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AS 2013 Glossary I have taken some definitions from: and of course Wikipedia!

Minimalism/Minimalist A style of music which originated on the West coast of America in the 1960s with composers such as Steve Reich, Terry Riley and Philip Glass. Minimalism often features: Layers of ostinati Constantly repeated patterns that are subjected to gradual changes Layered textures Interlocking repeated phrases and rhythms Diatonic harmony The combined effect can be almost hypnotic. Neoclassical style in music indicates a 20th century eclectic return by some composers to various styles and forms of earlier periods, whether classical or baroque. The term is particularly associated with the pieces Stravinsky wrote between the early 1920s and 1950s. Many other composers were influenced by this style, including Poulenc, Prokofiev, Milhaud, Honneger etc. Their works reflect earlier music in ways that are often ironic and occasionally humorous. One of their concerns was to recapture wit and lightness in music. The features of earlier styles are often combined with new, 20th Century features. A style of music, dating from approximately 1750-1825, exemplified in music by Mozart, Haydn and Beethovens earlier works. Classical music often features balanced phrases, a slower harmonic rate than that of the previous (Baroque) era and clear, homophonic (or melody dominated homophony) textures. The title sonata originally designated music that was to be played rather than sung. Later, a piece for solo instrument or solo instrument accompanied by a keyboard, usually in several movements. With a religious or biblical text or to be performed in a religious ceremony. A short vocal composition. In the Church of England the word indicates such a composition often using a non-liturgical text (i.e. not part of the official service). A full anthem is for full choir, without soloists, while a verse anthem makes contrasting use of solo singers. Both these forms flourished in the Church of England from the late




Sacred Anthem

16th century. Domestic performance Usually refers to pieces that were designed to be performed in the home, by competent amateurs, rather than in a concert hall by professionals. The era of music usually thought of as lasting from 1450 to 1600. Sacred music often involved unaccompanied voices in dense imitative polyphony with smooth, conjunct melodic lines. Secular (nonreligious) music was also becoming more important: keyboard (harpsichord) music, consort music (music for various musical instruments viols, recorders etc) and lute songs Composers who made the transition between the Renaissance and Early Baroque began to search for greater intensity of expression and emotion. Opera was born as a result of this new dramatic approach. Some composers (eg. Gabrieli, Schutz) employed the polychoral style, with two or more choirs of intstruments or voices spaced around a building. Emotional intensity, expression of words daring use of dissonance. Secular part-song for, usually, 4 or 5 solo voices (usually mixed men and women). They usually deal with love and its accompanying pains and delights, often with a pastoral or mythological setting. The name given to the era of music composed between roughly 1820 and 1900. The orchestra became larger, the music more expressive and often turbulent, with increasing chromaticism and dissonance. The art song became popular: a setting of, usually, serious poetry in the composers native language and accompanied by piano. See Lied. An Art song from the Romantic era, with German text and usually for voice and piano: close expressive union between music and text. A term sometimes applied to the music of Debussy and Ravel (though they didnt use it themselves), borrowed from painters of the time who were trying to convey an impression of the landscape or scene they were painting, rather than a realistic copy. Colour and light were more important. There were visible brushstrokes, vibrant colours, and shapes were not always given a clear outline. Impressionist composers explored the timbres of instruments to create moods and colours, and chromaticism and dissonance to undermine key. A piece of orchestral music in a single continuous section (a movement) in which the content of a poem, a story or novel, a painting, a landscape or another (non-musical) source is illustrated or evoked. Developed from Blues styles incorporating more electric/amplified instruments. Later led to Rock n Roll. Originally, a song telling a story. Now applied to any song about love, often in a soft rock style.


