Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

George P. Sanders


This thesis examines the stylistic aspects of form, harmony, tonality, melody, texture and rhythm in six twentieth century piano sonatinas. These sonatinas are arranged in chronological order from 1905 to 1949, each comprising a chapter of the thesis. There is also an appendix accompanying each sonatina which contains the formal and harmonic outline of that sonatina. The sonatinas chosen for analysis are Sonatine by Maurice Ravel (1905); Sonatina by Bela Bartok (1915); Sonatina by Dmitri Kabalevsky (1930), Op. 13, No. 1; Sonatina by Serge Prokofieff (1931), Op. 54, No. 1; Sonatina by David Diamond (1935); and Sonatina by Vincent Persichetti (1949), Op. 38.

The stylistic aspects covered under form are both structural and harmonic. Structurally--asymmetric and irregular-length phrases are used; motives are distorted, cadences are slurred over, and melodies are non-singable. Harmonically--key relationships are flexible; modulations are abrupt, and the use of new tonalities have modified the forms based on tonality.

Some of the harmonic resources found in the analysis of these six sonatinas are tertian and non-tertian structures, melodic doubling, non-functional harmony; and consonant use of previously considered dissonances.

The new tonal systems explored are shifted tonality, modality, polytonality, free or expanded tonality, and atonality.

Melodically, some of the new scale resources used include the modal, dodecuple, and overtone scales. The sonatinas also employ the use of limited range and extreme registers, a lack of symmetry and repetition, and some melodies which do not gravitate to a central tone.

Texturally, dissonant counterpoint and new contrapuntal procedures are used as well as unison writing, fragmentation, widely spaced sonorities, and extreme registers.

The rhythmic devices used are shifted accents, asymmetric meters and divisions, changing and alternating meters, ostinato and pedal point, and pulsating rhythms.

Many changes in musical style have occured in this century; therefore, a brief description of the stylistic aspects from previous centuries is included in the introduction and also a list of composers who wrote earlier sonatinas.

From the analysis of the six sonatinas, some of the more significant twentieth century stylistic changes from each area of form, harmony, tonality, melody, texture and rhythm are reviewed in the conclusion. Also included is a list of other composers of twentieth century sonatinas.

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