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Adapted from 1911 enc.


What is a sonata? I could not answer this question after reading the article for 2 minutes. The intro paragraph starts in about 'Chapter 4' of sonatas. (talk) 18:34, 29 December 2017 (UTC)

Subarticles (category, even)[edit]

Filled out cello sonata, created violin sonata and viola sonata - stubs with brief history and lists, both could use at least some thoughts about the balance problems caused by the most common combination (that is, with piano, especially the cello/piano case) and a more detailed examination of the history of the violin sonata from the violin solo --> violin/continuo --> piano with violin added later --> true duo (more, or, less) than I actually gave. With Mozart partially responsible... So, questions - do these articles belong at all; anyone who plays these string instruments care to think about balance questions; should a sonata-type category be created in which these can be subsumed; string duo to give a home to the Ravel, Martinu, the great Kodaly, Mozart K423/424 (and FJ Haydn's 6 and JM Haydn's 2, and their predecessors, for it had a history too as much as sonatas,) ... ... et caet... Schissel 13:43, 17 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Critique of a recent edit[edit]

Stirling has made sweeping changes to the article. I am quite concerned about some of these, especially those affecting the section "The sonata in the Classical era". While there is a little good and accurate new information, some of it has more to do with sonata form than with the larger structure of several movements that the article is supposed to be about, though this is not made clear. And a good deal of useful information (about the sequence of movements in the Classical sonata) presented nowhere else in Wikipedia is summarily obliterated. Moreover, Stirling has introduced careless errors that will need fixing by some poor navvy.

Specific points:

The Classical era took the sonata structures it found in the Baroque, and began to concentrate on both simplifying the number of harmonic transitions possible between sections of the work, and at the same time, increasing the complexity and length of each section, and creating a much greater wealth of transitional methods at a composer's disposal.

On a natural reading of this, it concerns evolution of the sonata form (and relations among its various sections). As such it is about the internal structure of one kind of movement. But this is not signalled, so the newcomer is likely to be confused. Surely this material belongs in the article Sonata form. There are also expository infelicities and aberrant punctuation here.

Theorists of this time begin writing on the standard patterns of first movements, which would later form the basis for the defintion [sic] of Sonata form. At this time the sonata undergoes a change in usage, from being a term for applied [sic] to many different kinds of small instrumental work, to being more specifically applied to chamber music genres with either a solo instrument, or a solo instrument with the piano.

Note first the shift in tense, from "took" and "began", above, to "begin" and "undergoes", here. The wording of the first sentence is indirect and inelegant. There is a confusion in the second sentence between sonata and the term "sonata", along with other awkwardnesses.

Mozart and Clementi, and then Beethoven and Schubert, would establish the piano sonata as a fundamental genre of piano music for playing in solo concerts, and as the standard reference against which other works were measured. In contrast, at the time the Theme and variations was the most remarked upon and covered genre of piano music, particularly because of its use in improvisation.

A new shift in tense, with "would establish". The last sentence is wayward and oddly elusive. What exactly does "covered" mean in "most remarked upon and covered genre"?

The classical [sic] sonata for instrument was usually in three, not four movements, a form later described as the "concerto-sonata form" by some authors.

("Classical" should be capped, as it was consistently in this section before the edit, in conformity with established style in the music articles.) While many Classical sonatas had just three movements, it is perhaps misleading to say that they "usually" had three rather than four. Contemporary writers, according to New Grove, didn't see it that way. And for expository purposes it is perhaps best to present a four-movement standard, which enables the three-movement variants to be more lucidly explained. But of course, all of that is now dropped.

In sum, I find the edit, especially for the now much smaller section on the Classical sonata, most retrograde. Such a pity that we can't preserve what is good here! And I say nothing about the deficiencies in material in other sections of the article.

I'd revert things, but I don't want to get into an interminable struggle. I am not optimistic, if careful and valuable work (which I admit I had a hand in, here) is simply disregarded. I leave it to others to work out how to deal with this. --Noetica 22:14, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

RFC me then. Stirling Newberry 22:29, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

That's like "so sue me!", right? Well, if you are not ready to enter into dialogue beyond that, confronted with my own diligent and extended analysis, RFC or some other move may well be called for. For the moment I'll just wait to see what happens. --Noetica 23:08, 19 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Another try[edit]

Some rationales for the edit I just did:

1) I think much of the material about which Noetica is complaining is redundant with existing material in sonata form or even in sonata itself; so I removed it and added cross references where appropriate.

2) I agree emphatically with Noetica that an article about sonatas should give the basics--it's a corollary of the principle that we serve our readers, not ourselves. Here, the basics would include the typical musical forms of sonata movements and what keys they are in. I've restored this material in edited form (I changed Noetica's very short sections to bulleted items, hoping this will be a bit less distracting.)

