Name Tags

It’s All in the Name

Understanding the Audition Process
(Part III/C – Solo Repertoire / Understanding the Title of the Composition)

The title of most musical compositions, especially solo compositions, has a specific purpose. Its purpose is to outline the form of the composition. As an auditioner, you must know what every aspect of the title means. Here’s what we mean. We’ll use Mozart’s “Concerto In A, KV662” for solo Bb Clarinet as our example. Now, let’s pick it apart.

Concerto – A musical composition usually composed in three movements in which a solo instrument is accompanied by orchestra or band. In the absence of either orchestra or band, a pianist via a piano transcription, is the accompanying partner. The first movement is traditionally in a sonata form, the second movement in a serenade form, and the third movement in a rondo form.

Now let’s unpack what I just said, starting with the forms.

Movement I / Sonata Movement II / Serenade Movement III / Rondo
A musical structure consisting of three main sections: an exposition, a development, and a recapitulation. Most often performed at Allegro (lively and brisk) tempo. A musical form that highlights a moving melodic line in the ABA Song form that is typically calm and light in character. The second movement is often in a related key. Most often performed at Andante (slow) or Adagio (slower) tempo. A principal theme that alternates with one or more contrasting themes. Most often performed at Presto (very fast) tempo.

The word “ Concerto ” comes from Italian that seems to originate from the conjunction of two Latin words: conserere (meaning to tie, to join, to weave) and certamen (meaning to compete or fight). The idea is that the two parts in a concerto – the soloist and the orchestra/band – alternate between episodes of opposition, cooperation, and independence to create a sense of flow throughout the three movements.

In A – with the A being capitalized, it means that the key is A major.

KV662 – KV is an abbreviation in German for Kochel Verzichnis. Kochel is the last name of the publisher that collected Mozart’s music and Verzeichnis means “registry” or “list”. So, “KV662” means that this is the 662nd musical composition that Mozart registered with his publisher.

The auditioner should research and have a general knowledge of each of the following kinds of compositions:

  • Air
  • Aria
  • Arioso
  • Art
  • Ballade
  • Bolero
  • Bourée
  • Canzona
  • Capriccio
  • Chanson
  • Concerto
  • Elegie
  • Fantasia
  • Fantasy
  • Gavotte
  • Hornpipe
  • Intrada
  • Jig
  • March
  • Menuet
  • Menuetto
  • Nocturne
  • Overture
  • Patter
  • Pavane
  • Polonaise
  • Prelude
  • Rag
  • Rapsodie
  • Recitative
  • Rigaudon
  • Romance
  • Rondo
  • Samba
  • Saraband
  • Scherzo
  • Serenade
  • Soliloquy
  • Sonata
  • Sonatina
  • Song
  • Suite
  • Theme and Variations
  • Villanelle
  • Waltz

A working knowledge of solo musical titles is a must. Believe me, many audition judges will ask the auditioner what the title of their composition means. Unlocking the title will give you another key for success!

Dr. Randall Bayne, CEO


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