What is the musical form of The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky? I'd like to know the form and where each section is so I can better understand it. What sections define motifs? And what sections are development of motifs?

Thanks for any information.


You should work this out yourself. This is how you learn. If you go off someone else's analysis you may learn something that is not the best or even correct.

Get the best audio recording and performance you can and get the best score. Follow along the music with the score many times to get a feel for what is going on. Make notes for the various motifs, phrases, sections, etc. This is not hard. You might feel when you start that nothing makes sense, but as you fill in the dots things will materialize.

When you connect the visual with the aural you'll be more in tune to know what is happening. When you hear a developed motif but don't see it, you can see what is going on then adjust your visual interpretation. Similarly when you don't hear a motive but see it. There is a high correlation between the visual and aural(obviously, since the visual(the score) is used to create the music).

Since you are unique and your understanding of music is different than everyone else's, it is in your best interest to figure it out on your own. you can dive as deep as you need in to the music and score. You can notate all the chords if necessary, notate the motives and motifs, the non-chord tones, etc. When you come upon something that seems to not-make sense, skip it and come back later... usually your brain will have figured it out by then.

With something like Stravinsky, you can except to have non-standard things. (after all, each of the "masters" are different and this is what sets them apart from the copy cats who just blindly apply formulae).

The divisions between sections must be "obvious"... else they would not be sections. Contrast is what produces the sensation of change. So getting the larger sections down usually is relatively easy. (e.g., key changes, rhythmic changes, motive changes, etc... usually many occurring simultaneously to enhance the effect of something new)

Sometimes different sections have virtually nothing different except one key element that makes it obvious. Again, it has to be obvious or else there is no change but just a variation/development.

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Stravinsky's Rite of Spring is an entire ballet; as such, it's difficult to say what the form of the entire work is. Furthermore, it's in two distinct parts, which makes it even more difficult to think of it as a single form. (Though we could be really obnoxious and call it a simple binary AB form...)

We can discuss and describe individual "movements" within the ballet, but not the entire work itself.

What may be helpful is to find a CD of the piece---I recommend Gergiev conducting Kirov---and using the individual tracks to get a grasp on the piece.

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