3) I removed this paragraph:

Mozart and Clementi, and then Beethoven and Schubert, would establish the piano sonata as a fundamental genre of piano music for playing in solo concerts,

because my past reading leads me to believe it is erroneous. The piano sonata was house music in Classical times, and became a vehicle for concert performance only during the Romantic era, with the so-called "invention of the piano recital" by Liszt.

4) For future editing, I think it would be helpful to put in more examples--I think it's a bit dull to give general claims about a musical form without citing actual instances. I put in a couple, but more are needed.

Opus33 17:25, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Since the two of you are incapable of good manners, good faith or counting I shall lay this out bluntly: you are not only wrong, but pushing a POV which is factually inaccurate. I have before me the complete sonatas of Haydn for piano. How many are in four movements? How many are in your supposedly standard lay out? Exactly none. I have before the the complete sonatas of mozart. How many are in four movements? Anyone? I have before me the compete piano sonatas of Beethoven - again - how many are in your asserted standard form versus three movements.

The evidence - the overwhelming and obvious evidence - is that in the classical era the word "sonata" was applied to solo instrumental works, or works with one instrument plus keyboard. There is no reference in that period to the description of a four movement work as the basic "sonata" from which others are omitted. Both of you are confusing a later POV with - namely that of the Romantic era - with the classical practice.

Stirling Newberry

My comments on recent developments[edit]

I dispute this assertion of Stirling's concerning Opus33 and myself: "the two of you are incapable of good manners, good faith or counting." It is offensive and uncalled for. Without giving any of the obvious replies that spring to mind, I shall restrain my exuberance. I may well take action about it in the appropriate place, along with action about what Opus33 and I seem to agree is Stirling's substandard and disruptive editing of this article.

Stirling is right that the three-movement form was well represented in the Classical, but I have explained why it may be a good idea to take the four-movement form as a norm for expository purposes. I did not do my best work when I wrote "the sonata took on a fairly well-defined standard form (well exemplified in the work of Joseph Haydn)" without further elaboration. Stirling is right that few of Haydn's keyboard sonatas have four movements; he is factually wrong that "exactly none" have four movements, since both HobXVI:6 and HobXVII:8 do (so I believe, but I have not my copy of the score to hand, where I am). Stirling is way off the mark concerning Mozart. I wrote explicitly "many Classical sonatas (notably Mozart's) had fewer movements", so I had already clearly allowed for Mozart.

Stirling writes concerning Beethoven: "I have before me the compete piano sonatas of Beethoven - again - how many are in your asserted standard form versus three movements." My answer (again, without having my scores to hand): Well, at least six appear to fit the "standard form" precisely (Op. 2 Nos. 1,2,3; Op. 7; Op. 22; Op. 28). Note the preponderance of his earlier more "Classical" sonatas here. Several others show only one of the alterations from the standard that I had given as possibilities, and in the analysis of just about all of his piano sonatas the standard is a useful guide.

Stirling writes: "There is no reference in that period to the description of a four movement work as the basic "sonata" from which others are omitted." But even if that were true, it is not relevant, as has been pointed out repeatedly. He continues: "Both of you are confusing a later POV with - namely that of the Romantic era - with the classical practice." I dispute this. As I have just demonstrated, in presenting what belongs here (and nowhere else) about the overall structure of the Classical sonata, Opus33, some others, and myself have used an excellent device for exhibiting crucial facts. Stirling has sought to expunge all of this. As I have shown in detail, he has done this with little care in his writing (see my section above, and also at Classical music era and at Haydn). Much of the material he put in its place is irrelevant (at best) to the theme of the article.

Opus33, thanks for your useful work on this, supplementing my own supplementing of others' good work. I shall not yet do any reverting or other editing, but wait for any interested others to take action (like reverting to your last version, fixing just a couple of minor things perhaps). I agree that examples would help, and had thought to do some of that, though I see you have already made a good start. We must try to suffer the recent interruption gladly, I suppose. --Noetica 21:48, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Then RFC me for it. From my perspective both of you have violated good faith and good research practice by dropping uncited POV on this page. I don't have anything further to say until such time as there is an RFC and it comes to documenting sources. Stirling Newberry 22:35, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Stirling, what's to document, beyond giving examples and doing what we've already done? Opus33 has started giving examples in the Classical sonata section; I have given examples above, flatly refuting what you had asserted; and now you have (contradicting yourself!) given examples that support my salient points as I state them above, in your edits of the section. Why are you not concerned to retract some of these factually erroneous objections to points of mine that you now endorse in the article itself?

