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What does variation and theme mean in music?

Question asked by: knowitall

Variation and theme have fairly specific meanings in the context of a piece of music.

They are most succinctly and easily defined as the following:

A theme is an important element of melody in the piece, and as such it will be repeated several times through the course of the one piece of music.

A variation, in music, refers to an element that is repeated one or more times in the music, but is changed in some way - for instance through a key change, some embellishments and so forth.

By: Unknown
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Comments and other answers:

You might also be referring to theme and variations, which is a musical form where a fundamental musical idea, or theme, is repeated in altered form or accompanied in a different manner. It can be used as a solo piece or as movement of a larger piece. Classically, a theme/variation would be composed of two repeated halves in the form A|BA| (vertical lines denoting repeats) with the passage modulating to the dominant key at the end of the first half, and modulating back to the tonic by the end of the theme/variation.
By: jasminezhu

Date of comment: Mon, Jan 26th 2009

A theme and variation can also be known as "variations on a theme" which is probably what confused you.
By: jasminezhu

Date of comment: Mon, Jan 26th 2009

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mean  music  theme  variation  

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