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5 Interruption

5.1 Interruption as a structural device

Now that we have seen how a middleground linear descent can organise the structure of a whole phrase, the next main topic of this unit is to consider cases where this descent stops short of reaching the tonic note. This is called an interrupted structure. While the following examples are quite short and relatively simple, the principle of interruption has a far-reaching influence which can affect the overall form of entire movements, particularly those in sonata form.

We are going to look at three case studies of ‘interrupted form’, one from a sonata you have already done a lot of work with, and two from sonatas new to this unit. You may find it helpful to make your own attempt at an analytical graph of each extract before looking at mine; but in each case the most important aim is to hear the main shapes and patterns shown in my graphs.

I recommend that you listen to each of the recordings several times as you work through the three case studies. To begin with, I will give quite a lot of detailed discussion of the graphs in order to explain my analytical decisions, but as we proceed I hope that you will find them increasingly self-explanatory.

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