What the section needs is a clearly presented, accurate, and informative exposition for the user. I see that your latest edits take back some of your earlier lapses; but really, you have not succeeded in meeting the three desiderata just given. If you are, perhaps, displeased that someone other than you has done a good job, please nevertheless think twice before seeking to ensure that your words (often obscure, often substandard English) are what the reader must endure. Unlike you (apparently), I wish to respect the courtesies and protocols of Wikipedia. I shall try for restraint, despite your provocation here and elsewhere. --Noetica 22:56, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Comments & questions[edit]

This page needs some sources. You all couldn't be having this argument if you all just brought out some sources.

Are we talking about two different things (ie, classical sonata vs romantic sonata)? Are we talking about one thing? Are we talking about the one thing "itself" (essentially) or generalizations of that thing. Hyacinth 23:05, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The sources I am using are on the page - Newman, Rosen, Schoenberg, Schenker, Reicha and Adolph Marx, as well as opening up my well worn copies of Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn and counting the avialable movements, the results of these tabulations were on the page - Haydn did not write a single piano sonata in the form that was declared to be "standard", though he did write two in the Allegro, Minuet, Slow movement, Finale form. I also removed assertions about "customary" since documenting what is "customary" is a good deal of trouble and there was no such source listed. We should expand Schoenberg and Schenker, since these two theorists account for much of 20th century understanding of sonata form and analysis. The article is entitled "sonata", and that is what I am going to write about based on the notable and documentable sources available.
No, actually, those "sources" are not cited. "Standard", "customary", etc, doesn't seem to matter: pull back and look at the main picture, where

I can't think of examples of anythings which actually live up to their standards or customary forms. Hyacinth 03:32, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

No Hyacinth, this contretemps concerns only the section called The sonata in the Classical era. And as I have suggested, perhaps analytical and documentary sources are less important than the works themselves, which are after all the very things we're on about, and which speak for themselves. --Noetica 23:16, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Ah, good to know. Am I correct to assume from contretemps that, in part, this conflict is a continutation of a larger conflict? In that case a RFC (or something) sounds necessary.
Unfortunately the music cannot literally speak for itself, and I would imagine that most if not all efforts to transcribe or coax this "speech" would be original research as a musical work is not a proper source about itself.
Of course pointing out that a work is in three or four movements is not original research, but neither is it evidence for other movements being in that number of movements based on other similarities. Hyacinth 23:45, 20 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I think this has developed into a larger sort of a conflict. If it has, it's one that I don't want! Look at Classical music era and Haydn, though, if you want to see more.
The music doesn't need to speak for itself, in any strong sense. What I meant was simply that the layout of the works commonly acknowledged as Classical sonatas is there as objective evidence, so res ipse loquitur ("the thing speaks for itself"). So the "original research" that I do here, along with other editors for this section, may legitimately involve little beyond surveying those works – not only for number of movements, but also for how these movements conform or not with a proposed standard. It ain't rocket science! --Noetica 00:07, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)
I note that Stirling has inserted a comment above mine, which puts things out of sequence. Well, no doubt there's some reason, though it escapes me. While I think that the question of the nature, number, and sequence of movements in the Classical sonata requires little beyond a careful survey of the works themselves, I too have consulted The New Grove, and typically consult other works too; but I'll be away from my extensive music reference collection for a little while now. The main resources I would re-visit are my own frequently consulted copies of complete editions of the piano sonatas of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, and violin sonatas too. I see that Stirling's recently added references have far more to do with sonata form than the Classical sonata as a larger form comprising several movements. A few of us think that this sort of thing should be in the article called Sonata form, but I for one am ready to abandon all hope for this present article, if its borders cannot be maintained more rationally. --Noetica 02:44, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Talk is still followable, no biggie.

I thank you all for not biting my fingers for treading on this conversation (or for mixing that metaphor), from my experience all editors involved are nice qualtity contributors to Wikipedia. I think you all can work it out. My opinion on the article currently is that stating the existance of a "standard" or "customary" form requires citations. Otherwise it is original research and unverifiable, please see the policies at those links. To summarize:

  • "For disputed claims, it's extremely helpful to have a citation so that the issue can either be investigated (by readers) or resolved (by the Wikipedia editing community)." (emphasis mine) Hyacinth 03:32, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Thanks for your elucidation of some pertinent issues, Hyacinth. Most contributors will be aware of the value of original research, citation of "authorities", and the other academic virtues, all applied in their proper contexts. Sometimes it's hard to separate original research from citation, perhaps. This may be one such case. But counting movements, commenting on their very evident sequence and nature – these things are surely innocuous, and indeed exactly the sort of thing needed here, however we may label such "research". As for the now notorious "standard form", while I would be happy simply to have it retained as an explicitly expository device (fitting exactly with Beethoven's first three piano sonatas, which is handy), I agree that anything beyond that would call for some sort of a citation. I have no doubt that such citations could easily be found, among the pedagogical material of the last two centuries. We'll see how things evolve. I'll do no editing here till things settle down.--Noetica 04:02, 21 Feb 2005 (UTC)

