Composite Part Forms

Chapter 5:  Composite Part Forms

Composite Three-Part Forms

One of the commonly used composite forms in the Classical period is the Minuet and Trio, or Scherzo and Trio.  Each part of these forms is usually a small binary or ternary form.  At the end of the Trio a da capo repeat is indicated, which instructs the performer to go back to the beginning of the Minuet and play it again.  The repeats are not taken in the restatement of the Minuet.

An analysis of Beethoven’s Scherzo and Trio from his String Quartet Op. 18, No. 1  is provided on page 113 of the text.  The score is found on page 268, and a YouTube link is included in the Materials below.  This is a somewhat stylized version of the Scherzo, with a transition and developmental coda in the first section.  Many multimovement instrumental compositions from the Classical and Romantic periods include this type of form. Examples of instrumental composite three-part compositions are listed on page 114 of the text.  A discussion of Brahm’s Rhapsody, Op. 119, No. 4 is on page 121, and the score is on page 278 of the Anthology with a YouTube link in the Materials below.  Follow the steps on page 129 for a deeper analysis of this piece.

Vocal literature also includes examples of composite part forms.  In addition to art songs, operas from the Baroque through the Romantic period were filled with arias.  The Baroque da capo aria exhibits similar formal characteristics to the minuet and trio, where the indication D. C. al fine appears at the end of the Trio instructing performers to go back to the beginning and play the first section again.  In the operatic aria, the verses are often separated by an instrumental passage called a ritornello.  An aria from Handel’s opera Xerxes, "Se l’idol mio," is on page 274 of the Anthology.  It is discussed on page 117, and a link to the YouTube performance is in the Materials below.


In addition to the composite forms found in the text, movement II of the Haydn’s Sonata in E Major  (Hoboken 13) is included among the Materials.  Complete a Graphic Analysis form and Analytic Observations for this piece, as well as the Beethoven and Brahms examples in the Anthology.

Ludvig van Beethoven:  Scherzo and Trio, String Quartet Op. 18, No. 1, Mvt. III

Brahms:  Rhapsody Op. 119, No.4  

Handel:  Xerxes "Se l’idol mio" da capo aria

Franz Joseph Haydn: Sonata in E Major (HOB 13) Minuet and Trio  (PDF)

Scroll to Top