Composition types in Western classical music. Is it possible for people to recognize the types of composition without the knowledge of the name given for the piece?

closed as too broad by Tim, Tetsujin, Camille Goudeseune, Bob Broadley, Todd Wilcox Sep 25 at 18:24

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Providing a list, which may or may not be complete, is of very little help to anyone reading it. Vtc. – Tim Sep 25 at 16:33
  • I'm not so sure this is all that off topic. Maybe it could be edited for clarity, but I feel that the real question here is not "Can someone give me a list of all the composition types?", but rather "How and why did the composition types develop over time?" which is an excellent, very on topic question if you ask me. Admittedly, my own answer only address the first "off topic" part of the question and I only read into it more after the fact. Honestly, at this point, I would blame my answer for being off topic more than the question itself and I am considering editing my answer to address this. – WillRoss1 Sep 25 at 17:29
  • Even the individual questions "how and why did the sonata, or concerto, or toccata, develop" are too broad. Long books have been written about each of these. – Camille Goudeseune Sep 25 at 20:25

How many composition types are there?

855, by counting the entries in a contemporary list.

Less jokingly, a list of composition types will teach someone no more about western music than a list of, say, the names of Chinese herbs would teach me about Chinese cuisine. More useful is to read an introductory textbook about Western classical music, or study a "Music Appreciation 101" course.

Although a general introduction is too broad for this Q & A web site, the books cited at the end of Wikipedia's article are a useful start.

  • but this is rather a comment than an answer ;) – Albrecht Hügli Sep 25 at 16:21
  • Please try to resist the temptation to answer off-topic questions - it gives people the [unfortunately now correct] impression they can ask anything & get an answer. – Tetsujin Sep 25 at 16:39
  • 855 looks like an answer to me. The question is not marked 'off-topic'. . – PeterJ Sep 25 at 18:19
  • 855 was only after A.H.'s valid objection! – Camille Goudeseune Sep 25 at 20:22
  • Well, I am really grateful for the comment you've posted, but I was not asking about "genre". – Yau Qi Herng Sep 26 at 11:54

Instead of "composition types" I would call these forms, or styles or even (in more modern terminology) genres. Since these are really just classifications or categories, there are literally infinite possibilities, so it's impossible to put an exact number on it.

Here are the most common ones that I can think of:

  • and all the inventions that haven't been invented yet ... – Albrecht Hügli Sep 25 at 16:20
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    Please try to resist the temptation to answer off-topic questions - it gives people the [unfortunately now correct] impression they can ask anything & get an answer. – Tetsujin Sep 25 at 16:39

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