This octet contains three variations which carries some piece of the original theme throughout it. Each variation is clearly labeled in the piece, but also you can tell where they are just by looking at the structural phenomena as the piece progresses.
At the very beginning, the piece introduces the main theme which is held in the flute and clarinet parts. The rest of the orchestra are playing a very soft steady beat, but on the off beats of the measures. The movement of this accompaniment is very stepwise. That melody is kept in the flute and clarinet until measure nine where the trombone plays with the idea. Dynamics, tempo, texture, density, and everything stay the same throughout this introductory section except the placement of the main idea and there, and one odd thing were there is a measure of 4/4 instead of the usual 3/4.
The first variation starts right after the double bar lines at the end of m. 14. The things that point out this variation are the double bar lines, a change in tempo from eighth=92 to eight=126. Also, there is a very dramatic change in dynamic shooting all the way up to a ff from a p. The texture changes along with the density and rhythm. Basically, there is a shift in everything except for meter, which stays 3/4. Starting in measure 15, the off beat accompaniment is gone and a more sustained line (which is also the main theme from the beginning) is introduced for the first four measure before transitioning back (when it goes back to the off beats, the main them is passed up to the flute and clarinet where they track the notes in their staccato line) . The tempo of the line has increased as while as the amount of notes put into a single measure making the lines longer and faster, and with the dynamics louder. An overall more grand effect. This variation then cools back down to a p when the off beat accompaniment is played to remind you of the beginning then this variation ends with the main them in the top trombone part.
Variation 2, starts after the double bar lines at the end of measure 26. Also, here we see a change in meter from 3/4 into 4/4. There is a change in tempo going to a quarter=120-126 from what we just had (eighth=126) This has a change in texture because there is still the eighth note staccato accompaniment, but instead of a section holding the melody. Stravinsky brings in the idea of solo instruments. This variation is also starting to toy around with the idea of uneven rhythms and uneven meters throwing in a 5/4 or a 3/4 here and there. Also, with the rhythms having dotted eighths and what not. All of the material in this variation seems very different all the way up until measure 48 where the trombone comes in with its solo and plays a patern that we had in the main theme from the beginning.
Variation 3 starts of after the double bar lines in measure 56 and right away we have a change in meter (now we are in 3/8). A change in tempo ( quarter=63). There is also a change in overall rhythm. The bass accompaniment is now a waltz feel 1 2 3...staccato... while the upper voices carry the melody. which shifts between legato and staccato eighth note runs.. hummm... then the piece kind of stops.......as it goes into a 2/4 measure