is great enough for a 6 yo to write music like this. But it still a small child’s quirky composition. Do not disregard the work Mozart has put into getting where he got.
    – Lazy
    Commented Jun 20 at 7:06
  • 1
    Before writing your first minuet, I’d suggest also analyzing the minuets in the second notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach, especially the G major ones, if you haven’t already. They are easy to analyze and imitate, and you might be able to make your own versions of them in an hour as prep for working on more complex ones. Commented Jun 20 at 12:06
  • 1
    Where did you that score? F major, but a key signature of zero flats?!? It makes the opening seem outside of F and the modulation as if in key. That's backwards. Commented Jun 20 at 20:54

2 Answers 2



I disagree with the analysis of mm. 1-4; it's better viewed as a single four-bar phrase. Although bar two does appear to end with an IAC, it does not feel like a cadence within the larger structure, and the lack of a predominant harmony suggests it operates more as an extended I chord.

The second section also comprises a phrase, but Mozart was a bit clever here. Fundamentally it's a four-bar phrase, but by repeating the first two bars, Mozart expands it to six. Nevertheless, it follows the basic structure of the first phrase: the first two measures use V and I in C major, ending with a seeming IAC, and the last two measures are ii6 -> V6-4 -> V -> I[7-8] (i.e., both parts end with predominant, dominant, and tonic harmonies).

Not a sentence, not a period

The two phrases together don't form a sentence, because the second isn't a continuation of the first. They also don't form a period, since they don't start similarly.

Part sentence, part period

However, they do share traits of sentences and periods. The first phrase can be interpreted as a presentation in that its first two bars present a musical idea which is transformed in the second two: it's "upside down" and foreshortened, compressed into bar 3. On the other hand, they share the period trait of the first phrase having (arguably) a weaker cadence than the second. The second cadence gains strength by virtue of Mozart's extension of the phrase to six bars, the repetition of mm. 5–6 creating additional momentum.

  • Sir thank you for the information . So we can literally have a 4 bar phrase that's not either a sentence or period .
    – user98606
    Commented Jun 20 at 8:47
  • As you said the second part is just the first part little altered so i assume it's a rounded balanced binary form?
    – user98606
    Commented Jun 20 at 8:49
  • 2
    100% agreed. The “IAC” is not a cadence. Not all movements from dominant to tonic are cadences. Commented Jun 20 at 12:02

Well, first we need to define period. I've seen some books that make a distinction between the harmonic and thematic (melodic) aspect of periods.

The harmonic part would be, in basic form, 4 + 4 bars, first 4 ending on the dominant as the antecedent and the second four ending on the tonic as the consequent_. The bar counts could be different, but 4 + 4 is very common.

The thematic part is whether the theme or melody is reused in the consequent part. Reusing the melody is sometimes called parallel period structure. The basic classical form of period would be parallel.

The beginning 2 + 2 bar you labelled as antecedent and consequent has both parts ending on the tonic chord, so that doesn't meet the basic harmonic requirements for a period.

Additionally, if you look at the whole opening up to the double bar repeat sign the harmonic movement is from tonic to the key of the dominant, which again does not fit the harmonic definition of a period.

So I would not describe this minuet as periodic in structure. I would not write a periodic phrase to try to emulate this minuet.

But that's OK. You just want to assess the minuet's phrase structure another way.

Take a look at the book Music in the Galant Style by Gjerdingen. The time period the book covers is exactly the time and style of this Mozart minuet. Essentially the book is about stock phrase types, each of about 4 bars, that were assembled to make full compositions. The author, Gjerdingen, calls these phrase types "schema."

If I apply the schema to the minuet the structure is basically:

First part

DO RE MI, cadence in tonic, cadence in tonic, PASSO INDIETRO x 2 in dominant key, cadence in dominant.

Second part

After the double bar repeat, MONTE, the passo indietro x 2 is transposed to the tonic key, a deceptive cadence is repeated transposed down an octave and ending on a perfect cadence.

The funny names in bold caps are names Gjerdingen give to various common phrase types. I realize they won't mean anything to you now, but the point is his book provides a complete system of understanding the phrase structure of galant (classical) style music. It would describe this minuet very well.

If you want to analyze the form along the lines of William Caplin's Classical Form, I would say the minuet fits roughly the model of a sentence. It starts with four measures that presents firmly the tonic, the next four bars are the continuation, which contrasts from the opening tonic harmony, it tonicizes the dominant, and has increased surface rhythmic activity, then the next two bars are the cadential end of the phrase. K. 5 does not fit exactly the two bar basic idea repetition scheme Caplin lays out, but it does fit the presentation, continuation, cadential pattern of function and purpose.

  • i'm a little confused about the distinction between the antecedent of a period or a full sentence tha ends with a half cadence _ i mean the sentence that ends with a half cadence usually needs another phrase following it that ends on perfect cadence? wouldn't that look like a longer period ? and also do all phrases have to be one of this two form ( sentence and perido ) can i just have 8 bar phrase that doesn't fit in this category and what are the consideration for that ? btw you have helped me so much with my problems i'm so thankful for that
    – user98606
    Commented Jun 23 at 8:12

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