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Theme and Variations

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A Musical Form found mostly in Classical Music in which there is a theme, for which embellished, simplified, complexified, or otherwise altered versions are composed. Generally speaking, it is customary to perform the theme first, followed by the variations, in an order specified by the composer.

Related Classical forms include the Ground Bass form, Passacaglia form, Chaconne formnote , the Fuguenote , and Isorhythmnote , which all predate the Classical-era "Theme and Variations" form (though the idea of having a central "theme" that a piece is built around predates all of them).

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Sometimes, an entire soundtrack is built off of this concept: see Theme-and-Variations Soundtrack.

Examples are very common in Classical Music, but here are some notable ones:


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