Movement (music)

For a group of composers in the same style, see Composition school.

A movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. While individual or selected movements from a composition are sometimes performed separately, a performance of the complete work requires all the movements to be performed in succession. A movement is a section, "a major structural unit perceived as the result of the coincidence of relatively large numbers of structural phenomena."[1]

A unit of a larger work that may stand by itself as a complete composition. Such divisions are usually self-contained. Most often the sequence of movements is arranged fast-slow-fast or in some other order that provides contrast.
Benward & Saker (2009), Music in Theory and Practice: Volume II[2]

Classical forms

As with concertos and symphonies, many chamber works use these forms. These chamber pieces are typically named after the ensemble for which they are written: string quartet, piano trio, wind quintet, etc. As with symphonies, numerous exceptions to the standard scheme exist: for example Beethoven's String Quartet op. 131 is in seven movements played without any breaks.


  1. Spencer, Peter; Peter M. Temko (1994). A Practical Approach to the Study of Form in Music. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. p. 31. ISBN 9780881338065. OCLC 31792064. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
  2. Benward, Bruce; Marilyn Nadine Saker (2009). Music in Theory and Practice. 2 (8th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. p. 358. ISBN 9780073101880. OCLC 214305687.
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