A reply for Stirling Newberry[edit]

<sorry for delay in replying; Opus33 only edits on Sundays>

Stirling Newberry is correct that most Classical sonatas have fewer than four movements. In my earlier edit, I was entirely focused on fixing other problems with this article (see my comments above) and I missed this point. Mea culpa.

Stirling Newberry also asserted that I was being rude. To be honest, I just can't see this; I don't think my remarks were insulting in any way, nor were they intended to be. Indeed, I made them as a courtesy, to justify a revert.

It can be further noted that I didn't accuse anybody of being unable to count, nor did I defy anyone to "RFC" me.[1] Stirling Newberry did both, and I think it would be appropriate for him to apologize for doing so.

Concerning issues of courtesy in general, I greatly recommend for their wisdom the Wikipedia guides Wikipedia:Staying cool when the editing gets hot and Wikipedia:Assume good faith, which I hope Stirling Newberry will consult.

Lastly, since my edit seems to have been interpreted by Stirling Newberry as based on malice, I would like to assert what I take to be the principles of good encyclopedia editing that underlay it.

  • A good article should be well organized, putting the basics up front and the elaborations later on--or even in separate articles. Everything should be in its place, with no unnecessary duplications.
  • It should include a full complement of links to appropriate Wikipedia articles, and cite its sources.
  • It should read smoothly and be free of grammar and spelling mistakes.

We can disagree on whether the edit by Stirling Newberry that I mostly reverted lived up to these surely uncontroversial values. My judgment was that it largely did not, and that is why I edited it.

The dozens of edits made by Stirling Newberry during the past week seem to have improved things somewhat, though I do believe that further editing would still be beneficial.

Thanks for listening, Opus33 06:23, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

^ Note for non-cognoscenti: "RFC" means "Request for comment". The start-up of a "Request for comment" page is the beginning (evidence-gathering) of the process whereby an editor can lose his Wikipedia editing privileges. Thus, "RFC me" is the Wikipedia equivalent of the traditional taunt "So sue me."

I am going to just ignore this, as the crisis has passed and I have no wish to open wounds which are healing. Particularly since the article has been improved as a result. Stirling Newberry

Opus33, yours is a very measured and responsible contribution here, in my opinion. Like you, I have not so far edited any of the copious material that Stirling has added. Much of it addresses things that we would want addressed, of course; but it needs substantial editing. For myself, I will not waste my time on material that is largely in the wrong location, that is not well structured or lucid, and that will in all likelihood be subject to further edits removing any ameliorations. In short, I shall not be editing this article at all. The offences committed here amount to a mere unavoidable irritant, when one takes the long view. There are better things to be concerned with. --Noetica 21:24, 28 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Per Wikipedia:No personal attacks, please do not personally address headings to people on talk pages (see: WP:TALKNO). Article talk pages should be used for discussing the articles, not their contributors. Headings on article talk pages should be used to facilitate discussion by indicating and limiting topics related to the article. For instance, you could make a header whose title describes in a few words one problem you have with the article. This will make it easy for people to address that issue, work towards consensus, and eventually resolve the issue or dispute and improve the article. If you need to reach another user please go to their user talk page. Thanks. Hyacinth 01:29, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Famous Sonatas[edit]

Famous is necessarily a subjective criterion. My method so far has been to run through google on various periods and pick up the sonatas listed, plus emailing with various critics I know. If someone feels a sonata listed is marginal and should be removed, by all means do so. And there are certainly sonatas which belong on the list which are not there yet. This, of all things, is something where progressive consensus should be able to reach a better list than any one editor. Stirling Newberry 01:31, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Just skimming through the list I can think of a bunch that ought to be there -- I can add some later -- how would you think they should be organized? alpha by composer by era? chronologically by composer by era? by instrument by era? (that's actually a good way to research them) Antandrus 01:39, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I've got no preference, whatever people feel is best, I've been doing "roughly chronologically", but overlap makes this difficult/impossible. There are certainly more to add (Haydn, Beethoven, Bocherini). There should also be a baroque list as well. Stirling Newberry 01:47, 1 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I've moved Beethoven's Sonatas to "Romantic" and removed the first. Some more thinning of this list could be in order, and various composers (and a whole period!) need to be added (like Haydn). If anyone believes that Beethoven's Sonatas should be listed as "Classical", then perhaps Beethoven's section should be split?