Early Baroque

Seconda Prattica Madrigal


Lied (pl: Lieder) Impressionist

Tone Poem/Symphonic Poem

Rhythm and Blues Ballad

Diatonic Hexatonic scale Conjunct Disjunct Arpeggiated /triadic/broken chord patterns Range Using notes from within the tonic key Based on 6 notes Moving mostly by step Moving mostly in leaps A melody based around an arpeggio or broken chord The span of notes an instrument plays: worthy of mention if it is particularly wide or narrow. Sometimes expressed as the interval between the highest and lowest notes. (eg. a range of a 9th) Where a melody is made up of phrases of an equal or similar length. The melody may be made up of pairs of phrases antecedent and consequent (see below) Pairs of phrases in a piece with periodic phrasing. The antecedent is the first or question, the consequent seems to respond or round of the first phrase the answer. Making use of scale patterns. Extra notes used to decorate a melody: Grace Notes, Trills, Acciaccaturas. Possibly also appoggiaturas, although these can also be seen as a harmonic device. The distance between two consecutive notes of a phrase (as opposed to a harmonic interval, which is the distance between two notes heard at the same time as a chord). The melodic interval at the start of Twinkle Twinkle, for example, is a perfect 5th, A compositional device in which a melodic idea is heard upside down (the intervals go in the opposite direction to those in the original idea). A compositional device in which a melodic idea is heard backwards ie. the first note is heard last, the last note is heard first. A system of composition developed in the early 20th Century by Schoenberg and his pupils, Berg and Webern. They abandoned the traditional relationship between - and hierarchy of - tonic and dominant, and all 12 notes of the chromatic scale became equal. The composer arranges these 12 notes into a tone row or note row (known as the Prime Order) and bases the piece on transformations of this, using techniques such as Inversion, Retrograde, Inversion Retrograde, Transposition etc. The way in which the composer has set the words to music. This could refer to melody and rhythm used and how it relates to the words, in terms of the natural rhythms and accents of speech or in terms of word-painting: depicting the mood or images in the text in musical figures. A type of word-setting in which one syllable is heard per note. Most nursery rhymes and Christmas Carols are syllabic.

Balanced phrase structure/periodic phrasing Antecedent and Consequent phrases Scalic Ornaments

Melodic Interval


Retrograde Serialism



Irregular phrase structure Sequence (Ascending/Descending) Monotone Melisma (adj: melismatic) Tritone

The phrases of a melody are of unequal lengths. A compositional device: a melody is repeated immediately but at a higher (ascending) or lower (descending)pitch. A melody made up of just one repeated pitch. A type of word-setting in which one syllable is spread across several notes (think of Glo-o-o-o-o-ria in Ding Dong Merrily on High) An interval (melodic or harmonic) in which the notes involved are three whole tones apart. Also known as a Diminished 5th or Augmented 4th (depending on its enharmonic spelling: C F# = Aug 4th, C Gb = Dim 5th). A tritone occurs between the first and central notes of a whole-tone scale A scale in which the notes are all separated by the interval of a tone (eg. C-D-E-F#-G#-A#-C). Necessarily chromatic. No sense of traditional hierarchy: no tonic or dominant. Tradition from 16th to 18th Centuries of using a small number of motifs and developing them throughout a movement using a number of techniques (sequence, inversion, augmentation etc.) in order to give the movement a sense of unity. A description of Debussys approach to motivic development a more organic approach, in which the opening theme returns at various points throughout the piece, with subtle changes to the melody, harmoniy and instrumentation.

Whole-tone Scale

Motivic development

Melodic evolution


Simple Compound In which the note values are divisible by 2: crotchets are usually the basic pulse and these are split into 2 quavers. In which the notes values a divisible by 3: dotted crotchets are usually the basic pulse and these are split into 3 quavers (eg. Humpty Dumpty) Having 2 main beats per bar can be simple duple (ie. 2/4) or compound duple (6/8) Having 3 main beats per bar can be simple triple (eg. ) or compound triple (9/8) Having 4 main beats per bar (simple: 4/4, compound: 12/8) Using rhythmic values that begin on the off-beat or occur across the main beats of the bar. Also known as an upbeat (or pick-up in popular styles): occurs when a phrase does not begin on the first beat of a full bar, but a beat or two earlier. Can be seen Poulencs Sonata for Horn, Trumpet and Trombone, Mvt I, Mozarts Sonata K333 Mvt I etc. Also, eg. the My of My bonnie lies over the ocean. A passage or piece in which no strict pulse is kept. Often found, eg. in a solo cadenza. Another term for 4/4. As it suggests a passage or piece where no time signature is given. In a vocal piece, a time signature might be omitted if the composer

