A Sonata as Teacher
Music makes things in our minds, but afterward most of them fade away. What remains? In one old story about Mozart, the wonder child hears a lengthy contrapuntal mass and then writes down the entire score. I do not believe such tales, for history documents so few of them that they seem to be mere legend, though by that argument Mozart also would seem to be legend. Most people do not even remember the themes of an evening's concert. Yet, when the tunes are played again, they are recognized. Something must remain in the mind to cause this, and perhaps what we learn is not the music itself but a way of hearing it.
Compare a sonata to a teacher. The teacher gets the pupils' attention, either dramatically or by the quiet trick of speaking softly. Next, the teacher presents the elements carefully, not introducing too many new ideas or developing them too far, for until the basics are learned the pupils cannot build on them. So, at first, the teacher repeats a lot. Sonatas, too, explain first one idea, then another, and then recapitulate it all.
(Music has many forms and there are many ways to teach. I do not say that composers consciously intend to teach at all, yet they are masters at inventing forms for exposition, including those that swarm with more ideas and work our minds much harder.)
Thus 'expositions' show the basic stuff–the atoms of impending chemistries and how some simple compounds can be made from those atoms. Then, in 'developments', those now-familiar compounds, made from bits and threads of beat and tone, can clash or merge, contrast or join together. We find things that do not fit into familiar frameworks hard to understand–such things seem meaningless. I prefer to turn that around: a thing has meaning only after we have learned some ways to represent and process what it means, or to understand its parts and how they are put together.
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