translation needed (and help)))) )[edit]

i need to translate an article for the italian wikipedia, about the sonata.

i know it's ignominous, but we still miss this entry.....

i'm sorry for me beeing so ignorant, but since i found this and that, which one is the best for me to translate?

thanking you all in advance

--joana 15:30, 24 May 2005 (UTC)

is it possible....[edit]

is it possible....[edit]

...that the title of the 2nd paragraph ("forces") could be considered as "forms"??

in this case, everything would be more understandable....

thanks --joana 17:49, 8 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Forces refers to the instrumental forces (near-synonyms: combinations, groups, orchestrations, instrumentations, ...) that a sonata has almost always required at a certain point in history. So in the baroque period the 'trio sonata' has been a sonata for two instruments and continuo, a sonata-for-trio, while there have been, just in the Baroque music era, sonatas for other combinations too- for a solo with another player playing figured bass, or for more contrapuntal combinations. The paragraph goes on to explain that a sonata was assumed by typical composers and listeners of later times to be for solo or for solo and keyboard. Though there have always been exceptions, and more and more of them in the modern age (Elliott Carter's trio sonata, (David? maybe Colin...) Matthews' sonata for orchestra, ... are just two of many exceptions.) Schissel : bowl listen 20:53, Jun 8, 2005 (UTC)


I'm just wondering if there's a reason why the list of famous sonatas is not in alphabetical order? Karol 20:29, July 18, 2005 (UTC)

I tried to keep them roughly chronological. But am agnostic on how they are to be ordered in the final version. Great additions Eric. Stirling Newberry 20:14, 22 July 2005 (UTC)

Making Sonata a direct-link article[edit]

When one searches for "Sonata", one arrives at Sonata, a disambig page. I think that the article about the musical Sonata should come up directly, as it is the predominant meaning (not the car or the sedative, which are deduced from the musical term). Is it ok with everybody if I move the disambig page to Sonata (disambiguation) and move this page to Sonata? Peter S. 02:06, 21 January 2006 (UTC)

Sonata Form[edit]

The sonata form article has a contrast at the begining of the article. Should a similar contrast be here. --Gbleem 23:39, 19 August 2006 (UTC)

Move Request[edit]

It was requested that this article be renamed but the procedure outlined at WP:RM#How to request a page move did not appear to be followed, and consensus could not be determined. Please request a move again with proper procedure if there is still a desire for the page to be moved. Thank you for time! -- tariqabjotu 02:54, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

These pages state that "requesting moves" is not for "Unobstructed, uncontroversial moves". Any user can do it himself. If nobody objects to moving this article to Sonata, as User:Peter S. suggested, I will go ahead and do it. --Crabbyass 18:39, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
Oops, sorry for not following the procedure. My bad. (btw couldn't we create some sort of macro so that this becomes a 1-step affair?) Peter S. 00:46, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Requested move[edit]

Sonata (music)Sonata – There doesn't seem to be a reason for the "(music)" in the title. There is already a Sonata (disambiguation) page. The only other pages with the word "Sonata" in them are Hyundai Sonata and Sonata Form. There is no Sonata (car) or Sonata (musical form). Both of these terms derive their name from the musical term term "Sonata". Therefore, it should be its own page, without the "music" in brackets. I tried moving the page myself, but it won't let me: The page could not be moved: a page of that name already exists, or the name you have chosen is not valid. Please choose another name, or use Requested moves to ask an administrator to help you with the move. Sonata already re-directs to Sonata (music), so this could be the reason why I'm getting the error - it does have 3 previous edits (it used to be a disambig page until Sonata (disambiguation) was created). User:Peter S. requested the move 8 months ago, and there has not been a single objection. Crabbyass 19:12, 25 August 2006 (UTC)


Add "* Support" or "* Oppose" followed by an optional one-sentence explanation, then sign your opinion with ~~~~

  • Support --Usgnus 19:17, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Support Stumps 20:32, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Support. Antandrus (talk) 20:43, 25 August 2006 (UTC)
  • Support Peter S. 00:43, 27 August 2006 (UTC)


Add any additional comments --Crabbyass 19:12, 25 August 2006 (UTC)

'Tis done. (I had to delete the redirect page to allow the move.) Antandrus (talk) 01:55, 27 August 2006 (UTC)


Beethoven belongs with the Vienna Classicists here, and I have moved him back to the Classical era. Added Haydn, Dussek and Clementi, but by no means exhaustive in any of the three. Stirling Newberry 01:05, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

Solving the Current Revert War[edit]

It is time to lower the temperature on this page.