Duple Triple Quadruple Syncopation Anacrusis

Free rhythm Common Time No time signature


Tempo Rhythmic diversity Speech rhythms Declamatory Unclear sense of pulse/metre

wants the performer(s) to adhere to the natural rhythms and accents of speech. A composition device in which the note values of a melody are extended (usually by the same amount) eg. a pattern of semiquavers becomes all quavers, or all minims. Speed Wide variety of note values used, perhaps with contrasting passages in close proximity. The rhythms and accents suggested by natural speech if the text were to be recited without pitches. Having the characteristic of being spoken aloud in music, placing more importance on speech rhythms than eg. on melody. The time signature and/or beat of the music is difficult to follow, perhaps because of the use of free rhythm or rubato, syncopation, cross rhythms, complex rhythms, a wide variety of rhythmic values, changes in time signature. Two or more layers of contrasting rhythms heard at the same time, perhaps triplets against quavers. The music is performed with a certain about of rhythmic freedom not strict or metronomic. Quavers are performed with unequal lengths the first note is long than the second. Emphasis on beats 2 and 4 of the bar.

Cross rhythms Rubato Swung/shuffle rhythm/swung quavers / rhythm Backbeat

Tonal / Functional Tonality Emerged in the Baroque Era, based on two types of diatonic scale (major and minor); importance of primary chords, especially Tonic (I) and Dominant (V); systemic use of modulation to related keys as in important structural feature. Using notes from outside the key signature. In the Baroque and Classical and eras, chromaticism was used as decoration, within a tonal framework. As time progressed, music became more and more chromatic, until the 20th century where music was so chromatic that it disguised the sense of key. (This ultimately led to Schoenbergs development of Serialism see note). Using notes from within the key signature. Change of key Keys with a similar key signature each key has 5 closely related keys, ie. Keys which have one more/less sharp or flat: its relative minor (or major), dominant, subdominant and the relative minors (or majors) of the dominant and subdominant keys. Modulations to related keys are smooth Keys which have a very different key signature, eg. C major (no sharps or flats) and B major (5 sharps). The minor version of the tonic key also known as the parallel minor. If the tonic of a piece is minor, then the tonic/parallel major is the


Diatonic Modulation Related Keys

Unrelated/distant/remote keys Tonic Minor/Major

major version. Eg. The tonic minor of G major is G minor. An unrelated key in that it has quite a different key signature (G maj = F#; G min = Bb, Eb, F#). Ambiguous/unclear tonality Wherein the key of a piece or passage is difficult to distinguish, because it is undermined or disguised by eg: a good deal of chromaticism in the melody or harmony; a lack of perfect cadences; use of unrelated or extended chords etc. Ambiguous implies that the passage could be in one of two keys. Bitonal Two keys are heard at the same time usually one part is in one key and another part is in another. No Key Signature The composer has decided not to include a key signature, usually the case if there are many accidentals or chromatic notes: having to include naturals to cancel out a key signature as well would make it less clear to read. This does not necessarily mean that there is no key! (The key at any moment could be defined by chords, cadences, melodic patterns, accidentals etc.) Tertiary Modulation/Tertiary A modulation to a key which is a third away from the previous one. relationship (Eg. C major to E major/minor or Eb major/minor or A major/minor or Ab major/minor. ) The keys are unrelated. Tonal Contrast Using changes of key to create contrast and variety. Enharmonic equivalent Whole Tone Scale The alternative spelling for any given note: G# could also be spelt as Ab. A scale in which the notes are all separated by the interval of a tone (eg. C-D-E-F#-G#-A#-C). Necessarily chromatic. No sense of traditional hierarchy: no tonic or dominant. In which a melody is based upon the notes of a pentatonic scale: a gapped scale, made up of 5 notes, with a gap between the 3rd and 4th notes. Can be constructed by playing only the black notes on the piano, or by playing the 1st 6 notes of a major scale and missing the 4th (eg. C-D-E-G-A). Much used in folk songs and in many pop/rock songs. Using notes from the Blues Scale that is, using a flattened 3rd, 5th and 7th (eg. in C major, Eb, Gb and Bb). Using one of the diatonic scales that do not have the same pattern of tones and semi-tones as the modern major and minor scales. Often heard in music before 1600 (before major and minor scales found dominance) and in folk music and pop/rock styles. Using the notes of a minor-sounding scale with no raised 7th. Play A to A on the white notes of the piano (like A minor with no G#). Using the notes of a minor-sounding scale with raised 6th and no raised 7th. Play D to D on the white notes of the piano (like D minor with no Bb or C#)


