The 'musical form' of a piece of music is a fundamental aspect of it, and plays a vital role in its success (or otherwise).
What is musical form?
Musical form is the overall structure or plan of a piece of music. It will generally consist of a number of sections, each section having its own musical idea, or ideas. One example could be a piece that starts with a section called ‘A’, then follows with a different section (B), then brings back the first section (A) again to end the piece. This would generally be written as ‘ABA’.
But why is it so important to have a form or structure?
Some answers could be – to give the piece a recognizable ‘shape’, and allow the musical ideas to fit together in a musical way. With a structure, there can be a recognizable sequence of ideas and the music will ‘flow’, rather than it sounding disjointed and confusing. When the composer has clearly ordered their musical ideas, the listener will be able to clearly understand what the composer intended to say.
This is much the same as assembling similar thoughts into paragraphs in the written word. The paragraphs make the text more easily readable, and allow the story to be clearly told.
As a composer, good musical ideas may come quickly, but it will probably then take a lot of time and effort to organize them in a way that makes musical sense, and to create the desired effect. But if the composer has put in this effort, it allows the listener to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the music! They won’t have to try and make sense of the music, because all the hard work has been done by the composer. The music is allowed to just ‘cast its magic’ on the listener!
On the other hand, if you were studying the music, you would want to listen to it with a critical ear, maybe find someone’s written analysis of the music and mark the sections and other details on the sheet music. This will also help you practise the piece more effectively.
See my blog – ‘Creating a house for your musical ideas’ which looks at a musical composition as being like a ‘house’, and uses songwriting to talk about ways to fit musical ideas together to form a well-designed ‘house’.