Period (music)

In music, the term period refers to certain types of recurrence in small-scale formal structure. In twentieth-century music scholarship, the term is usually used as defined by the Oxford Companion to Music: "a period consists of two phrases, antecedent and consequent, each of which begins with the same basic motif."[3] Earlier usage varied somewhat, but usually referred to similar notions of symmetry, recurrence, and closure. The concept of a musical period originates in comparisons between music structure and rhetoric at least as early as the 16th century.[4]

Period (two five-bar phrases) in Haydn's Feldpartita. Play  The second phrase is built of parallel (similar) melodic material, distinguished by an authentic cadence answering the half cadence at the end of the first phrase.[1]
Period (two four-bar phrases) in Beethoven's Piano Sonata in C Minor, Op. 13 (Pathetique), second movement. Play  Second phrase built from new material, "gives the effect of greater freedom of melodic thought."[2]