Blue Notes Modal

Aeolian Mode Dorian Mode

Static harmony Harmony which stays the same for an extended period perhaps using just one chord or alternating/cycling between a small number

Diatonic Tonic Dominant Subdominant Functional Non-functional

of chords. It has a cyclic feeling, not the decisive, forward moving progression of chords towards a cadence found in music from the 16th to 18th centuries. Using chords which exist within the key, built upon the triads that exist therein. The triad built on the first note of the scale in any key. The triad built on the fifth of the scale in any key. A Major chord in both Major and Minor keys, because of the raised 7th. The triad built on the fourth note of the scale in any key. Harmony underpins the sense of key through use of primary chords, particular I and V, perfect and imperfect cadences, pedal points. Harmony not used to define keys, not revolving around primary chords and perfect cadences, not necessarily built on triads. Might juxtapose unrelated/distant chords or use completely made-up chords or clusters. Harmony used to create a particular musical colour, mood or sound. The strongest of all chord progressions: strong enough to end a phrase and entire piece. Consists of Chord V (often with an added 7th) moving to Chord I. Its strength comes from the magnetism of the leading note of chord V pulling upwards to the tonic and the 7th of V pulling downwards to the 3rd of I. (Sometimes called an authentic cadence).

Perfect cadence

Leading Notes rises to tonic (root of Chord I).

7th of Chord V falls by step to 3rd of Chord I.

Imperfect Cadence (ending on V, eg. I-V, IV-V, Ib-V, ii-V)

Root position and 1st inversion chords

Tonic Pedal

Dominant Pedal

A chord progression often used mid-phrase or at the end of an it gives the effect of a rest in the music, but because it ends on chord V, it gives the sense that it is unfinished and that the music will continue. Chord V is usually preceded by I, ii or IV. The harmony of most pieces from the Renaissance through to the early Romantic era is built around triads in root position and first inversion. 2nd inversion chords were considered dissonant (because there is a 4th above the root) so needed to be treated carefully. A harmonic device in which the tonic (1st) note of key is sustained or repeated for an extended period, usually in the bass. A feature of functional harmony, it is a way of confirming or anchoring the key. A harmonic device in which the dominant (1st) note of a key is sustained or repeated for an extended period, usually in the bass. A

Internal Pedal Interrupted Cadence (usually V-vi)

Plagal Cadence (IV I)