It is bad form to mix a content dispute with copy edits, and then argue the copy edits as a way of winning the content dispute.

There are violations of citability on the page that must be cleared up. The bach sonata reference is the most obvious "can be admitted" is clearly a judgement call, and if no one can say who made it, or what body of opinion holds it, then it has to go. I've been leaving it in hoping that who ever inserted it would put in the reference - but if not, then it is uncitable POV and not broad consensus.

The specific issues need to be discussed, not edit warred over.

[The post above was by Stirling Newberry – Noetica 00:45, 4 September 2006 (UTC)] 17:13, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

If you think something needs a citation, the correct template is {{cn}}, not {{cite}}. You need to take a look at how it actually appears on the page. If the removal of {{cite}} was all you object to in Noeticas edits, you should have removed just that. Apparently you object to more than that, but have not given much reason. I agree with all of the edits as they were made: The {{cite}} tag was garbage on the page, and should have been removed. The term "cf" is somewhat obscure, and is much better replaced by "for example" here (and italicizing a song title is a good idea too). The J.W. Davidson quote I think is irrelevant nonsense. The second use of the word "standard" was redundant. There was nothing more to these edits, and I fail to see why they deserve a summary revert (and you have failed to provide any reason for it either, other than "I don't want to bother with copy editing because I am angry"). - Rainwarrior 17:37, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
  • cf isn't obscure, it is used in scholarly writing the world over. It doesn't mean "for example", it means "compare" [Cf.]
  • The Davidson quote is an example of scholarly reception at the time, and is fairly representative of how people of that timewrote. I included it some time ago to give readers an idea of what 19th century critical writing looks like. If you have a better represenative quote please suggestione. "Nonsense" is a term of art on wikipedia, it means text inserted to look like encyclopediac writing which has no justification.
  • I am again going to call for lowering the temperature here. Your recent reply doesn't do this.

Stirling Newberry 17:54, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

I know what it means, but in the context of the article "for example" has just as suitable a meaning (more suitable, in my opinion). Using "for example" is more accessable to the reader than "cf". It's not a term that most High School students would know. Other latin terms, like "i.e." and "e.g.", on the other hand, are much more common.
There is no "most high school students" standard. It meant compare in the context of the article, not for example. And if you felt it obscure then you could have wikilinked it. Stirling Newberry 18:33, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
The paragraph preceding the Davidson quote discusses a change in the form of the Sonata, which is directly followed with: "For example critic J.W. Davidson..." The quote certainly is not elucidate the Sonata Form. But beyond this, the quote is not a meaningful description of the Sonata at all. The metaphorical descriptions, "...battle of the actual elements and the conflict of human passions", are literally nonsense (even in the "wikipedia" sense you want to ascribe to the word). J.W. Davidson is attempting to express satisfaction with the work. It's not particularly relevant to Sonata (other than that he used the word Sonata), though yes, it is indeed a good example of 19th century criticsim. As the quote is introduced now, all it introduces is confusion. I see no reason to include it at all, but if there is any value in it, it would be to demonstrate that the Sonata was a term known to music critics at the time, which would better be said in those words instead, rather than with unexplained Romantic nonsense.
This is simply not accurate, it is how the 19th century wrote about such things and I can cough up dozens of examples from works on, for example, Beethoven's string quartets, Wagner's On Conducting. Your accusation that it is nonsense is inaccurate. The establishment of contrasting character of themes was an important theoretical point in 19th century thinking, one mentioned in a drier more modern way elsewhere. Providing an example from the time period is appropriate so that people know what we are talking about. Again if you have a better example then use that one instead. Stirling Newberry 18:33, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
I am sorry for attributing your callous reversion to anger. All this talk of war and gasoline gave me the wrong impression. I'll take that part of the sentence back then. - Rainwarrior 18:19, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
It certainly seems likely that we can work these issues out. Thought Noetica will have to have his/her say before consensus is really reached. Stirling Newberry 18:33, 3 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't know what you're talking about about with "standards", but I don't see why we should stick with a less accessible wording, like "cf" (and as I hinted above, I do think it's an example, more than it is a comparison). If you have a good explanation of the relevance of the quote to the Sonata, then you should put it in the article, rather than just asserting here that it belongs there. I know it's typical of 19th century criticism; I agreed with that much above, but in its context right now, it has no meaning. If you would offer your analysis of it in the article itself, it might begin to seem relevant. (I don't know why you suggest I should find a better quote, when I was suggesting it shouldn't be there at all.) It should probably be moved further down in the section as well. - Rainwarrior 18:52, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

