Learning Activity #1: Turns with Ternary

Educational Focus:

Students identify ternary form in the second movement of Jacques Hétu's Concerto pour flute. They discuss the effect of familiarity in this form and display their knowledge through identifying this form in their lives.

Materials

Audio assets: Excerpts I and II from Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu
Flash asset: Flute, Movement II from the score of Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu (on overhead)
Text asset: Ternary Terms

Lesson Map

I. Score Study

  • Using an overhead, show the flash asset: Flute, Movement II from the score of Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu.
  • Focus on the beginning of the flute melody.
  • Ask: Can you see this same melody appear anywhere else in the score? (measure 62)
  • Tell students: This movement is an example of ternary form, which is a three section composition in which the third section is a repeat or mirror of the first section (A-B-A). By identifying similar material in the flute part we can see the form before hearing it.

II. Listen and Follow

  • Listen to audio asset Excerpt I from Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu. Focus on the flute solo.
  • Now listen to audio asset Excerpt II from Concerto pour flûte. Follow the music in your score. It begins at measure 33.
  • Ask: What effect does hearing the return of that flute material have? (a familiarity, like coming home after a journey)
  • Ask: Does measure 50 also sound like a return to the A section? Why might it? (melodic material, falling three sixteenths after downbeat, orchestra passage that separates or transition from the middle, B, section)

III. Compare

  • Listen to the two A sections again (Excerpts I and Excerpt II, the A section returns at 1:58).
  • Ask: Are the two A sections the same? How are they different? (in the first excerpt the flute is accompanied by muted trumpet, in the second by woodwinds, and they have different endings)
  • Ask: What is a part of our life that has a beginning, a middle that is different, then a return to the beginning with slight changes? (Everyday at school? Return to home, but changed from the days exploration)

Excerpt I from Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu (0:01:27)

Excerpt I from Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu - Play now

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In the first half of his Flute Concerto, Hétu introduces a haunting flute melody with quiet string and woodwind accompaniment. This melody returns later in the piece.

Excerpt II from Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu (0:02:37)

Excerpt II from Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu - Play now

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Here, halfway through Hétu’s Flute Concerto, the solo becomes more agitated urging on the orchestra accompaniment. This wave builds and falls to leave the return of an earlier haunting flute melody, this time with a swirling background. 

Flute, Movement II from the score of Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu

Ternary Terms
Although 'sonata form' is often referred to as a ternary structure, it is not really so because its two sections are intertwined. For a true ternary structure there must be three separate sections and often in music the third is the repeat or mirror image of the first. A close parallel is the triptyque in visual art. In fact Mercure wrote a wonderful symphonic work called Triptyque in which the final movement is the exact reverse of the first.

The Minuet and Trio structure overall is actually a ternary structure when one lays it our as it is heard in performance.

- - - - - :// * * * * * :// ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ :// ====== :// - - - - - // * * * * * //

A B A

This type of structure continues to show up in musical compositions, often of course with the final A being varied and modified.

Credits and Copyright

  • Audio asset: Excerpt I from Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu
    1991, Jacques Hétu
  • Audio asset: Excerpt II from Concerto pour flûte by Jacques Hétu
    1991, Jacques Hétu
  • Flash asset: Movement II from the Score of Concerto pour flûte
    1991, Jacques Hétu
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