Circle/Cycle of Fifths


Harmonic Interval False Relation


Dominant 7th


dominant pedal sets up an expectation for the return to the tonic, creating tension through its need to resolve, and often occurs towards the end of a section or piece. A pedal (tonic or dominant) heard not in the bass, but in an inner part. (If heard in the top part, it is known as in inverted pedal). Cadence which ends on chord vi. It often begins on chord V, and sounds as if it should resolve to chord I for a perfect cadence, so the move to chord vi (a minor chord in a major key and a major chord in a minor key) is unexpected a surprise! In the Classical era, often occurs towards the end of a piece, quickly followed by the proper perfect cadence. The other chord progression that can be used to end a piece, as it ends on chord I, preceded by chord IV. It is not as strong as a perfect cadence, because chord IV does not have the same magnetic pull to resolve to the tonic. The tonic note appears in both chords, and is often referred to an Amen Cadence, as it often harmonised the final Amen of hymns and other sacred works. A chord progression in which the roots of adjacent chords are a 5th apart. Usually the bass line rises in 4ths and falls in 5ths. A very strong chord progression, and used frequently in the Age of Common Practice (c1600-c1820) and in many pop/jazz songs. (eg. Fly me to the moon). It is often used as a tool for modulation. vi-ii-V-I is a very strong cadential progression because its chords roots are a 5th apart. A Non-harmony Note a dissonance which creates a leaning effect. It is usually unprepared ie. approached by leap but resolves by step to the next chord. The distance between two notes heard at the same time. (Eg. the interval between the root and 5th of a triad is a perfect 5th). A harmonic feature which occurs when two chromatic versions of the same note are heard at the same time or adjacently in two different parts. Eg. F# in one part followed immediately by F natural in another part. Usually arises from using the two different versions of the melodic minor scale. A Double False Relation occurs when two of these happen at the same time two parts swap notes which are chromatic versions of each other, as in The Lamb. The building blocks of functional harmony chords built by adding notes a 3rd and a 5th from the bottom (root) note. Triads are built on the notes of the scale of each key and are used to harmonise the melody, helping to define the key. The chord built on the fifth note of a chord, with a 7th added. So, in C major, the dominant 7th is G-B-D-F. It has a very strong pull to the tonic chord (see Perfect Cadence). A harmonic feature which involves notes that do not belong to the harmony (chords). In traditional/functional harmony, dissonance is carefully prepared and resolved. Some composers throughout the ages have used unprepared dissonance for specific effects (eg. Monteverdi to express a particularly anguished text) and unprepared and unresolved dissonance became more and more prevalent from the Romantic era onwards. Wagners opera of 1865, Tristan und Isolde, features yearning dissonance right from the start with

dissonances resolving to more dissonances; it does not resolve properly until the very end five hours later! Unprepared (dissonance) Music in the late 16th century was built on strict rules: a non-chord note was almost always prepared by being heard as part of the previous chord and resolved by step (downwards usually) to the next chord note. These rules continued to be adhered to throughout the 17th and early 18th century (with increasing exceptions). See Dissonance A Non-Harmony Note where a note is held over while the harmony (chord) beneath changes. This note becomes a dissonance: it is the suspension. The note then falls by step to resolve to a note which does belong to the harmony. Suspensions are always prepared (the same note is heard in the same part on the preceding beat and where it belongs to the chord) and resolved (the next note played by this part is a step below the suspended note. This new note belongs to the new chord). Susp (4-3)




Suspensions are often described using two numbers: the first is the interval between the bass note and suspended note; the second is the interval between the bass note and resolution note: 9-8, 7-6 and 4-3. In the example above, the suspended note (C) is a 4th above the bass note (G). A Double Suspension occurs when two notes are suspended at the same time. Eg. a 7-6 and 4-3 can be heard at the same time add an E above the C in the example above. See Modal under Tonality. Modal harmony uses triads built on these modal scales and usually involves a lack of raised leading note. When two parts a 5th apart move in parallel, so that they are always a 5th apart. Considered weak in Traditional/Functional harmony (c1600c1820), but used for specific effect by later composers, and often a feature of very early 2-part music. A type of imperfect cadence involving chord IVb moving to chord I, usually in a minor key. A major chord heard at the end of a minor piece. Usually involves raising the 3rd of the minor tonic chord by a semitone. A non-harmony note heard on one of the main beats of the bar, rather than (as was more expected) between beats. The dissonance is more apparent to the ear and more striking when it falls on the beat. A chord lacking an important note probably the 3rd or the root. (The