I replaced "Forces" with "Instrumentation", and made a couple of minor changes to that section, including replacing "cf" with "compare". Does that really look like it has the right meaning? What are we comparing Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy to? I also replaced "not quite felt to be sonatas" with a more accurate description of what a Fantasy is. - Rainwarrior 19:19, 3 September 2006 (UTC)

The Wander Fantasia is almost universally not listed as a sonata, and thus is cited as an example of where the lines are drawn. Stirling Newberry 16:40, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Are you saying that it is sometimes referred to as a sonata? - Rainwarrior 19:13, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Olivier Grief[edit]

One of the most monumental sets of sonatas of the late 20th century comes from Olivier Greif. Do people think he is important enough to include? I am inclined to say "no" simply because of the scarcity of recordings and performances. But he at least deserves a better article. Stirling Newberry 16:43, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

I've never heard of him. But why do we have a "famous sonatas" section anyway? A List of sonatas would involve much less decision work about what is and what isn't famous, and we could limit "famous sonatas" to just a few from each era, maybe. - Rainwarrior 19:40, 5 September 2006 (UTC)
As a really easy rule of thumb, any sonata that has its own article would probably be famous enough to include in such a list (but I still believe we should start the new article... I think I'll do that now.) - Rainwarrior 19:43, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

Davidson quote[edit]

I have at present removed this from the page:

JW Davison wrote in his The Works of Fredrick Chopin, on page 7 (1843):

Such are the impressions to which we are subject under the influence of this wonderful work – a very triumph of musical picturing – a conquest over what would seem it be unconquerable – viz. – the mingling of the physical and metaphysical in music – the sonata representing a dual picture - ...the battle of the actual elements and the conflict of human passions – the first for the multitude, the last for the initiated.

I said before that it is entered without introduction, and its significance is dreadfully unclear. If it has a place in the article, it must have proper commentary explaining its meaning (if it has one) and relevance to the sonata. I am not opposed to it being put back as long as it is given some context. - Rainwarrior 19:38, 5 September 2006 (UTC)

I note the bad faith edit ganging and personal attacks. Since the best way of dealing with these matters is to avoid them I will not edit this page in the main. I am protesting the bad faith and personal attacks, but am not in any mood to engage in an edit war unless there is some substansive issue (such as the number of movments in a Haydn sonata) at issue. You win, but under protest.

Good day.

Stirling Newberry 01:48, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

You also seem to have posted this to my talk page, I have responded there, but I do not understand at all what you mean by any of this. I am not sure what a "bad faith edit gang" is, nor have I attacked you personally (other than perhaps calling you "angry", which was not meant as an insult, though at this point it is a comment I wish I had not offered). I also fail to see what it is you think I have won. Were we competing for something? - Rainwarrior 06:54, 6 September 2006 (UTC)


I am not a music expert by profession, but I thought Liszt wrote only one sonata, perhaps the most played piano sonata of them all, in B minor? (the article implies more than one: "(..)those of Franz Liszt, (...)" --Pim Bussink 00:34, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Sonatina redirects here[edit]

I typed "sonatina" into the search box and was redirected to sonata. Which would be fine, except that the sonata article doesn't mention sonatinas at all. Should it? Or is the redirect from sonatina inappropriate? Telsa (talk) 12:41, 1 January 2007 (UTC)

Red Link Removed[edit]

I have created a re-direct page to, ‘Piano Sonata No. 17 (Beethoven)’, so that the link to the article on Beethoven’s, ‘Tempest,’ sonata is no longer red. (Red links annoy me!) ♫ The Grand Harp ♫ (talk) 19:47, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

The red link next to the link to the article on the, ‘Waldstein,’ sonata should not be there. I suspect it is a deleted image. I will remove the link. ♫ The Grand Harp ♫ (talk) 19:47, 24 February 2008 (UTC)

Article split[edit]

Does anyone feel like splitting the article based on the sonata's time period? I find myself linking to Sonata#The_sonata_in_the_Classical_period often, because I mean to compare to the Classical, Beethoven-esque Sonata only, not the sprawling post-Romantic or Contemporary sonatas. ALTON .ıl 08:22, 12 April 2008 (UTC)


is a person that loves me —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:16, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

haha I bet you both are lovesick!Just as beethoven and his piano were! AnonymousEMO (talk) 21:50, 1 December 2009 (UTC)EMO

What exactly 'is' a Sonata?[edit]

I've read this article twice and then started reading the Sonata form article and I still couldn't explain to someone exactly what a sonata is. This article is very passive and painful to read. The early portions of the article focus on the word sonata and not on the music. The latter portions focus on what academics think of the word sonata and again neglect the music. The entire introductory section relates only to the word (using means, term, designating, word, applied). Only once is there any reference to the sonata itself, but even that is passive, being only a vague classification, alongside the fugue. It isn't even the primary point of the sentence that it's in.

