Rondos I, III and V, Opus 3 by Jane Savage:
Motive Development and the Musical Narrative

by Nadine Burke


Rondo V breaks from the traditional format of the rondo, involving harmonic and motivic development. Normally the rondo theme is quite static: in this theme Savage introduces an augmented fourth in the antecedent phrase in m. 3. She continues to create harmonic tension with the harmonic struggle in the first episode. While she alternates between two keys - F and C major, which are obviously related, she creates tension by introducing another augmented fourth in m. 11. This tension in both the rondo theme and the first episode may be why she continues to develop motives derived from the rondo theme throughout the rest of the rondo. This in itself is not new. What is interesting is the fact that she introduces no new material in the fourth episode and the coda. Rather she continues to focus primarily on material from the rondo theme in the fourth episode and the coda to the extreme (See Chart V: Rondo III, Opus 3 by Jane Savage). The result is a persistent transformation of gestures from the rondo theme in the various episodes.


The musical narrative around the rondo thematic material begins with the main motive from the rondo theme motive. This motive consistently reveals itself in various ways throughout the rondo: it is first introduced in the antecedent phrase in m. 2 as a dotted quarter note with an eighth note followed by a grace note and a half note accompanied by broken chords.

Figure 26: mm. 1-2 38

It reappears slightly altered in the consequent phrase at m. 6. Savage likes the motive so much that she inverts the melodic line with a different eighth note accompaniment as she develops a half cadence in F major to conclude the antecedent phrase in m. 4. She returns to the original melodic motive to conclude the consequent phrase using a perfect authentic cadence in F major at m. 8. The accompanying harmony line under the melodic motive includes eighth note gestures, one of which involves a lower auxiliary neighbour. In addition, Savage uses specific gestures in m. 7 to prepare for the final cadence: two sixteenth note patterns in the melody; descending eighth note patterns in the harmony line.

Figure 27: mm. 5-8

Only one rondo-theme cadence changes: this occurs in the final rondo-theme which ends as a deceptive cadence in m. 60 in preparation for the coda. The result of this repeition causes this cadential motive to function as a uniting music thought in this musical narrative with each reiteration.

Figure 28: mm. 59-60


Savage continues to use this rondo cadential motive in various forms throughout various episodes. In the first episode (B), she hints at the gestures in m. 10 in a temporary key of C major; this one is a faint reminder of the antecedent cadence in m. 4. She also anticipates the cadence in m. 14 with a return to the home key of F major. Two gestures are used in this anticipation: one involves two quarter notes in the melody; the other is the lower auxiliary gesture in the harmony. The melodic motive from the rondo theme is transformed into the key of C Major to form the final cadence of the first episode in m. 16.

Figure 29: mm. 14-16

Savage continues to tease at the motive and develops it in the second episode (C) at mm. 26, 29, 32 and 33. Harmonically, this episode moves from F major to a minor at m. 34 by way of g minor at m. 26, F major at m. 28, d minor at m. 30, g minor at m. 31 and C major at m. 32. She finally concludes the second episode with a perfect authentic cadence in a minor at mm. 35 to 36. Of all the cadences, this cadence least resembles the rondo-theme cadence.

Figure 30: mm. 35-36


Although the second episode is the longest episode in this rondo, it is not a developmental cadence. Rather, Savage chooses to explore and develop the cadence in the third episode (D) using greater detail. A motive in mm. 45 to 46 varies the order of the gestures so that the sixteenth notes move from the melody in m. 45 to the harmony in m. 46. Eighth notes accompany the sixteenths in m. 45 and a variation of the melodic motive is heard over the sixteenths in m. 46.

Figure 31: mm. 45-46

This motive is repeated in mm. 47 to 48, raised a full tone. Savage ends the third episode with an extended and varied form of the cadence in mm. 50 to 52, incorporating characteristics of the final rondo theme cadence as found in mm. 7 to 8 and the original form of the motive as found in m. 2 (see figure 26). This cadential motive unites the rondo and connects the episodes to the rondo theme. The musical narrative appears to be complete with this cadential motive.


Savage also develops other rondo theme gestures and motives, sometimes in combination with new ideas in various passages of her episodes, creating a musical dialogue. In the first episode (B), an eighth note harmonic gesture from the rondo theme returns to the melody line transformed at mm. 9 to11; a partial cadential motive (as noted earlier) and a new gesture interrupt the process.

Figure 32: mm. 9-11

Later, a sixteenth note pattern from the opening motive in the rondo theme in m. 1 sequences with a new accompaniment in mm. 14 to 15; this development prepares for the final cadence in m. 16. A sixteenth note gesture from the rondo theme, originally used as a preparation for the cadence, returns in m. 25 to introduce the second episode (C). A sequential motive follows, incorporating new gestures and transforming gestures from the rondo cadence motive: it is first heard in mm. 26 to 27; a variation follows in mm. 28 to 29.

Figure 33: mm. 25-27

A "dotted quarter note with an eighth note" gesture from the rondo theme "cadence" combines with a new melodic gesture with quarter, eighth and sixteenth notes in m. 35 to prepare for the final cadence in the second episode (C) (see figure 30). A motive made from gestures found in the rondo theme and one from the second episode is introduced in the coda in mm. 61 to 62. This motive concludes the rondo in a varied form in a lower octave in mm. 63 to 64.

Figure 34: mm. 62-64

After the third episode appears to conclude the narrative thought, the coda returns to emphasize the return to home. Developed in this manner the third episode in combination with the coda are extended reiterations of the cadential ending in the rondo theme.


There is still more to discover as Savaage develops a musical narrative through the structure of the music. Savage introduces a linear progression with the development of the theoretical construct in the rondo theme. The rondo theme is based on arpeggiation and a linear progression in the antecedent phrase; this theoretical motive reiterates and expands in the consequent phrase.

Figure 35: mm. 5 - 8

Savage continues to develop the rondo theme motive in the episodes and coda. The linear progression that concludes the rondo theme in mm. 7 to 8 is elaborated in the first and second episodes. Beginning in m. 13, this progression repeats twice in the dominant key of C major as a conclusion for the first episode. Savage takes a shorter version of the linear progression, originally in m. 8, and elaborates on it in a minor in the second episode. The linear progression in the third episode, which is in the key of F major, is actually an inverted version of the rondo theme which begins and ends this section.

Figure 36: mm. 55 - 52

Savage returns to a reduced form of the theoretical motive in the coda, reinforcing the return to the tonic key of F major.

Figure 37: mm. 60-64


The development of the underlying structural construction in the episodes supports the narrative found on the surface. The theoretical construct under the compositional element at the rondo-theme cadence repeats in as many varied transformations on the structural level as it does on the surface level. This intimately-layered development expresses the passion Savage relays in this rondo, confirming the amorose nature of this rondo.


Next Section: Conclusion


Copyright 2001 by Nadine J-M. Burke