Modal Consecutive 5ths

Phrygian Cadence Tierce de Picardie Accented dissonance

Incomplete chord

5th can be omitted without changing the character of the chord.) Bare/Open 5th Harmonic Rhythm/Rate A triad missing the 3rd this give a bare, empty feel: the chord is neither major nor minor. The rate at which the chords of a piece or passage change. Slow harmonic rate = same chord for several bars. Fast harmonic rate = chords change frequently, perhaps every beat. A chromatic chord containing the interval of an augmented 6th, eg CE-G-A#: the interval between C and A# is an Augmented 6th. A chromatic chord built on the flattened second degree of the scale (in B minor, this would be a chord C major). It is often heard in 1st inversion, when it is known as a Neapolitan 6th. A triad with the 6th note from the bass added, eg. C6 = C-E-G-A. A triad is extended by continuing to add 3rds to the highest note, creating a 7th, 9th, 11th, 13th note above the root. A series of chords could be repeated one or more times to form the basis of a piece or song.

Augmented sixth chord Neapolitan chord

Added 6th Chord Chord extensions Chord Progression/Chord Sequence


Register The part of the instrument or voice the composer has chosen to use, perhaps for specific effect. The clarinet, for example, has 3 registers, each with their own characteristic sounds the low Chalumeau, the middle Clarino and the high Altissimo. The span of notes an instrument is capable of playing or that a composer has chosen to use in a particular piece: worthy of mention if it is particularly wide or narrow. Sometimes expressed as the interval between the highest and lowest notes. (eg. a range of a 9th) A little like register, but usually used to describe the music rather than the instrument. A piece with a high tessitura for soprano, for example will consistently use the higher notes of a sopranos range. Describing music that is technically very demanding perhaps very fast and showy, or requiring good breath control, or using a large range or variety of extended techniques. Usually intended to be performed by a professional or advanced amateur. Early version of the piano more delicate than the modern pianoforte, but similarly able to play softly or loudly depending on the weight of the players touch. Broken chord accompaniment pattern frequently used in the Classical Era. It uses the broken chord in the pattern low-high-middle high.





Alberti Bass

A Cappella

SATB Choir

For unaccompanied voice(s). (Literally: in the manner of the chapel/church before the Baroque era, sacred music was sung by unaccompanied voices). Group of singers using mixed voices, usually with several singers to each part. SATB signifies the labels given to the singers: Soprano = highest female voice, but in church music often sung by boys with unbroken voices. Alto = lower female voice, but can also be sung by men using falsetto. Tenor = The highest natural male voice (ie. without using falsetto). Bass = Lowest male voice. Other voice types are Mezzo-Soprano female voice between Soprano and Alto; and Baritone male voice between Tenor and Bass (usually sing the bass part in an SATB choir). Instrument played by plucking strings with the fingers. Rounded back, variable number of strings, frets. Used in Medieval and Renaissance music to accompany solo songs. The lowest instrument of the viol family stringed instruments that were predecessors of todays strings. Highest part in Monteverdis Madrigal: Soprano range 2nd part in Monteverdis Madrigal: Soprano range. 3rd part in Monteverdis Madrigal: more of a high tenor range than alto. 4th part in Monteverdis Madrigal: more of a Baritone range than Tenor. 5th and lowest part in Monteverdis Madrigal. Standard ensemble for many orchestral works, increasing in size from the Classical Era through to the early 20th Century when new instruments and sounds were explored. The way the composer employs his chosen instruments for specific effects, timbres and colours. Ways of playing an instrument that perhaps go beyond the expected normal way. Composers specify their use if they want to create a particular timbre or colour. Some are very common, such as pizzicato on strings, some are less frequently used, such as fluttertonguing on flute. A gadget used for string and brass instruments a small rubber disc for strings and a bell shaped item for brass, used to quieten the sound produced. The rapid reiteration of a note or alteration of two notes. Creates a shimmering/fluttering/shaking effect The player draws the bow across the fingerboard, creating a gentler sound than normal Pizz plucking the strings with the fingers. Arco tells the player to


Bass Viol/Violone Canto Quinto Alto (Ohime) Tenor Bass Symphony Orchestra

Orchestration Instrumental techniques

Mutes (it: sordini/fr: sourdines) Tremolo Sur la touche Pizzicato/Arco

revert to using the bow. Glissando (pl: glissandi) Antique Cymbals (or Crotales) Very fast scales or slides between notes Set of small, tuned bronze or brass disks played by being struck with hard mallets. Their sound is like a small tuned bell, with a much brighter sound, and a much longer resonance.