If this doesn't make sense, substitute something like a car or a piano for sonata and re-read the article.

By the way, can someone decide if the 'Classical' era is an Era, era, or period?

For what it's worth, the article on fugue has similar issues. The one on concerto however, has some clarity. It would be nice if someone who was reasonably knowledgeable on the subject would write an article, or even a section within, describing what a sonata is, perhaps even the reasons why a composer would call their composition one. Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:29, 16 August 2010 (UTC)

I'm sure we all might like a much simpler explanation. However, it seems to me that the lead paragraph makes it perfectly clear that a sonata is a piece played by instruments, and that this is in fact a vague definition, but one that has been in place throughout history. It is the job of the article itself to clarify what the term means in different historical periods, geographical locations, and other contexts. If it does not presently do so (and I have not yet reviewed it thoroughly) then, yes, it needs fixing. I'll have a look and see what I can do. BTW, is there a meaningful difference between an era, an Era, and a period? Capitalization is a matter of style, but it seems to me that "era" and "period" are synonymous.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 04:30, 16 August 2010 (UTC)
Returning after a couple of days and closer scrutiny, I see exactly what you mean about "painful to read", though I'm not sure what you mean by "passive". The prose frequently reads like an entry in the Bulwer–Lytton Fiction Contest, and the entire discussion of historical changes to the form is covered twice—first in brief, and then in sometimes excruciating but not actually very helpful detail. I have made a tiny start on this problem, but a huge amount of work remains. Thank you for calling attention to this mess.—Jerome Kohl (talk) 16:48, 18 August 2010 (UTC)
Thanks. By passive I mean that the text doesn't really say anything. Nothing happens, things just become. For example, the sentences in the opening paragraph beginning with 'The term, being vague…' and 'The term took on…'. At the end of the day, I hope that the first paragraph includes something to the effect of, 'A sonata is a musical composition with the following characteristics…. ' By the way, stating only that a sonata is a piece that is played would apply to a jug and spoon if someone ever wrote down what was played. All instrumental compositions would be sonatas. It may be true or not, but if it is, then that is what the article should say. I look forward to the product of your efforts. — ogenstein (talk) 18:46, 22 August 2010 (UTC)
I think I understand now what you mean by "passive". Unfortunately, depending on what period of history you are referring to, a "sonata" really is "any instrumental composition" (in the 16th and early 17th century, for example). Since in addition the particular characteristics of sonatas in the late-17th and early 18th centuries are quite different from those of the Classical and Romantic periods, there is a real problem with trying to start this article in the way you suggest. (And the 20th-century sonata tends once again to cover a very broad spectrum of instrumental composition, if not quite so broad as was the case in the Renaissance).—Jerome Kohl (talk) 22:16, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Let me try to clarify the various uses of "sonata" that the articles "sonata" and "sonata form" seem to try to address. (1) From the the 15th century until about 1750, "sonata" was a generic term denoting an instrumental composition, though by the 18th century it usually denoted a multi-movement composition for one or two melody instruments and continuo. (2) From about 1750 onwards, "sonata" denoted a large scale composition, usually in "sonata form" in sense 3 below, and usually for piano solo or for one instrument plus piano. (Notable exceptions are the Ravel Sonata for Violin and Cello and the Bartok Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion.) (3) "Sonata form" can refer to the multi-movement form used not only by sonatas but also by symphonies; trios, quartets, and quintets; and (with some modification) concertos from about 1750 onwards. By roughly the 1780s symphonies and trios/quartets/quintets were typically four movements, while many sonatas (sense 2) continued to have 2 or 3 movements well into the 19th century. Concertos have with very few exceptions remained at 3 movements. (4) "Sonata form" also refers specifically to the form typically used for the first movements of works in sonata form (sense 3), as well as many operatic arias of the Classical period.

Right now, the "sonata" article tries to cover (1), (2), and (3), while the "sonata form" article tries to cover (4). I'm wondering if a reorganization so that "sonata" covers (1) and (2) while "sonata form" (or possibly 2 "sonata form" articles) cover (3) and (4) might help. This is not uncontroversial; my impression (it has been a while, and I'm not even sure I could find citations) is that some scholars use "sonata form" to cover only (4), with no word for (3), while other scholars use "sonata form" for (3) and "sonata-allegro form" for (4), and others use "sonata form" for both. Quasihumanist (talk) 00:33, 21 September 2010 (UTC)