Since I based my first assignment on the structure of rondo, I decided to do a research post about its history. Rondo is one of the basic musical forms in which a repeated section (refrain), usually in home key, alternates with several episodes (couplets). Regarding the origins of the form, there are some debates muddled by the historical terminologies.
One of the theories is that the term and the principle of rondo may have been derived from the medieval French poetry form rondeau. As Apel (1969: 739) explains, the music was only composed for the refrain which is formed of the line 1 and 2, recurring in part in the middle and completely at the end of the poem, with the scheme A B a A a b A B. (capital letters denote the refrains) However, Apel himself doubts that there is any connection of the medieval rondeau to the later 17th and 18th-century instrumental rondeau. Schoenberg (2010: 266) too argues that “if musical rondo form were really supposed to be modelled on the poetic form, it could only be so very superficially.” Cole (2001) also included some other problems:
“Any connection between the medieval or Renaissance rondeau and that of the 17th and 18th centuries is at best tenuous; and parallels between the later rondo and (for example) the ritornello principle and the rondo cantata need to be more thoroughly investigated […] Mattheson, however, indignantly noted that although ‘rondeau’ does indeed derive from ‘rond’ or ‘rund’ (circle), the music to which this term is properly applied originates neither in the circle-dance nor in the Runda (a relative of the French ronde de table), a type of drinking-song.” Continue reading “Assignment 1 Research, Part 1: The Rondo Form”