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What does "form" mean in music?

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Quick Answer

In music, form refers to the structure of the composition. It gives a description of the layout of a musical composition and how it is divided into sections.

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There are four basic types of musical forms. When a composition is said to be "iterative," phrases are repeated over and over. When it is "reverting," a phrase is repeated after a contrasting one. In a "strophic" composition, a long melody is repeated over and over to different stanzas of a lyric. When it is "progressive," new melodic material is continuously introduced.

To identify the form of a composition, sections can be labeled using letters. For example, a reverting piece has the layout "A-B-A."

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