Phrase Length

Music phrases can be thought of as building blocks, defining the periodicity of events in a temporal grid. Certain musical styles are characterized by a specific choice of phrase length or periodicity. For example, the classical style (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and their contemporaries) is marked by antecedent and consequent phrase structures, where the predominant phrase length equals to a number of bars that is a power of 2 (i.e., 2, 4, 8, 16).

Fryderyk Chopin’s (1810-1849) scherzi for piano, for example, are constructed on phrases that are eight measures long.