Harmonica Vocalise Licks Double-stopping

Mouth Organ Wordless singing Short melodic phrases, usually played on electric guitar and often filling in the gap between, say, vocal phrases. A string technique where more than one note is played at a time on a single violin/viola/cello/double bass or guitar. (Triple-stopping is also possible = 3 notes played at the same time.) Jazz piano technique playing block chords to accompany the other instruments. Pattern produced by playing repeated pairs of notes in swung rhythm. The pitch of a note is distorted, either by pulling a guitar string too far, or by varying the lip pressure on a brass instrument. A technique used by male broken voices which enables them to sing in a female alto range. Short, often elaborate rhythmic patterns, usually on drum kit, used to lead into a new phrase or section.

Comping Shuffle rhythm Pitch Bend Falsetto Fills

Counterpoint (adj: contrapuntal) Polyphony (adj: polyphonic) Where two or more independent melodic lines are heard at the same time, usually with contrasting rhythms - creating an interweaving effect. N.B. Polyphonic tends to be used for the free combination of long melodic lines heard in sacred vocal music pre-1600, and contrapuntal tends to be a more strict approach, used in fugal-writing of the Baroque era. The two terms are essentially interchangeable, though. Type of homophonic texture in which all parts play in exactly the same rhythm (though they might have different pitches). Also Chordal. A short rhythmic or melodic pattern which is repeated several times, usually as an accompaniment to different material in other parts. Known as a Riff in popular styles. Strict example of imitative counterpoint: a melody is played by two or more instruments, but with staggered entries, so that one starts on its own, another enters shortly after and so on. Also known as a round. See homorhythmic.

Homorhythm (adj: homorhythmic) Ostinato (pl: Ostinati)



Homophony (adj: homophonic) Parallel 3rds/6ths/ octaves/5ths Melody Dominated Homophony Monophony

Alberti Bass

Two or more parts play different pitches but in a similar (though not exact) rhythm. Two parts whose material moves in parallel motion, maintaining the same interval between them for an extended period. Type of loose Homophonic texture where a prominent melody line is accompanied by less important material perhaps chords. Also known as Melody and Accompaniment Type of texture consisting of a single melody with no accompaniment. Could be played/sung by a single instrument/voice or by a number of the same instruments or voices playing in unison Broken chord accompaniment pattern frequently used in the Classical Era. It uses the broken chord in the pattern low-high-middle high.

2-part texture Full chords

4-part texture Doubled

In Octaves In Unison Imitation (adj: imitative)

Antiphony Parallelism

Stop Time


In which two parts are heard suggests some element of counterpoint or polyphony. Suggests a chord in which many notes are played (presumably with a good deal of doubling) a full chord on the piano would have, perhaps, between 6 and 10 notes. In which 4-parts a heard - suggests some element of counterpoint or polyphony. A tune played by one instrument is also heard at the same time in another instrument. Doubling of different instruments can create interesting/unusual timbres and colours. In which two or more instruments play the same material, but at different octaves. Two or more instruments or voices playing the same material at the same pitch. Often used when In Octaves would be more accurate. A feature of much polyphonic/contrapuntal music. Imitation occurs when a 2nd voice (instrument) copies the music heard immediately beforehand in another voice. This first voice continues over the top with other material. The imitation could be exact (as in a canon), or approximate perhaps with altered intervals, or beginning in the same way as the 1st but changing the ending. In which two or more groups of instruments or voices take it in turns to play/sing. The technique of using parallel or consecutive intervals for a specific effect. Although parallel 5ths and octaves were frowned upon in the Age of Common Practice, some later composers deliberately used them for effect. Debussy is known for using quartal harmony music based on parallel 4ths. A texture found in Jazz, Blues and other popular styles in which accompanying instruments play only on the first and last beats of the bar, creating a contrast and giving prominence to the melody. A little like Antiphony two instruments/voices or groups alternate melodic

ideas. Improvisation A technique in which musicians do not play from notated music, but make up musical ideas spontaneously, usually accompanied by a repeating chord progression. Now associated with Jazz/Blues, but was also used in showpieces by many Classical and Romantic composers, and is still used by, for example, church organists to fill time in religious services.

Ternary Form Coda ABA structure, in which opening ideas are contrasted with a 2nd section (B), and returned to in order to round off the piece (perhaps adapted). The final section of a piece, used to round off musical ideas and give a sense of completion and home-coming. Often emphasises chords V and I, in a bid to underline the tonic. A passage, usually occurring in a Concerto for a solo instrument, in which the accompaniment drops out and the soloist can show off their skill often improvised, florid and in free time. An important structure developed during the 18th Century and used extensively, especially for the first movement of symphonies, sonatas etc. It is a development of Ternary form (ABA), and was developed as a way of dealing with multiple motifs/themes and keys. It comprises the following sections: Exposition A statement of the main themes and keys. First subject main melodic idea (or group of ideas), heard in the tonic. Transition based on the first subject, modulating to the dominant. Leading to 2nd subject 2nd melodic idea (or group of ideas), heard in the dominant. Codetta little coda, rounding off of the exposition, in the dominant. Development Section building on main themes heard in the Exposition, exploring more keys, modulating quickly and frequently through related (and some unrelated) keys Recapitulation return to the themes as heard in the exposition, now centred on the tonic. First subject main melodic idea (or group of ideas), heard in the tonic. Transition based on the first subject, now in the tonic. Leading to 2nd subject 2nd melodic idea (or group of ideas), now in the tonic Coda, rounding off of the piece, in the tonic. Verse or section of a poem. Musical setting of a poem in which each stanza or verse of the text is set to the same (or similar) music. Consisting of three sections. Suggests that there is only a loose motivic relationship between the sections. Musical setting of a poem or text which does not feature repetition of entire sections (as opposed to Strophic) instead, the new music is composed for each section of text, allowing the composer to set the words more


Sonata Form

Stanza Strophic Tripartite Through-Composed

sensitively to their meaning. Introduction Postlude Interlude Ostinato The start of a song or piece, usually introducing the key, mood and some of the melodic ideas of the rest of the work. Also known as Outro or perhaps Coda in Classical styles. A short rounding-off section of a song. Short instrumental section heard between sections or phrases of a song or piece. A short rhythmic or melodic pattern which is repeated several times, usually as an accompaniment to different material in other parts. Known as a Riff in popular styles. Can be a structural device. Structure based on set chord progression lasting 12 bars, and (in its basic layout) with one chord per bar: IIII IV IV I I V IV I I The chords are often decorated with extensions (7ths, 9ths etc), and the last bar might end on chord V(7) so that it leads back to chord I at the start of the next 12 bars. Verse/chorus Common structure of popular songs, in which the verses use the same music to different words, and alternating with a contrasting the chorus. There may be other sections, eg. Intro/Outro/Instrumental/Middle Eight etc.

12-bar blues

Movement Transcription Compositional Device Harmonic Device A stand-alone piece within a larger work. For example, a Symphony usually comprises 4 contrasting movements. A score which is notated after the song or piece was recorded. Some way in which the composer develops their ideas typical examples are sequence, inversion, retrograde, augmentation, diminution etc. A Harmonic feature used by the composer for particular effect. Eg. Tonic/Dominant Pedal, Circle of Fifths, Non-harmony note (suspension, appoggiatura, passing note etc) A rhythmic feature used by a composer for particular effect or to develop ideas, eg. syncopation, cross-rhythm, augmentation, diminution A melodic feature used by a composer for particular effect or to develop ideas, eg. sequence, inversion, retrograde, The instructions written on the score which show the performers how the composer wants the music to be played. Generally, the number and detail of performance directions has increased over time, with Renaissance and Baroque composers using very few, and with 20th Century and contemporary composers giving very detailed instructions.

Rhythmic Device Melodic Device Performance directions